UCL School of Management

17 March 2021

How to successfully implement a modern corporate sustainability strategy

Canary Wharf in london by night, showing the iconic clocks and underground in the main plaza

Speaking on the ESG (Environmental, Sustainable and Corporate Governance) Out Loud podcast, sustainability expert Paolo Taticchi discussed his latest book and why he believes organisations must embed sustainability into their strategy to make it a success and the advantages it can have both financially and competitively.  

An effective corporate sustainability strategy is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for businesses, with investors and other stakeholders demanding more information about an organisation’s sustainability efforts to make informed and responsible business decisions. 

On the podcast, Paolo shared how insights from his research, global consulting and teaching experiences over the past 10 years led him to write his latest book, Corporate sustainability in practice -  a guide for strategy development and implementation and why his definition for modern sustainability combines traditional concepts, like the ESG, and more recent theory such as Michal Porter’s idea of creating shared value, linking sustainability to the challenges we are facing in society, today.

Paolo suggests that in the past the emphasis has not been on the profit measures of sustainability and sustainability has been formed as a separate and secondary plan usually managed by marketing teams, where the main focus of sustainability is tied to brand perspective. Paolo’s work focuses on the importance of organisations making sustainability an integral part of the businesses which runs in parallel with the organisational objectives and is led by senior management teams to be successful at enhancing a competitive position and profitability.

He suggests that companies can practically implement and drive sustainability by incentivising the senior management teams and link performance to the sustainability objectives. In recent years companies have started using ESG criteria as a performance measure for senior executives to drive sustainability and put it at the forefront of the board’s agenda.

There have been relatively few changes in the industry overall, but there are some companies that in the last decade that have taken a serious approach to incorporating a sustainable strategy and are now recognised as leaders in their respective industries. The laggard companies are starting to feel the pressure from the leaders and stakeholders which has sparked a movement for change, but Paolo suggests that for those who are only now engaging in the conversation of sustainability it might be too late, as it is a long-term and complex process.

Listen to the full podcast (Paolo’s interview takes place at 35 minutes)

Last updated Wednesday, 17 March 2021