“Sustainability is not a buzzword, it’s business management”

Jan 23, 2020 Sustainability

Sustainability is more than a just tool to build a company’s image. It also brings tangible economic benefits. In our interview, Member of the Board of Management of DEKRA SE Wolfgang Linsenmaier explains the increasing importance of sustainability for each business.

DEKRA solutions: Sustainability is increasingly becoming a topic in corporate management – why is this?
Wolfgang Linsenmaier: Sustainability is, without question, critical in tackling global challenges such as climate change together. It also provides businesses with opportunities to improve their resource and process efficiency, as well as to expand their business models. Sustainability has also long been a competitive factor, being demanded by both corporate clients and private consumers alike. This strategic relevance means sustainability isn’t a buzzword – it’s an important element of business management.
Just because customers are demanding it?
Not at all. Certainly, there is noticeable external pressure that does play a very important role. But so does the realization that it simply makes sense to fully integrate sustainability into corporate strategy. Sustainability measures also contribute to increases in cost efficiency. Energy efficiency measures offer the best example, as they can save both financial and natural resources.
Sustainability is not just an environmental issue – social aspects also play a major role. Where do you see the priorities?
Of course, the holistic integration of sustainability also demands responsibility toward employees and wider society. The recruitment of employees is a huge issue, considering the skills shortage. Nowadays, companies will attract hardly any young talent if they do not stand for and provide work-life balance, diversity, development and responsible business management. Companies that neglect their employees today are making a considerable strategic mistake. Compliance with social standards throughout the value chain – including through suppliers – is also a key priority. It is all about having a positive social influence as a player in society, as an employer and as a company.
Sustainability management and reporting obligations help companies to be more transparent in their sustainable actiivities. Isn’t the effort that companies are required to invest enormous?
Yes, certainly, this process is taxing. Companies generally seek support in setting up sustainability management and CSR reporting, from DEKRA for example. DEKRA champions sustainability: Our experts advise on key priorities or review CSR reports in accordance with the required criteria. All departments are inspected as to their ecological, social and economic sustainability. Weaknesses can be uncovered and the optimization potential realized. Building upon this, companies define the core goals for their business models, such as CO2 neutrality, higher employee satisfaction, a verified sustainable supply chain or an increased share of sales of sustainable products and services. They then monitor progress, ensuring that the added value overcompensates for the effort invested.
How does the trend towards sustainability affect DEKRA’s business activities?
Sustainability is intrinsic to our business model. We are seeing strong growth in demand from national and international customers for sustainability-related offerings. Our service portfolio features several components, such as strategic sustainability consulting, product sustainability, climate management and CO2 reduction, supply chain management, and sustainability audits. One of DEKRA’s key advantages is on show here – our worldwide network of experts. The topics of environment, quality and technical safety – all closely linked with sustainability – have always been part of DEKRA’s DNA and expertise, as has our neutrality.