Resources, assets, reach. The private sector is compelled to muster all three to tackle the complex issues that are essential to realizing a sustainable future for themselves, their customers and society.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, governments around the world have set the course for a sustainable future for all by 2030. If we are to get anywhere close to achieving this ambitious vision, the private sector must step up and mobilize.

Achieving these Global Goals involves more than modest contributions by business and industry. They must re-engineer their business models and value chains in ways that go beyond incremental and known solutions. Canadian Business for Social Responsibility published the Qualities of a Transformational Company a few years ago. It’s a roadmap that defines how business can transform its operating model and operating context to help put society and its business on a sustainable path. One of the top qualities (PDF) is that companies adopt long-term bold goals beyond the foreseeable future to foster innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.

Sound far-fetched? Seem unachievable? Far from it. Here are the criteria leading companies are using to accelerate and scale their contributions to a sustainable future for their business and society:

  • Address long-term societal trends, risks and opportunities in ways that create value for the company, customers, its value chain and society
  • Set ambitious, overarching and aspirational quests
  • Look beyond organizational boundaries (suppliers, customers, industry peers) and current capabilities

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