Growth Strategies

Leaving A Legacy: Your Business' Success Requires A Sustainable-First Approach

Leaving A Legacy: Your Business' Success Requires A Sustainable-First Approach
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Guest Writer
EMEA Corporate Sustainability Director, Dell EMC
6 min read
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We can never know for sure what lies ahead; however, with the world’s population growing exponentially and set to reach 8.5 billion people by 2030, we do know that business as usual cannot continue if we want to ensure a healthy, prosperous future for our society and planet.

With more people comes additional strain on our resources: think more cars, more clothes, more gadgets, more appliances, and more energy– which is not sustainable with our current model. We must consider the impact we are having both individually and collectively on the world around us, and we have to start making plans now.

Businesses have a responsibility and must play a significant role in this discussion. CEOs and leaders are focused on achieving growth, market share and greater profit margins, but there is an opportunity to embed sustainability into their business models, so that it supports these goals, while using their size and influence to deliver scalable, impactful change.

Take single use plastic straws as an example. One individual can make the choice to not use plastic straws, and it could eliminate hundreds of straws from our environment over the course of a year, but when large companies remove them from their operations, that number multiplies dramatically, and potentially eliminates millions of plastic straws from littering the environment and entering landfills. 

What is a legacy, and why is it important?

A legacy is about creating something that leaves a lasting impression or impact. But how can a business go about having a planned, deliberate, and tangible impact? Put simply, it starts with your expertise and your people. It’s about making a commitment to do good, and instilling that in the culture and values of the business. For us, this is about putting our technology and our talent to work where we can achieve the most good for the world around us.

Leaving a legacy in this context is more than just a “nice thing to do.” If businesses set goals which drive innovation, sustainability, diversity, and collaboration, these objectives will in turn result in tangible business benefits.

Customers are increasingly concerned about the social and environmental impact of the products they buy, and, according to a recent study, 66% of customers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies with strong corporate responsibility programs.

Having a lasting positive impact means that we can’t just do “less bad,” but both as individuals and as businesses, we must find ways to do more good and in a sustainable way, that also inspires others to follow suit. This is more than just about doing the right thing. It’s about building a better business: unleashing innovation, and creating efficiency without compromising.

But what can, and should businesses actually do, both in the short and longer term to drive change?

Leading the way

It can be difficult to know where to start, but it comes as no surprise that for a business to leave a legacy, there must be a leader to drive it. But the challenge for any large organization, with so many societal and environmental aspects that need tackling, is how do we ensure we are being strategic and applying our expertise where we can offer the most value and impact? Here are some of our focus areas that help shape our actions, which can be applied to most large organizations seeking a structure and strategy for their own legacy:

1. We focus on our customers We keep the customer foremost in our mind, linking our corporate responsibility goals back to providing them with value.

2. We drive innovation Empowering our teams to employ creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit drives better social and environmental outcomes.

3. We collaborate Success does not happen in a vacuum. Working together toward common goals, incorporating diverse perspectives, and drawing on each other’s strengths are critical.

4. We scale for success We know that we have to take advantage of our worldwide reach and view our activities through a global lens. Our goal with pilot projects is to “crawl-walk-run”– if it isn’t something we can do at scale, it’s not going to transform our business, or have the level of impact we want.

5. We are motivated to do the most good For a long time, sustainability meant doing “less bad.” But our efforts imagine something bigger, and better. We believe that technology can create positive social and environmental change– actual “good” that will build a better tomorrow. That will be our Legacy of Good.

Take the first step to building the future

The future requires a real change in mindset around creating value, and it will take new types of collaborations that leave a lasting, positive impact.

This isn’t just the right thing to do for the long term, we also see that it is becoming increasing central to the success of business today. According to the Better Business, Better World report, there is an estimated global market potential of US$12 trillion annually connected to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Furthermore, putting sustainability at the center stage regionally, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) in the UAE launched the National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050 last year referring to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on climate change in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This plan aims to implement green growth plans and address the impact of climate change. In addition, at the World Government Summit 2018, MOCCAE in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) launched The Climate Project, which aims at delivering climate initiatives that touch the lives of 10,000,000 people by 2020 and will function under three main pillars: Gender and Youth, Extreme Weather Events, and Sustainable Solutions.

This new mindset is also critical to the upcoming workforce. Millennials now make up a majority of the workforce and according to a Cone Communications survey, 64% of them won’t take up a job in a company that isn’t socially responsible. Additionally, 83% of millennials would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues- demonstrating that CSR is not only a good idea, but it’s now vital to a brand’s success.

Now more than ever, leaders must seriously consider, decide and act on the lasting impact they can have to ensure business longevity, while deliberately creating a legacy today for a better world and society tomorrow.

Related: CSR, Ethics and Integrity In The Middle East Enterprise Space

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