- IMD Business School

Family business: A voice for change in sustainability

30 pages
February 2020

Family firms hold a unique position in advancing the sustainability agenda. As businesses that have been forged with future generations in mind, they constantly balance performance against legacy and this crucial equilibrium is central to sustainability.

The need to move to sustainable business models is becoming clearer every day. In today’s world – one in which climate tipping points have been breached and societies around the world are calling for more equity – shareholders can no longer be the sole beneficiaries of value creation. Today, people and planet must also be considered in every strategic decision a leadership team makes.

For family businesses, such inclusivity was often embedded in the founding principles of the first generation. Their ecosystems have been organically built around people and environment, as well as profitability. Doing well by doing good is embedded in their DNA.

The family perspective naturally compels a long-term view to be brought into strategy. That long-term focus provides family firms with a crucial anchor point for key decision-making on strategic reinvention in order
to secure the organization for successive generations. Some are already investing in innovation, partnership and positive disruption to align with the changes that governments, policymakers and consumers are increasingly calling for. Answering  that call can safeguard both continuity and succession.

A broader stakeholder view and a long-term strategic perspective are among the myriad strengths that family businesses can share with the wider business community as it begins to engage with the sustainability agenda in clear, measurable ways. We encourage and welcome the drive to place purpose at the heart of transformation.

IMD encourages its diverse and talented thought community to share their valuable insights and achievements. By using such real-world, real-impact successes to nourish new thinking and new directions, we can continue to strive towards the sustainable success of all the stakeholders our businesses serve.


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