The most frequent advice I share with Business Leaders is to be open to having more conversations about what sustainability and Environmental, Social, and governance (ESG) mean or could mean to their company. Human-induced climate change, biodiversity loss, rising inequality, and geopolitical unrest are presenting unprecedented challenges to our planet, people, environment, and ecosystems. We can all see and feel the impacts that are occurring from a global to a very local scale.

Fortunately, in addition to the rewards that come from playing a part in creating a better world, there are equally phenomenal and valuable commercial opportunities for businesses that play a role in tackling these challenges. The current global business and investment landscape is increasingly favoring organizations that can demonstrate their contribution to a more sustainable, lower-carbon economy, aligned with positive outcomes for the environment and society. Accordingly, forwardthinking Business Leaders are facing two strategic imperatives: how to drive profitable revenue growth whilst simultaneously accelerating the integration of sustainability into their strategy and operations.

With societal and stakeholder pressure being as it is, businesses with less sustainable practices will inevitably be displaced by those that can demonstrate stronger alignment with ESG principles and more innovative solutions. As reported in the 2023 Sustainability Leaders GlobeScan SustainAbility Survey, experts increasingly champion companies that put sustainability at the core of their business model, and also continue to increasingly recognize the importance of verifiable results and outcomes.

As a 25+ year career professional in the sustainability field, I sit firmly in the camp advocating that organizations further along the ESG business strategy maturity curve are more resilient; already are or will soon outperform their competitors; will achieve lower overarching operating costs; will be more attractive to investors and talented employees; and will have greater access to market opportunities upon which their future profitable revenue growth will depend.

Elements of the above are discussed in more detail in the 2023 Trends Report published by The Sustainability Institute by ERM. When I speak to Business Leaders, however, whilst many can discuss their organization’s commercial growth goals, fewer can articulate how their company has integrated ESG and sustainability principles into their business. Embedding the right ESG strategy into the company’s operations can deliver real value in the short, medium, and long term, irrespective of the sector or size of an organization.

It’s critical that Business Leaders recognize that the allocation of resources and other commitments to upskill, embed, and innovate more sustainable practices throughout their companies and supply chains is an investment in the organization’s future-proofing, not a cost to be squeezed or deferred.

If you’re a Business Leader with the responsibility to create sustainable business value, I encourage you to embrace the challenge that comes with charting an ESG-aligned direction for your organization, facility, or department. Be curious about what others have already learned or successfully implemented associated with their sustainability-related commitments. Solicit a broad spectrum of views: speak to your employees, your customers/clients, supply chain, investors, regulators, advisors/consultants, community members, and other stakeholders. If you are not actively engaging in such discussions, you may well be missing out on opportunities that would help future-proof your business and sharpen your competitive edge.  

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Tim Burrill
Membership Manager & Executive Assistant
If you would like to learn more about our events and membership, or have other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.