How do companies become sustainable?

Sustainable logistics

The goal is clear: companies must change their purely economically oriented business models in favor of greater sustainability. And in addition to the environmental aspect, sustainability also offers opportunities to increase competitiveness and corporate value, improve image and make employees more satisfied

A new study shows that managers need interdisciplinary skills to manage this complex transformation process. What does this mean for companies? Companies now need to develop strategies to make their traditional business models more sustainable. This is complex because sustainable corporate action must protect the climate and conserve resources as well as being socially responsible and economically feasible. To do justice to all these aspects and implement sustainability, companies must intensively analyze their business processes, material cycles and value chains to determine, for example, the starting level of their CO2 emissions and find reduction opportunities. This is the only way to identify suitable, financially viable measures, such as new technologies or changes to the supply chain. It is crucial to qualify and attune employees, customers, suppliers and investors to the new targets and measures. A survey of nearly 100 managers conducted by the Center for Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chain Management (CSLS) at Kühne Logistics University (KLU) in Hamburg shows that many new, interdisciplinary competencies are needed to manage such a transformation process, which companies generally do not have.

New skills are needed

To close this gap, targeted further training is necessary in the companies. In cooperation with the industry, KLU has established a part-time certificate program that provides the necessary competencies: Sustainable Management & Operation ("SuMO"). SuMO is a practice-oriented continuing education program that is open to all industries and takes a holistic view of corporate sustainability from an economic, social and ecological perspective. Over the course of twelve months, it imparts conceptual skills to specialists and managers who are to develop, implement or manage sustainability strategies in their companies and thus play an operational role in the sustainable transformation of their companies. The hybrid structure of the program allows for flexible delivery of relevant learning content via online sessions, so that participants can determine their own individual learning speed, while classroom sessions reinforce what has been learned in the form of case studies, application examples, simulations and more. The program is accompanied by a "Sustainable Impact Project" in which participants can apply their new knowledge directly to a selected project in the company. 

  • Author is Dr. Michael Lübbehusen, Managing Director and Academic Director of KLU Executive Education GmbH
  • Original article p.27, European Media Partner