Management / #R2R2015: How to develop a sustainable culture

#R2R2015: How to develop a sustainable culture

Firms must build sustainability into their corporate cultures to minimise the effect that climate change and related issues could have on their businesses, according to an expert.

Fiona place

Speaking at Risk to Reward 2015 in London, Anthesis Consulting Group associate director Fiona Place said climate change is a risk that is increasing in importance.

“Business is now operating in a climate-constrained world,” she said, noting that this includes not just temperature, but related problems concerning food, water and poverty.

In fact, a World Economic Forum report ranked climate change adaptation fifth out of the top ten risks likely to have the biggest impact on businesses this year.

The risks do not exist in isolation, Place said. Rather, risks concerning regulations, disclosure requirements, and reputation are all interlinked.

Firms are facing a connected web of top-down and bottom-up risks, she explained.

“Then this is actually multiplied through the effect of climate change,” Place said. “We see things like climate change, but also linked to that natural hazards around things like food security and water scarcity.” These in turn can lead to other forms of disruption.

The S&P 500 Climate Change Report showed firms reporting on climate change demonstrate higher financial performance and better stability, she explained.

These firms that showed a strong governance structure for sustainability, had a particular focus on relationships with their shareholders and were more likely to report on environmental and social metrics in addition to their own financial results.

“One of the critical areas is around product design and print design, and how you can substitute materials that go into those products for others,” Place said.

Firms can also work to increase employee and stakeholder engagement, she added, and make use of the full range of guidance available to them to make decisions.

Anthesis has used strategies like these to help firms like Tesco, Northern Rail and SAB Miller to become more sustainable, Place said.

Click here to read more from Risk to Reward 2015.