Leadership • 3 min reading

Sustainability in Business: A Guide for Leaders

Sustainabilty in business

With the climate change crisis worsening, sustainability in business has become a crucial strategic axis both at the executive and operational levels.

Today’s executives must now implement practices that concretely contribute to minimizing their structure’s impact on our natural ecosystems. To do this, it is essential to adopt a flexible and transversal approach.

Here is a guide to sustainability in business, with four effective measures to implement.

1 – Organize Your Environmental Strategy According to Specific Themes

The field of sustainability covers a wide range of topics and issues. A company will be more efficient if it addresses its sustainability strategy by prioritizing specific themes, such as carbon emissions and the use of renewable energy. For example, the company Veolia has chosen to focus its sustainability strategy on preserving natural resources.

To implement a thematic strategy, leaders must drive the definition of priorities and relevant topics within their structure. This allows the company to focus on the aspects of sustainability that are most aligned with its values or where it is most likely to have an impact based on its activity.

Several studies show that a modular rather than a centralized organizational approach makes a company more agile and responsive when addressing thematic sustainability strategies. Thus, different operational units within a company can take charge of themes in which they have expertise.

2 – Establish a Sustainability Team with Executive Power

The second measure for an effective sustainability strategy in business is the creation of a dedicated central team. This group of talents has a transversal and executive role, overseeing the definition and implementation of measures across various business branches.

According to the consulting firm McKinsey, a promising model is a small-sized sustainability team with strong executive power. This team formulates recommendations and ensures their implementation in different branches of the structure.

Each branch also benefits from a substantial allocation of resources, guaranteeing its autonomy and better application of measures at the local level.

3 – Define the Organizational Structure that Suits Your Environmental Strategy and Business

Management and sustainability, organizational structure

When organizing or reorganizing a company to best mobilize its potential in sustainability, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each company must find the model that best suits its natural functioning and priorities.

Here are some models you can draw inspiration from:

Large Central Sustainability Team with Limited Resources in Operational Units

In this model, the central team defines most initiatives and ensures their application within the various operational units. The central team coordinates operational units working actively on specific issues.

This model ensures the consistent implementation of various priority points across different branches.

Small Central Team with Well-Resourced Operational Units

Here, the central team defines priorities, while the operational units with more resources can be more proactive. These units can make their own decisions and develop their own sustainability strategy.

This model is better suited to companies with a well-established culture of sustainability, increasing the chances of making sustainability a true collective effort.

Central Team Deploying Agile Action Teams in Different Operational Units

In this model, working groups are created within operational units to plan and act on their priority initiatives. When the action team leaves the operational unit to intervene in another unit, the first is now able to develop and execute its own sustainability initiatives.

This model facilitates the spread of best sustainability practices across the company and allows for the flexible reallocation of resources to better respond to the changing nature of sustainability within business.

4 – Emphasize Processes and Governance Reflecting the Dynamic and Complex Nature of Sustainability

In the context of sustainability in business, structuring and implementing a dedicated axis should ideally be based on establishing adapted processes and governance as early as possible.

Thus, the company should:

  • Establish solid decision-making and problem-solving processes from the central team to the operational units and vice versa.
  • Decision-making processes should also include frequent exchanges between different stakeholders, as well as quick decision cycles that accelerate problem-solving.
  • The central sustainability team should also address themes that operational units cannot act on.

Establishing effective processes and governance for managing sustainability also relies on judicious capital allocation. The most efficient companies are those that:

  • Dedicate a specific common fund to sustainable initiatives;
  • Define a return rate according to sustainable investments; and
  • Implement internal carbon pricing to offset the carbon impact.

Finally, setting specific performance indicators for the company’s sustainability strategy will allow it to measure the concrete impact of its actions.


We hope this article has inspired you to implement new CSR policies and sustainability strategies in your business. Remember that radar’s headhunting service can help you find collaborators who share your vision of a sustainable future.

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