The challenge of operationalizing sustainability throughout an organization, from the board down to the smallest supplier can be daunting. Not only do some people still have to be “sold” on the idea, even when they buy-in conceptually, there still remains the challenge of translating sustainability objectives between various departments. Whereas the CFO may be concerned with capturing ROI from various retrofits, the HR manager may be more concerned with employee engagement. Members of this roundtable have indicated that there are significant challenges to not only embedding the concept and selling its importance to the board, as well as the unique challenge of driving sustainability through the supply chain and making other people’s businesses care about the issues.
There are many places where these issues pop up within an organization, and members have identified the board as being one of the most challenging groups to win over. Additionally, members have suggested that operational issues such as organizational structure, decision rights, and risk management can come to bear in the success or failure of a corporate sustainability strategy.
Beyond the challenge of simply embedding sustainability in all business processes (the same way risk management is an integral part of most project management), for organizations that have seen some success already, there remains the challenge of how to continue to move forward. How can you engage the board in your corporate goal-setting process? How can you retain board interest and move beyond issues with immediate and tangible payback—like energy efficiency—into emerging risks like biodiversity? How can you develop partnerships with suppliers to help them move ahead and still retain a competitive advantage? How can you ensure your sustainability structure and goals remain competitive in a fast-changing landscape?
These challenges (and no doubt others) will be discussed at Table H by the delegates, and faciliated by Teresa Fabian of PwC and David Lawrence, Global Procurement, Risk, Governance & Sustainability Director – Diageo Plc. Share your thoughts below in the comments section and be sure to check out a few resources that might help to get the gears turning.
- Richard Pamenter of GSK asks what you'd like to know about engaging the board on sustainability.
- Translating Sustainability: Investors & Chief Financial Officers
- The Business Case for Biodiverity
- Translating Sustainability: Making Sustainability Part of Business as Usual
- Setting and Managing Sustainability Goals: Trends and Best Practices for Sustainability Executives