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New Report Outlines 5 Actions for Businesses to Move Beyond Compliance to Strategic Sustainability
Brussels, February 22, 2021…The next ten years have been dubbed the “decade of delivery” on action to curb climate change, halt biodiversity loss, and meet sustainable development goals. By moving from treating sustainability as a silo to further embedding it into business strategy, corporations can not only play their role in meeting these goals, but also improve their performance. That is according to a new report from The Conference Board,The Role of Business in Society: A European Perspective on Achieving a Sustainable and Inclusive Transformation.
“Until now, businesses have often approached sustainability through the lens of their license to operate—compliance with regulations and a focus on reporting. But this approach underplays the extent to which sustainability and commercial success can go hand in hand. Instead, discussions on sustainability should be framed around growth and returns to help create measurable value for all stakeholders,” said Anuj Saush, Senior Researcher at The Conference Board. To support their journey to sustainable business, The Conference Board suggests that, irrespective of sector or geography, companies focus on the following five general practices:
Adopt a long-term perspective.
- Societal changes and environmental goals are by nature long term, so they require long-term planning. Companies can carry out scenario planning to help predict the future, then use short-term milestones to break down long-term goals
Make sustainability integral to decision-making.
- Companies should appoint a sustainable business sponsor—ideally the CEO or other member of the C-suite—to ensure a culture where sustainability priorities get a seat at the table when strategic or operational decisions are made.
- Businesses should not shy away from acknowledging failure. To build trust in the decade of delivery, it will not be enough to share only success stories. Companies will also have to talk openly about their negative impacts and where they fall short of their targets.
Be a voice for change.
- It is paramount that companies align any policy engagement and advocacy efforts with their core strengths and values—for example, by ensuring there is consistency between what they state and what they support through their actions and lobbying.
Collaborate to drive systemic change.
- Businesses should ask themselves if they actively promote sustainable practices across their network of business relationships, and who else can be a partner to accelerate this journey. Multiparty partnerships, coalitions, and collaborations will be crucial to deliver sustainable business.
“Businesses are more forthcoming on ESG issues now than they were a few years ago. But, societal expectations are changing rapidly. Businesses that pursue balanced reporting and greater transparency will be rewarded now and in the long run,” said Dr. Uwe Schulte, Global Sustainability Center Leader at The Conference Board.
About The Conference Board
The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. www.conference-board.org