Author: Lode Verbruggen
Brightwolves had the chance to meet with Professor Wayne Visser to discuss the evolution of sustainable value in companies. Through the interview, Pr. Wayne points out useful frameworks and approaches for anyone looking to build sustainable value in its company.
Wayne Visser is a writer, speaker, film producer, academic, social entrepreneur and futurist focused on sustainable development, corporate social responsibility and creating integrated value.
• Professor and holder of the chair in sustainable transformation at Antwerp Management School.
• Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behaviour, ranking by Excellence and Trust Across America.
• Writer of 27 books, including 19 non-fiction and 8 fiction, and published more than 320 chapters and articles.
• Writes a regular column on international sustainable business for the HuffPost and The Guardian newspaper.
AS FROM THE EARLY STAGES IN YOUR CAREER YOU HAVE BEEN DEEPLY INVESTED IN SUSTAINABILITY – E.G. AS KPMG DIRECTOR OF SUSTAINABLE SERVICES IN THE NINETIES. HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE TOPIC EVOLVE, AND HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE?
W.V.: The interest and importance of sustainability has grown tremendously over the past 30 years. It used to be the exception to see companies and governments working on this topic. Often the topic was considered as an “add-on” to social responsibility.
Today organizations, especially larger ones, are almost obligated to work on sustainability. Undoubtedly, this is a positive evolution but it has also become somewhat of a corporate narrative. In other words, image creation. For example, most annual reports these days include an elaborated section on sustainability. However, there is a difference between claiming and leading.
We see too much confusion, many labels, specific jargon, multiple ways of measuring impact. As an investor, consumer or employee this doesn’t make matters any easier.
HOW CAN WE CREATE MORE TRANSPARENCY? (SHOULD WE EVOLVE TO ‘ENFORCEABLE’ STANDARDS? WHICH FRAMEWORK IS MOST SUITABLE?)
W.V.: The most used frameworks all have their strengths and weaknesses. We can categorize them in three groups.
1. Principle based frameworks:
• Example: Sustainable development goals (United Nations)
• Strengths: well-known, international, comprehensible