What matters now, he believes, is not CSR puff, but the enlightened self-interest that sustainability brings – and its positive effect on the bottom line. ‘I can’t imagine any successful business today that had a vision of success that didn’t include sustainability in one form or another – whether that’s environmental, social, governance or ethical issues,’ says Porritt. ‘If you ever meet a business leader who thinks that success is done in a way without any reference to sustainability, then forget them, he warns. ‘They’re irrelevant; they’re history'.
So, what does he believe the role of the leader should be when it comes to sustainability? ‘There is no company that has made a success of this agenda without very strong senior management and chief executive leadership. And that’s because a chief exec not only sets the tone of an organisation but they determine strategic priorities, they enable people within the organisation to thrive in particular ways – it’s the whole context setting that’s going on.’ Watch our exclusive video interview with Porritt – who helped mastermind M&S’s Plan A campaign - above.
Tomorrow: Why smarter businesses will endure; IBM’s Caroline Taylor gives her views on why sustainability matters to the triple bottom line.