World FM Day 2022: leading a sustainable culture?


  • Facilities,
  • Future of work,
  • Sustainability,
  • Workplace

11 May 2022

WFMD 2022

The Sustainability SIG is contributing to World FM Day 2022 with an article a day during the week. Committee member, Reid Cunningham, Strategic Development Director at BAM FM Ltd and BAM Energy Ltd talks about leading a sustainable culture.

Organisational culture is complex with many variables. Whilst leaders can attempt to express an organisation’s culture in policies and mission statements, the actual culture is on display through the way stakeholders behave and interact internally and with customers and supply chains. 

Sustainability has become a high priority for many organisations and their customers.  In many cases customers are seeking to build evidence and a track record of sustainability practice and outcomes.  While businesses are focusing on sustainability as an opportunity to improve social and environmental conditions, it is also an important source of competitive advantage.  Therefore, many organisations are seeking to lead a sustainable culture.

Methods to develop and lead a sustainable culture may include;

  1. Giving priority to the sustainability topics that are most relevant to the organisation either because they are important to the activity or the organisation is uniquely placed to make a difference.
  2. Embedding sustainability in the organisation’s strategic management processes so that it is considered and influences all decision making.  This requires an understanding of the organisation’s impact and potential for sustainable growth, as well as data from which goals can be set and monitored.

    If there is a sustainability team, they should report to a senior executive to give them the opportunity to engage with the board of directors and have the authority to implement change.
  3. Ensuring employees understand what sustainability is and how it affects their everyday work.  Sustainability is multifaceted and therefore it is important for employees to become familiar with the concepts, terminology and practices within the context of their organisation.  By understanding the organisation’s focus on sustainability, they will gain self-confidence, motivating them to discuss and act on sustainability.  This will create the foundation for a strong culture of sustainability.  Moreover, it will empower employees to achieve positive change on personal and professional levels.

    Rewarding employees for sustainable behaviour sends a clear message about corporate leadership and culture.
  4. Leading by example.  Leaders can accelerate a culture of sustainability by setting an example and demonstrating sustainable actions to portray sustainability as a personal and organisational focus.
  5. Breaking down sustainable changes into achievable small steps.  Like this the organisation and employees plus other stakeholders can see early progress with minimal, or manageable, disruption while rolling out increasingly sustainable objectives.