Jenny Davis-Peccoud: Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability

Companies that take on sustainability efforts can open new avenues of growth, reduce costs and increase employee engagement. Jenny Davis-Peccoud, who leads Bain's Global Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility practice, outlines four things companies can do to achieve their sustainability goals.

Read the Bain Brief: Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability

Read the transcript below.

JENNY DAVIS-PECCOUD: Many CEOs realize that sustainability is a top priority for their business. They face pressing environmental and social issues throughout their value chain, which can constrain growth or accelerate success. Tackling sustainability can unlock new avenues of growth, it can reduce cost, and it can lead to employee engagement. Yet, achieving change and sustainability is very hard.

For the average change program, the success rate is only about 12%, so 12% of changes achieve or exceed the expectations they've set. For sustainability, that is just 2%. It is very difficult to make change happen in this area. Some of the constraints are lack of resources, as competing priorities get in the way, and mindsets which haven't quite grasped that this is a critical business issue. What really underpins success is that strong leadership. That's the No. 1 factor in supporting sustainability change.

We've talked to sustainability leaders across the globe, and we find that there are four lessons for success. The first is to set a bold, public commitment in environmental or social arenas. The second one is that CEOs get out in front and really lead. They introduce sustainability into the dialogue, and they help their employees make the real trade-offs. And that's the third lesson—that leaders really work to change employee mindsets to help them realize that sustainability can be an and, not an or. And finally, they hardwire change through the organization, embedding it in formal accountabilities and objectives, and even linking it to incentives.

Change takes time and commitment. But companies that make the investment, reap the benefits, both in terms of business results as well as sustainability.

Read the Bain Brief: Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability