Running a business is fraught with obstacles. They, too, encounter several problems. One of the most difficult aspects of cooperative sustainability is developing a business case when organizations face sustainability limits. In theory, your genius and C Suite understand that stability is a good concept, and they may or may not agree with it from a political standpoint, but this is regarded as the most serious issue.
The World Economic Forum launched a new “Davos Manifesto” in support of stakeholder capitalism at its Annual Meeting in Davos in January, saying companies should “pay their fair share of taxes, show zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their global supply chains, and advocate for a competitive level playing field,” as Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab explained.
We had no idea how timely this new manifesto would be for the next year. Stakeholder capitalism is more crucial than ever in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, a global economic crisis, a global climate catastrophe, and a global movement to eradicate institutional racism – and business must play a role in constructing a more inclusive and sustainable society.
There are several obstacles to overcome on the way there. Increasing emissions and use of the world’s natural resources. The World Economic Forum anticipated that it would take 257 years to close the gender wage gap – and that was before the pandemic-induced economic crisis, which has demonstrated to have a bigger impact on women. Systemic racism is not only immoral, but it also has a negative impact on productivity, creativity, employee wellness, and the bottom line. Ensuring that data is utilised securely and ethically, and that emerging technologies do not replace labour.
COVID-19, without a question, makes these goals more difficult to achieve – but it also makes them more important, given what we know about the linkages between the environment and the pandemic, as well as climate change and human health.
- Translating long-term sustainability goals
Corporates are experiencing pressure from society to reduce the environmental implications of their operations. When one company declares that it will be carbon-neutral by 2040, another declares that it will be carbon-negative by 2030, and so on. All of these lofty declarations, however, must be converted into concrete action plans. Country directors, brand managers, and product leaders are already looking for ways to make progress in the next year or two. Where do I begin? How much energy is consumed throughout the manufacturing process? How about reducing waste? Is the product being redesigned?
- How do you persuade customers? What role do customers play?
Some sustainability difficulties can be handled by focusing on internal organisational processes with limited input from external stakeholders (e.g. using less water in a cleaning process). However, in order to achieve meaningful progress, businesses frequently need to collaborate with their customers.
Track product usage patterns to determine where to enhance a product’s durability. Influence customer behaviour to persuade them to participate in a recycling programme. Change your behaviour to use less wasteful items or services.
Businesses must become extremely intimate with their clients in order to identify answers. That degree of trust might be difficult to attain. To begin with, many brands do not have a good relationship with their customers (although they claim otherwise). A customer-centric approach to innovation with a heavy emphasis on empathy may be an effective strategy.
- Single-use packaging is a particular source of concern
Many areas are requiring businesses to transition to more sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives: even if “sustainability” is not a main element in a company’s strategy, businesses must address this specific issue. Packaging redesigns, on the other hand, might be a big growth potential for a company. The world has changed. When items are sent and sold through new eCommerce channels, they do not require the same anti-theft and POS-branded packaging that they did in the past. Because the requirements for these items are changing, now is an excellent time to take the leap and create a superior solution.
- Improved packing and lower energy use
A package redesign can even be a cost-cutting exercise for many organisations. Container re-use, lighter materials, and fewer stages in production can all result in economical advantages. When margins are being squeezed, a packaging redesign exercise might be beneficial. Another specific issue is rethinking energy use throughout the whole value chain and manufacturing process. Again, sustainability does not have to be the primary motivator: consuming less energy frequently means wasting less money, providing a significant incentive for businesses to improve their energy performance.
- Set and measure sustainability KPIs
It helps to know where you are and where you want to go in order to make progress. Setting practical KPIs for use in day-to-day operations, on the other hand, might be difficult. Measuring this form of KPI is somewhat new for many managers. As a result, there is an obvious need for direction and examples from other businesses in order to learn what works and what does not.
- Sustainability portfolio evaluation
Over the recent decade, some major corporations have taken important efforts toward sustainability. A number of initiatives have been started, and they have not always been as consistent as they should be. As a result, several businesses have realised that in order to improve their sustainability portfolio strategy, they must begin harmonising their activities. This can be part of a governance plan exercise (e.g., who is responsible for what, how to communicate, or how to make financial decisions). Sometimes, though, it is just a question of aligning all sustainability-related activities and goals for each project and individual. Initiatives that do not match these criteria will need to evolve or be abandoned.