From must to differentiator
Sustainability often starts with being compliant and can lead to creating shared value. This shift from ‘doing what you have to do’ to ‘exploring opportunities’ opens up new possibilities.
The three main drivers of sustainability efforts can be described as:
- must = compliance. The most important driver in this phase is being compliant with regulations. For most companies this was the starting point and often it’s directed at minimizing negative impacts;
- have to = internal drive. Owners, employees or CEO’s can have the internal drive to do good, because they believe they have to. A lot of (older) companies have a long tradition of doing good. Often the link with the core business is still minimal, but the focus is on a positive contribution;
- want to = create shared value. When social, economic or environmental problems stakeholders face are taken as a starting point for innovation and business, shared value can be created. This approach directly affects the business (strategy) and is really transformational.
It’s and, not or
All of these drivers contribute to a more sustainable company. However, the latter really opens up new opportunities while the compliance phase ensures your ‘license to operate’ and is part of risk management within your company.