Speaking at the Technoport research and innovation conference in Trondheim, Norway, our Sustainability Director Cilia Holmes Indahl highlighted how sustainability can be instrumental in improving the outlook, opportunities and indeed fortunes of businesses.
Presenting alongside Armend Håti, Aker BioMarine’s is Director Product & Technology, Indahl explained how the company has fundamentally shifted how it views sustainability in order to be able to unlock its business-enhancing potential.
“Historically you would always say that a company would have a footprint and that would have a negative impact. So, when you work with sustainability you work on walking more lightly, taking down your negative impact. But that’s not very motivational.
Adding, “We flipped it around and now we are saying, ok you need to do less harm, but you’re working your way up to zero and you have to go beyond. In addition to your footprint, you can place your hand somewhere and you can have a positive impact.”
However, having a positive impact is in itself not enough, according to Indahl.
“The second shift in corporate sustainability was when we realised that you can’t be stomping over here and doing something positive over here. You have to move your handprint, so it aligns with your core operations, so it is actually key and strategic to what you do, and that it builds your business performance going forward.”
Armend Håti illustrated this alignment with an overview of how the company has integrated a number of the United Nations sustainable development goals into Aker BioMarine’s business.
“Obviously, it’s ambitious for a corporate to think it can integrate seventeen goals into its business model. So, you would have to make a choice which ones fit your business? The way we did it in our company is that we looked for the right thing, the right time, and the right reason.”
Continuing, “Is it the right thing. Do we have the right resources and people in place to make this happen? Secondly, is it the right time? Are we addressing something urgent? Lastly. Is it the right reason, for us?”
Read more: The SDGs and Aker BioMarine
Revealing that Aker BioMarine used an internal employee survey to measure the scalability, relevance and timeliness of the various UN goals, zero hunger, good health and well-being, responsible consumption and production, and life below water were the final four selected.
Discussing the specific selected goals, according to Indahl, regardless of the choice, sustainability objectives should both pose risks and offer opportunities.
“Oceans and responsible consumption, they are risks for us and areas we need to improve to make our business model robust for the future. We have to take care of the ocean in order to continue to operate, and we need to develop a green supply chain to have a competitive edge in the future. The other two goals are interesting as that is the opportunity side, not only protecting your current business, but also looking into new business and how you are part of solving the problems.”
In closing Indahl had an important word of advice for the audience.
“This is an exercise that’s not hard and I would suggest everyone does it, whether you are start-ups or an existing firm. It actually unlocks one of the ways sustainability drives profitability, having motivated employees going to work each day, being engaged and attracting talent”.
Photo credit header image: Kjetil Sandvin Groven and Øivind Haug