Sustainability Story-telling

Sustainability Story-telling

Stephanie Bertels

“Building the Momentum” of a sustainability journey was the focus at the Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Insights Conference held during Outdoor Retailer Summer Market ‘16. Dr. Stephanie Bertels, Associate Professor & Director of the Centre of Corporate Governance & Sustainability at Simon Fraser University, introduced the “Embedding Project” and her embedding sustainability framework. The framework has been used as a tool that provides a proactive way for companies to embed sustainability across their operations and into decision-making. The tool is a logical place to help those involved to gain understanding of how to evaluate progress, benchmark their experience against peers and prioritize efforts on their sustainability journey.

The drive for change in a company’s sustainability journey is often effective when driven down from the top. So Dr. Stephanie Bertels is meeting with CEOs of companies to engage with them and introduce the resources this tool offers along with the opportunity to connect with other sector partners or through Regional Peer-to-Peer networks.

The tool itself is divided into thirteen pathways, which provides a portfolio of 60 business practices. Each component of the tool offers resources to help organizations towards incorporating sustainable practices and concerns at their core.

An often over-looked opportunity to shift a company’s sustainability efforts is to connect with both employees and consumers through organizational story-telling. Companies often struggle with how to share what they’re doing and their results with their customers. The “Embedding Project” is a resource companies can use to unlock the potential to connect with consumers by clarifying the role that their organization is playing. An example of this connection was shared about the story-telling that Woolworth’s is doing in South Africa. Through use of Woolworth’s supplier development program they have focused on enabling black economic empowerment by offering market research information, local employment, and supporting sustainable farming practices.

Story-telling is a tremendous opportunity for companies to build connection with consumers about their own unique sustainability journey with the use of this powerful tool. To learn more, visit or download the Embedding Project’s Guide on Storytelling for Sustainability.