Sector News

Sustainability: Business Leaders must secure the Long-Term Strategy despite Short-Term Pressures

June 22, 2024

Europe’s chemical industry, represented by vocal leaders such as Sir Jim Ratcliffe of INEOS, is grappling with existential challenges. From high energy costs and stringent European regulations to carbon taxes and weak demand, the industry’s competitiveness, especially in base chemicals, is under threat.

Is it any wonder that green initiatives are taking a backseat?

A recent Financial Times article highlights the trend: prominent corporations from Unilever to Shell and Bank of America are retreating from their ambitious green targets and have a diminishing appetite for commitments that address wider sustainability issues.

The Irreversibility of the Sustainability Trend

Sustainability is driven by fundamentals that transcend short-term market fluctuations. Climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation present existential threats that cannot be ignored. Consumer preferences are also evolving, and companies that fail to align with these values risk losing market share and facing reputational damage.

The Path Forward: A Perspective from Borderless

The retreat of some from green targets is concerning, though we view this as a temporary setback rather than a permanent reversal. The journey towards sustainability will encounter more ups and downs, but the momentum is undeniable.

For forward-thinking industry leaders, sustainability is core to strategy; it’s not just an initiative. Our clients are looking for executives who can integrate sustainable practices into every aspect of their operations. At Borderless, we identify and evaluate leaders who demonstrate a deep understanding and commitment to sustainability. We require evidence of these capabilities in candidates for all senior leadership roles. Our clients must have leaders with foresight and the ability to navigate the complex path to a sustainable future.

In Conclusion

Organizations that recognize sustainability as a central pillar of future competitiveness and resilience will stand out. Short-term pressures must be managed, but they should not derail the long-term vision. The stakes are too high, and the costs of inaction are too great. This is a marathon, not a sprint. It demands leadership, perseverance, innovation, and collaboration. There is no choice.

by Andrew Kris, Founding Partner, Borderless Executive Search

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