Mirror, mirror on the wall: who’s the greenest of them all? The 5 profiles of eco-innovation maturity and ambitions – Business Review

Mirror, mirror on the wall: who’s the greenest of them all? The 5 profiles of eco-innovation maturity and ambitions - Business Review

Sustainability is no longer optional in the business plan and it is completely reframing the way we think about value and success. But merely ticking boxes on a long list of “sustainable” activities doesn’t automatically translate to sustainable success. Additionally, there is this trap: we traditionally measure success by the thickness of our wallets and the size of our bank accounts. To acknowledge complexity, I urge you to also consider our reactive behaviour: we typically act just a day before the deadline or when the law compels us. By Andreea Nicolae, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at PIVOT-C So where should organizations start?  My answer is: how about a mirror?! My journey with people and organizations across the spectrum of sustainability and innovation has revealed a landscape of diversity. I have started to give special attention to actions and reactions related to sustainability. Although I have never kept an exact count, there have been many hours of business interactions, professional audits, research and personal observations that have led me to cluster various organizational behaviours into distinct (yet interconnected) profiles, each reflecting the style and approach of their leaders. By observing people and companies in their work principles and ethics, their actions, the benefits they offer, the risks they pose and the opportunities they gain (or miss) for the business, I have been able to identify the following organizational behaviours: Companies that view sustainability efforts as a diversion of valuable time and resources. Leaders with this mindset prioritize short term profitability, adhere strictly to the minimum regulatory and consider sustainability to be purely an environmental issue. I call them “ Protectors ”. And, sadly, there are too many companies in Romania fitting this profile. According to a study in 2022 by PwC and the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB), only 30% of the Romanian listed companies have an implementation plan for environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives, and only 10% have an integrated business and sustainability strategy. A separate cluster is that of organizations acknowledging they need to do something about the “sustainability buzzword”. Their leaders are not entirely resistant to new business models, yet have a partial understanding of sustainability concepts. Their blind spot is they view this as an obligation, a compliance process. This happens when you limit sustainability to energy efficiency investments or when sustainability reporting is a quick, painful process that lies into the hand of a member from your administrative department. Think of the countless sustainability reports we encounter, bearing no figures, results of past performance, commitments and targets. To give you some sense of reality on this type of behaviour: I was once urgently called into a meeting by a customer who had a construction tender file on his desk where 20% of the score was allocated to ESG criteria. The client was eager to secure that crucial 20% of the score, hence he called for a consultant to help him understand what ESG was and to demonstrate his ESG compliance in… a week! What a “ Pragmatic ” profile in full display! Up in the line come the Fighters . These are the visionaries that extend their sustainability efforts beyond just reducing carbon footprints , focusing on eco-efficiency and socio-environmental strategies. These are companies that are aware of the force behind people, perceptions, values and aspirations, building around loyalty, understanding and integrating growing trends in consumers concerns and consciousness towards sustainability. For reference, check this study released by global management consultancy Bain & Company, saying 50% of consumers report (1) sustainability was one of their top 4 purchase criteria and (2) they would pay a 12% premium on average for minimized environmental impact. Fighters focus on eco-design in product development and are regular checking their carbon footprint, which positions them ahead of the market. Companies that manage to integrate sustainability and eco-innovation upper on the ladder are the ones that focus on the organization fabric. Their distinct merit is their focus on building a culture of sustainability across all levels of the organization and the integration of these principles with the business and financial strategy at the C-suite level. For the record and right scaling: i n 2022, 75.8% of S&P 500 companies incorporate ESG performance in their compensation design. Check this type of criteria and you might identify the Strategists . Raising up on top of this value creation chain, The Trendsetters excel as the leaders in sustainability. These are companies that actually succeed in minimizing the environmental impact and advancing eco-friendly innovations . They set a strong example by adopting ethical sourcing practices, by regularly evaluating their sustainability performance and nu allocating resources towards R&D for innovative solutions.Top of Form Introspection is the mirror through which organizations truly see their colors, transforming self-awareness into strategic power. The profiles I have shared blend and flow, existing without rigid boundaries, reflecting the nuanced spectrum of organizational sustainability. This journey is not about moving linearly from one stage to the next. It’s about embracing the journey’s fluidity, where introspection and adaptability illuminate the path to true sustainability leadership. At PIVOT-C, we have checked the power of this maturity assessment process with our customers: it acts as a compass for companies looking to truly see themselves in the mirror of sustainability. Our framework provides a clear roadmap for integrating critical practices into every aspect of business operations, guiding organizations through the stages of maturity in sustainability and innovation. It’s like asking the mirror not just who is the greenest of them all, but how we can all become greener together. If you’re eager to learn more about transforming sustainability reflections into actions for organizational growth, I invite you to join me in my future articles on this topic and for an in-depth discussion at the 11th edition of the Working Romania event, #futureofwork, on March 28, 2024, at the Courtyard by Marriott Bucharest Floreasca, organized by Business Review. Let’s pivot sustainability together! With this occasion, we have also prepared a special survey, so we invite you to reflect with us on your organization’s approach to sustainability: www.menti.com / Access code: 1325 3720 About Andreea Nicolae, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at PIVOT-C With over 25 years in marketing and a keen focus on integrated projects with a sustainability DNA, Andreea Nicolae guides companies in integrating ESG values and circular economy perspectives into their strategies and business models. Connect and collaborate with Andreea on LinkedIn for insights and collaborations in sustainable development.