Sustainability as a Core Business Strategy

By , Ally Karmali, and Lucy Baunay | 2 minute read | June 15, 2021

If a global pandemic can clearly demonstrate how intricately linked our world is, it is not much of a stretch to accept the interconnected realities – and effects – of global climate change on business and individuals.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues must be addressed in a way that meet the demands of current business realities without compromising the needs of future generations. This requires leadership, culture change and a long-term view on sustainable business practices.

During our session at Think 2021, we were joined by Keric Morris, Global Energy and Sustainability Lead from IBM UK, to discuss major issues companies are grappling with as they embed sustainability into their business practices.

Tune into the replay to hear us address these urgent questions:

  1. How can an organization embed sustainability into their business strategy – without sacrificing profitability?
  2. Should sustainability be measured like financial targets?
  3. What does an ESG strategy look like in different industries?
  4. Why is ESG crucial for long-term business survival?

At the end of the day, success depends on building sustainability into every decision, process, and system. It’s a radical paradigm shift that affects every organization in every industry. For some industries – like transportation, mining, and oil and gas – this requires a fundamental shift in their business model. Other industries, like retail, are adapting, but with more incremental changes.

Many enterprises are struggling with how to monitor their performance and measure for success – so they can quantify which sustainability initiatives are also driving competitive advantage. In addition, an ESG strategy is not limited to internal processes. We also need to examine the role of the entire ecosystem and how enterprises can influence practices at every point along the supply chain.

Success at the intersection of business and sustainability depends on three crucial factors:

  1. Infusing a sustainable mindset throughout their workflow. This requires strong leadership and acceptance across the organization to be successful. IBM has developed a design thinking tool kit that helps embed sustainability into every process of the organization, which is necessary for full implementation.
  2. Setting targets. Enterprises should be meeting existing industry benchmarks and frameworks but that’s just the beginning. We should be continuously increasing targets and setting better and more ambitious goals by being innovative and leveraging technology.
  3. Overcoming internal resistance. Change in organizations can be difficult if there is internal resistance. To make sustainability a reality, everyone should understand the ESG strategy, why it matters, and how they are contributing.

Bottom line: You want your business to continue to thrive and grow. Making sustainability a fundamental part of your business strategy will require courage and determination, but the benefits for your company – and the world – are more than worth the effort.