How do you convince middle management to move beyond the status quo? And above all, get them understanding and integrating sustainability within their business? These are the questions we often hear in workshops and group discussions.
Research indicates that the SDGs are little known by middle management, and as such this level is often the weakest link in progress towards the SDGs. This was one of the key findings of a White paper CSR Europe published last year with Globescan and Frost&Sullivan.
THE WEAKEST LINK?
However, a stakeholder dialogue we recently hosted for Hitachi on Social Innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals, made me re-consider the above statement.
Patrik Sjöstedt, Chief Commercial Officer, Hitachi Europe Ltd., made a strong case for understanding and implementing sustainability within his projects.
In areas like Energy, Industry & Water, Urban and Public Health, he gave numerous examples on how Hitachi’s business units develop new innovative solutions that contribute to solving societal challenges.
4 KEY LESSONS
Patrik Sjöstedt’s speech and subsequent dialogues held with other companies and stakeholders taught us 4 lessons on how to link business and societal value.
1. Vision and Purpose of the organization need to be articulated and linked to a societal purpose. The company’s staff need to know what its contribution will be.
2. A second lesson stemming from the discussion in the stakeholder dialogue is the need for a business strategy tool that allows Board members and managers to assess the sustainability impacts of their decisions.
3. A third requirement is the need to be in close contact with customers, listen carefully to their needs and not indulge in developing “engineering” solutions.
4. A fourth lesson learned is the need to co-develop solutions with partners. Societal challenges, be it at a local, regional or global level, are by nature complex and require the input and perspective from different stakeholders. That is also why we, at CSR Europe are investing in the development of collaborative platforms like DriveSustainability and the Pact4Youth.