Four factors — the demands of consumers, business partners, and regulators; employee enthusiasm; the commercialization of green technology; and the opportunity for top- and bottom-line growth — have created a permanent place for sustainability on the strategic agendas of large companies. All of these companies must “go for green” to some extent, but it falls to their leaders to determine what degree of effort and investment in sustainability is most appropriate.
There are three increasingly ambitious strategic levels of green that companies can pursue: Responsible Green strategies seek to meet the sustainability demands of key stakeholders, such as trade customers and regulators, and maintain the company’s competitive position; Efficient Green strategies pursue operational efficiency and cost competitiveness through environmental initiatives; and Differentiated Green strategies adopt sustainability as the source of long-term business value and enhanced market share.
Differentiated Green companies treat sustainability as a core element in their overall strategy and develop the organizational capabilities, particularly innovation and design capabilities, needed to achieve their green goals. They include green considerations in their decision-making processes, and they integrate green into their corporate and brand marketing. These companies will be best positioned to meet the challenges and capture the opportunities of sustainability.