The 3 reasons why your sustainability strategy isn't moving fast enough


Mariano De La Canal

Global Client Lead

Unleashing Sustainable Transformation

As the toll that humans are taking on our planet becomes more pronounced by the day, those who find themselves in the position of making impactful choices on the environment are trying to slow down the damage. Policymakers, corporations, and consumers are shifting away from current habits, laws and business practices. But, the speed at which these changes are happening is not fast enough.

Where does your company fit into this continuum of intention versus impact? Are you adapting quickly enough, and if not, why?

From our experience with corporate sustainable transformation, we’ve observed 3 key challenges that are hindering companies and organizations from establishing and meeting the sustainability goals so urgently needed. Here are 3 roadblocks — and what we believe you can do about them:

Sustainability Strategy


Do you have a shared understanding of what is at stake?

Many would think that the biggest problem is not prioritizing sustainability, and focusing too much on the short vs. mid- and long-term future challenges. This statement is true, but it is not the problem, it is actually a symptom — a manifestation of the real problem — a lack of shared understanding about the impact of “business as usual.” To be understood, a problem first needs to be sized and acknowledged.

What to do?

Running a climate and social resiliency audit will provide valuable data on the potential consequences of climate change in your business. Customer research will provide insights into the value that customers are attributing to purpose-driven companies in your industry and market. Last but not least, ongoing field research and benchmarking will complement both your industry and the market by revealing valuable information on what other public and private players are doing. This knowledge reinforces the need for urgency and aligns stakeholders around action.

Have a vision

Do you have a purposeful vision, mission, and action plan?

Many companies simply don’t have a vision and/or mission that adds value to the people or planet in a sustainable way. In this scenario, your environmental efforts will always fall short, or be perceived as greenwashing. Other companies may market sustainability in their client and consumer-facing communications, but struggle to deliver in practice. Gone are the days when a clear purpose wasn’t a must-have ethos.

What to do?

First, you need to make sure your top management is integrated with people who are committed to environmental and social purposes (beyond the bottom line), so alignment on an ambitious vision and mission can actually happen. When you recruit new talent, convey strong and clear goals and have an employee experience to back it up. It’s okay to look outside for guidance and expertise: Collaborating with external experts can bring objectivity to how you identify opportunities for transformation, and define the milestones on your roadmap towards a more sustainable future.


Do you have a compelling story and an empowered team?

Some companies have a solid and shared understanding of environmental challenges. Perhaps they even have an ambitious vision and detailed roadmap toward change. Still, they struggle to implement it, or to do so at a speed that will have an impact. In many cases, leadership has failed to clearly articulate future goals and initiatives across the entire organization.

What to do?

Assign a team or division within your company to lead the efforts around sustainable transformation. Not as a side task, but as their core priority. These teams need to be empowered with resources, and must have clear support in the top management. And top management needs to interface regularly with reports of their progress.

Data about Sustainability on consumers