Sustainability is increasingly taking a key position in framing business strategy. But success requires more than good intentions. Sustainable change may call for extensive changes in an organization’s business models, operations, financial methods, and partner ecosystem—a task whose complexity exceeds knowledge that can be hidden. in an organization.
There is no one size fits all approach to sustainable change. A retailer and a cement company do not have the same needs or strategies. Even within an organization, each operation—risk and compliance, procurement and supply chain, production and operations, marketing and sales—has its own goals to achieve.
Meaningful change requires organizations to coordinate and implement measures across all business functions and throughout their value chain. They must demonstrate proof points through concrete performance metrics. And they need to mobilize their workers and their business partners, applying corporate social responsibility policies that show an acceptable return on investment (ROI).
But with sustainability issues becoming more complex, requiring more expert knowledge and collaboration among multiple players, a stand-alone approach may not yield the best results. A strong partnership with an experienced consultant can provide valuable environmental, operational, and financial expertise to help create and implement a strategy that pays real dividends for the company, its stakeholders , and the planet.
Here’s how some leading organizations are tapping into such expertise to manage complex change.
Set Up a Continuity Map
Saur, based in France, is a leading service provider in the global water sector with the ambition to ensure that industries, individuals, governments, non-governmental organizations, and civil society appreciate the value of water and use this valuable resource.
Establishing a conservation-minded core ambition will not in itself stimulate sustainable change. Saur has partnered with management and technology consultancy BearingPoint for industry and value chain expertise to help it strengthen its sustainability strategy and road map.
BearingPoint helped Saur create a “sustainable development roadmap” to set and achieve such tangible environmental and financial goals as preserving the annual water use equivalent to that of a city of 100,000; establishing two strategic partnerships and implementing a buyout to support water and energy transition; and signing power purchase agreements of 40 GWh of hydroelectricity and 100 GWh of solar power to achieve 100% green electricity.
By implementing these ambitious but tangible KPIs, Saur in 2021 raised €950 million (US$1 billion) in environmental, social, and governance bonds, the first water company to reach that benchmark.
Industry and Ecosystem Changes
Success in sustainability requires organizations to lead the transformation of business functions and the entire value chain and show evidence of this through meaningful performance metrics.
Among all industries, the cement sector is the second largest industrial carbon emitter and the third largest industrial consumer of energy. ADEMEthe French Agency for Ecological Transition, and the CDPa leading non-profit organization that helps companies and cities to reveal their impact on the environment, has been collaborating since 2015 on ACT, a methodology to evaluate climate strategy and companies’ readiness to adapt in a low-carbon economy.
ADEME and CDP partnered with the sustainability consultancy BearingPoint, I was taken care of by BearingPoint, in a 2020 report using this framework in the carbon-intensive cement sector. This road-testing exercise highlights that while cement companies are committed to ambitious carbon targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these goals are not translated into practical investment plans, disruptive research and development, or end-to-end management of their carbon footprint from the purchase of clinker to production, distribution, and use of cement.
The report’s conclusions, although challenging, helped ADEME and the CDP provide sector leaders with clear guidance, measurement methods, and planning tools to create a high-level transition strategy. to pragmatic actions that help them demonstrate the ROI of realizing their low carbon ambitions. .
Sustainable Supply Chains
Mature organizations, with sustainability at the core of their business model, also show the need to connect better environmental policies to their financial strategy. Since it entered the consumer car market more than a decade ago, Polestar has branded itself as a producer of eco-conscious, low-carbon-emissions electric vehicles. To reinforce its commitment to carbon reduction, the company recently integrated sustainability management into its global procurement process.
Including BearingPoint’s environmental and supply-chain expertise, Polestar has developed a comprehensive roadmap to combine more than 100 detailed initiatives with clear actions and recommendations for best environmental practices that help it identify needs, set timelines, and teach teams to support its initiatives. Polestar uses this roadmap to evaluate the performance of its suppliers and to drive more eco-friendly practices throughout its supply chain.
Financial and Environmental Skills
Forward-thinking organizations see sustainability targets as a smart business practice that helps future-proof development, saves money, boosts investor confidence, and drives innovation and competition. And beyond the value it can bring to a company’s shareholders, community, and planet, a sustainability strategy can also attract and retain talent, partners, and customers.
Whether approaching sustainable change through the lens of production processes, supply-chain operations, sales and marketing, data and IT systems, or any other business, meaningful change does not occur. in a vacuum. Comprehensive end-to-end transformation of organizations, processes, and partnerships requires careful collaboration to access the right expertise to initiate change and help it grow.
Learn more about how a partnership with BearingPoint can help your organization connect your sustainability goals to your business performance.
BearingPoint, a management and technology consultancy, provides industry and value chain expertise to transform businesses. With the 2022 acquisition of I Care, BearingPoint supports organizations in planning and achieving ambitious roadmaps from strategy to delivery.