Does your CEO have sustainability at the top of their agenda?

An increasing number of senior business leaders do – seeing sustainability as an integral part of their business, according to latest research by global management consultancy McKinsey.

In fact, CEOs are twice as likely as they were in 2012 to say sustainability is their top priority.

They’re getting a nudge from their senior execs, with many citing a lack of leadership as the main challenge to taking action on sustainability. They believe sustainability should be a top three item on their boss’s agenda.

That’s great news. But, as the report stresses, there’s a lot to do if businesses are to successfully integrate sustainability into their core business and improve accountability.

The challenge for business leaders is to incentivise and motivate key personnel, starting with financial directors investing more in adopting sustainable practices. Of course that can be difficult because there aren’t any immediate pay offs, and there are plenty of existing pressures on their bottom line.

Business leaders also need to get their HR directors in the room, because for sustainability to become embedded, there needs to be a programme of performance incentives to improve accountability.

An integral part

Traditionally leaders saw reputation management as the most valuable impact of sustainability. It now goes beyond that. According to the report, 43% of respondents said companies now see sustainability as integral to achieving their overall business goals, missions or values. That’s a significant development in embedding sustainability more widely across a business’s operations.

Interestingly, sustainability as a reason to improve operational efficiency and lower costs has dropped. That will be reversed, with cost cutting increasing in importance. There are, of course, many ways to improve efficiency, energy being just one. But with energy costs rising, it’s a hugely important one.

Indeed, of 13 core sustainability activities asked about in the report, reducing energy use in operations (64 percent) and reducing waste (63 percent) came out as the top actions being taken.

Energy partner

At EDF Energy we see ourselves as an energy partner. We don’t just provide businesses with electricity. We have industry experts providing a range of services that can help to deliver sustainability. From helping companies to put in place an effective energy strategy so they can manage and reduce long-term energy use and costs, to generating their own power, we can help with energy-related sustainability practices.

According to the McKinsey report, many companies haven’t looked far enough into the future to ‘reduce their resource independence in a significant way’. Perhaps now’s the time to pick up the phone and give us a call.

McKinsey make the case for looking to technology to drive sustainability solutions, and developing a clear strategy with no more than five priorities.

That’s the right approach, but it takes people to take action. And it starts with the CEO. It’s great then that more CEOs have moved sustainability up their agenda. More need to do the same.

Interested in developing your energy strategy? Contact one of our team energyexperts@edfenergy.com

Bio

Posted by Daniel Bentham, Head of R&D Smart Customers at EDF Energy

Dan Bentham MEng CEng MEI Chartered Energy Engineer, has worked in the low carbon energy sector for over 10 years. He is currently responsible for the research and development of future energy systems and technologies such as Smart Cities, Smart Grids, Smart Businesses, Smart Metering, Connected Homes, Low Carbon Transport and Energy Storage for the UK market.

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