Fredrik Hiller, the Managing Partner of Signium Sweden, is based at the Gothenburg office. He executes assignments covering several business sectors and is active in the Professional and Financial Services Practices. He is specialized within logistic...
Sustainability has become a key factor for the long-term success and growth of business in today’s rapidly changing landscape. As the world grapples with environmental challenges and the brighter spotlight on them brought about by global summits like COP28, organisations are recognizing the crucial need to incorporate sustainable practice into their core operations.
Fredrik Hiller, Managing Partner Signium Sweden says, “Sustainability has for some time emerged as an increasingly critical goal in the Nordics. If you do not live up to the new standards, you’re ‘out of business’.”
Eco-friendly operations, ethical sourcing, and green product development play crucial roles in promoting sustainability and responsible business practices.
“Initially, it was a bit of a “Greta effect” but now an authentic commitment to green practice has become more far-reaching, for example by affecting employer branding and the ability to attract top talent to our clients,” Hiller adds.
There is further upside, for example sustainability initiatives typically lead to reduced energy and water consumption, waste generation, and operational costs. Implementing energy-efficient technologies and recycling programs can result in significant long-term savings.
Walmart has implemented recycling programs to minimize waste generation. They have set ambitious goals to divert waste from landfills and increase recycling rates. By recycling materials such as cardboard, plastic, and food waste, Walmart has not only reduced their waste disposal costs but also contributed to a more sustainable environment.
Gwenaelle Avice-Huet, Schneider Electric’s Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer says, “Our sustainability impact initiatives are transformative, not quick wins. While some require longer to ramp up, we expect them to deliver significant results in the second half of the program.”
Founded in 1838 Schneider Electric, is the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation. As of December 2023 Schneider Electric has a market cap of $104.05 bn and employs about 128 000 people.
By measuring and disclosing progress relating to its Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) program spanning 2021-2025, every few months Schneider Electric ensures a constant, enterprise-wide focus on meeting the program’s 11 global and close to 200 local targets.
During the first two years of the program, there was significant expansion of initiatives that provide access to clean and reliable energy, particularly in India. The program also made progress through the steady growth of revenue and continued efforts to save and avoid customers’ CO2 emissions. Schneider Electric has been working on supply chain engagement and has started to see results in sustainable packaging and materials, as well as a reduction in emissions from top suppliers. With the implementation of its decent work initiative, (defined by The International Labour Organization as “Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives. It involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income.”) the company aims to further accelerate its efforts towards a comprehensive sustainable value chain.
Avice-Huet adds, “With only two and a half years left to reach our climate and social ambitions, we need to stay focused and mobilized to live up to our impact company principles: doing well to do good, and vice versa, and bringing everyone along on this journey too.”
Another global giant is Ikea the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008. The company has a large carbon footprint due to its large-scale furniture production and consumption, resulting in resource depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste generation.
However, the company has implemented various solutions to address these challenges. Ikea continues to source materials sustainably, increase energy efficiency, adopt a circular economy approach, reduce waste, and promote responsible forest management. It also has a focus on supporting social initiatives. These measures demonstrate the company’s holistic approach and commitment to sustainability and its goal of becoming a fully circular, climate-positive company by 2030.
It’s not only global companies that stand to gain from setting and reaching sustainability targets. For companies operating on a smaller scale there are some metrics available to track their sustainability efforts.
However, the choice of tracking metrics should align with your company’s specific sustainability goals and priorities. Regularly reviewing and analyzing these metrics will help smaller companies evaluate their progress, identify areas for improvement, and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
Hiller says, “Sustainability has become business. Highly successful companies are those that first manage to integrate their climate goals into the company’s overall strategy, instead of having it as a parallel goal.” Hiller further supports this notion by referring to an example shared by Stockman/Lindex, a prominent fashion company in the Nordics, whose head of sustainability believes in proactively and adaptively preparing for future regulations in order to ‘future-proof’ their business.
The active involvement of the C-suite is essential for driving sustainability initiatives and fostering a culture of responsibility and care towards the environment. Their leadership, strategic vision, resource allocation, and commitment to accountability can elevate sustainability from a set of initiatives to a core value embedded in the organization’s DNA.
With sustainability entrenched as a company vision and mission, C-suite leaders have the authority to allocate resources and investments and drive change and innovation.
Their visionary leadership not only empowers the organization to make significant strides in environmental stewardship but also establishes it as a responsible business entity dedicated to sustainable, long-term success.