Implementing successful sustainability agendas often demands significant organizational change. Many Harvesters have significantly altered their organizational structures, business models and operations.
We find that most Harvesters are not embedding sustainability-oriented resources into pre-existing organizational structures. They are instead adopting new structures, instituting new lines of communication and establishing new performance metrics. In short, many Harvesters are unified in their focus on sustainable business practices.
For instance, more Harvesters have established the position of chief sustainability officer than other companies. But among Harvesters, a typical sustainability officer is not a lone wolf espousing some marginal position that others within the organization can choose (or not choose) to listen to. These positions have the backing of CEOs and are often supported by separate cross-functional senior management committees that can affirm and support corporate sustainability objectives. Some 85% of Harvesters say their organizations have strong CEO commitments. Only 56% of other companies say this is the case.
At HP, each of the company’s three main business divisions — the personal computers division, the printers group and the enterprise business division — has had well-developed sustainability initiatives in place for a long time, says HP’s Librie. “The role of my corporate group is not only to help coordinate what’s going on at the business unit level, but also to provide a framework and structure around the story that explains HP’s overall corporate goals in sustainability,” he says.
This combination of central control and devolved execution is the approach taken at Shell. “We have a small team at the global business level with clear accountability for driving this change, but the execution takes place in the businesses at large,” explains Graeme Sweeney, Shell’s executive vice president of CO2.
At Campbell Soup, four teams promote sustainability in areas such as community and the environment. “These formal chartered teams are where you can drive accountability,” says Dave Stangis, the company’s vice president of CSR, sustainability and community affairs. “You get content expertise, you get decision-making ability and you drive accountability. It’s really the only way I know to make it work.”
Progress is measured against sustainability goals at Kimberly-Clark, with quarterly updates on areas such as energy and water use, waste generation and net sales of environmentally innovative products. This data and other sustainability updates are delivered to a range of internal stakeholders, including the CEO, says Ward.