Sainsbury’s CSR chief applauds rising culture of ‘challenge’

Sainsbury's head of corporate responsibility & society Sarah Ellis has said that taking an open-source approach to sustainability is helping to challenge the company go beyond its 20x20 targets.

Reflecting on the retailer’s sustainability strategy achievements over the past two years, Ellis said that the results have been “significant” so far.

“When we publically laid out our sustainability strategy two years ago in the form of 20 stretching targets for 2020, we were venturing into the unknown in many ways,” she recalled.

Since then Sainsbury’s has undertaken a series of peer-led consultation exercises in the form of crowdsourcing events to help inform its direction in this area.

“It seems … that we have strong support that the targets are indeed the right things to be working on,” Ellis said. “Beyond the targets themselves, I believe one of the biggest changes for us is how we’re engaging others, particularly customers – but also our suppliers and colleagues.”

Ellis made reference to Sainsbury’s long-term partner Forum of the Future, whose CEO Sally Uren recently challenged the company to share 20×20 interim targets and focus more on consumer engagement around sustainability issues.

Underpinning this is Sainsbury’s own recently launched value of values campaign – “a direct challenge to industry that ethical questions are more than minor considerations, particularly for consumers of value ranges,” explained Ellis.

“We’ve always said our values make us different and that we see them as a source of long-term, competitive advantage. With this campaign we are making this more explicit than ever before,” she added.

Maxine Perella

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