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Make sense of sustainability with University of Edinburgh Business School

Posted: 9th April 2019

When the fifth-largest company in the world decides to link the pay of its senior executives with progress towards carbon reduction, it’s clear that “sustainability” is no longer just a buzzword, writes Professor Kenneth Amaeshi of University of Edinburgh Business School.

Royal Dutch Shell’s shift, following pressure from investors, is part of a broader trend of organisations having to adapt to keep up with public priorities.

For example, look at the surge in consumers identifying as vegan. Or the mass youth protests over the climate crisis. Or the fact that in China, sales of electric cars in January this year were double those of January last year. While at London Fashion Week, second-hand clothes from Oxfam stole the limelight.

Sustainability is shifting from optional extra to must-have. It’s never been more important for organisations to fully equip those staff responsible for delivering this agenda.

Between 21 and 23 May, an executive education programme at University of Edinburgh Business School will give people the tools they need to drive sustainable change within their organisation. We’ll look at current trends, strategies for overcoming challenges, market opportunities for businesses, and how to manage relations with investors, analysts, consumers and regulators.

Many people who move into such roles are motivated to change the world and respond to environmental and social challenges. Many of them learn on the job and navigate through a labyrinth of organisational dynamics and politics.

One challenge for the role is making the business case. Should sustainability automatically make money? Should it be profitable? If not, why not? The sustainability professional needs to adequately answer these questions to gain credibility and legitimacy in the organisation.

The sustainability function in most organisations is still seen as peripheral to the core business and the first to lose its budget in times of emergency and turbulence, which appear to be often these days.

Despite these challenges, it is a necessary job. It requires extra care and social awareness. It requires a lot of emotional strength, diplomacy, and courage. It’s not an easy role but it has the potential to change the world.

To find out if you or a colleague would benefit from our sustainability professionals programme, please do get in touch.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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