10 Essential Insights for Climate-Smart Business Leaders
We joined Emory University’s Goizueta Business School MBA delegation in recently attending the ClimateCAP Global Summit to discuss the enormous influence and responsibility business leaders hold in driving toward a climate-smart world.
Along with hundreds of leading students and professionals from across the nation, we explored the financial risks and opportunities of climate change along with important stakeholder responsibilities that define how a climate-smart business operates.
This Earth Day, we reflected on the challenge that climate change presents along with ten purposeful actions we advise business leaders to take based on our ClimateCAP conference and our own professional experiences.
Climate Change is Not Only our Generation’s Biggest Challenge, but Also a Business Imperative
Climate change is the biggest challenge we face today. From changing weather patterns to rising sea levels, we are threatened by possibilities from decreased food production to forest fires to catastrophic flooding. The impacts of climate change are global and unprecedented in scale, and they are mounting much faster than scientists had predicted ten years ago.
The business world has a large role to play in adapting to climate change through leadership and innovation. Leading firms are acting both internally and externally to become more resilient to climate change. As companies seek out a deeper understanding of the risks and opportunities of changing climate, they must take steps to reduce their emissions.
Ten Essential Insights for Climate-Smart Business Leaders
- Start with the C-Suite: We must equip our executive leaders with the content expertise and the tools to incorporate social impact into all functions, across all business units.
- A shared responsibility: While Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) positions with such titles exist, all leaders across all functions have an opportunity to progress sustainability goals and initiatives by leading from where they sit within an organization.
- New employment landscape: Opportunities abound for senior leaders within the sustainability and social impact space. The world needs passionate, skilled professionals to combat climate change.
- Now > perfect: Perfection cannot be the enemy of good. The need is urgent, and perfection simply cannot hinder progress.
- Mutually beneficial outcomes: In business, decisions will always be made through the lens of profitability; however, profitability and purpose can coexist. It is incumbent upon leaders to build a business case that’s good for the company, people, and planet.
- Transparency IS a value proposition: Incorporating the cost of carbon into the Profit and Loss statement (P&L) can hold companies accountable for its environmental impact and positively influence key decisions.
- Sustainability = Business growth: Innovation, efficiency and sustainability are intertwined. A deep and unwavering commitment to sustainability can drive teams in innovating to meet climate change goals while growing the business, creating efficiencies, and generating cost savings to make companies more competitive, expand offerings, and reach new target segments.
- Bigger goals produce bigger results: Net Zero will require companies large and small to shoot for the moon. Stick a flag in the ground and aim big. Aiming big is what it will take to see the needed change. Have faith in passionate, smart, driven leaders reach the audacious goals set forth.
- Success will not happen overnight: No one has all the answers. Companies across the globe are working feverishly to solve the most complex problem of our lifetime. Because the work to be done to counteract climate change is unclear at times, as business leaders we must commit to asking tough questions, trying innovative solutions, and be willing to share openly with other.
- This is our mission: We are all in this together. No one can solve this complex global problem alone. We, as business leaders, are called to collaborate in unprecedented ways. We must share knowledge and align around scalable solutions to progress faster and mitigate more effectively.
The shift in business environment owing to climate change is expected to be as transformational as the advent of the internet. Businesses that do not adapt will be at risk, while those that do will be greeted with greater opportunities. Nobody’s immune. We must act now.
A delegation of 18 MBA students from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School recently attended the ClimateCAP Global Summit to discuss the enormous influence and responsibility business leaders hold in driving toward a climate-smart world. Along with hundreds of leading students and professionals from across the nation, they explored the financial risks and opportunities of climate change along with important stakeholder responsibilities that define how a climate-smart business operates. Through the Business & Society Institute, students, faculty, staff, and partners focus on addressing complex challenges confronting people, the planet, and the business community through academic discovery and purposeful action. To learn more about Goizueta Business School and how principled leaders are driving positive change, visit goizueta.emory.edu.
About the Authors
|Hina Arora 22MBA is a soon-to-be graduate of the Two-Year MBA program at Goizueta Business School. She will work as a management consultant at AlixPartners after graduation, consulting with clients on how to solve complex and critical challenges relating to top and bottom-line growth.|
|Taylor Clark 22EMBA leads corporate responsibility strategy and communications for Milo’s Tea Company, a family-owned and Certified Woman Owned beverage manufacturer.|
|Pedro Gomez 22EMBA Pedro is director of financial planning and analysis for Argos, a multinational company that produces and markets cement and ready-mix concrete through its operations in Colombia, the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean.|
|Matthew Mastriforte 22MBA will soon graduate from the Two-Year MBA program at Goizueta Business school. He will work as a senior strategy consultant at Accenture. Prior to business school, he was a Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy.|