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The eleven most difficult (management) questions facing corporate sustainability executives

I’m not a corporate sustainability director, or any kind of corporate executive. But I know quite a few people who are. So I was thinking recently about re-framing what we do at Innovation Forum around the most difficult questions those hard-pressed and under-paid executives who are our customers face every day.

Whilst I’m not sure we’re ready to go that broad in our product offerings, I wrote down what I thought might be those questions, and I’m curious as to what I’ve missed.

So here they are, however ingloriously, and I look forward to corrections, amplifications and comments:

In case we’d forgotten…

I came up with eleven, but I suspect there are others: (and some are inter-linked I do realise that)

  1. How do I pitch the 2018 business case to my board?
  2. What does real strategy look like in 2018, considering the SDGs, circular economy pressures, investor letters, and science based targets?
  3. What should my company tell investors about performance, beyond reporting, to get them engaged?
  4. How do we know when other departments are truly on board with sustainability?
  5. How can procurement and sustainability function together to add value that’s measurable?
  6. We know consumers don’t want to drown in detail, so how do we talk to them about such complex issues?
  7. How do we measure social: From Licence to Operate to working conditions in the supply chain
  8. Measuring environmental: From evolving waste, CO2 and water performance to chemicals, and more complex metrics
  9. How do we balance the need for improved supplier performance with limited resources?
  10. How do we talk about targets we know we will miss, or do miss?
  11. How do we tell stakeholders (particularly NGOs) about successes, without sounding self-serving or just PR focused?

So, what’s missing?

Update: 06/02/18: Thanks to Alex Nichols for suggesting this:

““How do I get our B2B corporate customers to put some skin in the game?” / The flipside of which is “How do we share the burden of our suppliers’ sustainability efforts?” [bit like the procurement one)”

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