When I think about strategies that corporations need to put in place to address the huge sustainability (in the holistic sense of the concept) challenges the planet is facing, my “mental map” going forward, looks like this: awareness and recognition of this reality is becoming, to a very large extent, globally accepted. And of course, globalization and technology will continue to exponentially enhance this conscience.
In this context, corporations have a key role to play, they have the skills, resources and processes to help dealing with the challenges.
For companies to really take this forward, their interventions need to be built around the clear understanding that any Strategy will need to lead to value creation. But this time round, we are talking about shared Value Creation: for corporations and society.
In the future, value creation will only be consistently achieved if demands of key stakeholders are more balanced; it is not hard to predict that the predominant relevance of shareholders’ interests will decrease in the overall context of corporations’ strategies.
Corporations should not necessarily change their business models but will need to adjust them to these new society requests. Which leads to the conclusion that it is key to incorporate social and environmental responsibilities in their strategies, where every relevant investment decision should include the “Responsible Businesss” case for action.
In my mind, Corporations not seizing the opportunity now, will have a hard time surviving. These growing new challenges imply that customers (and stakeholders in general) will no longer be merely willing to buy products and services but to buy “sustainable products and services” (in the holistic sense of the concept).
The business case for action is indisputable: in my mind, Sustainability will become the source of sustainable competitive advantage. But for that to happen corporations need to manage sustainability in the holistic sense, where the whole ecosystem of stakeholders need to be addressed.