How to kickstart your sustainability transformation.
Running a business used to be a simpler affair. The fundamental task of organising a group of individuals into a cohesive entity capable of producing value was, admittedly, no easier, but the direction of travel was assured: shareholder value. This view of the role of business was always contentious, short-sighted and perhaps wilfully ignorant, but it has taken more than four decades for an alternative to emerge.
Established in 1972, Business Roundtable comprises more than 200 CEOs from the world’s largest companies, including Apple, Walmart, Pepsi and JP Morgan. It has periodically issued Principles of Corporate Governance, and while its 2019 statement wasn’t the first step towards a global sustainability agenda, it effectively ended the era of shareholder primacy, stating: ‘Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.’
As far as corporate purpose goes, this is nothing short of a revolution. To deliver value for all stakeholders means taking account of people and planet as well as profits. In other words, becoming sustainable. This is perhaps the biggest challenge businesses have ever faced. With everyone required to pull towards the same sustainability targets, being the weak link in the ecosystem isn’t an option. But Roundtable statements won’t magically transform how your business works on the ground. Where do you even start? In this article Egremont Group suggests how you might approach this huge challenge and take the first steps on your journey to sustainability.
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