According to Investopedia, sustainability is defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental, and social—also known informally as profits, planet, and people.
There are many reasons to be motivated by the idea of sustainability, but the most important one is the impact it will have on our future generation. We are in an era where people have to adapt to these new ideas and innovate to find newer and safer ways to produce.
Sustainability has been at the heart and center of the culture of Chr. Hansen, a global bioscience company developing natural solutions for the food, beverage, nutritional, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries for more than a century. Sustainability is not only a part of its success but part of the company’s DNA.
In looking at their most recent ambitions, Chr. Hansen has structured the organization around four main areas of organizational focus: environment and climate, accountability for the workplace, the reputation of the company, and responsible sourcing. There are unique priorities for each of these areas leading up to 2022. With these objectives driving their day-to-day operations, the company continues to build internally through new processes but also through a series of projects directed towards society and the environment, cementing a responsible operational foundation.
The purpose statement of the company is:
“Chr. Hansen, we work to grow a better world. Naturally. Discover how we drive sustainable societal change guided by our strong purpose and ambitious 2025 Strategy.”
As per their strategy, the company is committed to a sustainable future for the planet and future generations. We have seen that they have taken into consideration challenges such as climate change, food waste, global health, and the overuse of antibiotics and pesticides when addressing all levels of the company and all relationships they have built whether it is with clients, customers, or suppliers.
However, many firms will struggle with the challenges of sustainability as their businesses are built around a certain method of production that might not be sustainable. How can companies manage the complex process of transforming their businesses?
Once again it is worth examining the example of Chr. Hansen. Throughout the life cycles of their products and the history of the firm, the decision-makers have always had at the forefront a mindset of constant change. They were progressive since in the early life of the company and in the early part of the 21st century the firm formalized their sustainability vision when they launched their health and nutrition division. The global context was appropriate with customers pushing for more transparency and naturality in the process and products themselves. Their transformation was complete when they decided in 2017 to align their company goals to the UN Global Sustainability Goals. Every product and every process has been brought to life and market with a conscious sustainability change in mind.
The imperative to build sustainable businesses will only become more urgent in the next few decades. The impacts of climate change are becoming more and more visible. Economic consequences will arise as we try to become a more sustainable world. The new generations of consumers are more demanding than their parents and will force the issue for those that have not prepared for this new paradigm.