Sustainability, food and health

Sustainability: not just a driver for business results

Today, sustainability unquestionably has an ally in legislators, but laws alone are not enough to activate positive behavior. The only real path remains that of the overall culture.

Sustainability: not just a driver for business results

Today, sustainability unquestionably has an ally in legislators, but laws alone are not enough to activate positive behavior. The only real path remains that of the overall culture. It is in the organizational culture—in the way in which companies interact with government and institutions and their customers, in their daily choices and what they would like to become in the future—that sustainable “thinking” and “doing” have their home, the only ingredients capable of generating a tangible impact on business, today and in the future.

And sustainability—like the piece of an incomplete puzzle—is what brings order to the image of the relationship between the economy and society. A relationship that carries with it all the toil and confusion of a century spent in search of that missing piece.

Despite the more complex context, today things seem clearer: the economy is the society and the society is the economy. As a result of greater diversification and destructuring of information, social issues, relations and conflict impact on the markets at a speed never-before experienced.

The business community recognizes that a significant part of the risks faced by those operating in the markets on a daily basis are directly connected to sustainability. Even if carried out rapidly, adapting to market needs on one’s own is no longer sufficient to be competitive. Distinctiveness is generated when companies are able to grasp the emergence of new social trends rapidly to influence and be influenced by them, thus rewriting the very terms of the concept of competitiveness.

As the no. 1 independent think tank in Italy and among the top ten in Europe, we have always been cognizant of both social and market trends with a single goal in mind: to help companies interpret and, where possible, stay ahead of the changes underway. What emerges from observing the most successful case studies is that, to accelerate the impact of sustainability on business, transformations must be taken on through constant interpretation, response to and dialogue with the changes in society and the market.

Here are some of the good practices and means used by the most successful companies:

Interpreting change through:

  • Research and scenarios: quantitative and document analysis of global and local policies, integrated with interviews with key opinion leaders
  • Assessment: market analysis to identify the drivers for change and areas of impact that can generate shared value
  • Forward Looking Materiality: different, cross-gridded matrices to detect preferences—for management and stakeholders—to identify priority sustainability initiatives for business
  • Drivers for change: analysis of the main social economic factors that impact on specific business areas

  Response to change through:

  • Purpose: development of a strategic sustainability plan following an assessment process, to be integrated into the industrial plan
  • Strategies: development of business activities that respond to the expectations of global and local agendas
  • Impact: creation of methodologies to measure impact on wellbeing and competitiveness based on statistical analysis
  • Processes and procedures: implementation of the changes required to create a sustainability plan that optimizes any congruences and incongruences between internal and external perception

Activation of change through:

  • Stakeholder engagement: involvement and activation of stakeholders through multi-stakeholder forums and road shows with potential involvement of outside experts, the media and opinion leaders
  • Sustainability culture: creation of organizational value and behavioral systems from an ecosystem perspective
  • Effective communication: structuring and diffusion of an integrated culture through shared languages

Anticipating and managing the needs of business involves, therefore, an inevitable orientation towards generating culture and the increasingly dense narrative around the issue of sustainability bears witness to this. It was only when this issue assumed a significant position in terms of a shared culture that markets began to comprehend the importance of learning its language.

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