2018, beyond societal impact!


Beyond societal impact, 2018 should be the year where true sustainability leaders stand out from the crowd. But, not too much.


Based on my past years as Executive Director, I have had the opportunity to gather observations on the topic of sustainable leadership. In my view, outspoken leaders that only invite others “to follow“ their good example, will fail to move their sector, and instead risk fragmentation. This type of “follow me” leadership might benefit the leading company in the short-term, but will not create enough impact for systemic changes in the sector. It will also limit its own ability and scope for sustainability impacts. The sustainable business success of the leader also depends on the opportunity to benefit from systemic transformations in its own value chain.


True sustainability leaders should therefore not be framed as ‘follow me’, but rather quietly as ‘come along’. They do not try to dominate sector peers. Quite the opposite, they invest patiently in sector or value chain initiatives and try to move along with other companies to make the change happen.


As they are interested in genuine change to secure their own future sustainability performance, true Sustainability Leaders understand that the social, political, economic, institutional barriers and limitations are not easy to overcome. To go over these challenges on the ground, you need to collaborate with others; an effort that goes beyond a mere sharing of tools and instruments. Such leadership does not try to dominate the sustainability story in a sector, but provides opportunities, impulses and good examples with its peers and in its value chain to make real impact.




That is also the reason why CSR Europe will, more than ever before, invest time and energy in platforms and collaborative projects. Some examples: the European Business Coalition for the integration of refugees in the labour market, the EUTalent platform/initiative on apprenticeships and Drive Sustainability in the automotive sector.


In 2018 we will endeavour, as always, to work on activities that contribute to societal impact. We invite you for a sneak preview in our upcoming projects: the 2nd edition of the Brussels SDG Summit, an SDG Masterclass, stakeholder dialogues, workshops and meetings with the EU Multi-stakeholder Platform on SDGs, etc. 


2017 and BEYOND 2020


Looking back, 2017 has been an intense year for CSR Europe. Some achievements we can be proud of:

This year, CSR Europe will also be looking towards the future. Our Enterprise 2020 Manifesto comes to an end soon, so we are preparing the next steps. Clearly, our Mission will remain the same, but focus areas and ways of working need to be addressed. CSR Europe will put its efforts on People (Lifelong Employability and inclusive Labour Markets), Materials (Sustainable sourcing and Circularity) and fair and transparent Markets.


We can count on the support of our committed Board of Directors to move forward with this strategic discussion. Obviously, our members will be consulted to give feedback. The target is to have our new plan/strategic Direction approved in May 2019.  


Stefan Crets

Executive Director

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