Management Centre Europe | MCE | Organizational and Management Development - Strategy Execution

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Measuring and Managing Sustainability

There is growing evidence that sustainability is no longer just optional. Leading companies—such as Unilever, SAP, Nestlé, P&G and Kraft—have made announcements saying they will/ are changing their business models to make the most of a changing business landscape, on that includes using resources more efficiently and in ways that are sustainable. These public announcements are mainly from “consumer goods companies”. But all their suppliers (B2B) will be impacted as well.



What are the challenges involved in becoming more sustainable? How does a company make it pay off for everyone?


Injecting Sustainability into the Whole Organization

A few years ago, when companies began looking into how they could do business sustainably, it was often in response to consumer demand for them to “be green”. But today, businesses are embracing sustainability because it can help them to focus on more efficient—and potentially profitable—ways of working.

What You can Measure, You can Manage

Today, businesses are beginning to understand that sustainability is not only about being environmentally friendly. It is about business, which ultimately means it is about money. If implemented well, sustainability can contribute positively to a company’s financial results.

Two Challenges for Sustainability Strategy


Unilever: One Company’s Plan for Sustainability

Companies around the world are re-aligning and adjusting their business models and strategy to include sustainable business activities. Why? For many companies, sustainability is a response to demands from their customers. But, as these same companies are discovering, sustainability can also lead to greater efficiency and profitability. One example is global consumer goods company, Unilever, whose products are used 2 billion times every day by people in almost every country in the world.

Near the end of 2010, Unilever announced its Sustainable Living Plan, a commitment to “develop new ways of doing business which will ensure that our growth does not come at the expense of the world’s diminishing natural resources”. The company announced plans to:

  • Reduce the environmental footprint of its products by 50%
  • Over the next 10 years, help one billion people improve their health and well-being
  • Obtain 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably

The Sustainable Living Plan sets out more than 50 social, economic and environmental targets. It will see Unilever reduce by half the greenhouse gas emissions, water and waste used not just by the company in its direct operations, but also by its suppliers and consumers. More than two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions and half the water used in Unilever products’ lifecycle come from consumer use. 

“People tell us they want to reduce their environmental impact but find it hard to change their behaviour and don’t know how they can make a difference,” explained Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “By halving the total carbon, water and waste impact of our products, primarily through innovation in the way we source, make and package them, we can help people make a small difference every time they use them.”

Click here to read more about Unilever’s work in this area.
Three other examples:


There are two key challenges facing companies that are working to embed sustainability throughout their business.

1. They need to shift the corporate view of sustainability away from focusing mainly on philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. Instead, companies need to embrace the reality that there is a strong business case around sustainability. And, it has a direct impact on their revenue and margins.

2. Sustainability is often an isolated effort, as opposed to being an integral part of the goals and core processes of an organization and its supply chain. Due to this separation and the need to meet governmental and customer reporting requirements, companies often spend most of their effort aggregating data from many disparate systems rather than creating and executing strategies based upon identified opportunities. To make your sustainability strategy effective, data needs to reside in one place, where it can be analyzed for changes across a wide scope. 

SAP’s Sustainability Map

The Sustainability Map provides a comprehensive view of the sustainability requirements of an organization and a framework to show how SAP solutions deliver value. Click on the graphic below to enlarge it.

 Click to enlarge. 

For detailed information about the SAP Sustainability Map, click here.

Purchasing, Procurement, Contract Management, Logistics and Supply Chain

Your sourcing strategy is important but it’s not just about the cost of manufacturing and transport. Your competitive advantage concerns the total cost and viability of your whole supply chain.

Talk to MCE about Measuring and Managing Sustainability

MCE's Senior Associates

Our Senior Associates can work with management teams or individual managers to address all of the people and change management challenges facing industries, businesses and organizations today. They draw on their years of experience in top managerial and leadership roles to help you solve problems and identify "what works" in different circumstances, countries and cultures. Above all, they have led their people through the challenges of developing new capabilities and working in a different way. They apply their expertise in a wide variety of services, including:


Is MCE “Green”?

Surrounded by information we encounter through our business activities, we decided it was time to see if MCE is green. So, we made an initial analysis of our carbon footprint.
Much to our surprise, most of our carbon footprint is the result of people traveling to our conference centre in Brussels to attend workshops. And, of course, some of it comes from our own travel to meet with customers. 

In this process, we admit that we can save costs, too. And it turns out that we have even more innovation possibilities than we thought we did. The bottom line for you, our clients: People who take part in our workshops will not have to travel over long distances to participate if they do not want to. We think that is a positive step in the right direction.


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