Insight & Analysis

Sustainability Imperatives: Insights into Business 2030

By Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn

Wayne Dunn is an award-winning global CSR expert with extensive teaching, writing, lecturing and Advisory Service experience. He is supported by an extensive faculty and advisory team.

Business 2030 success requires a new suite of #CSR, #sustainability and strategy skills and tools that are tightly connected to business value creation and efficiently aligning and integrating it with social value, environmental stewardship and #SDG impact.  

The world of business has changed dramatically.  Harvard Business Review lists Sustainability as the fastest rising shareholder issue.  Sustainability must shift from a cost centre to a value driver. For most businesses it is simply adapt or perish.

Business 2030 success entails integrating sustainability as a key value driver across all business dimensions, not as zero-sum afterthought to throw a few morsels at communities, social issues and environmentalists.  Sustainability must be a key value-driver across operations, finance, HR, R&D and all other areas of a business.

Sustainability Imperatives

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  1. Must be a value driver, not simply a cost centre
  2. Must integrate and align across all business functions and areas
  3. Must have compelling value propositions (internal and external)

CSR and Sustainability is far too important to simply be left to a few people in Corporate Affairs, Marketing or shuffled off to a Foundation and forgotten about until budget time when some money is (reluctantly) allocated to it as a duty.

So, how to begin?  The reality is that you are probably already having more sustainability impact than you realize and your stakeholders give you credit for.  Find out what that is and how you can most efficiently expand its impact and value, including value to your business.

I find the most effective first step is to understand your current situation, the impact you are already having and [this is very important] take off your sustainability blinders.  Most people and businesses are wearing them. They see their social and environmental impact as coming from their CSR, sustainability and environmental budgets (costs) and not from across all dimensions of a business.  They see sustainability as a cost and not a value driver.

The best way I have found to understand your current situation is to look at where and how your business is having an impact on the 17 SDGs.  (Read more about  the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the opportunity they present for business and check out our SDG video channel (bit.ly/Strategic-CSR)

Simply list the 17 SDGs in rows and leave columns for key areas of your business.  Start with your mainstream operations, segmenting it as appropriate. Go on to your finance, R & D, Human Resources, marketing, communications and other functions.  Leave your CSR, Sustainability, Foundation and other areas until last.

When you have completed the matrix examine where there are potential synergies and efficiencies across your own impact ecosystem.   What are the opportunities? Bring in interests, capacities and resources of stakeholders, potential partners and others.

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You will be amazed at the results.  Insights and opportunities will jump off the page.  You will likely find low-hanging fruit that can quickly turn cost into value.  A side benefit is that the team doing it will emerge energized and connected. This exercise is one of the best team-building exercises for business that I have used.

Remember, Business 2030 success requires a new suite of #CSR, #sustainability and strategy skills and tools that are tightly connected to business value creation and efficiently aligning and integrating it with social value, environmental stewardship and #SDG impact.  Simply doing this exercise is a big step on this path

Success requires shifting sustainability from a cost-centre to a value driver and integrating and aligning it across all dimensions of your business and operations.  Your team, your shareholders and your stakeholders will all benefit.

At the CSR Training Institute we specialize in helping businesses worldwide to succeed and thrive by successfully integrating sustainability and SGD impact in ways that drive value and competitive advantage.  If you think we might be able to assist you on your journey, please feel free to reach out to me directly (wayne@csrtraininginstitute.com)