As a business, day in and day out, you interact with your various stakeholders. For them, and specifically for your target audience, it is not only important to know what you do or what services and products you sell, they also attach importance to your reason for existence. In other words, why do you offer a particular service or product? So consumers don’t just buy services and products, the story behind the business also matters.

Enduring stories are powerful and spur action.

And that, precisely makes it interesting for companies committed to sustainable entrepreneurship. The biggest challenge here is how exactly do you communicate those sustainable stories to your target audience without taking the cake of greenwashing?


Telling the way there works better than unpacking with the result

Is climate-conscious entrepreneurship high on the agenda at your company and are you striving to change the world in a positive way thanks to your business operations? Then of course you want to communicate these sustainable ambitions to your target audience. Unfortunately, communication today is still too often seen as merely sending a story to your target group. Do you limit yourself to this in terms of sustainable communication? Then you are already missing the ball before you even try to aim for it.

Communicating about sustainability means actively taking steps and showing those steps, along the way as a company, to with your target audience. So it’s not just about the results you bring out. More important is to include your audience in all the steps you take.

Below we give you a few tips on how to apply this as a business:


    • Start with your vision and mission

All communication that you send out from your company into the outside world must be in line with your vision and mission. In other words, you always start from the foundation of your company. Why are you going down a certain road? What is your vision of a sustainable company policy and why do you do what you do? It is important to always put the core of your company at the basis of your communication.

    • Sustainable business equals transparent business

A company that states its commitment to sustainable operations automatically signs up for transparent communication. When that doesn’t happen, your audience is more likely to question you. After all, there is hardly a more critical consumer than the “green consumer. Especially with the rise of companies that only communicate sustainability as greenwashing, these information seekers have higher demands than ever before.

And that causes some anxiety for companies jumping on the sustainability bandwagon. Because obviously, as a company, you don’t yet have an answer ready for everything. You are taking steps in the right direction but not every link in your operation has yet been adapted to this story. This fear creates a temptation not to communicate about elements that are not sustainable at this point, which brings us back to the introduction of this article that communication cannot be reduced to sharing results. Communicating means sharing all the steps, both the “good” and the “bad. This is how you show as a company that you are taking responsibility for the impact of your business and that you are not engaging in cover-ups.

A good and recent example of honest and transparent communication can be found at the Ghent beverage producer RoomeR. Since their inception, they have consciously chosen sustainable forms of economic activity. Recently they launched a new lemonade on the market. A canned lemonade! In a can! That is not in keeping with their raison d’être to be respectful of the environment through their business operations, one would think. The company realizes this too and communicates this openly and honestly on their website. In this way they account for certain choices they make on the way to a more sustainable world.

    • What does sustainability mean to you?

Most likely, your answer to the above question is different from that of your employee, supplier or associate. Therefore, we recommend that companies use more specific terms, and not container terms. After all, you don’t want to be written off as greenwashing companies, even if this is not the case at all.

Do you have a specific goal? Then choose concrete wording to gain credibility with your target audience. This will increase your consumer’s trust because they will have a good idea of what you are working for.

    • Choose your battles

Finally, we want to emphasize that as a company you cannot challenge every social issue at once. It is impossible to formulate a position on every social issue. Therefore, choose 1 social problem of which you and your company would very much like to be part of the solution. Incorporate that target into the foundation of your business, make promises and stick to them. Difficult to find the focus? Take a look at your target audience and find out what issues they want you to speak out about.

Remember that communicating about sustainable entrepreneurship, does not automatically mean forming an opinion on every topic. The lack of answers doesn’t necessarily make you weaker as a company, but it does make you much more human.


Also at our first Climate Café, our partner South Pole talked about communicating sustainability to companies as part of “The 5-step Climate Journey. Curious about what they had to say about this? Check it out on the relive page.