Sustainability: It’s a word that’s frequently thrown around in the business world and, because of rampant greenwashing, is often met with scoffs of cynicism and plenty of eye rolls.
When companies misleadingly slap “green” labels onto products or engage in other tactics that exaggerate their sustainability, it is almost always revealed through the media that they’ve been dishonest. As this trend of untrustworthiness is revealed to consumers on an increasingly regular basis, it’s no wonder consumers are doubtful of the actual amount of environmental good companies are doing.
Keeping in mind all the cynicism associated with “environmentally friendly” practices, how can company leaders get past this hurdle and both implement and benefit from true sustainability?
Much on this topic can be learned from the philosophy of the #1 company on Corporate Knights Magazine‘s list of the 100 most sustainable large corporations in the world. The magazine, which focuses on clean capitalism, placed Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk at the top of the standings.
Here’s what’s remarkable: “Novo Nordisk reports on its environmental and social performance – including water and energy consumption, waste reduction, employee turnover, the diversity of its management team, new patent filings and charitable donations – alongside its financial performance in a single annual report,” writes Marc Gunther.
This approach of linking environmental and social performance directly with financial performance and company wellness is innovative and is arguably the way of the future. Rather than thinking of sustainability as simply a side note on the periphery of its business workings, Novo Nordisk has implemented an integrated business and sustainability method. And that’s how it’s getting sustainability to work within the company — and pay off.
On top of that, this philosophy sends a message to consumers, loud and clear: Novo Nordisk is a leader in the green movement, and the company is serious about sustainability.
While this sustainability mindset hasn’t yet been embraced on a large scale, it’s a mindset that will get companies ahead in the long run. This is especially true as consumers are increasingly choosing to give their business only to companies that adhere to high environmental and social standards.
Novo Nordisk has figured this out.
All company-wide change starts at the top and must be embraced by leadership first if it is to succeed. When beginning senior executive recruitment, you have a list of qualifications and competencies you want in a new C-suite exec. This can be everything from business acumen to technological expertise or thought leadership. It can be someone who has an ability to find cost savings and business growth through environmentally friendly means.
Determine what’s important for your company’s growth and mission, and recruit leadership that can take you there.