What does “sustainability strategy” mean? – AT&S explains
In recent years, more and more companies have begun to develop sustainability strategies to incorporate social and ecological goals into corporate activities. But what exactly is a sustainability strategy? Let us offer you a little explanation by showing you how it is done at AT&S.
„Sustainability and responsible leadership are key challenges for the further development of our economy“ explains Theresa Gruber, Corporate Sustainability Specialist at AT&S, “in terms of business this means thinking about the effects companies have on their environment and society”. Of course, for this to be feasible, companies need to develop a strategy and ensure that this aligns with their overall corporate strategy.
As a leading provider of high-end interconnect solutions, AT&S’s mission is to be the “First choice for advanced applications”. Fulfilling this mission means expanding technology leadership through innovative solutions, sustainable, profitable growth, creation of stakeholder value and sustainable management. All of this, while trying to align business, ecology, and social development. Not exactly an easy task. Now, how does a company such as AT&S convert these plans into a viable sustainability strategy?
Harvard Business School defines a sustainability strategy as “aiming to positively impact one or both of those areas, thereby helping address some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as climate change and income inequality.” At AT&S, this means developing an efficient, realistic strategy and goals that align with its vision and mission. However, the scope of environmental and societal issues is enormous, with a long list of aspects that need to be taken into consideration. Not only that, “to ensure that sustainability proves to be a strategically viable framework for shaping future viability and market success, no aspects of corporate responsibility can be left out, and must integrate all functions within the company” says Gruber.
To clarify what aspects need the most attention, the UN set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 subgoals to “achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” These SDGs include topics such as reducing inequalities, maximizing sustainable energy use or reducing carbon footprints. Goal 13, for example, is to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”. Beside the SDGs, AT&S attached great value to involving all relevant stakeholders and considered global developments and trends in the strategy development process. From this process, four strategic fields were derived:
- Environment and Resources
- Sustainable Innovation
- Employees and Society
- Sustainable Supply Chain
For the strategic field of action “Environment and Resources” for example, it is our goal to cover at least 80% of the Group’s energy requirements from renewable energy sources (including large hydropower plants) by 2025 and to replace all fossil fuels within their own production sites around the world by 2030. Of course, AT&S did not specify this aim with the sole intention of reducing global warming. Resource and water scarcity are growing and so are customer demands. This is all expected to intensify even more in the coming years, and as a future-oriented business, AT&S that ignoring such demands represents an additional business risk in today’s environment.”
AT&S is committed to all facets of sustainability. “Our sustainability strategy is designed to make a significant contribution to minimizing the negative impact of business activities on the environment by maximizing positive aspects and making the best possible use of opportunities,” says Gruber. Further commenting that “A company as a social institution with immense potential and capacity, can serve as a platform for change.”
Of course, there is much more to be said about the company’s sustainability goals – just watch this space.