Effective sustainability strategies also provide huge opportunities for operational improvements and cost savings.
CEOs can take advantage of a growing number of possible routes to achieving sustainability gains for their companies, including effective partnerships with “non-governmental organizations” (NGOs) that also are some of the biggest activist organizations behind sustainability concerns.
The mainstreaming of sustainability pursuits is illustrated by a recent McKinsey survey in which the overall goals of sustainability strategy have been evolving. This year, 43% of companies surveyed said they were looking primarily to align sustainability with their overall business goals, mission or values—up from 30% who said so in 2012. That points to an increasing integration of sustainability strategy with overall business strategy.
“Whatever the impetus,” as McKinsey put it recently, “sustainability has become sufficiently pervasive that defining it and executing business programs, products and practices with an eye to their environmental and social implications has become a demanding managerial exercise.”
Unilever CMO Keith Weed explained to WARC: “We wanted [sustainability] to be an integral part of our business, embedded in everything we do, and so activities formerly isolated within [corporate social responsibility] became strategic initiatives directed toward nutrition, water, hygiene, health and self-esteem.”