Sustainability Capabilities for Business Leaders

24th June 2024

Posted In: The Topic

New research from the Skillnet Climate Ready Academy reveals that Irish business leaders are placing an increased focus on becoming more sustainable but require clarity on the skills and new forms of leadership needed. The ‘Sustainability Capabilities for Business Leaders’ report, prepared in partnership with Maynooth University, and Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI), is the first examination of both the beliefs and capabilities of top Irish business leaders when it comes to sustainability.

The report found that some key drivers of change for businesses include preparing for the forthcoming Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), aligning with national emissions reduction targets, meeting regulatory obligations, and the desire to position their organisation as an attractive employer.

However, the research also found a lack of clarity regarding the skills needed to drive sustainable change and effectively implement sustainable practices in organisations.

The findings highlight the need for a constructive and collaborative response from Government and industry bodies to ensure that all necessary sustainability transition upskilling and support mechanisms are available and effectively communicated to businesses.

Commenting on the new research report launch Maria Kelly, Director, Skillnet Climate Ready Academy: “This report is the first of its kind, providing a snapshot of the attitudes, actions and capabilities of Ireland’s leading business executives in relation to sustainability. The results and insights from this report are hugely important to help guide other business leaders to adapt and change to a more sustainable model of doing business”.

Dr. Jean Cushen, Principal Investigator, Maynooth University Business School, “Tailored leadership development programmes for different sectors and leadership functions can play a pivotal role in guiding leaders to transition to a low-carbon, sustainable enterprise.

The research underlines the importance for businesses to address sustainability challenges and to embrace the change.”

Marian Curry, Senior Sustainability Advisor, Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) said, “Members of the BITCI network who took part in the research found it to be an extremely valuable exercise.  Completing the assessment was thought provoking as it addressed capabilities for leadership for sustainability under Strategy, Enacting Structures, and Enabling Culture.  Several members are already incorporating the findings into leadership development, and all agreed that ‘there is value in the leadership having an aligned view’.

We believe that building capacity for sustainability is key at all levels in an organisation if we are to accelerate our transformation to a low carbon economy and inclusive society.

A collective approach is the only way to achieve this transformation and the findings from this report will influence our dialogue and action with network members and wider stakeholders.

To read the full ‘Sustainability Capabilities for Leaders’ report, click here>>

Pictured:  Maria Kelly, Director, Skillnet Climate Ready Academy;  Colm Gaskin, Head of Research & Communities, 20FIFTY Partners; Dr Jean Cushen, Associate Professor and Deputy Head School of Business, Maynooth University; Tracey Donnery, Director Policy & Communications, Skillnet Ireland;  Marian Curry, Senior Sustainability Adviser, Business in the Community Ireland, and Professor Eeva Leinonen, President of Maynooth University.