As CEOs and business leaders navigate a world of complex global challenges, sustainability is no longer optional but a business imperative. In this book, two sustainability leaders with decades of experience – Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania and Elaine Weidman Grunewald, Co-founder of the AI Sustainability Center, and former Chief Sustainability & Public Affairs Officer at Ericsson – offer a simple but powerful three-step model for leading an organization on a sustainability transformation journey that aims at big, audacious, world-changing goals.
Honest about the dilemmas but bullish on the opportunities, the authors advise leaders on how to accelerate sustainability in their organizations told through a Swedish lens, where the country’s values and culture permeate the boardroom and the C-suite, bringing a unique clarity and conviction to leading with integrity.
In practical insights gleaned from the authors’ own experience, the book takes leaders through the three phases of sustainability leadership: from establishing a solid foundation rooted in purpose, culture, values, principles and consistent, credible leadership, to integrating sustainability into the core business, and then to executing a vision that not only shifts the direction of the company but can change an entire industry, and even the world.
Throughout the book, more than 25 interviews with other leading CEOs of Swedish companies as well as successful start-ups, investors, economists, and other experts illuminate the path to sustainability leadership from different perspectives. These are complemented by case studies describing how companies got it right – or turned themselves around after getting it very, very wrong.
With this hands-on insiders’ guide, CEOs and C-suite leaders can take sustainability to the next level. This is the encouragement and inspiration business leaders need to move past incremental improvement at a time when exponential, world-changing action is more urgent than ever.
o A company’s purpose is being redefined: the purpose of business is about more than the bottom line
o Purpose must grow organically out of the culture to avoid purpose washing.
o How to engage your organization, build a coalition of the willing, get your board and investors behind you
o Introduction to the authors’ methodology for the three stages of sustainability leadership: (1.0, Building the foundation, 2.0 Business integration, 3.0 Changing the world, which frame the remaining chapters.Chapter 2: Sustainability Swedish-style
o Sweden presents a unique platform for sustainability leadership (historical, political context, world-class environmental and social leadership; that the face of the youth climate movement, Greta Thunberg, is Swedish is no coincidence).
o Why Scania, a 108-year-old company, and others with similar deep roots in Swedish values (i.e., Electrolux, Stora Enso, Ericsson) are informed by their history but agile enough to adapt to current and future sustainability challenges.
o A smorgasbord of CEO interviews provides multiple perspectives on what Sweden is doing right
Chapter 3: Finding the core
o Identify the areas where you can make the greatest sustainability gains and impacts by understanding all parts of your value chain (supply chain, operations, sales and customers, and end of life/disposal)o In 3.0 of the model, accelerate transformation by learning how to change the ecosystem and bring on board not just your customers, but your customers’ customers.
o Business benefits and credibility derive from integrating sustainability into the product and portfolio
o There’s no such thing as a sustainability strategy, there is only business strategy
o Seize the power of unexpected alliances through the ecosystem approach (3.0)
Chapter 4: It’s all about the sales
o Embedding sustainability in the product or service makes it part of the company’s DNA, not least engaging your sales force.
o A sustainability transformation starts and ends with your customers – the fastest way to get traction is to get them interestedo Learn how to measure and incentivize results and create demand for your most sustainable products
Chapter 5: Impact is not only measured by profit
o Why non-financial metrics matter and why you need science-based targets
o Defining smart KPIs: the 100 best KPIs to measure sustainability performance
o What makes a good KPI and a less good KPI
o Report on your performance and acknowledge the challengesChapter 6: Get ahead of the curve
o The days of free polluting and hidden lobbying are over; leaders are expected to provide real solutions to sustainability challenges
o Companies today are in some cases larger than governments, and thus have unprecedented influence and power to make positive change. Wield that influence wisely and responsibly, to help create a level playing field.
o Leverage your role in policy discussions to scale your vision. Be proactive and learn how to avoid regulatory blind spotsChapter 7: Engage your stakeholders
o Why the key sustainability trends matter to you and your stakeholders.
o Move beyond traditional stakeholders: society itself is your stakeholder.
o Have clear processes for engaging your stakeholders
o Work with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and impact investors to advance your mission.Chapter 8: Avoid the pitfalls and risks
o Trust is a business advantage. It’s more than simply following the law – this is about living up to purpose
o Candid first-hand accounts of how CEOs led their companies through a crisis and came out stronger
o A primer on the fundamentals of a solid governance foundation: go beyond compliance, set up the right processes, make ethical conduct non-negotiable, and part of the DNAChapter 9: The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Do companies really get it?
o Why the UN SDGs matter and why the private sector holds the key to their success
o How the SDGs provide an invitation for leadership on a global scale
o How to make your SDG commitment credible: move from branding to substanceChapter 10: A simple but powerful model for change at scale
o We’ve guided you through the sustainability transformation journey. Let’s put it all together.
o 1.0 The foundation: Knowing your own footprint is the minimum: it’s not a strategy
- 2.0 Business integration: Now it gets more interesting. How you integrate sustainability into the line functions and engage your entire organization.
o 3.0 Changing the world. Think beyond your business to create change in your ecosystem. Take advantage of your platform to drive real changeChapter 11: Future proof your vision
o Change is the only certainty. Be prepared by understanding the key future challenges for your industry and how to prepare for them
o The future is digital, and so too are many of the needed sustainability solutions. But data pollution might be an unanticipated problem that all sectors need to deal with
o The key future challenges as we see them (ie., climate change, technological challenges, digitalization, humanitarian crises and the conscious consumer)
o Public-private partnerships are crucial to tackle the issues, unleash innovation
Chapter 12: Think big-- change the world
o It is within your power to not only change your company but change your industry. Don’t settle for incremental improvement; make sure you’re moving towards 3.0.
o We’ve given you the tools, the inspiration, and the insight
o The urgency of business sustainability leadership has never been greater. Use your platform to make a difference.
o Including detailed cases of the companies featured in the book
Henrik Henriksson is President and CEO of Scania, a leading supplier of solutions and services for sustainable transport that is driving the shift towards a fossil-free transport system for heavy commercial vehicles. A fierce advocacy for sustainability, Henrik is an advisor to the Swedish government and part of its Agenda 2030 delegation.
Elaine Weidman Grunewald is a co-founder of the AI Sustainability Center, a world-leading center for assessing the societal implications of AI and data-driven technologies. An expert on global sustainability and development issues, Elaine has spent over two decades in the private sector focusing on digitalization and sustainable development, where she pioneered the tech for good movement.
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