Incorporating sustainability into every organizational decision-making process
Sustainability involves balancing economic, environmental, and social factors to ensure that the organization’s actions do not harm the planet, people, or future generations. Angela Hultberg, Kearney’s Global Sustainability Director, explains why sustainability must not be considered an afterthought and should be embedded in all organizational decisions.
- What has changed in sustainability practices in the past 10 years? Any trends you can mention?
In the past 10 years, we have gone from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’. It is insufficient just to set targets. Companies must implement and scale solutions to show they are serious about leveling up from doing sustainability projects to being a sustainable business. This will take a lot more than a high-level strategy.
- What are, in your opinion, technological innovations that are shaping/will be shaping the sustainability agenda?
At the end of the day, everything comes back to energy. Do you want sustainable transport? Do you want to decarbonize manufacturing? You need fossil-free energy. The energy sector plays a vital part in keeping global warming below 1.5 °C. But let’s also remember we cannot wait for innovation to come and save us. People were being innovative ten years ago too. Let’s deploy those solutions. Take the best available solution, scale and implement them.
- Why is sustainability becoming an important component of the strategic thinking of an organization?
Sustainability disrupts everything—every single industry. It is not just supplemental but a business strategy as much as digitalization is. Ignoring climate change, stakeholder pressure and customer expectations can make you irrelevant. Investing in obsolete technologies is like spending R&D money on an electric typewriter: pointless if nobody wants it.
- Will organizations expose themselves to higher risks if they chose to follow sustainable practices as opposed to their competitors?
It is quite the opposite. Following sustainable practices is about future-proofing your business. Be smarter with the resources you use and go circular, so you can always access materials, preferably at a lower cost. Get an electric fleet to access your customer’s front doors as zero-emission zones occur. Most importantly, stay relevant in your offerings to customers. Being sustainable is not a cost. It is an investment in future growth and revenue.
- How are the customers reacting to your commitment to sustainability?
Customers are reacting very well to our commitment to sustainability. You have to practice what you preach. Sometimes, we pull up a slide in meetings to show how much CO2 we saved by doing it on MS Teams instead of flying in. It is a small thing but it makes it tangible. But honestly, being a consultancy organization means the most significant impact we can have is through our clients: helping them decarbonize manufacturing, building circular supply chains, and measuring ROI on social initiatives.
As the world faces environmental challenges and increasing societal expectations, businesses must adapt and embrace sustainable practices to ensure long-term success. To know more about how Kearney integrates sustainability into their business strategies, read the full interview of Angela Hultberg in the latest issue of PERFORMANCE Magazine Issue No. 25, 2023 – Sustainability Edition.