Embedded Sustainability: A Strategy For Market Leaders

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Pages: 13


Business Strategy

Embedded Sustainability: A strategy for market leaders
By Chris Laszlo and Nadya Zhexembayeva
Consumers, employees, and investors are beginning to demand socially and environmentally-savvy products without compromise, while radical transparency is putting every company under a microscope. n recent years three big trends – declining resources, radical transparency, and increasing expectations – have redefined the way companies compete. The linear throw-away economy, in which products and services follow a one-way trajectory from extraction to use and disposal, can no longer be supported, as we are simply running out of things to unearth and place to landfill. Consumers, employees, and investors are
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Combined with higher-than-average price volatility, these upward price trends and growing scarcities pose a serious challenge for the security of supply chains. To declining natural resources, we add two more trends: radical transparency and rising expectations. Fueled by unprecedented activism in the civil sector and enabled by rapid developments in information technology, transparency has become the dynamic, immediate, and substantive force of modern corporate life. It enables any interested person to peer into product and service lifecycles and find those impacts on society and nature that used to be hidden from public scrutiny. The third trend – rising expectations – invites companies to re-think the very essence of market demand. Investors, employees and, most importantly, consumers increasingly expect sound social and environmental performance. New parameters are becoming standard such as quiet, healthy, socially equitable or environmentally-friendly for every product and service in the economy. We don’t want just any household cleaning product; we want it non-toxic and biodegradable. We drink fair trade coffee and bring reusable shopping bags to the supermarket. And we no