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Five Reasons Why Business Leaders Need to Move From Compliance to Purpose

By Matthijs Germs, Senior Sustainability Consultant


Businesses have so much potential to be a force for good by being profitable, providing value to stakeholders whilst also giving more than they take from people and the planet. There’s no escaping the fact that the topic of sustainability is impacting every sector at an ever-increasing pace. There is the guidance, the trend, and the momentum to encourage businesses to work harder to align their stakeholders and find an equilibrium between economic, ecological, and social rewards, but many businesses simply don’t know where to start.

Most businesses are forced to start, and they do this by complying with regulations and governance, but being compliant is not enough anymore. Addressing sustainability and the ambition to go beyond compliance can be complex, but ignoring the issue is a risky strategy that will not pay off in the long term. Instead, business leaders need to see the bigger picture and embrace the opportunities that being purpose-driven can bring, recognising that it’s not a shift away from being profitable, it’s about creating value with sustainability as the driver of all strategic business decisions.


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Plotting The Sustainability Journey


Firstly, it’s important to recognise the stages of a sustainability journey from compliance to purpose. At Nexio Projects we have designed a sustainability maturity curve which we use to support clients through the process.

The sustainability maturity curve demonstrates the five levels of progression from compliance, accelerating, optimising, leading and ultimately being purpose-driven, focusing on continuous improvement to maintain a level of maturity and advance to the next stage.

Each level demonstrates a progressive commitment to sustainability, going from meeting the minimum regulatory standards to setting goals and targets to taking responsibility for the wider value chain and highly transparent transitioning to a truly purpose-driven organisation. At this level, a company understands its role in the world from a system-thinking perspective by embracing ecological stewardship and circular business models balancing people, planet, and profit.

Now that you can visualise the journey, perhaps you’re still wondering: ‘Why should it be a priority?’

👉 Reason #1: Meet the pressure from stakeholders & regulations

👉 Reason #2: Move from being risk-oriented to capturing sustainability opportunities

👉 Reason #3: Gain efficiencies

👉 Reason #4: Lead and collaborate across your sector to set the agenda

👉 Reason #5: Make better data-driven decisions around material topics

To find out more about each of the reasons above, download the full article.