Since starting her career as a bio-engineer, Annemie now combines her experience in health, safety, the environment and stakeholder engagement to enrich her current European-wide responsibilities.
Here, she talks to dss+ on what it takes to achieve sustainability goals and explains her view on the 3 Ps model – People, Planet and Profit.
Q: It’s often said that good company culture and leadership are vital to reaching sustainability goals, but are they enough?
Annemie: I think good company culture and leadership are the starting points. But it’s also important to remember that, first and foremost, a company is created with people that are there to drive the company forward. So sustainability targets have to really touch everyone and people have to embody what the company stands for. Increasingly, having a diverse and inclusive workforce is becoming an essential driver in creating sustainable value. I think we are beginning to learn that if we don’t focus on creating diversity across every level of the organisation, it will continue to be “more of the same” ideas. We are also beginning to learn that developing a sustainable business requires a more creative approach to onboard fresh ideas and sometimes take things in a new direction. An important enabler to achieve this, besides diversity, is creating an inspiring work environment where people can continuously grow, learn and develop, but where there is also room for reflection and contemplation.
Q: Can you explain more about the benefits of allowing time to reflect on sustainability ideas and how that works on a practical level?
Annemie: Quite often, an organisation’s primary focus is understandably on daily business goals and targets, but sometimes taking time to reflect in broader groups can uncover new ideas on sustainability. Providing a place where ideas can be discussed and challenged can spark new ways of tackling an issue. It moves away from a prescriptive approach to one where concepts can be nurtured organically and allowed to progress. At a practical level, the whole organisation should be represented from management to the finance department to the shop floor. At the same time, people need to be clear on the group’s purpose and how each person can contribute so that everyone is moving in the same direction. Finally, leadership has to listen, engage and implement ideas and solutions that emerge from these group discussions. Read full interview