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Über dieses Buch

As CEOs and business leaders navigate a world of complex global challenges, sustainability is no longer optional but a business imperative. In this book, two sustainability leaders with decades of experience – Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania and Elaine Weidman Grunewald, Co-founder of the AI Sustainability Center, and former Chief Sustainability & Public Affairs Officer at Ericsson – offer a simple but powerful three-step model for leading an organization on a sustainability transformation journey that aims at big, audacious, world-changing goals.

Honest about the dilemmas but bullish on the opportunities, the authors advise leaders on how to accelerate sustainability in their organizations told through a Swedish lens, where the country’s values and culture permeate the boardroom and the C-suite, bringing a unique clarity and conviction to leading with integrity.

In practical insights gleaned from the authors’ own experience, the book takes leaders through the three phases of sustainability leadership: from establishing a solid foundation rooted in purpose, culture, values, principles and consistent, credible leadership, to integrating sustainability into the core business, and then to executing a vision that not only shifts the direction of the company but can change an entire industry, and even the world.

Throughout the book, more than 25 interviews with other leading CEOs of Swedish companies as well as successful start-ups, investors, economists, and other experts illuminate the path to sustainability leadership from different perspectives. These are complemented by case studies describing how companies got it right – or turned themselves around after getting it very, very wrong.

With this hands-on insiders’ guide, CEOs and C-suite leaders can take sustainability to the next level. This is the encouragement and inspiration business leaders need to move past incremental improvement at a time when exponential, world-changing action is more urgent than ever.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction: The Case for Action

Expönentiality Cheat Sheet
Abstract
With sustainable development challenges such as climate change, rising inequality, and unsustainable resource use, the private sector with more power and influence than ever must exercise leadership to find solutions rather than exacerbate problems. Sweden is globally admired for its commitment to sustainability, which is also reflected among the Swedish companies profiled in the book. The authors’ Sustainability Leadership Model sets out three essential steps for achieving exponential impact: (1) The Foundation: Discover your purpose, know your footprint, and build trust through responsible business, (2) The Core: Embed sustainability in your core business, link it to sales and customer value creation, and (3) The Leap: Apply the Expönentiality Formula to raise your ambition and find your X-Factor; adopt a societal and planetary lens, seek unconventional partnerships, and hone your influencing platform. The model is a journey starting with changing your company, but with the potential to change an industry, and even the world.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

2. The Northern Lights Shine Bright

Abstract
Sweden’s sustainability leadership is tied to a culture promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, diplomacy, equality, diversity, inclusion, privacy, and respect for the individual and nature. This turns out to be a fertile platform for Swedish corporate sustainability leadership where sustainability is high on the agenda. The country is not perfect, with unsustainable levels of consumption. Yet Sweden is doing something right—evident from top global rankings within human development, social progress, innovation, and transparency. The Swedish model for inclusive growth, and the tendency toward cooperation and consensus, infuse policy, culture, and business. Modesty and humility are cherished qualities among Swedes, but they can get fired up, too. Sweden’s teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg inspired a global climate protest movement. The Swedish business leaders featured, from the large industrial companies to the vibrant startups, are equally tired of inaction and share lessons and case studies to inspire global business leaders on their sustainability journeys.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

Part I

Frontmatter

3. Purpose-driven Leadership

Up Close: Elsa Bernadotte, CEO of Food Waste Startup Karma on Finding Purpose
Abstract
A sustainability ambition begins with company purpose, culture, and values. Purpose is the one thing that a company can do better than anyone else that brings value to society; a cause greater than profit. A purpose is strong when it feels true, reflects the culture of the organization, and builds on the company’s core existence. When purpose also illuminates how the company can contribute to society, transformation is possible. A purpose-driven CEO sets the tone at the top, evangelizes the cause, and builds a coalition of the willing. Purpose-driven companies are more likely to attract talent, customers, and investors, and often outperform the stock market. A number of companies exemplify purpose in action, like Swedish food waste startup Karma, aiming to be the first zero food-waste generation along with long-established Scania, Electrolux, and Ericsson. When purpose is treated like a business asset, it is the key to change and transformation.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

4. A Stake in the Ground

Up Close: Henrik Henriksson, CEO of Scania, On Why He Nearly Called for a Strike on Scania Climate Day
Abstract
Companies aiming for sustainability leadership set a level of ambition and commitment based on how they can accelerate their positive impacts on planet and society and minimize negative ones. Priorities are shaped by what’s most material, or important, to the business and its stakeholders. Rallying key stakeholders like employees creates ownership for sustainability, as sustainable transport company Scania did in training all its employees in climate action on Scania Climate Day. Knowing the company footprint (the full range of sustainability impacts) is as fundamental as knowing the company’s income and balance sheet. To get traction internally, this needs to be integrated across every function. Robust metrics help to establish a baseline, set targets, improvement plans, and measure progress. Establishing accountability and reporting transparently on sustainability performance, revealing both upsides and downsides, will be important to build trust.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

