Crown Worldwide (NZ): Partnering and Powering the Sustainability Implementation Journey at Crown
A unique and intimate collaboration. On a one day a week basis, Proxima's Kat McDonald played the role of interim Chief Sustainability Officer at Crown. Her role was to provide a bridge from strategy development to effective implementation on the ground; whilst developing internal capability and a culture of sustainability.
In early 2021, Crown Worldwide (NZ), a leading company in New Zealand offering relocation and storage services, started focusing on sustainability. They partnered with Proxima to guide them on this journey. In a unique collaboration, Proxima acted as an "interim Chief Sustainability Officer," spending one day a week at Crown's office. This close partnership went beyond just planning and involved actively implementing sustainability initiatives, laying a strong foundation for action and promoting a sustainable culture at Crown.
Accountability and ownership through co-creation
Given Crown's strong leadership commitment to sustainability from the outset, this project was centered on collaborative co-creation and capability building. In the role of interim Chief Sustainability Officer, Proxima actively participated in Crown's Sustainability Steering Committee meetings, collectively shaping a sustainability framework with high-level goals. The ultimate success metric was Crown's genuine sense of ownership of the framework. Rather than imposing it, the framework became an embodiment of Crown's values and aspirations, initiating a transformative cultural shift towards sustainability within the organisation.
Bringing strategy to life
Implementation can be the most challenging phase of the journey. While creating a strategy on paper is essential for setting goals and direction, the real complexities emerge when an organisation attempts to translate those intentions into concrete actions. Interestingly, this juncture often coincides with the consultant's departure from the project.
Collaborating with Proxima during the project's implementation phase has empowered Crown to initiate immediate actions within the framework. One example is the development of Crown's Sustainable Procurement Policy. In addition to co-creating the policy, Proxima provided support by designing supplementary criteria and evaluation methods. These resources played an active role in Crown’s procurement process for waste management services, and Proxima's involvement extended to working closely with the individuals and departments responsible for project execution, enhancing their capabilities and addressing any challenges that arose. This collaborative approach helped Crown navigate internal barriers, ensuring that decisions remained aligned with the policy's intended goals.
Where leadership goes, culture follows
One of the most rewarding aspects of this project has been witnessing the dedication and excitement from the leadership team to bring the framework to life. During the framework launch, each member of the Sustainability Steering Committee personally committed to integrating sustainable practices into their daily lives. These commitments took various forms, with Crown's Managing Director opting to leave his car behind one day a week in favour of biking to work. These seemingly modest actions are likely to have a significant impact on Crown’s culture, showcasing a sincere dedication to action from the top.
What have we learned so far?
Proxima's ongoing collaboration with Crown has yielded valuable insights that will inform our approach in future projects:
A closer relationship enhances trust and reciprocity
A relationship is a two-way street. Our experience with Crown highlights the mutual benefits of embedding Proxima as interim Chief Sustainability Officer. We provided external expertise, fresh perspectives, and a 'critical friend' role, driving progress. In return, Crown's trust allowed us to gain deeper industry insights and enhance our capabilities through on-the-ground experience.
Supporting implementation can accelerate progress
The presence of external expertise during implementation instills confidence, both within the organisation and among stakeholders. This collaborative approach not only accelerates progress but also empowers the client to take ownership of their sustainability initiatives, fostering long-term success.
Leading by example
Don't overlook the influential impact of role modelling. When business leaders take the lead and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, it establishes a precedent for others and fosters the necessary cultural transformation for effective strategy implementation.