Work's Not Working... Let's Fix It!

Let's call time on greenwashing: From ESG compliance to sustainable performance: Dean Sanders

September 27, 2023 Season 1 Episode 9
Work's Not Working... Let's Fix It!
Let's call time on greenwashing: From ESG compliance to sustainable performance: Dean Sanders
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Sustainability has become a top agenda item for organizations globally. But many get stuck in a compliance rut, missing real opportunities for innovation and competitive edge. In this episode Dean Sanders tells Siân Harrington how leaders can move their organizations from box–ticking to transformational and profitable sustainability.

As chief enterprise officer at ESG consultancy Anthesis Dean has decades of experience guiding major brands and multinationals. He believes we’re at a pivotal "reality of now" moment. The data shows shocking resource depletion and climate impacts. But there’s still time to act, if leaders can shift mindsets and strategy. 

Key takeways: 

  • The difference between sustainability and sustainable performance. The latter views sustainability through the lens of business strategy and competitive advantage, not just compliance
  • Many businesses get stuck in compliance mode, box-ticking to meet regulations. This is the "day one" survival mentality
  • Leaders need a "day two" mindset – re-approaching sustainability as an opportunity for innovation, new partnerships and strategic advantage. This requires entrepreneurial spirit, social purpose and grit
  • People/HR functions have a key role in attracting talent who care about purpose and embedding sustainability across the organization's culture. But accountability must sit with senior leaders
  • Have optimism backed by science/evidence. Many sustainable businesses are growing underground and will shoot up. Focus on your purpose and the few material sustainability issues where you can drive real change
  • On a personal level, find your purpose and role in serving others. Challenge short-termism and selfishness. Derive joy from having a positive impact.

 The urgency of sustainability issues calls for a pivot from compliance to performance, from survival mode to seizing opportunities. This is a time for radical innovation, not incremental change. HR leaders have an obligation to foster the leadership mindsets, organizational culture and human capabilities to lead on sustainability – and gain competitive edge. Listen now to find out what role  you can play in making your organization a true sustainability leader.

About Dean Sanders

Dean is chief enterprise officer at global sustainability consultancy group Anthesis and  founder and chairman of GoodBrand, a corporate social innovation consultancy. He believes imagination and courage and a commitment to serve the common good are the hallmarks of the wise leaders of the future. Prior to establishing GoodBrand Dean held a number of international marketing and sales positions at Kraft Foods. He is an Honorary Fellow at Durham University Business School. He is co-author of The Adventure of Sustainable Performance, Beyond ESG Compliance to Leadership in the New Era with founder of Anthesis, Stuart McLachlan.

  • Interested in insights about people leadership, HR and the future of work? Sign up for our free fortnightly newsletter here:
  • Follow Siân on LinkedIn:
  • Skip the search. Make informed decisions in minutes, not hours. Our curated and created content cuts through the noise, providing you with the precise information and expert analysis you need to tackle your challenges, when you need it! The People Space Premium
  • Follow The People Space on Facebook:
Canoeing with elephants
Siân Harrington Introduction
Dean's story
The reality of now
Sustainability versus sustainable performance
Greenwashing and box-ticking
Overcoming obstacles and sustainability mindset
The role of people and HR
Nespresso example
Climate scepticism - can we be optimistic?
How Dean puts sustainability into his own life
Three practical takeaways
Siân wrap up