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18 Nov 2020

Data-Driven Storytelling: Communicating Meaning & Value of Sustainability & Waste Programmes

Stephanie Haines, sustainability expert at Gensuite

How moving from simply reporting metrics, to communicating your corporate journey, can improve your effectiveness and impact.  

In a world whereby an organization’s worth is measured by its proximity to zero (zero harm, zero waste, zero waste to landfill), are we in danger of missing the true value of our efforts and learnings, by simply recording metrics and not telling the journey itself?

Data has always been considered king. We all know the adage you can’t manage what you can’t measure and most agree that robust metrics – the kind that can be interrogated and reported with confidence – are central to any EHS or sustainability programme. An organisation must first establish its baseline, the point from which all efforts and improvements will be measured and continue this effort periodically to track and evidence continuous improvement.

The path to “zero” is rarely linear or straightforward. Achieving zero, or whatever target you set for your organisation, requires robust data coupled with a number of other factors including: a fully engaged workforce who are committed and eager to participate, real-time analytics backed by an agile corporate strategy, and a management team who is enabled to respond swiftly for the benefit of staff, communities, the environment and corporate reputation. 

At Gensuite, we invest our time looking for ways we can deploy technology to automate the data collection and reporting processes. Our technology empowers teams with the ability to use QR codes and sensors to monitor waste containers and equipment, track emissions quality, or conduct audits with embedded AI technology, providing a virtual assistant at their fingertips. Ultimately, these integrated waste management technologies ensure safety observations or spillages can be recorded rapidly and with ease, providing improved data accuracy. When shared collaboratively, these data records create a powerful data ocean that can be used to benchmark and forecast performance over time, model scenarios associated with reduction and recycling initiatives or energy and emissions saving projects, and even aid in the prediction of potentially serious injuries. The result – increased transparency and more meaningful insight to performance pathways, enabling you to get the most from your data.

Data should not just be viewed as a means of achieving and proving enhanced performance, which in its nature tends to be backwards looking, but should also communicate the future vision effectively.

When your audience understands not just where you have come from, but the challenges you are facing, the steps being taken, and ‘why’ this journey matters, they ultimately buy-in to your journey.  Your data then becomes the collaborative effort that is key to reaching greater levels of success in your programmes.

One example of an established technology that is effective in linking data to insights is GPS locators. Data from GPS coordinates allow for the accurate logging of an event, issue or material collection across a global business or individual site, and when coupled with state-of-the-art mapping technology available through BI tools, such as Tableau, can form heat maps which can be laid over CAD drawings, to drilldown to a specific point on a production line, warehouse door or even gate number within an airport terminal.  Suddenly, your data is not just a metric recording the number of injuries or materials collected – it’s a hand injury or waste removal as a specific consequence of an activity, combined with a job factor in a unique location within the plant or field that gives additional insight to operational risk and sustainability factors under specific conditions.

It is this linkage between data and reporting that inform actions – and as a result of these narratives you will have more engaged employees, gain buy-in from board members, deliver value to stakeholders and enhance your organisation’s reputation.

2020 has taught us all a lesson in adapting to change in all aspects of our work and beyond. The world, and our data, is not static. As our corporate stories evolve and flex in response to new challenges and opportunities, our EHS and Sustainability programmes need to continuously evolve too. We need to continue to adapt the way in which we collect data, relying more on mobile technologies, and we need to communicate our efforts through ever more virtual and visual channels to be successful. By focusing on the broader data picture, rather than measuring worth strictly on our proximity to zero (harm, waste, emissions, or otherwise) we are able to effectively communicate the value derived through these insights.

Our stories are changing. Our workplaces and marketplaces are changing. New corporate cultures need to evolve whereby it’s our value that is king.


Want to hear more from Stephanie about how you can gain insight and extract greater meaning from waste data to drive performance enhancements across your organisation?

Watch the RWM Digital Spotlight: Digital Transformation on-demand now to hear from industry experts including Stephanie Haines, Sustainability expert at Gensuite, who will be exploring how to Build EHS Value from Integrated Waste Management & Reporting Technology.

Join the conversion with Gensuite to learn how integrated waste management and reporting in real time can help you to achieve optimal compliance and exceed operational performance objectives.