Sustainability Hero

Why Sustainability Is a Business Imperative

Businesses are at a defining moment to act on sustainability. Those that act decisively have the opportunity to create resilience and sustainable competitive advantage for their business models for the long term.

The role of business in society has evolved. Investors, customers, employees, policy makers, and society as a whole demand proof that a company is doing more than just conducting business in a sustainable way and abiding by ethical business practices—and stakeholders expect companies to both have a purpose and contribute to the greater good. Surface-level sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts that do not transform the business model miss the opportunity to capture the true value of what we call total societal impact (TSI).

BCG’s Approach to Corporate Sustainability

TSI is the leverage and transformation of a company’s core business models, capabilities, and operations to create positive economic, social, and environmental impact in ways that are profitable. This growth has wide benefits for the company itself, for its stakeholders, and for society.

Those that lean in and embrace TSI and sustainability in the short term will have the benefit of advancing while others struggle to hold their ground. Companies that lean out—declining to integrate sustainability into how they survive and thrive—should carefully weigh the cost of that tradeoff in the long term.

Fully embracing and embedding a TSI lens allows companies to create meaningful, at-scale impact while unlocking new opportunities for growth and advantage. In exploring TSI opportunities, companies can expand the value of products or services on six dimensions of impact: economic vitality, environmental sustainability, lifetime well-being, ethical capacity, societal enablement, and access and inclusion.

These efforts can create new sources of differentiation, operating advantage, network dynamics, and societal value—and overall more sustainable, durable, and resilient businesses that benefit shareholders and society. They also better enable companies to live their purpose, inspire, and rally stakeholders to drive collective action toward a better future for all—transforming and expanding the role of business in society.

To help tackle climate change, transition to a circular economy, boost economic development, create food systems and security, embrace large-scale renewables and clean technology, accelerate sustainable finance and investing, and build sustainable supply chains, BCG’s sustainability consultants help clients transform their business models to optimize for social and business value. This transformation can take many forms, ranging from expanding value chains to building cross-sector models.

Our Sustainability Work with Clients

To help clients on every step of this sustainability journey, we provide in-depth experience in industry, innovation, and digital expertise from across BCG. We apply multiple lenses, including competitive advantage, value creation, and investor and capital markets.

Our work with clients on sustainability and environmental, social, and corporate governance strategies around the world includes the following:

Meet Our Sustainability Consultants

BCG’s sustainability consultants and industry experts partner with leading companies and organizations to develop solutions that embed sustainability into business models and governance processes. Here are some of our experts on the topic.

Learn More About Sustainability and the Role of Business in Society

The Business Benefits of Doing Good

Wendy Woods argues that the only way we're going to make substantial progress on the challenging problems of our time is for business to drive the solutions.

For Danone, Doing Good Is Good Business

Danone’s Isabelle Grosmaitre on the food revolution and the crucial role of business in social transformation.

The True Cost of Food - Rectangle

The True Cost of Food

The environmental, economic, and social costs of food aren’t included in the price. Stakeholders must account for them to limit agriculture’s adverse effects and increase its positive impact.

CIRCelligence by BCG

To avoid economic and environmental collapse, companies must abandon take-make-waste business practices and move from value chains to value cycles.

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