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How Organizations Can Achieve Sustainability Through Agility

In an environment like that, “success” may no longer be measured by a tally on the bottom of a balance sheet; companies will have to show they have a firm grasp on agility and innovation.

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Posted On OCT 06, 2022 

Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis – one of the world’s largest automakers – is used to making headlines. As head of a company with more than 280,000 employees and €150 billion in operating income, whatever Tavares has to say in instantly newsworthy.


In September, Tavares caught the attention of the global auto industry when he boldly declared at the Detroit Auto Show that Stellantis was not only preparing to drastically reduce the amount of energy used at its factories, but that it was going to invest heavily to produce green energy “on site” to help insulate his company against interruptions in the supply of natural gas.


Tavares is known for making bold and controversial claims about the auto industry. When some critics suggested his ideas around energy generation and use were an invitation to chaos, Tavares pushed back.


Tavares noted that business has been navigating all forms of chaos over the past few years: a global pandemic, supply chain disruptions, regulatory pressures and – most recently – uncertainty in Europe around the supply of Russian natural gas. “The good thing about chaos is that when you add chaos to the chaos you don’t see so much difference,” Tavares said.


While critics may dismiss his bold plans, Tavares noted that at least Stellantis was trying to respond to energy uncertainty, something that far too many governments and organizations are not doing.


Again, while not all of Tavares’ ideas may come to fruition, he is a good example of a business leader that is trying to manage uncertainty and disruption. Concerns over COVID-19 variants continue, the war in Ukraine has put the world on the precipice of global conflict, and inflation is pushing the world towards a recession. In an environment like that, “success” may no longer be measured by a tally on the bottom of a balance sheet; companies will have to show they have a firm grasp on agility and innovation.


Another good example of an organization that is getting out ahead of many of these global challenges is Intel, long considered a leader in sustainability and energy innovation.


This year, Intel pledged to ensure that all of its offices and plants around the world would run on renewable energy by 2030, largely through the purchase of wind and solar-powered electricity. However, the world’s most famous manufacturer of microprocessors has taken a wholistic view of sustainability. It has implemented a plan to capture and repurpose more than seven billion gallons of water from its facility. And currently, only five percent of total solid wastes end up in landfills. By 2030, Intel hopes to produce zero net waste.


A growing definition of sustainability

Many of the same principles of sustainability can and should be applied to workforce development and management. Right now, the talent world is gripped with the Great Resignation – the trend that has seen millions of people around the world resign jobs in search of better jobs. Research by The Adecco Group has shown that many of these people are chasing bigger paychecks from employers desperate to find skilled talent. However, this practice is already looking unsustainable as the global economy strains under the weight of crippling inflation and nudges towards a possible recession. The 2022 edition of the Global Workforce of the Future survey found that while salary is the number one reason why people voluntarily resign, it ranks sixth as a driver of job satisfaction.


The challenges for employers to build a sustainable workforce are enormous. They must find a way of balancing employee demands for more flexible working conditions with the need to maintain a central office presence to drive collaboration. They must take responsibility for their workers’ wellbeing. They must address the skills gap through a combination of targeted recruiting and focused investment in upskilling and redeployment. And they must also start inviting employees to co-create organizational culture, thereby leveraging the rising tide of employee activism.


If agility is key to surviving dynamic change, then sustainability is the gateway through which true agility can be achieved. Both for now, and well into the future.




Download the latest report, Global Labor Market & Regulations Report: Insights – September-October 2022, for news on the global labor market and industry developments.