NEXT IS NOW
Executive Vice President
Chief Sustainability Officer
DNV GL Group
Too many good stories are never told and too much experience is not shared. In the coming years we will turn into a sharing economy where sharing best practices becomes the norm, as businesses realize that everybody wins when we share
knowledge, to enable even more businesses to go sustainable.
Customers and employees will be more informed and powerful. They will pressurize and inspire businesses to become more sustainable. In the coming years we will see corporate sustainability moving in to the core of human resource management as businesses use their sustainability performance as a tool in recruiting and in employee and other stakeholder relations.
The next generations of leaders and employees are world citizens that will be attuned to sustainability in a very different way than today’s executives. They will not need to un-learn that business is solely about shareholder value, period. They bring a new set of values and skills for holistic leadership that will move mountains.
The world needs transformative changes, and to drive that we need bold, visionary and principled leadership. The leadership challenge is perhaps the most commonly stressed in the interviews. Sharing ideas and creating platforms for collaboration is vital. The Global Compact Local Networks are set for a more influential role having become platforms for dialogue, forming policy, building trust, and real change.
In times of transformation, lifelong learning is essential – on all levels. From executive MBAs to primary education, sustainability needs to be on the curriculum and increasingly it is. And, it just so happens, that education in itself is one of the most powerful tools in the sustainable development toolkit.
Businesses will increasingly see themselves as part of the solution and want a level playing field. They are increasingly advocating progressive and smart regulation, seeking to embed the principles of sustainable business in regulations and standards.
Transparency and sustainability go hand in hand. Commitments to responsible behaviour are worth little if stakeholders don’t trust you to keep your word. Rapid development in communication technology and reporting will create a hyper-transparent business environment.
We will need to be better at measuring the impact of doing business sustainably. Business will need to demonstrate a positive impact for itself, but also for society and the environment. Creating meaningful metrics will be crucial to engage a wider group of businesses and investors.
Sustainable development has a strong stabilizing effect on potential conflict, but responsible businesses also can play a role. When different factions are at odds, businesses can keep up daily relations, weaving strands of commitment and trust.
Last, but most definitely not least, the interviews all express hope. It is a resolute belief that doing the right thing – for the right reasons – actually matters. It is the only way to stay in business in the long run.