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Beyond regulatory pressure, sustainability can be a business strategy, something we’ve explored together with Oxford Economics in our recent Deep Green report. Two great examples are sailing competition Sail GP and shipping company Odfjell.

Just before the pandemic hit, we surveyed companies’ views on sustainability. We found that 70 percent of the 500 senior executives researched saw sustainability as not just a cost on the balance sheet but as a driver for business gains like increased sales. Now, in our recent Deep Green research, 95 percent of respondents (3,000 executives across markets and sectors) say that sustainability is a vital element of their corporate strategy.

Key features of green businesses

What do green businesses have in common then? We discovered five things deeply green businesses do within the vast data set gathered. They infuse sustainability thinking across the firm, recognize opportunities as well as the imperative, view lateral leadership as fundamental to their goals, investigate innovative commercial models, and, last but not least, see technology as an enabler rather than a silver bullet.

Easier said than done you think? Well, it’s a big lift, but the opportunities are as great as the consequences of inaction are severe. During our seminar on How to go from green to deep green we had the opportunity to get inspired by two successful companies that have come far on their respective journeys – Odfjell and Sail GP.

Odfjell links climate targets to bonuses

85 percent of all products have been transported on a vessel somewhere within the supply chain. The shipping industry, representing 2–3 percent of global emissions, is both part of the problem and the solution. Someone who is dedicated to addressing the challenges is Øistein Jensen, Chief Sustainably Officer at Odfjell. He wants to drive green transformation in the whole industry.

According to Øistein Jensen, global regulations aren’t enough though; Odfjell has set ambitious climate targets beyond that. The basis for the targets is a systematic analysis, all based on quality data. The targets are also linked to the company’s financing, which strengthens the internal attention and focus. Even the bonuses are linked to the climate targets. The approach means that sustainability isn’t a separate department but rather infused across the company.

Competing in sustainability at SailGP

International sailing competitions SailGP has sustainability as one of its core pillars and it defines the whole competition, says Fiona Morgan, Chief Purpose Officer. Its ambition is to be the world’s most sustainable and purpose-driven global sports and entertainment platform.

With the Impact League, the company has set a new standard as sustainability is part of the competition. As the first sports organization, SailGP rewards athletes and teams for environmental actions by tracking positive actions teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing.

What are the ingredients to succeed with the initiative? Collaboration, transparency and education since it’s about a major shift in mindset. The initiative also inspires other organizations, and Fiona Morgan wishes more sports organizations to adopt the same approach.

Get to know more about Deep Green

If you’d like to hear more about what happens at Odfjell and SailGP, the Deep Green report and our recommendations on how to accelerate sustainability initiatives, the seminar can be viewed on-demand here. You can also visit our sustainability web to read more about the research and download the report.

Adam Karnama

Head of Sustainability Consulting Nordics at Cognizant

Adam Karnama

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