InnovationOrganizations are increasingly measured (and measure themselves) by whether and how they make a contribution to a more sustainable future. In this way, they create added value not only for companies themselves, but also for society as a whole. According to Barbara Dubach, this requires, in particular, innovation and the willingness to change by all parties involved.

Exclusive interview with Barbara Dubach

How has sustainability management changed in the last 20 years?

In the past, the focus of companies was on risk minimization as well as on adherence to the legislation. In recent years, the focus has increasingly shifted to the question on benefits, created by doing business in a sustainable way. The discussion is increasingly taking place at strategic level. For companies and society to survive in the future, it is essential to decouple economic activity from the use of natural resources. We need innovative solutions and the appropriate frameworks to ensure that sustainable business models are future-fit.

Sustainability is complex. What guidances help?

The transformation of the economy and society is a complex, but also a required and feasible process. For satisfying solutions, the discourse between and the collaboration with all actors is necessary. At engageability, we orientate ourselves on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the core of the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. Based on the SDGs, we identify where the greatest economic, social and environmental challenges are in the countries in which an organization operates. In addition, we disclose areas in which new markets open up in order to safeguard the future viability of the organization.

So it’s no longer just about transparency, but also about innovation and relevance?

Transparency with regard to the achievement of objectives remains important. The starting point for the objective is
the identification of material topics. As an organization, you have to ask yourself: Where do we have the greatest leverage? Or to put it another way: Given the urgent societal problems, how can we make a positive contribution with our products, services or core competencies? In many places, this means a rethink, moving away from an inside-out perspective towards a an outside-in view. The exchange with various actors such as researchers, NGOs or politicians helps. Relevance, leverage and, finally, effective implementation are decisive.

Where do you see the greatest potential for the future?

To ensure that the innumerable ideas are turned into a genuine innovation, you need an outside-in-mindset and change readiness of all parties involved. Numerous ongoing projects from the corporate world, such as the independent, digital platform Business Sustainability Today demonstrate the enormous potential.

Interview with Barbara Dubach, CEO of engageability
Published at Oec.UZH, June 2019