The Sustainability Journey: Six uncomfortable questions
Updated: May 8
May 1st , 2022
Companies’ sustainability journey is often a complicated exercise and source of turmoil, with companies struggling to understand the “right thing to do”. To make even harder, there is a lot of ambiguity in some of the concepts ranging from Purpose to ESG, from SDG to Sustainability itself. At the Center, we have issued several Research Notes last year to try and conceptualize those terms and you can find them here.
During the journey towards a more Sustainable agenda there are a few, and somehow quite uncomfortable, questions that need to be asked and the answers one gets is typically a great indication of how successful a company will be in that journey. A recent BCG article illustrate them quite well:
Do our senior leaders exhibit a visible and vocal commitment to our sustainability agenda? Can they articulate how our company builds sustainable advantage?
Have we put the right accountability mechanisms in place to ensure that our business and function leaders take ownership of sustainability outcomes?
Is sustainability built into our compensation structure in a thoughtful and material way?
Do we have a clearly defined interaction model between the central sustainability team and business units?
Have we made sustainability an essential element of our core business processes? Is it an integral part of our decision making?
Do we have the will and skills to accomplish our goals? Are our employees engaged in our ESG mission? What capabilities do we need to build?
I suggest you try and answer these six questions. It will give you a good indication of how far down the journey you are. Believe it or not…some companies are already able to reply “yes, we do” to many, or even all, of them. Some of them are likely to be your competitors.
Nuno Moreira da Cruz Executive Director
Center for Responsible Business & Leadership