Russell Reynolds Associates: Sustainability as a Leadership Imperative

The pressure on companies to tackle environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues continues to mount. A broad set of stakeholders— including customers, employees, investors and suppliers — are increasingly challenging companies to respond to concerns about climate change, the consumption of natural resources, changing societal values, and economic and political instability.

Russell Reynolds Associates’ partnership with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) uncovered the importance of strong leadership from CEOs and boards in driving sustainable change – something we call Sustainable Leadership. The Sustainable Leadership model identifies the differentiating characteristics of sustainable leaders: multi-level systems thinking, stakeholder inclusion, disruptive innovation and long-term activation.

The article outlines the following:

  • Driving sustainability starts with the company’s purpose
  • Making sustainability core to the DNA of leadership teams is essential, but not enough: Boards and CEOs need “moral courage"
  • Purpose, not simply profits, needs to be rewarded

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Peter L. O'Brien, Stephen Langton, Matt Guthridge & Marieke van der Drift
Thought leadership category