5. How to Earn Trust

Up Close: Former Telia Company CEO Johan Dennelind on Rebuilding Trust After a Corruption Scandal
Abstract
There are three essential building blocks of responsible business and earning trust. These are: (1) Clear boundaries around what is appropriate behavior and ethical conduct that are firmly embedded in culture and values. (2) A consistent tone from the top, built on a solid governance foundation with a strong control framework and consequence management. (3) A proactive approach to defining and mitigating risks, taking a holistic, 360-degree view that includes broad stakeholder engagement. A strong Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics, together with a robust governance framework and clear accountability, strengthens the foundation and makes an organization more resilient to weather challenges. Scania, Electrolux, Ericsson, Telia Company, and Volkswagen share insights and lessons learned on navigating ethical dilemmas and, in some cases, how they managed to win back trust after a serious breach of ethical conduct.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

Part II

Frontmatter

6. Embedding Sustainability in the Core

Up Close: Green Battery Cells and Systems Supplier Northvolt CEO Peter Carlsson on the Key to Sustainability Integration
Abstract
There’s no such thing as a sustainability strategy; there is only a business strategy that is—or isn’t—sustainable in the long term. For sustainability to be anchored in a company, it needs to be embedded in the core business including business models, value propositions, value chains, portfolio integration, R&D, and empowered organizations. Leadership starts at the top but empowering people and delegating responsibility makes sustainability everyone’s job. By revisiting the value proposition from a sustainability perspective, you can grow the benefits that a company’s products and services deliver to customers and differentiate it from similar offerings. Swedish companies Scania, Northvolt, Electrolux, Houdini, Axel-Johnson, and EQT share how they’ve successfully integrated sustainability across their businesses to find that sustainability and profitability nexus.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

7. It All Comes Down to Sales

Up Close: Åsa Bergman, CEO of Sweco, on Partnering with Customers to Build the Sustainable Communities and Cities of the Future
Abstract
Without customer buy-in, a company won’t reach impact or scale with a sustainable solution or innovation or achieve the financial returns so critical to success. When sustainability is part of the brand and integral to the sales proposition, it can sway consumer preference, encouraging customers to choose one supplier over another. Two steps are essential: (1) define a customer sustainability offering that is attractive, competitive and which customers find compelling and (2) ensure the sales and marketing team is equipped and trained to use sustainability value arguments as a tool in driving sales and developing customer relationships. We deep dive into the sales process, and how taking and sharing risk with customers can help overcome hurdles to closing the deal. Swedish companies Scania, Sweco, Houdini, Axel-Johnson, Electrolux, and Ericsson share top strategies and lessons learned.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

8. Measuring Impact Beyond Profit

Up Close: Electrolux CEO Jonas Samuelsson on Combining Sustainability and Profitability
Abstract
Non-financial metrics are growing in importance and should matter as much as financial ones. Comprehensive sustainability targets track the company’s most important impacts across the value chain. Bold targets that stretch and challenge the organization are vital: it’s not just about looking good; it’s about making a difference. At a minimum, targets should be relevant to the business, quantifiable, and fact-based. In the area of climate, science-based targets are the gold standard. Learn how to distinguish a strong key performance indicator (KPI) from a weak one and how to anchor sustainability metrics by connecting them to the core business and normal performance reporting, with clear lines of responsibility and accountability. We look at how strong metrics can help sustainable companies to outperform their peers. A focus on energy efficiency and energy labeling has made global appliance company Electrolux’s Green Range of products (those with the best environmental performance) also the most profitable.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

Part III

Frontmatter

9. The Path to Expönentiality

Up Close: Eva Karlsson, CEO of Outdoor Wear Company Houdini on Operationalizing the Planetary Boundaries Framework for Business
Abstract
Exponentiality (or Expönentiality with a Swedish flair) is a formula to conceptualize and plot a company journey to achieve exponential positive sustainability impact. The Formula starts with purpose, and a well-managed company footprint (minimizing negative impacts while maximizing positive ones) and a strong sustainability value proposition. The X-Factor is a set of leverage points—unique tools and accelerators that enable a leader to ratchet up ambition to achieve world-changing levels of impact. The formula helps to visualize all of the pieces of a puzzle in order to avoid meeting an exponential problem with an incremental response. Swedish outdoor wear company Houdini leads the way with an industry-first planetary boundaries assessment to map its impact on the earth system and understand how to reduce its negative impacts and reinforce its positive. Each journey is unique, but it starts and ends with ambition.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

