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Lessons from Schneider Electric with Olivier Blum

“It’s a race without a finishing line and there will always be opportunity to innovate in the field of environment, social, and, governance. There is no real finishing line.

In the latest episodes of our Building Competitive Advantage in a Sustainable World podcast, David Young — a BCG Henderson Institute Fellow researching Sustainable Business Model Innovation — interviews Schneider Electric’s Chief Strategy & Sustainability Officer, Olivier Blum.

Part I

Schneider Electric was recently named the world’s most sustainable company by Corporate Knights, a leading global sustainable business publication. David and Olivier discuss how the company achieved this, by transitioning from having Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives that were separate from the business to making sustainability a core source of business advantage.

Olivier has a unique perspective on this transformation, having held a range of positions at Schneider over the course of almost three decades. Olivier has led various global business units and served as Chief Human Resources Officer in this time. He says companies looking to make sustainability core to their business strategy should embed sustainability into corporate purpose, make bold bets, translate those bets into clear long-term direction, define measurable short-term targets and milestones, and wire sustainability performance into compensation and promotion.

Throughout all of this, Olivier speaks to the critical importance of senior leaders’ commitment to making Schneider a progressive company that constantly raises the bar on sustainability — from the environment to gender equity and broader societal issues.

Part II.

In the second episode, they discuss the importance of innovation to reframe and unlock sustainability as a source of advantage. In these efforts, it is critical to engage customers and empower employees to drive sustainable innovations. Olivier explains how Schneider created a culture around sustainability that belongs to all their associates, allowing them to deliver on their bold ambitions across both environmental and social objectives.

Looking to the future of sustainability, Olivier discusses the limitations of seeing sustainability as only an issue of compliance. For him and for Schneider, there is no finish line for innovating to make sustainability a source of business advantage.

Interviewed by
  • David Young

    Global Leader, Center for Climate & Sustainability

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