By Marco Magli

Adopting a model for sustainable development is at the heart of the public debate: companies and public institutions need to adhere to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as showing their commitment to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, deemed essential by a growing number of investors and stakeholders.

For communicators, conveying and translating the idea of sustainability, has become one of the most challenging goals. Have communication departments gone beyond only telling the story of the major efforts being made to achieve the SDGs?

We have reached a point at which, I think, we need to ask ourselves: Is it possible to model and measure communication itself along principles of sustainability?

How – and how much – can communication reach its own set of sustainable goals?

For years, we have spent enormous amounts of energy establishing codes of conduct, of transparency and of compliance. Are they enough as sustainability models for communications? These questions might seem superfluous – but they are not. As communication professionals, we need to debate if the these codes are enough for us to rely on. Particularly, when the adherence to which, is supervised by ourselves. This is worth debating, because I do not think it is enough for us to rely on these codes.

Today, more than ever, communication has a social role. We help create public discourse. We influence the debate, and deliver ideas that can shape consensus in society.

Communication can be measured for its ability to talk about courage, sincerity and emotion; for its ability to nurture both our rational and spiritual sides; for fostering sustainable relations.

We need a real debate about a new model that would allow us to set goals, KPIs and measure the sustainability of communication. This should include our departments contribution to a language and a visual code that promotes diversity and inclusion; its ability to inspire a collective sensibility towards the creation of a more sustainable future.

The year of the pandemic has been a game changer. It has brought to the fore the need to bring the human-to-human approach back into focus. We have seen communication genuinely rooted in emotion, capable of bringing us together in times of great difficulty. Despite the challenges that we face, the time has come for communication to brand its power to put people at its centre and inspire us all towards a more sustainable future.

It’s time for communication to become more sustainable.