10. Society as a Stakeholder

Up Close: Jacob Wallenberg of Sweden’s Leading Business Family on A Century of Having Society in Focus
Abstract
Business leaders in sustainability 3.0 go beyond the shareholder-centric approach to view society as a primary stakeholder. In a societal ecosystem approach, the focus is on solving societal challenges, and companies view their impact on society through a societal and planetary lens to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative ones on people. Unconventional partnerships also help deliver a more exponential impact, where every member is an essential part of solving a systemic challenge. Use of data and digitalization can accelerate transformation. In an in-depth case, Scania shows this approach in action in driving the shift toward sustainable transport and finding their X-Factor. Trine, an investment platform for off-grid solar energy in sub-Saharan Africa, and digital health and e-commerce companies Zalando, Bima, and Babylon Health, part of Swedish investor Kinnevik’s portfolio, further showcase how a societal and planetary lens and digitalization can accelerate the positive impact on society.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

11. Making Business Sense of the SDGs

Up Close: Niklas Adalberth, Founder of Klarna and Norrsken Foundation, on Scaling Social Impact
Abstract
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demand unprecedented leadership on a global scale. It is not always obvious how to relate the Goals to business, yet the SDGs cannot be achieved without the private sector’s resources, skills, innovation, and economies of scale. Corporate commitments need to be fact- and evidence-based to avoid SDG-washing. Start with the Goals close to the core business to really influence step-change and transformation. However, substantive corporate actions are at their best when they succeed in delivering co-benefits or positive impact across multiple goals. Companies should also work proactively with governments to demonstrate on-the-ground ways to deliver on the SDGs. Scania, EQT, Ericsson, and mobile industry group GSMA show how they made the SDGs purpose-fit for business. Non-profits Norrsken Foundation, NetClean, and the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative illustrate the power of public-private partnerships to achieve the Goals.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

12. The Next Sustainability Frontier Is Digital

Up Close: Elaine Weidman Grunewald, Co-founder of AI Sustainability Center on Tempering the Positive Exponential Impacts of Technology With Its Ethical and Sustainability Implications
Abstract
Digitalization is a powerful accelerator to create and scale sustainable solutions. Artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things, and other technologies can provide breakthrough transformations for sustainable development. Yet business leaders must weigh how they deploy and scale technology with the ethical implications that can emerge with a new form of pollution: digital or data pollution. The societal impacts of data-driven technologies are the next big sustainability challenge. Leaders need to act early to curtail or avoid privacy and ethical risks. Stockholm’s AI Sustainability Center advises how to manage the different pitfalls that lead to risks: misuse or overuse of data, data bias, bias of the creator, and immature data or AI. Scania and Telia Company share how they navigate responsible use of technology.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

13. Finding Your Personal Influencing Platform

Up Close: Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon on Using His Platform to Energize an Organization and Put Business and Sustainability on a Global Stage
Abstract
For corporate sustainability leadership, purpose and platform go hand in hand: daring to demand bold action, and taking risks and standing for something you believe in despite the potential for backlash. With the rise of the activist CEO, being neutral is no longer enough, nor is cleaning up problems after the fact. Successful leaders use their platform to shine a spotlight on important sustainability issues, and form cross-sector alliances with unconventional partners to get tough things done. They know their facts, match their position with meaningful and consistent action, and engage fairly, transparently, and constructively to influence the conversation with the end goal of achieving sustainability goals. We feature cases from Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon; Rickard Gustafson, CEO of SAS; and Osvald Bjelland, founder and CEO of Xynteo.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

Final Thoughts

Frontmatter

14. Conclusion: No Time to Lose

Abstract
The Sustainability Leadership Model offers a roadmap for moving from incremental to exponential change, daring business leaders to step out of their comfort zone and think boldly. There’s good reason to look toward Sweden for inspiration, where sustainability is a priority across all sectors of society and uniting to solve big challenges is a national trait. Our Expönentiality Formula helps crystallize the necessary ambition—to find your X-Factor, at a time when decisive and thoughtful leadership is needed more than ever. When we’ve exhausted the carrying capacity of the planet, and sustainability becomes the norm for business, a company that is not sustainable will not survive. No one will buy your products, no one will invest in your company, and no one will want to work for you. In thinking about next generation of leaders, our legacy should be to pay it forward, so that others will join us.
Henrik Henriksson, Elaine Weidman Grunewald

Backmatter

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