Calling time on timewashing

Calling time on timewashing

Got big sustainability goals for the future? Great.  The next big question is what are you doing today, across every area of your business to ensure that you get there?

Without a clearly defined answer to this question, you could be guilty of timewashing.

Timewashing is the practice of businesses setting ambitious long-term sustainability targets without clear plans for achieving them or immediate accountability for their progress. 

Far too often we see businesses with well-meaning sustainability targets that are anchored so far into the future that they bear little resemblance to what is going on in the business  day-to-day. 

While it may seem like a safe strategy, it comes with a host of risks and ultimately undermines a businesses opportunity (and side-steps its responsibility) to make a positive impact and improve its sustainability performance.

The risks include:

Lack of accountability

One of the primary problems with timewashing is that ambitious, often unrealistic, targets are being set by leaders who are unlikely to still be at the helm by the time it comes to access progress. The success or failure of meeting sustainability targets will be of little consequence to today’s leaders who will have long since passed over the reins. This lack of accountability can result in poor and potentially damaging decision making.

Lack of motivation

Achieving big sustainability goals can be complex, challenging and takes time. Without clear short-term goals to work towards, it can be easy for teams to lose momentum. This lack of motivation can lead to diminished efforts and in some cases, sustainability falling off the agenda completely. 

Missed opportunities

With focus fixed on long-term goals, businesses lose out on the many small achievable steps that pave the path to progress. They also miss out on the chance to bring their teams, stakeholders and customers on the journey with them, and risk losing loyalty (and sales) along the way. 

While long-term vision and large goals are an essential part of a best practice sustainability strategy, it is important that these are grounded in the here-and-now. It is one thing to know what you are aiming for with your sustainability strategy, it is another to build a clear, tangible and realistic roadmap to get there, starting with the actions you are taking today.  

Those creating sustainability plans must be honest with themselves and their stakeholders. That starts with joining the dots between the everyday behaviours of the business and the future it is trying to create. 

At Antaris, we help leaders to find the balance, setting long-term strategic goals and creating a clear plan to get there. Don’t let timewashing hold you back from making great progress today. 

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