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Walking the Talk
Think Global, Act Local:
Making Sustainability Goals More Approachable

While achieving these goals may not be easy, these practices help break down lofty goals and create coordinated, meaningful change.

Sustainability goals are crucial for any business; but knowing how to advance them can be intimidating.

To help reach sustainability goals, companies need to undertake both global and local initiatives that promote greater environmental responsibility. You cannot progress your sustainability vision without prioritizing global goals and initiatives to chart the course for your company’s big-picture impact, and local to allow for targeted, multigenerational impact.

While achieving these goals may not be easy, these practices help break down lofty goals and create coordinated, meaningful change.

Think big — then, work backwards

Identify global priorities; then, step back and find local projects that ladder up to this vision.

For instance, reforestation programs are a focus of Lexmark locations worldwide, so we make it a priority to take actions to support the biodiversity in the communities where we live and work.

For example, our Lexmark Research and Development Corporation (LRDC) is in Cebu, Philippines — which is recognized as an area of high biodiversity. Sensitive to this, our employees work diligently to restore habitats near these facilities — focusing on reforestation and watershed protection. Since 2008, we’ve planted over 163,000 mangrove trees in various coastal and watershed areas of Cebu and over 19,000 tree seedlings in various areas of Cebu. We’re appreciative that much of this work is done in partnership with the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) for tree- and mangrove-planting activities – a partnership based on a shared vision that helps maintain balance in the natural world.

Invest locally long term

Longevity of a program demonstrates the depth of an organization’s commitment. Further, multigenerational programs have a greater influence on company reputation within that community and increase the chance that the program will continue year after year.

For instance, where we’re headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, Lexmark has been a sponsor of Reforest the Bluegrass since 1999. This treasured community effort has planted more than 200,000 trees and restored over 195 acres of floodplains, and is a tradition we plan to continue for years to come.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

The greatest challenge often lies in prioritizing which local initiatives to pursue. To determine where to allocate resources for the greatest impact on a local level, there are two things to consider:

  • Is there a local sustainability team in place that can work cross-functionally with the local partners and the corporate team to ensure alignment?

  • Which local programs will create maximum benefit? This includes evaluating both time and dollars invested. Consider long-term impact, as the longevity of the program will increase its success and influence.

Why this is important for companies now

Sustainability is not just a company or community issue; it is a multi-stakeholder issue. From current and prospective employees to customers, partners and investors, sustainability is becoming increasingly important in stakeholder decision-making.

77 percent of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place, while 73 percent of investors state that efforts to improve the environment and society contribute to their investment decisions.

Furthermore, we see this impacting career decisions — as Gen Z and Millennials want to work for companies that care for the planet and the communities in which they live and operate. Over half of Gen Zs (55 percent) and millennials (54 percent) say they research a brand’s environmental impact and policies before accepting a job from them.

At the end of the day, investing in global and local sustainability impact is not only the right thing to do for society, but the right thing to do for your business. An investment in sustainability is also an investment in long-term reputation and valuation.