Sustainability practitioners are a rather rare breed of people; they are passionate and often go the extra mile for the work they are doing. They break down old behaviors, try to stop old habits and instill new practices. And they are constantly balancing between focus on the task and focus on the people.

So why then do so many of you have the feeling that you are confronted with resistance, apathy, and misunderstanding? And why is your progress often stuck in the middle?

One of the main reasons is that sustainability is often seen as a separate and isolated division or a parallel priority to business as usual, and not at all integrated into core business strategy, planning and implementation. As a result, the function is not reporting or aligned with C-level management. This is where the challenges start.

Still today, many of you focus on charitable activities, risk, and compliance, on carbon performance and on volunteering activities. By doing so this makes it very difficult to develop analysis, to build a strong business case and to convince your management that your projects will strengthen the company and create growth.

Many professionals lack important economic skills too. In many cases, sustainable strategies are poorly developed or too tactical, lacking the link with the company’s business goals and objectives.

Well-developed strategies and strategic step-by-step approaches are key, also for you and without this, there is no way to develop long term ambitions, to define targets and to define and communicate success.

So the fact that sustainability professionals are struggling for influence within their company is partly the result of positioning, setting the context and commitment. They need to clearly explain that their job is part of an organization’s core business.


As Freya Williams so well explains in her book The Green Giants , the business case for sustainability is real and is worth a staggering US$2.2 trillion dollars by 2020.

Sustainability people might be the strongest business development force a company will ever have; use it at your advantage!

Interested in reading more on this topic; download here an interesting document from Cambridge University ‘A behavioral Competency Model for Sustainability Leaders’

Enjoy the reading!


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