Earlier this fall, EcoVadis and Nexio Projects held the B2B Sustainability Forum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, bringing together 80+ attendees to learn how companies are moving their CSR program beyond compliance and into maturity.
“This was an excellent opportunity to bring together inspiring professionals who are changing the way companies work with their suppliers, market to their customers, and inspire their employees,” explained Richard Bourne, Director of Engagement Services at EcoVadis.
Our keynotes and panelists from ING Wholesale Bank, McKinsey & Company, Atlinks Holdings Ltd. and Tarkett shared their vision on what it takes to accelerate and optimize CSR programs while embracing sustainability as a value-driver.
Here are a few highlights from the event:
Sustain Your Competitive Edge
According to McKinsey & Company, Consultant Sustainability Insights, Wouter Vink, companies are now focusing on the risks associated with sustainability, which is a reactive approach. Instead, they should be tapping into new opportunities and taking a proactive approach: “Efforts are always spent on risks, but we’re not spending enough time on opportunities,” he said during his keynote at the Sustainability Forum. He highlighted the following opportunities, citing some interesting examples:
New Products and Services: Sustainability marketed Consumer Packaged Goods products are growing 5.6 times faster. He cited that Unilever’s Sustainable Living brands are experiencing 69 percent higher growth compared with the rest of the portfolio.
The Reinvention of Existing Products: He expects a $60 billion profit-pool growth in plastics reuse & recycling for the chemicals industry by 2030. He also noted that fashion resale is growing 21 times faster than retail.
Resource Efficiency: Since 2010, Unilever has saved $680 million in energy efficiency and $260 million from waste reduction. Walmart saves $1 billion per year through freight efficiency.
Higher Employee Engagement: A purpose-driven organization drives three times the level of employee engagement. According to research, 64 percent of millennials won’t take a job if a company isn’t strong on CSR.
Wouter suggested tapping into opportunities by following consumer sentiment, investors’ decisions, and cost parities.
ING’s Sustainability Improvement Loan
Dr Roland Mees, Director of Sustainable Finance at ING Wholesale Bank, gave a wake-up call to all audience members: “We have a motivational problem.” He explained that collaboration is key and we must all work with the same conviction in order to move forward. According to Dr Mees, internal engagement can be the first step towards industry collaboration.
Dr Mees explained ING’s sustainability improvement loan and how it will help “make sustainability pay,” by incentivizing and rewarding sustainability performance.
The new loan offering emphasizes borrower sustainability improvement by tracking their sustainability performance over time and adjusting the interest rate based on this performance. As the sustainability score improves, the interest rate decreases and vice-versa.
ING’s improvement loan is a great example of how companies can go further together.
CSR Fits All Sizes: How Companies Integrate Sustainability
Carmen Hualda, CSR Manager, Atlinks Ltd., and Michiel Keij, Director Global Accounts, Tarkett, featured in a panel session to share their drivers for embracing sustainable practices as well as common challenges to implementing sustainability programs.
Michiel explained that Tarkett’s main driver for sustainability is innovation. “We are phasing out our regular portfolio and replacing it with new, innovative sustainable offerings. Sustainability is now our strategy to increase profitability and margins.”
For Atlinks, the main driver for implementing sustainability is compliance and customer retention: “Back in 2012, one first-year telecom operator customer requested us to fill in the questionnaire as a supplier and then a second one. We soon saw the benefits of joining the EcoVadis program. It is a very well-known platform for CSR evaluation, and other customers were also asking to see our assessment,” explained Carmen.
Both companies use EcoVadis to measure their CSR performance, improve their practices and obtain a third-party validation to confidently communicate their sustainability success with business partners.
Both panelists agreed that sustainability is not going anywhere and predicted that it will soon become a basic requirement to operate and survive.
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