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Sustainability is not a ‘bolt-on activity’

Businesses must stop approaching sustainability as a ‘bolt-on activity’ and instead place it at the core of its organisational strategy, a leading strategy consultant and author has urged during the recent IoD Global Conference.

Businesses must stop approaching sustainability as a ‘bolt-on activity’ and instead place it at the core of its organisational strategy, a leading strategy consultant and author has urged during the recent IoD Global Conference.

Taking place from 2nd-3rd September, the Institute of Directors Online Global Conference led with the theme, ‘Connecting the World: Tackling our global challenges together.’ 

Neil Gaught, co-founder of Single Organizing Idea and author of the CORE books, spoke as part of a panel discussion on ‘Leadership, Responsibility and Accountability in Seeking Green Solutions’, alongside Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals, Richard Hagan, Founder of Crystal Doors and Dr Ifeyinwa Kanu, CEO and Founder of IntelliDigest and Louise Macdonald OBE, FRSE, National Director of IoD Scotland.

Neil explained that despite a growing desire by many businesses to become more sustainable very few are actually giving it the centre stage it needs to drive meaningful changes within the organisation and deliver benefits to its shareholders, its people and the planet. 

‘At best’, he said, ‘their well-intended commitment to ‘purpose’ ultimately conflicts with other areas of the business so fails to make any lasting impact. At worst, it is a shallow, purpose-wrapped PR stunt that risks not only being called out by the public but by an increasingly younger talent pool who are not afraid to hold their employers to account.’

The solution, according to Neil, is to start placing sustainability at the core of the business strategy. ‘Acting as a ‘North Star’ this will guide every decision made, ensuring that their business and everyone working for it, are aligned to the same outcome, one which benefits all,’ he explained.

Many businesses are concerned that the shift to a more sustainable operation is just too big, and this overwhelms them to the point of paralysis. Neil was keen to reassure attendees that making the transition to a more sustainable future was much easier and quicker than most people think,

It’s easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of recent news and succumb to the fact that humans have pretty much destroyed the planet already and there’s nothing we can do to change that. But the great news is we absolutely can change things for the better. The tools already exist to help businesses, and their advisors, start placing sustainability at the core of their operations within a matter of weeks. They just need to adopt a ‘can do’ mindset and take the first step.”

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