CEOs in powerful position to unlock sustainable transformation

CEOs should take advantage of their ability to create "powerful mechanisms" that can drive meaningful change across the corporate sustainability landscape, a leading CSR authority has said.

Peter Bakker, former CEO of TNT and now president of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), feels strongly that business leaders must strive to push their organisation’s green agenda forward if transitional change is to accelerate.

“I have worked in business for almost 30 years … over that period, I gained an increased understanding of the growing concern of sustainability and how it is part of a larger perspective rather than just the bottom line of an individual business,” he said.

“What I discovered while being a CEO is that if you aim to address these issues you create very powerful mechanisms that can tangibly improve the state of the world. What’s more, in so doing, the relationship between the company and its employees can change for the better.”

However, Bakker also highlighted current limitations facing business leaders such as balancing CSR investment against shareholder interests, and said the solution was to make a financial case for change.

“The first step is always to think about running your business more efficiently from an energy perspective and increasing resource performance productivity. Doing this will create an immediate cost saving, and will help reduce negative environmental impacts at the same time,” he said.

He added: “Every company has to ask itself some pertinent questions. Do we want to make the change and be a leader in sustainability, or do we want simply to be a follower? There is still a real advantage in being an early adopter.”

Read the full interview with WBCSD president Peter Bakker here

Maxine Perella

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