3 Steps for Effectively Implementing Sustainability Strategies

How a transportation & logistics company drives into the future
3 Steps for Effectively Implementing Sustainability Strategies
Publ. date 8 Aug 2021
Sustainability needs to be effectively integrated into the core of the business for it to flourish. An example of a sector that is struggling to put sustainability into practice is the transportation sector – evident from its 21.7% contribution to the total CO2 emissions of the European economy in 2018. A sustainability strategy must directly connect to a company’s must-win battles. Such a strategy can be made actionable through the development of roadmaps, well-prioritized actions, and convincing communications. This article looks further into ways to effectively implement a sustainability strategy with an example of transportation company Farm Trans, that strives to be a frontrunner in sustainability in the sector.

Farm Trans: Driving into the future

Farm Trans is a family-owned logistics and transportation company for bulk and conditioned products, active in Europe and the United Kingdom. Back in 2018, Finch & Beak was called in by Farm Trans to help develop its sustainability strategy through a materiality analysis of Farm Trans’ stakeholders, peers, and industry. This resulted in a sustainability strategy, focusing on the health and wellbeing of its employees, as well as the attraction and retention of talent, road safety, reducing the carbon footprint, and realizing value chain partnerships.

Farm Trans’ approach to strategy implementation is multilayered. Executive management propagates the sustainability ambitions on a corporate level, while the Sustainability Focus Group is responsible for integration on an operational level. This Focus Group consists of members of different departments including Planning & Analytics, Human Resources, and Sales, that each are responsible for their individual goals and KPIs and engaging their colleagues. This way, the sustainability ambitions branch out through the company.

Convincing communication – internally and externally – keeps everyone up to date. Farm Trans also believes in shared value creation through partnerships and with Finch & Beak’s guidance, Farm Trans will soon start a client pilot where it works together with a client on sustainability challenges through sharing resources and ultimately achieving a more efficient way of working.

Generating value in collaboration with value chain partners

For effective implementation, actions towards sustainable development must be aligned with the strategic priorities of the business and articulated through operational procedures. Employee engagement is essential to achieve change and leaders should aim for a sustainability culture where every employee understands that their efforts contribute to the whole. There are also many benefits to be gained from working together with value chain partners, such as shared resources (including knowledge) and costs, and a greater understanding of each other’s capabilities. With regards to value chain partnerships, Finch & Beak has developed two tools to uncover the shared potential:

1. In the Customer Bootcamp, commercial teams uncover the potential benefits from the company’s sustainability value proposition from their customers perspective. The the aim of the bootcamp is to design concrete opportunities for creating sustainable value. During the bootcamp, customers, competitors and other stakeholders will be analyzed to locate potential for collaboration.

2. The Strategy Booster is a co-creation process between value chain partners. Its aim is to work together with the customer’s team on concrete sustainability initiatives and to build on the concept of a partnership aimed at mutual profit from sustainability.

3 Acceleration Tips for implementing a sustainability strategy


1. Set clear goals and go for gradual and consistent improvements

A company needs goals before it can develop a plan. Such goals will help to set direction for the implementation plan and to allocate the resources needed to achieve the goals. Start with goals that realize small improvements. It is the small improvements at the start that will leave employees motivated to achieve greater improvements, and the consistent focus will keep them moving forward on the sustainability implementation journey. Make the goals SMART and link them to executive remuneration where possible.

2. Engage employees by making them feel part of it

Effective implementation of sustainability is highly dependent on the engagement of employees. As shown in the example of Farm Trans, a company must want its employees to take the elements of the sustainability strategy and integrate it in their daily work. Employees are encouraged to engage by helping them understand the benefits of implementation and it often helps to let the leaders set the standard. Give them the space to get involved and they come up with fresh ideas.

3. Implement through the value chain

Implementation can be accelerated by partnering through concrete value chain initiatives with customers while addressing sustainability issues. It can be as practical as looking at a sustainability issue together, sharing knowledge and brainstorming on potential solutions, and aligning on improvement actions. A good start can also be to do a Customer Bootcamp and develop a high-level implementation plan that fits with (the potential) customer’s sustainability strategy and follow it up with a Strategy Booster to set up a 100-day plan with actual actions for the next steps.

Ready to take the next step?

Are you ready to leverage the benefits of effectively implementing your sustainability strategy? Please contact Johana Schlotter, at johana@finchandbeak.com or call her at +31 6 28 02 18 80.

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash

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