With the resources, reach, and brands that have the potential to shape the future, businesses need to be a part of the shift towards sustainability, says the strategy consultant Neil Gaught
Sustainability is a hot subject across all industries, including climate change, epidemic, social upheavals, and economic turmoil have focused minds. There is a growing awareness that social, economic sustainability, human and environmental are interconnected and that the pursuit of Net Zero is not the all-encompassing story or the only solution.
In recent conversations with executives in the business world, it is evident that there’s a greater awareness about sustainability in all senses that must be incorporated into the core of business plans.
In addition, there is an increasing awareness that unless this shift to a sustainable basis can be completed in a relatively short time and efficiently, there is a significant chance of being disregarded and losing the respect of important stakeholders whose demand for a more equitable, sustainable and fair world is growing every day. Companies today are placed in a state of flux, and it’s not just about if they can grasp the reality of the moment and take a decision to make a change, but rather when they decide to make the necessary leap.
What’s needed today is more leaders who have a clear awareness of how quickly change is happening in the global arena and just how vital shifting and pivoting today is to ensure tomorrow’s success. In addition, leaders must be willing to step up and confront the traditionalists. More than ever before, we require leaders with the courage to challenge and resign old thinking to the past and embrace innovative ideas, fresh thinking, and innovative methods.
It’s not just about making the right noises. What is needed is taking action. The sheer transparency of social media is why any company cannot think that just the words alone are sufficient. The world is watching, and the flimsy purpose statements will not do the trick. And neither is ‘aiming to improve shortly, a position that I embraced by the overwhelming majority of the audience I recently presented to at a Manufacturing & Supply Chain conference in the UK.
Companies that are looking to be sustainable from a high level
Many businesses consider sustainability from a solid starting point, but then they fall into trouble when it comes down to implementation. Some suffer from “analysis paralysis.”. they get overwhelmed by the notion that changing is too complicated and fail to get going. It’s not surprising since they’ve been repeatedly told by an over-paid management consulting industry that thrives on selling the idea of complexity (read the time) that changing is difficult. Still, the rewards aren’t immediately apparent, and people do not like it.
It’s all a lie. People are quick to change when they feel the change is significant. It is logical to them. Look at how the vast majority of people quickly changed and modified their behavior to safeguard their health and the health of the entire population regardless of the circumstances they faced during the outbreak.
The same need to change, adapt and tackle the challenges illustrated in the SDGs in the latest IPCC report needs to be shared in the present. But, again, the best-placed individuals to achieve this are the top executives of companies because they have the capabilities, the resources, and the brands that can shape the future.
They must ensure that sustainability isn’t an added-on function, a tick-box task, or an issue of compliance. Instead, it has to be at the heart of how the whole organization is designed, operated, and communicates with staff customers, suppliers, investors, and society.