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Our new Sustainability Strategy is described here. It aims to reshape how TNZ responds to the scale, complexity and gravity of today’s environmental and social concerns by setting a clear direction and greater urgency. It breaks down the difficult concept of ‘sustainability’ into a manageable framework, distilled in five simple priority areas that can be readily understood by all employees.
At the outset, the desire was to involve all employees in the Strategy’s development – to harness their enthusiasm and ideas and create a common purpose around our ambition of becoming a truly sustainable company. This case study describes that process.
There is no easy, tried-and-tested template for sustainability; governments, companies, societies and individuals around the world are all grappling with how to transition to a better way of doing things.
Our starting point was to tailor the essential elements of the Toyota Environmental Challenges 2050 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to a workable armature for our business (under Sustainability Priority Areas).
The focus then shifted to engagement within the business. Two workshops were held with the Executive and management teams to refine a 2050 Vision and determine 2030 Milestones. Managers then brainstormed ‘break-through projects’ with their departments to accelerate activity. This work was collated into a single action plan. The Strategy was signed off by the Environment Committee in November 2019 and published in January 2020. The diagram below outlines the key steps and outputs.
The role of employees
Broad employee participation in the development of the Strategy afforded a number of benefits: it raised awareness of the substantial challenges we face as a company and society; it demonstrated TNZ’s commitment to addressing its impacts, and it rallied employees as essential partners in a collective response.
Many staff valued the unique opportunity to contribute to the Strategy, regardless of their positions or newness to the company. It resonated with their personal values and eagerness to make bigger differences than they could achieve through their individual efforts. When environmental issues are presented as vast global problems, it can be very easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless; the Sustainability Priority Area framework empowers them to visualise how they can tackle impacts within the capacity of their daily activities.
The Strategy illustrates how TNZ’s sustainability and business ambitions are converging; sustainability often drives innovation, and companies with robust sustainability programmes commonly display a focus on efficiency, cutting-edge operations and technology. These are key ingredients in improving company resilience and profitability and finding opportunities in adversity. They reflect the messages from the annual ‘Believe Tours’ (see here), which encouraged employees to unearth new value through creativity and collaboration.
Whilst TNZ’s journey towards full integration continues, there are already signs of a shift from how sustainability issues were viewed for many years (as a separate activity run by the Environment Officer) to how they are increasingly viewed today (as a core element at the heart of the business). Greater recognition is emerging of departments needing to ‘own’ their operational impacts and action plans; cross-department ‘renewal clans’ (see case study 1, page 38, 2019 Sustainability Report) have been quick to align their work with the Strategy's actions.
Involving employees in the Strategy reassures them they are working for a company that wishes to play a leading role in change. As the Strategy matures, we expect it will further influence our business and culture and raise the bar for the wider car industry.