THE AGENDA TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION
A green deal for the future of Europe – and Germany to become climate neutral by 2045. Sustainable transformation and climate friendliness confronts both industry and society with radical changes. In the process, it could be worthwhile to rethink communication as well.
Old me – New me
If you take a look back at the beginnings of sustainable development with the Rio Conference in 1992, even companies that didn't know much about the topic back then got away with a classic ESG (environmental, social, governance) orientation But the wind has changed in recent years.
For a long time, companies relied on meeting only external expectations of their sustainability efforts in the context of regulatory compliance: Reporting on non-financial metrics, management system audits, disclosure regulations, a bit of green storytelling in the management report. This way, they hoped to satisfy the expectations of their stakeholders - especially in the capital market. Politics and financial markets have redefined the playing field. And the pressure to adapt is high. As a result, companies are facing the biggest industrial transformation of modern times.
Confronting new climate reality
The consequences of climate change are becoming visible in environmental catastrophes and are increasing public pressure on politicians and emitters, for example through Fridays for Future. This also alarmed investors. After Larry Fink, head of asset manager at Blackrock, called on companies to become climate neutral by 2050, a jolt went through the global industry. Since then, climate change has found its way into company valuations – as a risk that is difficult to calculate.
THE NEW NORMAL: SUSTAINABLE TRANSFORMATION
Just as companies are trimming their business models for net zero and sustainability, communication is also in need of realignment in many cases. This means that a new era of corporate transformation has arisen. Reorienting business models, phasing out fossil fuels, and reengineering supply chains all pose major challenges for companies.
Company leaders are realizing that the transformation to a sustainable company focuses on three dimensions: strategy, culture, and communication. The new agenda seems to be set. But how do you get to the concrete implementation?
“You can’t build a brand around an empty promise”
Companies that have not previously had to consider sustainability as a differentiating factor in their communications are entering new territory. In the worst case, the existing brand values are “pimped” with a little green purpose and campaigns are developed to promote one’s attitude, and customers tend to get permanently confused.
In fact, despite all the corrections in the ESG target system, little seems to have changed in the mode of communication in some places. But this is urgently needed. Communication not only adds value but makes a decisive contribution to achieving new sustainability goals. For example, nothing can contribute as much to productive change dynamics as employees who identify with sustainability goals. Or customers and investors who give a company new confidence. The path towards this goal is clearly outlined.
ENABLING CHANGE NEEDS LOTS OF COMMUNICATION
Our sustainable communication experts support you in staying on track with the new agenda in terms of communication. We advise you in all stages of the sustainable transformation. In doing so, we rely on our comprehensive expertise and years of experience in sustainability issues and relations.
Companies need to take a relentless look at their business model and identify sustainability risks and opportunities. While the political environment, together with the capital markets, defines the goal, companies must define their strategic path in a dynamically changing, competitive environment.
On the way through transformative changes, framework conditions need to be closely monitored and evaluated. Supply chain issues, energy prices, trade and travel restrictions or CO2 prices bring uncertainties to the new business models.
Put an end to long-term, rigid communications programs. Even a newsroom model will not improve communicative value if the attitude and willingness to communicate are not consistent. In all areas of change, agility is needed to take advantage of opportunities.
The complexity of sustainable challenges requires a new approach to collaboration. Value chains are increasingly being replaced by value networks to reduce the susceptibility of disruption to production. The networked industry of the future creates sustainable results via joint innovations and partnerships.
Ending the game of hide-and-seek. Ratings, disclosure requirements, CSR-RUG and the demands of the capital market require publishing all sustainability-related facts. They are necessary to understand the company's business performance, position and results, and to understand its impact on society.
Under the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, or CSRD, more companies than before will be required to disclose their sustainability risks and related performance.
As experts with many years of experience in supporting with sustainability strategies and implementing sustainability reports, we know the importance of materiality analyses. We have transferred this approach, which identifies the key fields of action for sustainable change by comparing relevant perspectives (outside-in / inside-out), to the communications strategy. In this way, we ensure that the communicative vectors of a company create value in a way that is closely intertwined with the sustainability strategy.
Does this make you curious? We would be happy to present this approach to you in a personal meeting.