43 min

Sustainability Playbook for Business Leaders CXOTalk

    • Technology

Sustainability is an important goal for many business leaders and organizations, but what does it mean and where should we start? The Chief Sustainability Officer of Dassault Systèmes, Alice Steenland, answers these questions and shares the leadership skills needed to be successful with sustainability.

The conversation includes these topics:

-- What is the Chief Sustainability Officer's role?
-- What is sustainable development?
-- What are the components of sustainability in business?
-- Sustainable business practices: social development and economic development
-- Sustainability and ethical leadership
-- What is the impact of Bitcoin on sustainability?
-- Sustainability principles and data centers
-- Culture change and sustainable practices
-- How to get started with sustainable development

Alice Steenland joined Dassault Systèmes in 2020 as the company’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. Previously, she was the founding Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at AXA Group, where she helped the company rise to a leading position in global sustainability rankings, thanks in part to a pioneering responsible investment strategy including the landmark decision to divest from coal and, later, tobacco.

Subscribe to the CXOTalk newsletter: https://www.cxotalk.com/subscribe
Read the complete transcript: https://www.cxotalk.com/episode/sustainability-executive-playbook

===

Read the excerpt from the conversation:

Michael Krigsman: There's a kind of rising tide of interest in sustainability. What does it actually mean? In the press, it's kind of used in a very loose way.

Alice Steenland: I've been in this space, as I mentioned, for a long time. I have seen, in very different parts of the world, it actually has different connotations.

It's not only a word that can be used very differently in English. So, I'm an American. I've used this word for a long time.

Not only does it have different interpretations here, but different interpretations across the world. I'll give you one definition – actually, two, if I can.

The first one is the actual meaning of the word sustainability, the original meaning, which was to say, if I am a sustainable company or sustainable organization, it means I will be here in 20, 30, 40 years. I can sustain my activity.

That's where the original concept came from, which is that if you are not taking into account environmental issues, social issues; if you are not in sync with the society in which you're living in or you're operating in; your company is probably not going to be there in a long time. That's actually, from an investment perspective or financial perspective, what we've seen. We've seen, for many years, sustainable or ESG high performers basically outperforming the market over long periods of time.

I think that's one way to think of it. It really is about the sustainability, the viability of the organization over time.

The second way of thinking about it is this ESG terminology: environmental, social, and governance issues. This is the definition used by the investment community to talk about sustainability. It just gives you an idea of what are some of the things that they're looking at.

In fact, a funny fact is that they used to call this extra-financial or non-financial information, which essentially meant that any indicator, any process, or any information about the organization that is not purely about revenues and sales can be considered material from an ESG perspective. So, it is a very broad topic.

What are the components of sustainability in business?
Michael Krigsman: When you, as a sustainability professional,...

Sustainability is an important goal for many business leaders and organizations, but what does it mean and where should we start? The Chief Sustainability Officer of Dassault Systèmes, Alice Steenland, answers these questions and shares the leadership skills needed to be successful with sustainability.

The conversation includes these topics:

-- What is the Chief Sustainability Officer's role?
-- What is sustainable development?
-- What are the components of sustainability in business?
-- Sustainable business practices: social development and economic development
-- Sustainability and ethical leadership
-- What is the impact of Bitcoin on sustainability?
-- Sustainability principles and data centers
-- Culture change and sustainable practices
-- How to get started with sustainable development

Alice Steenland joined Dassault Systèmes in 2020 as the company’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. Previously, she was the founding Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at AXA Group, where she helped the company rise to a leading position in global sustainability rankings, thanks in part to a pioneering responsible investment strategy including the landmark decision to divest from coal and, later, tobacco.

Subscribe to the CXOTalk newsletter: https://www.cxotalk.com/subscribe
Read the complete transcript: https://www.cxotalk.com/episode/sustainability-executive-playbook

===

Read the excerpt from the conversation:

Michael Krigsman: There's a kind of rising tide of interest in sustainability. What does it actually mean? In the press, it's kind of used in a very loose way.

Alice Steenland: I've been in this space, as I mentioned, for a long time. I have seen, in very different parts of the world, it actually has different connotations.

It's not only a word that can be used very differently in English. So, I'm an American. I've used this word for a long time.

Not only does it have different interpretations here, but different interpretations across the world. I'll give you one definition – actually, two, if I can.

The first one is the actual meaning of the word sustainability, the original meaning, which was to say, if I am a sustainable company or sustainable organization, it means I will be here in 20, 30, 40 years. I can sustain my activity.

That's where the original concept came from, which is that if you are not taking into account environmental issues, social issues; if you are not in sync with the society in which you're living in or you're operating in; your company is probably not going to be there in a long time. That's actually, from an investment perspective or financial perspective, what we've seen. We've seen, for many years, sustainable or ESG high performers basically outperforming the market over long periods of time.

I think that's one way to think of it. It really is about the sustainability, the viability of the organization over time.

The second way of thinking about it is this ESG terminology: environmental, social, and governance issues. This is the definition used by the investment community to talk about sustainability. It just gives you an idea of what are some of the things that they're looking at.

In fact, a funny fact is that they used to call this extra-financial or non-financial information, which essentially meant that any indicator, any process, or any information about the organization that is not purely about revenues and sales can be considered material from an ESG perspective. So, it is a very broad topic.

What are the components of sustainability in business?
Michael Krigsman: When you, as a sustainability professional,...

43 min

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