Sustainability has the power to unlock future success for companies – if it’s done well.
With investors, customers, employees and regulators piling on the pressure for companies to contribute in a positive way to society while also minimizing the negative impact of their activities, sustainability has become crucial as a licence to operate and a staple ingredient for success.
Unfortunately, only some companies really appreciate the potential that sustainability has for their businesses and even fewer do sustainability “well”. So how can you master the challenge and then beat the competition?
“Sustainability, you could say, is the new Olympic sport – it’s being performed so well by some companies that they can take home a medal,” says Knut Haanaes, Lundin Chair Professor of Sustainability, who is leading the session "Stay ahead on sustainability: look back to shape the future“ at OWP liVe in June.
“But, how well is it being practised by everyone else, and more importantly, how can sustainability impact your business for the better when it comes to sustainability?”
During his OWP liVe session, Professor Haanaes will explore four key steps that will help organizations generate winning performance through sustainability, helping participants understand the potential impact and then apply the right solution for their specific circumstances.
Sustainability and strategy
“Firstly, sustainability and strategy go hand in hand,” says Haanaes. “They are a united team for success.”
Unless sustainability is integrated as part of an overarching corporate strategy, companies will struggle to make progress and to reap the benefits – both in terms of reaching their sustainability targets and the positive impact that can have on corporate performance, brand and culture.
In today’s world, no company can except to be truly successful without integrating sustainability into its strategy.
Enhance your ambitions
“Secondly, you can choose to use sustainability to improve your existing organizational goals,” according to Haanaes.
By incorporating sustainability into your goals as a company, you can inspire a greater purpose among your team, open new doors to innovation and new markets, build trust among stakeholders and future proof your organization in a rapidly-evolving world.
Find your change agents
Change is not possible without the right talent to drive it. To enable a positive evolution towards a more sustainable company, you need to identify the individuals who will act as bearers of the sustainability flame to design, lead and cascade new initiatives – and to inspire those around them.
“Look inside your organization,” advises Haanaes. “Do you have the change agents to make this happen? Who's got the mindset to achieve maximum success?”
No silver bullet
Every organization is different, with diverse ambitions and capabilities. This means just because one sustainability strategy worked for a competitor does not mean it will work for you. This is not time for cut and paste. To make the most out of the sustainability megatrend, business leaders must define a clear approach to sustainability that is created explicitly for the circumstances and needs of their own organizations.
“Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all team jersey for sustainability,” Haanaes says.