Precisely ten years ago, in January 2011, Michael Porter published his pivotal article on Creating Shared Value (CSV). CSV is about ensuring long-term, sustainable value creation for shareholders while simultaneously tackling societal and environmental issues. Porter’s framework has become the reference point for how companies should approach sustainability. Similar issues and topics are covered by the project i2 SustainIT, in which CEED is a partner organization. At the same time shareholders and investors have also begun to take sustainability more seriously. Increasingly, they scrutinise corporate performance not only on the basis of earnings but also on sustainability metrics, like the UN ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) goals.
But, even with Porter’s compelling theoretical framework and fast-growing interest in sustainability, most companies continue to struggle to make shared value work for their businesses. There is often a disconnect between the sustainability commitments made in company reports and the reality of new business and product pipelines. Too often they are solely focused on profit maximisation.
Some companies merging innovation and sustainability functions into one unit. In this way the organisation is by design (including goals and priorities) focused on sustainable innovations with a limited risk of agenda misalignments among the different units. The reality is that innovation and sustainability are now inseparable.
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