By Marie-Claire Daveu
Chief Sustainability Officer, Kering
Simply speaking, building sustainability into the ways we do business is inherently necessary in today’s world. To be responsible and also to remain successful. And why? Because the future is quite clear - natural resources are finite and climate change will continue to diminish the raw materials we rely on as businesses. This is particularly relevant to the textile industry, which uses a vast amount of raw materials, like cotton, and relies on well-functioning agricultural production systems to obtain them. Climate change poses an even greater threat for Luxury because raw material quality is also critical to create outstanding products and, further, many of the beautiful materials found in these products can be easily disrupted by the negative repercussions brought on by climate change, like changing temperatures and drought. So, there really is no other choice but to decouple business growth from the use of natural resources and move towards a regenerative cycle, with less waste and more closed loop solutions. And in order to do so, disruptive innovation is paramount. In fact, creating a sustainable business demands innovation. It is fundamental to drive real progress and to design radical and smart solutions to our global challenges.
This kind of transparent view on the future can either cause alarm, or, if you change your mind set, it can create opportunities and even add value to a business. This is how we choose to view it at Kering. Sustainability is both a responsibility and an opportunity, and we approach our commitment to sustainability in a myriad of different ways and with an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether it is through our on-the-ground work in the supply chains, which includes peeling back and truly measuring our environmental footprint via our Environmental Profit and Loss accounting, to creating a Materials Innovations Lab where we support our brands with alternative and greener options, to collaborating with other sectors for greater collective influence when trying to implement new business models. This cross-sector cooperation extends to working with tech start-ups, which often approach a problem with a completely different skill set and way of thinking. A number of these start-ups have shown real innovative promise and there are endless possibilities to explore together. It is also essential to work with schools and support the next generation entering our industry. They will be the new leaders of tomorrow who will push past the frontiers of sustainability we are establishing today.
All in all, there are many ways in which innovation can occur. We need to harness this and choose to use it as a driver for problem-solving and sustainability. Because the choices we all make today are choices for the future. And we must make this our business. To be smart, to be innovative, and to be sustainable.
This article is part of the ‘Daring to lead’ series for the Women’s Forum, highlighting voices from the Forum for the Economy & Society Global Meeting, in Paris, on 5-6 October. Please share using the hashtag #WFGM17.
You can see the full programme and current list of speakers for the event at the Women’s Forum website. Please follow on social media @womens_forum and with the hashtag #WFGM17.