VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill – The Influencer (Part 2)

The next in our mini-series of short videos produced as part of edie's 'sustainability skills' month sees The Body's Shop's Kate Levine give her take on the importance of influencing skills for sustainability professionals to drive positive change within their organisation and beyond.

This series of videos breaks down some of the essential skills and techniques that sustainability and CSR professionals can utilise to take their abilities onto the next level, delivered through 60-second pitches from a selection of highly-experienced sustainability leaders and advisors.

Each video features a different sustainability expert discussing a particular skill, with the series running throughout the month in the build-up to edie’s Sustainability Skills Workshop on 30 November.

VIDEO: 60-second sustainability skill – The Influencer (Part 2)

In our first video of this series, sustainability advisor Richard Gillies discussed the role of ‘The Influencer’ in a sustainability team to effectively influence the financial decisions of a board. Watch Part 1 here.

In the above video, The Body Shop’s international commitment & corporate communications director Kate Levine takes the conversation a step further, explaining how influencing skills can be used to influence the sustainability behaviours of an entire organisation and its customers.

Levine uses her experience with the retailer to explain that being a good influencer is all about being able to communicate effectively with different target audiences; from the CEO and staff on the shop floor through to members of the public and journalists.

“It’s about getting your message across to a variety of different audiences, both internal and external, and making sure that communication is not just one-way dictatorial. It’s about explaining and understanding what your target audience’s point of view is.

“Everyone will have different touchpoints, and it’s understanding what’s important to them and also being really clear on your key message and, crucially, backing it up with evidence.” 

Kate Levine’s top tips on the art of influencing in sustainability

– Be bold. When I talk to people about The Body Shop’s new ‘Enrich Not Exploit’ sustainability strategy, I talk about the aim of true sustainability and about trying the be the most ethical and sustainable company in the world. That’s of course a big ambition and a lot of people might not understand it. But that’s a good thing because it jolts people to ask ‘how are we going to do that?’

– Tell different stories to different people. Enrich Not Exploit has several key objectives that fall under it. We must decide which goals to talk about to which audience. If we’re talking to someone in the supply chain then we’ll talk more about our community trade programmes or sustainable sourcing programmes. But if we’re talking to shop staff about the community trade programme then we’ll perhaps look more specifically at the ingredients and telling them stories related to our community trade partners.

– Make them aware but don’t scare. The Body Shop has always been good at taking complex and slightly frightening messages about climate change and making them empowering for the audience. Frightening stories about sustainability and climate change are generally unhelpful. You need to ensure that with every message you include ‘this is what we can do about it’ so that people are empowered to do something about it.

– Get the right people around the table. When launching any new sustainability programme or engagement programme, we need sustainability communications people involved, we need marketing involved, and legal involved. We must be somewhere that’s not so risk-averse in that we still get the message out and say something interesting and valuable, but that we don’t do anything that compromises the programme. So, collaboration is really important, and also understanding the perspective and context of everyone involved and trying to get to a solution that everyone agrees with.

– Use digital marketing techniques. You must be creative to be effective and technology is vital to communicate a message effectively to a large number of employees or consumers. For example, before briefing our employees on our Enrich Not Exploit programme, we created a series of teaser films which we emailed out – one in October, one in November and one in January. These messages got people intrigued and inspired, and questioning what was happening before we briefed them in January.

edie’s sustainability skills month and workshop

The month of November sees edie shift the editorial spotlight from green building to sustainability skills, ahead of the edie Skills Workshop on 30 November in London (find out more and register to attend here).

From presentation skills and building the business case to the power of influence and persuasion, this month of exclusive videos, features and podcasts will pro-actively address the sustainability skills gaps and lay the foundations for businesses to take the next steps in their sustainability journey.

Read all of our sustainability skills content here.

Luke Nicholls

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