Connect Your Sustainability Goals to Your Business Performance

Connect Your Sustainability Goals to Your Business Performance


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  • Sustainability is increasingly taking a core position in framing business strategy. But success requires more than good intentions. Sustainable transformation may call for broad changes to an organization’s business models, operations, financial practices, and partner ecosystems—an undertaking whose complexity reaches beyond the knowledge an organization may keep in-house.

    There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sustainable transformation. A retailer and a cement company don’t have the same needs or strategies. Even within an organization, every operation—risk and compliance, procurement and supply chain, production and operations, marketing and sales—has its own goals to meet.

    Meaningful transformation requires organizations to coordinate and implement measures across all business functions and throughout their value chain. They need to show the proof points through concrete performance metrics. And they need to mobilize their workforce and their business partners, applying corporate social responsibility policies that demonstrate acceptable returns on investment (ROI).

    But with sustainability issues becoming ever more complex, requiring ever more expert knowledge and the collaboration of many players, a go-it-alone approach may not yield optimal results. A strong partnership with a knowledgeable consultant can bring invaluable environmental, operational, and financial expertise to help create and execute a strategy that pays real dividends for the company, its stakeholders, and the planet.

    Here’s how some leading organizations tap into such expertise to manage complex change.

    Setting a Sustainability Roadmap

    Saur, based in France, is a leading service provider in the global water sector with an ambition to ensure that industries, individuals, governments, non-governmental organizations, and civil society appreciate the value of water and use this precious resource accordingly.

    Establishing a conservation-minded core ambition does not in itself spark sustainable transformation. Saur partnered with management and technology consultancy BearingPoint for industry and value-chain expertise to help it strengthen its sustainability strategy and roadmap.

    BearingPoint helped Saur develop a “sustainable development roadmap” to set and meet such tangible environmental and financial targets as preserving annual water use equivalent to that of a city of 100,000; building two strategic partnerships and executing one buyout to support water and energy transition; and signing power purchase agreements of 40 GWh in hydroelectricity and 100 GWh in solar power to achieve 100% green electricity.

    By implementing these ambitious but tangible KPIs, Saur in 2021 raised €950 million (US$1 billion) in environmental, social, and governance bonds, the first water company to reach that benchmark.

    Industry and Ecosystem Transformations

    Succeeding in sustainability requires organizations to lead transformation across business functions and throughout the value chain and to show its proof points through meaningful performance metrics.

    Among all industries, the cement sector is the second-largest industrial carbon emitter and third-largest industrial energy consumer. ADEMEthe French Agency for Ecological Transition, and the CDPa leading non-profit organization that helps companies and cities disclose their environmental impact, have collaborated since 2015 on ACT, a methodology to assess companies’ climate strategy and readiness to adapt to a low-carbon economy.

    ADEME and the CDP partnered with BearingPoint’s sustainability consultancy, I Care by BearingPoint, on a 2020 report applying this framework to the carbon-intensive cement sector. This road-testing exercise highlighted that while cement companies are committed to ambitious carbon targets and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these goals haven’t translated into practical investment plans, disruptive research and development, or end-to-end management of their carbon footprint from the purchase of clinker to the production, distribution, and use of cements.

    The report’s conclusions, while challenging, helped the ADEME and the CDP give sector leaders clear guidance, measurement methodologies, and planning tools to turn a high-level transition strategy into pragmatic actions that could help them show ROI as they realize their low-carbon ambitions.

    Sustainable Supply Chains

    Mature organizations, with sustainability at the core of their business model, also demonstrate the need to connect even more sound environmental policies with their financial strategy. Ever since it entered the consumer car market more than a decade ago, Polestar has branded itself as a producer of eco-conscious, low-carbon-emissions electric vehicles. To strengthen its commitment to carbon reduction, the company recently integrated sustainability management throughout its global procurement process.

    Incorporating BearingPoint’s environmental and supply-chain expertise, Polestar has developed a comprehensive roadmap to integrate more than 100 detailed initiatives with clear actions and recommendations for environmental best practices that help it identify prerequisites, set timelines, and designate teams to support its initiatives. Polestar uses this roadmap to assess the performance of its suppliers and to push for more eco-friendly practices throughout its supply chains.

    Financial and Environmental Expertise

    Forward-thinking organizations view sustainability targets as smart business practice that can help future-proof growth, save money, boost investor confidence, and spur innovation and competitiveness. And beyond the value it can bring to a company’s shareholders, community, and the planet, a sustainability strategy can also attract and retain talent, partners, and customers.

    Whether approaching sustainable transformation through the lens of production processes, supply-chain operations, sales and marketing, data and IT systems, or any other enterprise, meaningful change can’t take place in a vacuum. Comprehensive end-to-end change across organizations, processes, and partnerships calls for careful collaboration to access the right expertise to start the transformation and help it grow.

    Learn more about how partnering with BearingPoint can help your organization connect your sustainability goals to your business performance.

    BearingPoint, a management and technology consultancy, provides industry and value chain expertise to transform businesses. With its 2022 acquisition of I Care, BearingPoint supports organizations in planning and achieving ambitious sustainability roadmaps from strategy to delivery.

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