How should companies prepare for a sustainable futureAlina Făniță
Before the pandemic and the outbreak of war, we were talking a lot about a sustainable future. The subject was quite well profiled. Sustainability was the way forward. It is still today, only that the responses to the gas and energy crisis seem to nuance positions that were decidedly committed to the path of sustainability.
We want sustainability, we just can’t have it simply now. For companies faced with significantly increasing gas and energy bills, the principles of environmental responsibility come into tension with their need to remain competitive.
And yet the concern for sustainability is genuine and continues to exist. Among companies, progress can be seen, according to the annual study carried out by CSRMedia and Valoria. However, the effective implementation of actions leading to sustainability objectives is a challenge for the entire company.
Given the goal, sporadic individual initiatives with limited success are not enough. Much more than that is needed. A transformation of the company’s operations is needed, and four actions are decisive:
Set the correct target level
The first step starts with a realistic assessment from the outside: what are the regulatory expectations? where do competitors set the bar? what are the expectations of customers and other stakeholders, including investors?
Usually, from a strategic point of view, it is good to take the lead on a small number of relevant aspects and determine what the future minimum requirements will be in all other aspects.
The level of objectives and the speed of their achievement should be based on realistic assumptions and plans. Knowing the levers and technical possibilities to reach a realistic ambition is of particular importance.
Plan the transformation
Once the target level has been established, the transformation must become a visible priority for everyone and must be planned in detail. To this end, measures must be developed and incorporated into an overall roadmap.
Corporate governance is also crucial to the successful implementation of the plan. That is why it is necessary to appoint a sustainability officer from the top management team. He does not necessarily have to be responsible for sustainability, and to ensure that he works effectively in this direction with all operational units. So not only to create initiatives, but also to implement them.
For the implementation process, it is worth establishing a sustainable transformation team to regularly measure progress towards the target. This allows prompt adoption or reprioritization of established measures.
It is also imperative that adequate resources are available. To change the ways of thinking and behavior within the company, it is necessary to transform employees as change agents.
In this context, the communication and anchoring of sustainability objectives within the organization must also be addressed – for example, through incentive systems.
Finally, investments should be made in data and transparency, as all stakeholders, from producers, consumers, to regulators and investors, increasingly demand such data.
In particular, traceability in supply chains is a challenge. This makes it all the more important for companies to deal with the sustainability data of their own products right from the start and develop the appropriate analytical skills.
No function is left untouched when changes of this magnitude are required. Everyone is involved and responsible for bringing sustainability to life in their area of responsibility: from procurement to production and logistics to marketing and sales.
Although it needs the drive of top management, sustainability is not a topic reserved for directors and managers alone, but one that concerns everyone in an organization. Consumers, regulatory institutions, investors, competitors put more and more pressure to comply with sustainability standards. But beyond all that, companies are on a mission to implement a comprehensive approach if they want the future to be theirs.
Alina Făniță este CEO și Partener al PKF Finconta. A lucrat cu companii multinaționale sau firme antreprenoriale din domenii diverse de activitate, pentru a le oferi servicii de audit financiar, due diligence, restructurări de grupuri, audit intern și alte servicii conexe activității de control intern. Este membră a celor mai prestigioase asociații profesionale din domeniu: ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), CECCAR (Corpul Experților Contabili și Contabililior Autorizați din România), CAFR (Camera Auditorilor Financiari) și IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors). A absolvit EMBA Asebuss la Kennesaw State University, a fost trainer pentru cursuri IFRS și este invitată ca expert la numeroase conferințe de business. firstname.lastname@example.org