Seizing “a watershed moment” for corporate sustainability efforts
Gita: I think that’s a very important observation, and Stephanie pointed that out. It has to be done from the bottom up. His company and others by working with management, working with leaders and organizations, they bring this notion that it’s not just cost cutting, it’s innovation that drives profit. Trying to build a sustainable and focused business is actually innovative and it will grow your business in the long run. At the same time, you consider how you interact with your suppliers, how you treat your customers, how you treat your employees and how you mitigate the environmental impact of your operations. All of these things are part of your decision making. Absolutely.
Laurel: Stéphanie, as we talk about innovation, how do you see the evolution of sustainable development in the next three to five years? So how can a focus on multidimensional value creation really benefit both society as a whole, investors and companies?
Stephanie: Laurel, business leaders are certainly attuned to the challenge. In a recent study by Accenture, we found that over 70% of executives we surveyed said becoming a truly sustainable and responsible business was a top priority for their organization over the next three years. 70% of executives said, “It’s important, and it’s important to us in the short term, and we’re going to take action. I believe that, because if you just look back over the last year, two years ago, there has been significant progress on the part of business leaders. This pace, I expect to accelerate.
The success of such a change relies on a tangible commitment to stakeholder orientation. Crucially, our analysis shows that organizations with stronger sustainability DNA deliver higher financial value and greater environmental and societal impact. I believe this is a defining moment in history. This is a defining moment in history. A focus on sustainability will be key to competitiveness and sustainable business success in the future. By putting sustainability at the center of everything a company does and how it does it, it will create new value in the future.
Laurel: Gita, Stephanie calls it a watershed moment. You also call it a need for revolutionary or evolutionary actions. How do you see targeted sustainability evolving over the next three to five years?
Gita: We have a confluence of events and circumstances. , which is a cliché to call it extraordinary, but the pandemic has really really exposed our vulnerabilities. On top of that we have the ongoing effects of climate change, both in this country and around the world. It is estimated that half a billion people will be forced to migrate due to climate change. This disproportionately affects those who are poor and communities of color.
There’s more of an emphasis than ever on making sure that we align with all of these goals by trying to think about how businesses can operate within the society that we have and actually contribute in a positive way. There was a reframing, and I will give an example. We talk about the puzzle of work, who, in the United States, where are the workers? We have a continuing labor shortage at all levels. Where are the workers, where have they gone? At first it was the pandemic, and the relaunch, etc., but it does not subside. Companies say, “Well, it’s with us for maybe long term, and we have to make sure that we commit to training, retention. Maybe even, what is it? is? On-ramping.” Stephanie, you know this term better than me.
For example, people who were ready to leave the workforce, but you keep them to some degree, because of this collective knowledge base and experience they bring. It’s not just about responding to climate change and environmental issues, but it’s a network effect, it’s all connected. Respond to this effectively, in a concerted manner.
I would like to use an analogy, which is that no company can do it alone. When airlines first started flying, if you wanted to fly from Washington, DC to Dayton, Ohio on Delta, Delta didn’t build its own airport. Delta flew into a common airport that was used by United and American, and everyone else. Similarly, to solve these societal problems that impact businesses, we must effectively create coalitions. These coalitions must be business coalitions, partnerships with forums like Stephanie’s, with government organizations, with NGOs, with advocacy groups. We all need to work together on this.
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