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How to achieve competitive advantage with sustainability?

08.02.2021

Business has seen an extremely rapid evolution of sustainability in recent years. Whereas traditionally companies viewed sustainability as charity work, it later became a compliance issue. Now, successful companies see that there are business opportunities tied with sustainable products and services.

 

As the pandemic was unfolding last Spring, we asked Finnish business leaders in large and medium-size companies about their views on sustainability, strategy, and the pandemic. We wanted to see if their view on the role of sustainability in business had changed.

 

When asked about the most important themes in strategy work after the pandemic, most chose climate change. This was one of the top three responses along with customer experience and digitalisation. This corresponds with our view and understanding of the market – climate change and sustainability is becoming an issue that should be at the core of every future-proof strategy.

 

Interestingly, all respondents believed that the significance of sustainability has not been compromised by the pandemic, and half even said that the pandemic has actually increased its significance. Moreover, half of the business leaders believed sustainability can be the source of significant business competitive advantage.

 

“Most companies and individuals are now looking left and right for ways to meet their own sustainability goals – which means that the positive effect of products and services will be of interest to most of them. In that very crossing, sustainability meets value creation.

 

This small study reflects our analysis of the role of sustainability for business: It has become standard practice for almost all companies, and that is why competitive advantage does not come from merely complying with rules and regulations. Most companies and individuals are now looking left and right for ways to meet their own sustainability goals – which means that the positive effect of products and services will be of interest to most of them. In that very crossing, sustainability meets value creation.

 

True competitive advantage can be achieved by identifying how sustainability can transform the way you create value to your customers, by being the sustainability disruptor in your industry.

 

Sustainability is no longer about charity or compliance. It is one of the main pillars of any successful business.

 

Kaisa Hietala, Partner, Gaia Consulting

Maria Sangder, Business Director, Gaia Consulting

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