5 practices of visionary companies

A tire company, a yogurt company and a producer of luxury purses, perfumes and wines. What do they have in common? Five visionary practices related to sustainable development that reduce waste, improve reputation and increase revenues.

Christine Angelini, Evelyne Lombardo and Isabelle Pignatel (all of Euromed Management) studied the activity and sustainability reports of France’s 40 largest companies according to market capitalization. This group is known as the CAC 40 and is France’s main stock index. The researchers analyzed how these large companies managed their sustainable development strategies to meet new international standards regarding greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

The authors found every CAC 40 company had adopted some form of GHG management strategy as a result of significant media exposure and resulting public pressure. The extent to which the companies embraced sustainability, however, varied significantly. The authors categorized the 40 companies into three levels reflecting their commitment to sustainability: Conformist, Engaged, and Visionary.

Conformists, Engaged Firms and Visionaries

Conformists  Conformist companies implement basic environmental practices in order to comply. They meet legal requirements for GHG emissions but that’s all.

“Conformists”   Accor, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole

Engaged Firms  Engaged companies undertake sustainable development more proactively and actively seek to reduce their GHG emissions. They voluntarily implement management systems such as ISO 26000 or participate in sustainability awards and indices such as the UN Global Compact.

“Engaged” Companies  Air France-KLM, Air Liquide, Alcatel-Lucent, Alstom, ArcelorMittal, Axa, Bouygues, Carrefour, Dexia, EADS, Essilor International, France Télécom, L’Oréal, Lagardère, Peugeot, Renault, Sanofi-Aventis, Total, Unibail-Rodamco, Vallourec, Vinci, Vivendi.

Visionaries  Visionary companies are unsatisfied with simple environmental metrics or reports. They go beyond laws and voluntary standards to implement innovative practices that create value for the company and benefit people and the environment. This way of viewing the business involves new methods and processes that produce little or no GHG emissions.

Visionary Companies  Capgemini, Danone, EDF, GDF Suez, Lafarge, LVMH, Michelin, Pernod Ricard, PPR, Saint-Gobain, Schneider Electric, Société Générale, STMicrolectronics, Suez Environnement, Veolia Environnement.

Next page: Why Be a Visionary?