2 minute read 27 Feb 2023

How strategic sustainability will contribute to a greener consumer community

By Sophie Chirez

EY Belgium Climate Change and Sustainability Executive Director

Climate change is a reality: we need to act now to adapt and mitigate. Passion, trust and team work will enable us to get there!

2 minute read 27 Feb 2023

Why it matters for retail and consumer goods companies to make sustainability a core part of their organization's strategy and operations.

Three questions to ask

  • How should you organize sustainability within your company?
  • How do you communicate towards the consumer without it being labeled as greenwashing?
  • What are the regulations your company should comply with?

Sustainability is taking an increasingly central role in the objectives of our organizations. Consumers expect companies to act sustainably, employees are more loyal to sustainable companies, investors see sustainability as a risk-mitigating strategy and governments are obligating companies to pursue sustainability through regulation. Sustainability is everywhere and the urgency for sustainability is undeniable. Yet, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome for the Belgian retail and consumer goods landscape.

While businesses try to balance that dichotomy of the increasing consumers’ demand for sustainable offerings and complex legislative obligations, EY and Gondola invited sector representatives for a round table to understand the short-term hurdles and share best practices to build towards a more sustainable retail and consumer goods landscape.

Strategic sustainability

As sustainability is becoming ever so important, many organizations question how to organize it. An analogy can be drawn between how we are attempting to organize sustainability now, and how companies dealt with digital when digital was in its infancy versus today, when a hybrid model reigns supreme, with a central digital team pushing the digital agenda forward, but with various stakeholders across all departments. Sustainability should be approached just as such.

It’s key to embed sustainability into the core of an organization's strategy and operations, and using a strategic approach to address sustainability challenges and opportunities. This approach can help organizations to create long-term value, reduce risks, and contribute to a more sustainable future. It involves taking a long-term perspective on sustainability, considering the social, environmental, and economic impacts of decisions and actions, and finding ways to create value while minimizing negative impacts.

Communicating and reporting

Communicating about your sustainability efforts is an important aspect of building trust with your stakeholders and demonstrating your commitment to sustainability. But while sustainability reporting is an important tool for organizations to manage their ESG impacts, build stakeholder trust, and create long-term value, in the FMCG and retail sector this often does not resonate with the end consumer. So how do you communicate your sustainable actions towards your consumer?

Many companies are setting up great initiatives when it comes to sustainability, but companies are often hesitant to communicate in fear of being labeled as greenwashing. The solution can be found in transparency. Whether it is in your official sustainability report, your social media channels or your products and product descriptions, being open and transparent about your sustainability efforts and progress will build trust and credibility with your audience.

Sustainable consumption – How to build a sustainable consumer society in Belgium

Sustainability experts from various sectors within the Belgian retail and consumer goods industry gathered for a roundtable discussion about Strategic Sustainability. Get your hands on the exclusive insights of this EY x Gondola roundtable.

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In the near future, companies will either be sustainable or will not exist. Together with some key stakeholders from the FMCG and retail sector, EY and Gondola discuss how the sector can improve in the field of sustainability and navigate the myriad of regulations with a focus on organizational models and communication.

About this article

By Sophie Chirez

EY Belgium Climate Change and Sustainability Executive Director

Climate change is a reality: we need to act now to adapt and mitigate. Passion, trust and team work will enable us to get there!