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Stanford Webinar - How and Why Successful Organizations Embrace Sustainability, Julia Novy-Hildesley

Stanford Online2019-05-13
sustainability#stanford#Julia Novy-Hildesley#webinar#resilience#resilience society
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💫 Short Summary

Businesses are shifting towards embracing sustainability to address environmental and social challenges, integrate sustainable practices, and create long-term value. This shift is driven by factors like climate change, resource depletion, and stakeholder expectations, leading to new business models and circular economy approaches. Companies like Unilever and B Corps demonstrate the financial benefits and success of sustainability-focused strategies. Initiatives like the Sustainable Living Plan and partnerships with NGOs and governments aim to improve livelihoods, reduce environmental impact, and promote transparency. Collaboration, innovation, and stakeholder engagement are essential for businesses to thrive in a VUCA world while contributing to global well-being.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
Embracing Sustainability in Businesses and Organizations.
The shift towards sustainability involves developing business models that benefit society and the environment.
Sustainability is now integrated into core strategies of businesses, from small companies to transnationals like Unilever.
Businesses are operating in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment, emphasizing the need to adapt to dynamic interactions between humans and the natural environment.
Importance of Sustainability in Business Transformation.
Factors such as technology breakthroughs, population growth, resource depletion, climate change, and demand for transparency are driving businesses towards embracing sustainability.
Companies are recognizing the need to address external disruptions and their interconnectedness to the world.
Sustainability is seen as a way to mitigate risks, strengthen resilience, and create new value.
Industry leaders like Kate Brandt and Adam Lowry provide insights on incorporating sustainability strategies into business practices.
The shift towards sustainability in businesses is driven by the breakdown of the social contract between businesses and societies.
This breakdown is due to a focus on shareholder primacy, leading to a growing expectation for businesses to serve a social purpose and incorporate sustainability into their operations.
The changing operating environment and increased risks like climate change are pushing businesses to take a systems approach and develop new strategies.
Circular business models that eliminate waste are presenting new opportunities for value creation in the business world.
Stakeholder groups such as investors, customers, and employees are playing a significant role in influencing businesses to embrace sustainability.
Importance of ESG Matters in Sustainable Growth.
Millennials and Gen Z prioritize societal impact and environmental improvement over profit.
Customers expect businesses to enhance their lives like governments.
Companies adapting to VUCA world by integrating diverse stakeholder perspectives.
Business example, Method, achieved financial success through sustainability, showing potential for shareholder value.
Shift in business focus towards social outcomes and sustainability.
Paul Polman and Adam Lowry emphasize the importance of improving lives and creating sustainable solutions for long-term profitability.
Polman suggests a new business operating system centered on sustainability, innovation, and stakeholder value.
Organizations are adopting new business models, innovating sustainable products, and partnering for scaled impact to embrace sustainability.
Examples such as Michelin's service-oriented model and Caterpillar's re-manufacturing facilities showcase the potential of circular economy approaches.
Rise of B Corporations in the Business World.
B Corporations focus on integrating social, economic, and environmental values into their operations.
Companies like Procter and Gamble and Unilever are acquiring B corporations to learn about sustainability.
B Corporations have shown financial benefits with higher revenue growth rates, especially during economic crises.
Successful B Corps like Method and Ripple Foods have sustainable manufacturing practices and positive impacts on worker conditions.
Importance of sustainable product innovation in response to consumer demand.
Unilever's sustainable living brands saw growth and contributed to company success in 2017.
Collaboration with local governments, NGOs, and rural women helped integrate product marketing with hand washing campaigns, reducing childhood disease rates.
The Consumer Goods Forum is aiming for zero net deforestation in their supply chains, addressing palm oil deforestation in Indonesia through partnerships.
Initiatives promoting sustainability in fishing and apparel industries aim to drive positive change.
The Marine Stewardship Council certifies sustainable fisheries, while the Sustainable Apparel Coalition provides tools for measuring impacts across supply chains.
Challenges faced by these initiatives include engaging smallholder farmers and achieving scale.
Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan, launched in 2010, sets goals to make sustainable living commonplace and improve health and well-being for over one billion people.
Unilever's sustainable goals for sourcing agricultural raw materials, enhancing livelihoods, reducing environmental impact, and improving health and hygiene.
Targets and sub-goals have been set under each major goal, which are reported in annual accounts.
Internal systems aligned with the Sustainable Living Plan by tying remuneration to plan objectives and removing incentives for short-term profit maximization.
Implementation of board committees for oversight and internal and external communications to engage employees and promote ongoing learning and adaptation.
Unilever's progress towards meeting 80% of its sustainable living plan commitments by 2020.
Unilever has reached 601 million people with programs on hand-washing, sanitation, and more.
The company has reduced waste by 29% and sourced 56% of products sustainably.
Unilever has engaged 716,000 smallholder farmers and showcased consistent outperformance in share prices over nine years.
The webinar explores long-term sustainability goals, strategic organizational changes, and the importance of sustainability in mitigating risk, lowering costs, and driving growth.
Importance of Sustainability in Business Strategy
Companies are transitioning towards sustainability as a strategic approach for success, moving away from compliance and CSR.
The shift involves prioritizing long-term value creation over short-term profits and focusing on building stakeholder networks.
Collaboration and global partnerships are emphasized over competitiveness in the business landscape.
Embracing sustainability as a cultural norm is crucial for addressing global challenges, with employees playing a key role in identifying opportunities for cost-saving and value creation.
Companies in various industries can contribute to sustainability efforts through their unique advantages and technologies.
Google is focusing on renewable energy sources and societal benefits, like their Global Fishing Watch tool.
Michelin and Philips are transitioning from product-driven to service-driven models, demonstrating the potential for all industries to make a similar shift.
There is criticism of greenwashing practices within companies, highlighting the need for greater corporate accountability in aligning actions with sustainability goals.
Identifying genuine sustainability efforts in companies is a complex challenge.
The Marine Stewardship Council established a high standard for sustainable fishing, validated by the UN FAO.
Consumer education is crucial in understanding sustainability labels.
Collaboration with reputable organizations like the World Wildlife Fund enhances credibility.
New technologies such as blockchain help with traceability and transparency in sustainability efforts.
The significance of small companies in sustainable farming practices, such as oil palm and coffee.
Sustainable Harvest Coffee Company's approach of transparency and reinvesting profits into farmer training has positively disrupted the industry.
Small companies play a crucial role in changing business practices and establishing trust in the supply chain, attracting attention from major corporations like McDonald's and Walmart.
Variations in willingness to adopt sustainable practices across different business sectors and industries are highlighted, underscoring the importance of involvement from all levels for sustainability.
Companies like Nestle and Unilever recognize their responsibility in addressing plastic pollution and microplastics in oceans.
The average seafood consumer ingests 11,000 microplastic particles per year, indicating the severity of the issue.
Global efforts are being made to engage actors throughout the supply chain, from chemical companies to recycling infrastructure, in initiatives like ocean plastics cleanup.
It is emphasized that everyone is connected to both the problem and the solution, requiring collective engagement and responsibility.