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Clients’ expectations regarding companies’ sustainability efforts are becoming increasingly high. But, as many companies will have experienced, you cannot become sustainable overnight. Therefore, many company leaders are faced with a difficult dilemma. A sustainability dilemma. On one hand they are aware of the importance of a strong sustainability message but, conversely, they must be careful not to say too much so they don’t get backlash for failing to deliver. Yet, saying too little can be perceived as if they are doing nothing at all.
At Kunde & Co, we faced this dilemma several years ago during our work for Arla Foods and especially in relation to our work for Ørsted (previously DONG Energy).
Read more about this work and the process of developing a “sustainability intent”, and learn more about our partnership with Ørsted to find and define the company’s new green positioning. And discover how we helped create a strong sustainability narrative that could communicate the company’s shift from black to green energy.
Ørsted had an ambitious green strategy, but they were caught in “the sustainability dilemma”. Management only wanted to communicate “the safe choice” to avoid facing accusations of “greenwashing”. Meanwhile, the rest of the world wished for Ørsted to be much more ambitious. There was need for a concept and communication framework that could convey the company’s true intentions and green initiatives in a credible manner.
By creating a “sustainability intent”, the company can unite both employees and clients around a common sustainability story and prove to the outside world they are all about “a little less conversation, a little more action”.
The journey towards a stronger sustainability position begins with establishing a “sustainability intent”, the likes of which carries great resemblance to the company purpose. This long-term objective defines the direction and overall purpose for the company’s common sustainability efforts. The most important initiatives and stories are collected to show the company is moving towards a greater ambitious goal, and can be seen as proof points which will help build credibility while the company continues to move towards its long-term objective.
When Kunde & Co began work for Ørsted, one key learning was incremental: both clients and employees wanted the energy company to set an ambition they could move towards. To solve this challenge, we recommended Ørsted follow a methodology inspired by a concept from TOYOTA developed more than 20 years ago. This proved that when both employees and clients can see the link between the company’s core business and journey towards becoming more sustainable, that’s when a company’s sustainability narrative holds a very high level of trustworthiness.
Decades on, it is thought-provoking to see where the automobile industry is today.
Learn more about how Kunde & Co helped Ørsted define their green position and how their new communication concept “Changing Energies” came to life.
A “sustainability intent” defines a structure for the company’s sustainability narrative and ambitions. “The long-term objective” sets a direction and ambition for the company’s efforts consisting of several initiatives that function as proof points and serve as evidence the company is working towards a long-term objective. These initiatives are divided into several main themes/strategic focus areas. Furthermore, a “communication concept” will help the company communicate their sustainability strategy to employees and clients, thereby proving there is action behind their words.