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Sustainable Transformation

Your expert for questions

Ruirui Zong-Rühe
Director, PwC Strategy&
Tel: +49 211 3890-579
E-Mail

An item for the executive agenda

Sustainability is a highly relevant topic with a substantial impact on businesses and their stakeholders. Stronger consideration of sustainability in society, economy and environment has led to a major rise in responsible investments. More and more governments and institutions are pledging to back a United Nations campaign aiming for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, thereby affecting how companies do business.

Being a sustainable company means to understand and actively manage the environmental, social and governance ("ESG") impact along your value chain, and ensuring that your company's business model will remain viable in the future. The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework and guidance for this. Companies need to focus on those aspects which are most important to them.

"As far as sustainability is concerned, many companies still rely too heavily on regulatory compliance. This aspect is certainly vital to keeping a licence to operate. But it's important to move beyond: integrating sustainability into a company's strategy, operating model and day-to-day processes makes it possible to unleash the full potential that sustainability offers for value creation. That's why sustainability should be discussed in the boardroom of every company."

Ruirui Zong-Rühe, Director, PwC Strategy&

CEOs need to understand the five imperatives of this new economic order and act now

  1. Sustainability is non-negotiable for a company's licence to operate and is a C-level topic.
  2. A company's ability to create value in the future depends on how well ESG criteria are integrated into the corporate strategy.
  3. The ability to access capital on competitive terms in the future increasingly depends on a company’s ESG performance.
  4. Investors and other stakeholders are increasingly demanding transparent, reliable information on ecological and social aspects, and on the progress made by a company in achieving the goals set.
  5. Companies will have to take credible strides in living up to their sustainability goals – otherwise they risk suffering a major dent in their reputation.

A holistic approach is necessary

It takes a holistic approach to integrate sustainability within all aspects of a business – and a tailored strategy for every company. Companies currently find themselves at completely different points along their ESG transformation journey, dealing with manifold issues and challenges. But they all have one thing in common: to successfully transform themselves into a sustainable company requires a holistic approach to their strategy, operating model and management system. In addition, companies need to focus on a set of functional aspects depending on their strategic agenda.

Your situation

Strategy: shape the new reality

Your sustainability agenda must not be isolated from your business agenda: your corporate and business strategy should be closely interwoven with your sustainability strategy. Place a clear focus around a selected set of highly relevant impact areas – leveraging the SDGs – and describe how your focus areas create value - for you and for your stakeholders. Three things form the foundation for setting priorities, laying out a clear roadmap and communication within your company and to outside stakeholders:

  1. Integrate sustainability within an authentic story about how you create value
  2. Define your ambitions
  3. Set clear and tangible objectives

Operating model: put theory into practice

So you have set out your strategic agenda. But how do you translate it in concrete steps for implementation, integrating it into your day-to-day activities? That's a practical challenge many companies are struggling with. Sustainability has to be embedded within an existing organisational structure. For instance, the board could form a sustainability committee, or another body with respective focus. To measure and steer progress, existing processes and metrics systems can be used or new ones need to be established. Efforts to accomplish sustainability goals must be evident within the organisation and translated into performance targets and incentive systems for (senior) executives. You can also leverage your corporate culture and implement sustainability into your framework for employees, processes, risks and technologies.

Steering, reporting & assurance: show the world your true face

You need to be able to demonstrate the credibility of your sustainability agenda and your progress with reliable, consistent and meaningful data. Investors and other stakeholder groups are increasingly calling on companies to provide such data, and are assessing that data with an increasingly critical eye. The right non-financial indicators need to be selected to serve as a basis for regular assessment and effective steering and reporting on the sustainability agenda, and the quality of the data behind those indicators needs to be improved through internal controls and standardised processes, and integrated into dashboards. These elements form the basis for consistent, trustworthy and authentic communication with the relevant stakeholders. Learn more

Our services

We will accompany you on your way into a new reality – every step of the way

Our sustainable transformation experts can help you keep your eyes on the road during your journey. We offer advice on all aspects of your transformation. We base that advice on our comprehensive expertise and many years of experience, client references and leading tools.

Strategy: Design the new reality

We will help you make the right decisions and position you for a future as a sustainable company.

As your partner, we can help you ...

  • understand which Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) factors are most relevant to your company. In so doing, we take into account the dynamics of your industry, your strategic position, the regulatory developments and the potential for value creation.
  • define the right ambition level and incorporate the ESG factors and Sustainable Development Goals into your strategy and operating processes, and ensure management team buy-in
  • integrate the investor perspective into your value creation story.
  • develop a tailored, specific sustainability roadmap that brings the concepts to life.
  • determine the right targets, metrics and action areas to enable you to continuously progress against your goals.

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Operating model: Make it real

We will assist you in implementing your sustainability goals in your day-to-day processes.

As your partner, we can help you …

  • define the right organisational model to effectively push forward with your sustainability agenda. In so doing, we take into account your current operating model, maturity and corporate culture.
  • integrate your sustainability roadmap into your day-to-day operations, i.e. processes, workflows and decision-making system.
  • develop appropriate measurement and incentive systems to embed sustainability into your performance management system.
  • adapt your technology and IT landscape to meet the challenges posed by your sustainability strategy.
  • integrate your sustainability strategy into your culture.

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Steering, reporting & assurance: Keep it real

We will help you steer the impacts of your business activities.

As your partner, we can help you …

  • define the right non-financial metrics to measure and steer your company's sustainability performance.
  • foster a high level of trust and credibility in your data – using efficient tools, methods and systems.
  • ensure that your reporting is compelling and reliable so that you keep your promises.

Learn more

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Our promise

Success in the new reality

We will leverage our comprehensive experience and expertise, our industry know-how and leading tools to help you transform your company into a sustainable enterprise. That's sustainable impact made real – from strategy to implementation.

"Companies need to develop a holistic sustainability strategy that focuses on the relevant action areas – i.e., those which the stakeholders consider material – and defines clear strategic objectives. These need to be incorporated within the corporate strategy, backed up by concrete actions and made operational."

Carsten Stäcker,Partner at PwC Germany

Contact us

Nicolette Behncke

Nicolette Behncke

Partner, Sustainability Services, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 69 9585-3080

Robert  Kammerer

Robert Kammerer

Partner, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 89 5790-5467

Dr Jens Dinkel

Dr Jens Dinkel

Partner, Sustainability Services, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 89 5790-6056

Simon Fahrenholz

Simon Fahrenholz

Partner, PwC Germany

Tel: +49 211 981-2346

Ruirui Zong-Rühe

Ruirui Zong-Rühe

Director, Strategy& Germany

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