Your guide to sustainable leadership, innovation and strategy in the sports industry
Can sustainability lead to a competitive advantage?
Michael E. Porter is one of the most renowned academic thinkers in the field of business strategy. If you’ve ever studied business (or read publications like Harvard Business Review), you’ve doubtless come across his thinking and work.
Competitive advantage, says Porter, can be derived from two main sources: doing things at lower cost or differentiation.
Sustainability has been touted as a form of differentiation – but if every organisation needs to get their environmental house in order to align with emerging policy and public opinion, how can organisations differentiate on these grounds?
In his own Harvard Business Review article from 2019, one of this week’s guests, Ioannis Ioannou, puts forward the argument that while sustainability can be competitive advantage for some, this will only extend to the organisations going beyond risk management and embedding sustainability in their organisational strategy, leading to new innovation in products and services that provide solutions for consumers and the planet.
SailGP is one of the handful of sports properties to have sustainability as a key pillar of its strategy and operations. Its mantra, ‘powered by nature’, reflects this. And even though its ambitious net zero carbon strategy (2025) and focus on sustainable development in host cities has won the attention of fans and partners like Tesla, its chief executive Sir Russell Coutts insists that this is not to carve out a competitive advantage – but to be in-step with other leading organisations.
In this podcast, Coutts and Fiona Morgan, SailGP’s director of purpose and impact, follow up on Ioannou’s observations by showcasing their approach to social and environmental leadership, which includes establishing an innovative approach to athlete engagement and competition in the shape of the Impact League.
Listen to this episode to discover:
– How organisations can adopt a values- and solutions-based approach to sustainability
– Why SailGP developed the Impact League alongside its core competition
– Whether sustainability leadership can truly create differentiation – or if it should be an aspiration for all
Turning athlete voice into athlete action
Last year, more than 300 British Olympians and Paralympians put their signature to a letter addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him to steer the country towards a ‘green recovery’ amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The letter was coordinated by Champions for Earth, a group of current and former sportspeople determined to make the athlete voice a key driver in the acceleration of the low-carbon transition.
Melissa Wilson, one of the guests in this episode, is part of the core Champions for Earth team, coordinating much of its effort to engage and educate athletes to understand and communicate about climate change and other environmental issues.
Joining Wilson is Morten Thorsby, a professional footballer for U.C. Sampdoria in Italy and the Norwegian national team. Thorsby is on the cusp of launching We Play Green – an organisation that encourages football players and other sportspeople to engage in climate action.
During this episode, Wilson and Thorsby document their journeys, discuss their respective organisations, and explain how athletes can talk authentically about climate and the environment.
Preparing sport for the ‘Game Changing’ plant-based revolution
Towards the end of 2020, a piece of research was published by Zoomph and Recipric highlighting the growing interest in plant-based diets from sports fans, and suggesting how professional teams could capitalise on this growing trend.
When it comes to the plant-based diet and its impact on athlete performance, perhaps nothing has been quite so impactful as The Game Changers – a revealing Netflix documentary showcasing the connection between enhanced physical performance and the eradication of animal-based products.
It appears that the growing plant-based revolution is an area of untapped potential for the sports industry in a couple of instances, not to mention its positive impact on the environment.
In this week’s podcast, we talk with James Wilks, who was behind the documentary, and Roger McClendon, executive director of the Green Sports Alliance.
The Green Sports Alliance and Wilks’ Game Changers Institute – a recently-established vehicle to generate research about and promote plant-based living – have partnered up, and Wilks and McClendon explain.
Safeguarding community sports facilities from climate change impacts
Bushfires, extreme heat, drought. Australia, over the past few years, really has felt the wrath of climate change.
Indeed, sport has often highlighted the nation’s plight to the rest of the world, with high-profile incidents occurring during the Australian Open with regards to players being badly affected by the soaring temperatures and smoke from the bushfires.
But it’s Australia’s thriving recreational sport ecosystem that is bearing the brunt of the problems. Venues that bring people together within communities have been damaged or even destroyed totally by extreme weather.
Earlier this year, the state of Victoria engaged the Sports Environment Alliance (SEA) to collaborate on a piece of work designed to provide guidance to venue managers and volunteers at community sports facilities on how they can safeguard these sacred places from the worst of climate change.
In this edition of the podcast, the SEA’s Dr. Sheila Nguyen and Kirsty Reidy of Sport and Recreation Victoria talk us through the guidance.
How sustainability data can drive sports business objectives
Episode #56 – Kristen Fulmer of Recipric, Zoomph’s Nick Cronin and Chris Pyke of Arc Skoru explain how environmental insights can assist fan engagement, brand partnerships and venue management
A ‘Premier’ response to climate change
Episode #55 – Tony Stevens and Tim Greenwell of Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton FC discuss their strategies to become more sustainable organisations, alongside Sport Positive founder Claire Poole