Creating value through sustainability

In his latest blog, we hear from Jim Fava on how we must continue to create value through Sustainability whatever the political landscape.

By now we have all heard many viewpoints and perspectives on the results of the US elections.   I am sure they will continue for the foreseeable future.  The results were a surprise – no matter what side you were supporting. While currently there is unrest and uncertainty about the future of the US, our bill of rights (including freedom of speech), the checks and balances of our system of government remain in place and will help us to continue to move forward as a nation. We are a resilient nation.

Since entering the environmental space in the late 1960s, I have seen the ebbs and flow of environmental policies and practices, for example from burning rivers, hazardous waste dumps, pollution prevention as a “new idea”, to recognizing that products have a supply chain and have impacts globally to name but just a few.  In all of this, there is an underlying premise which has always been there, companies perform best – from annual income to resiliency over time – when they fully understand their full value chain risks and opportunities from a social and environmental perspective.   This isn’t a premise that all businesses and governments across the globe have been willing to accept. However, the outcome of this election will not change this premise, this focus on delivering tangible business value has no or little inherent political value because it is driven not by government, but by consumers and the markets that serve them.

Since many of you recognize the value in this and can draw on your own examples, my call to action is for each of us to stand up, embrace the uncertainty and collaborate to drive stronger Environmental Social Governance performance (ESG) within our companies, supply chains and market sectors so that we can continue to drive business value through sustainability.

So what does that really mean?  If you can answer yes to the following questions you should be well on your way to creating value for a sustainable world.

  1. Do you have a complete understanding of your customer’s expectations, demands in your market places and are taking actions on their prioritized sustainable and business risks and opportunities?
  2. Do your investor relations promote your ESG performance to drive changes in the buy/sell behavior actions within the financial/capital markets?
  3. Do you know what your sustainability priorities (related to enterprise, businesses, regions and/or products) are and use them to drive revenue growth, reduce costs, enhanced brand and mitigate risk?

If you can’t answer YES to each of these questions, your business may be at risk and/or you are losing opportunities to create revenue, reduce costs, enhance brand and mitigate risks.  This post-election period is the perfect time to take stock and develop strategies and actions to make the necessary changes and to continue to drive progress.

It is time for the sustainability community to drive change – not rely on regulations to inform actions. Leaders who have been shaping the future of their own companies and markets are already making excellent progress, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.  We have been studying the problems way too long. We must take actions now.  Last week, the Anthesis Group, along with 364 other business signatories expressed their commitment to addressing climate change, in a letter to President-elect Donald J Trump, expressing that the abandonment of climate change policy will endanger not only the environment but American prosperity. Recognizing this not only as a real business risk but also a continued commitment presents a significant opportunity to create long term value.

We have the know-how, tools, technologies, proven business models and practices.  Let’s turn this risk (whether you see it as real or perceived) and uncertainty into opportunities to drive the changes necessary to create a sustainable world.

Are you in? I am!

Jim Fava is Chief Strategist at the Anthesis Group.

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