Extractive summaries and key takeaways from the articles curated from TOP TEN BUSINESS MAGAZINES to promote informed business decision-making | Since September 2017 | Week 307 | July 28-August 3, 2023
Sustainability Progress Is Stalled at Most Companies
Less than one-third of U.S. employees surveyed reported that their organizations engage in practices that embed sustainability goals in business models and employee roles.
By CB Bhattacharya and Rob Jekielek | MIT Sloan Management Review | July 20, 2023
While many companies talk the talk of sustainability, claiming to be integrating environmental and societal concerns into their business models, far fewer walk the walk: Managers typically treat sustainability as someone else’s problem and relegate it to a department or even a single individual. On the other hand, companies that have been successful in transforming their business models to be more sustainable have embedded sustainability into their corporate DNA. Based on a research the authors provide six key recommendations that emerged from their data for managers seeking to embed sustainability in the organizational culture and business models.
- Establish a purpose based on values. Purpose is a business’s raison d’être — the answer to the all-important question, “Why do we do what we do?” Unless CEOs and top management teams realize that profit is the consequence of value creation for all stakeholders and not the starting point for strategy development and execution, progress will be stifled.
- Bake sustainability into corporate strategy. Academic researchers and others have noted that efforts to make meaningful progress toward sustainability must be driven by corporate strategy. Doing so increases the likelihood that, over time, “doing the green thing” will be seen as a normal part of employees’ jobs, and more and more decisions will be made through the lens of sustainability.
- Train employees, and incentivize actions that advance sustainability. Companies that are successful in engaging their workforce have invested in training that gives employees guidance on how to improve sustainability. Nevertheless, there seems to be a dearth of role-specific knowledge at the individual employee level. Managers must also do more to provide employees with incentives to advance the sustainability agenda.
- Create a sustainability culture in your organization. Managers can keep sustainability salient in the organizational culture by communicating progress, celebrating milestones, recognizing achievements, and collaborating on solutions both internally and with industry partners.
- Conduct business through a sustainability lens. Imagine the progress we would make if every employee in every company integrated environmental and social issues into every business decision they made. Conducting business through the lens of sustainability — an aspirational but necessary goal to reach if we are to surmount our existential crises.
- Bridge the last mile. Broadly communicated messaging about the corporate purpose and environmental, social, and governance targets might not suffice in this instance; there is a real need to drive sustainability through practical initiatives and actions that can be integrated into daily tasks and routines that employees perform across the entire organization.
3 key takeaways from the article
- While many companies talk the talk of sustainability, claiming to be integrating environmental and societal concerns into their business models, far fewer walk the walk. On the other hand, companies that have been successful in transforming their business models to be more sustainable have embedded sustainability into their corporate DNA.
- In a research, roughly one-third of the respondents employed in USA firms asserted that their employers have made significant strides in their sustainability journeys.
- Six key recommendations that emerged from the research for managers seeking to embed sustainability in the organizational culture and business models are: establish a purpose based on values; bake sustainability into corporate strategy; train employees, and incentivize actions that advance sustainability; create a sustainability culture in your organization; conduct business through a sustainability lens, and bridge the last mile gap.
Topics: Strategy, Business Model, Leadership, Sustainability