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Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World

Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World

By BCG Henderson Institute
Businesses have a unique opportunity to create a better world, addressing major environmental and social challenges in a way that creates new business value and competitive advantage. How can they do this?

In this show, Dave Young, Fellow at the BCG Henderson Institute and Global Lead for the Total Societal Impact topic at BCG interviews senior business executives across the world to discuss their experiences and views on what it will take for companies to reunite the two "S-words" of business strategy: sustainability and sustainable competitive advantage.
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Lessons from Schneider Electric (Part II)
In the newest episode of our Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young—a BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation—continues his interview with Schneider Electric’s Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, Olivier Blum. Together, they discuss the importance of innovation to reframe and unlock sustainability as a source of advantage.  In these efforts, it is critical to engage customers and empower employees to drive sustainable innovations. Olivier explains how Schneider created a culture around sustainability that belongs to all their associates, allowing them to deliver on their bold ambitions across both environmental and social objectives. Looking to the future of sustainability, Olivier discusses the limitations of seeing sustainability as only an issue of compliance.  For him and for Schneider, there is no finish line for innovating to make sustainability a source of business advantage. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
15:49
May 27, 2021
Lessons from Schneider Electric (Part I)
In this episode of our Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — a BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — interviews Schneider Electric’s Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, Olivier Blum. Schneider Electric was recently named the world’s most sustainable company by Corporate Knights, a leading global sustainable business publication. David and Olivier discuss how the company achieved this, by transitioning from having Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives that were separate from the business to making sustainability a core source of business advantage. Olivier has a unique perspective on this transformation, having held a range of positions at Schneider over the course of almost three decades. Olivier has led various global business units and served as Chief Human Resources Officer in this time. He says companies looking to make sustainability core to their business strategy should embed sustainability into corporate purpose, make bold bets, translate those bets into clear long-term direction, define measurable short-term targets and milestones, and wire sustainability performance into compensation and promotion. Throughout all of this, Olivier speaks to the critical importance of senior leaders’ commitment to making Schneider a progressive company that constantly raises the bar on sustainability — from the environment to gender equity and broader societal issues. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
18:47
May 13, 2021
Harnessing Purpose for Sustainability
In our next episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young, our BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation, interviews BrightHouse CEO Ashley Grice. Ashley discusses how Purpose helps companies articulate how they differentially and authentically solve a need in the world, bringing the ideas of environmental and societal sustainability and sustainable business together. Following the proliferation of the concept for corporate Purpose in the last few years, Ashley anticipates Purpose will become even more relevant as societies work to recover from the series of crises that occurred in 2020. Boards, employees, customers, and even regulators will all demand more Purposeful businesses. While digging deep into Purpose will be uncomfortable initially, companies that harness it will find a powerful lever to help transform their culture, align people, stimulate innovation, accelerate growth, and infuse true meaning into their business for the long-term. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
14:09
April 22, 2021
Cross-sector partnerships for Sustainability
In the new episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — interviews Vicki Escarra, Former Global CEO, Opportunity International; Former President & CEO, Feeding America; and Former CMO, Delta Airlines. Vicki shares her inspiring journey across the private and social sectors. She reflects on the importance of cross-sector collaboration to drive meaningful, societal impact at scale while generating benefits for all organizations involved, including corporations. She shares her lessons learned on what it takes to build effective strategic partnerships for collective impact. Organizations involved need to: Set a common agenda, clarify the mutual benefits, match skilled resources to execute on both sides, measure and share progress frequently, and communicate. Trust, shared purpose, focus on impact, clarity of objectives, and accountability are the critical enablers for success. Applying these principles, organizations across sectors have a massive opportunity to create social impact, business benefits, and lay the foundation for a great legacy. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
18:02
April 8, 2021
Lessons from Eneva
