Why all businesses should embrace sustainability

As the expectations on corporate responsibility ( CSR ) increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognizing the need to act on sustainability. Professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough. All the major firms have all made strong commitments to sustainability, in large part through transparency and addressing material issues. They are embarking on a more sustainable journey, and all firms should follow suit in the near future. Two gaps to beware of In order to address sustainability appropriately companies need to bridge two critical gaps:
    • “The knowing – doing gap” : A study conducted by MIT/BCG finds that whereas 90% of executives find sustainability to be important, only 60% of companies incorporate sustainability in their strategy, and merely 25% have sustainability incorporates in their business model
    • “The compliance – competitive advantage gap” : More companies are seeing sustainability as an area of competitive advantage, but it is still a minority – only 24%. However, all companies need to be compliant. Management should address these topics separately – not mesh them together. Compliance is holistic, a “must do”. For competitive advantage, only a few material issues count.
Companies that stand out in the area of sustainability address both gaps. They have evolved from knowing to doing and from compliance to competitive advantage. They also know the risk of getting this wrong. For instance promising and not delivering, or address material issues without being solid on compliance.