In the new episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation and Heitor Carrera — BCG Senior Partner in Sao Paolo, Brazil — interview Pedro Zinner, CEO of Eneva, a major Brazilian energy company. Together, they discuss the evolving context in Brazil, underscoring the increasing investor demands for companies to embed sustainability into corporate strategy and operations. Pedro describes how Eneva initiated its sustainability journey and shares lessons learned. To get started, companies need to align on and measure ESG KPIs to establish their baseline, set challenging targets for these KPIs, and develop an inspiring narrative that articulates the business benefits to key stakeholders. While transformation for sustainability will be a journey, companies that commit to it will ensure they have a successful business for the long-term. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
11:29
March 25, 2021
Lessons from Veolia and Renault
In the new episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — interviews Christine Rodwell — former Vice President, Social & Sustainable Impact at Renault and Former Vice President, Business Development Cities at Veolia. Together, they discuss how the role of sustainability in corporate strategy has changed over time. Looking ahead, companies need to clearly define the impact they want to create for society; develop a focused sustainability strategy aligned with that vision; and fully embed sustainability into the core of the business and in every employees’ incentives to deliver on that strategy. Companies that succeed stand to gain tremendous value: attracting and retaining the best talent, reinforcing and expanding the license to operate, boosting innovation, and unlocking access to new markets. Christine shares concrete examples of how she helped make that happen at Veolia and Renault, “walking the talk” on sustainability. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
20:27
March 11, 2021
The Investor Perspective on Sustainability
In the new episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — interviews Mark Wiseman — Former Global Head of Active Equities and Chair Global Investment Committee, BlackRock; Former President & CEO, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) Mark shares his perspectives on the evolution and the role of purpose and sustainability in the ability of companies to create value for the long-term, and how that translates in investors’ capital allocation decisions. To win in the years ahead, executives and companies — across sectors and industries — need to build on the skills they have applied for years to traditional business decisions and financial metrics, and expand these to sustainability decisions and ESG metrics. They need to define clear objectives and strategies for sustainability as a driver of business performance and advantage, measure progress and hold people accountable against these objectives, and communicate these strategies and outcomes in clear way to investors.
17:19
February 25, 2021
Lessons from Unilever (Part II)
In the new episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — continues his discussion with Amanda Sourry — former President of Unilever North America. Reflecting on Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, Amanda shares her thoughts on how companies can and should undertake a purpose-driven sustainability transformation journey to drive business value, shareholder return, and corporate longevity in the decade ahead. This will require purposeful leaders, who seek to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in ways that create new sources of value and advantage for the business.
14:15
February 11, 2021
Lessons from Unilever (Part I)
In the new episode of the Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — interviews Amanda Sourry — former President of Unilever North America. Together, they discuss her experience of Unilever’s journey to create and implement its “Sustainable Living Plan” and reflect on practical insights on what it took to get there. Companies embarking on their sustainability transformation should define big goals, map and baseline the footprints of their products and services across the value chain to identify where they can have the most impact, form new partnerships, and surround themselves with a set of “critical friends” to help them on the journey.
08:51
January 28, 2021
Lessons from a Sustainability Catalyst, Danone
In this episode, Isabelle Grosmaitre, Catalyst at Danone, and Co-Chair Collaboration for Healthier Lives at Consumer Goods Forum, discusses how the company defined its “One Planet. One Health” vision, what it took to embed sustainability into the core of the business and innovation, and how companies should rethink how they engage stakeholders to create real, systemic impact and realize business advantage.
16:27
December 3, 2020
Trailer - Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World
Dave Young, Fellow at the BCG Henderson Institute and Global Lead for the Total Societal Impact topic at BCG, introduces his new podcast series, Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World. In this series, Dave will interview senior business executives across the world to discuss their experiences and views on what it will take for companies to reunite the two "S-words" of business strategy: sustainability and sustainable competitive advantage. *** About the BCG Henderson Institute The BCG Henderson Institute is the Boston Consulting Group’s think tank, dedicated to exploring and developing valuable new insights from business, technology, economics, and science by embracing the powerful technology of ideas. The Institute engages leaders in provocative discussion and experimentation to expand the boundaries of business theory and practice and to translate innovative ideas from within and beyond business. For more ideas and inspiration, sign up to receive BHI INSIGHTS, our monthly newsletter, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
02:11
November 23, 2020