Connecting sustainability to business value

Source: Exchange Magazine | Photo: Tobias Ohls | Text: Kristin Djerf | Location: Stockholm, Sweden

With the arrival of its new VP Sustainability, Gränges is stepping up its efforts to strenghten the company’s longterm competitive edge. Meet Sofia Hedevåg who is leading the group towards a more sustainable path to business value.

Sofia Hedevåg became Gränges’ first VP Sustainability in October 2017.

“Gränges has worked methodically with sustainability in recent years, but without a dedicated full-time resource it can be difficult to move forward,” says Hedevåg. “I will build upon the work that has already been done and coordinate it on a global scale.”

Her mission is to define Gränges’ sustainability work, primarily by establishing a global strategy that can be followed and supported by the whole organization. Although efforts to promote sustainability are being made in all parts of the organization, there has not been any global groupwide strategy with overall goals and ambitions in place. The plan is to establish this high-level strategy by March 2018.

“The deadline may seem tight, but much of the basic work has already been done,” she says. “I also see a clear commitment to, and engagement in, sustainability issues across the organization, which makes my work both easier and more fun.” Sustainability is one of the four main pillars of Gränges’ long-term growth strategy, which also includes innovation, continuous improvements and structural expansion.

“Having sustainability as one of our prioritized areas shows that we recognize the connection between sustainability and business value. My most exciting challenge is to identify the business value of sustainability work, to link the sustainability strategy to our business.”

Hedevåg provides some concrete examples such as: lower costs through more efficient energy usage; reduced sick leave through an increased focus on social conditions.

Sustainability is attractive for our customers.
- Sofia Hedevåg, VP Sustainability

“Integrating sustainability matters into our product offering and our brand is attractive for our customers. This will give us a competitive advantage, so it’s something we aim to achieve.”

Sustainability efforts also help to give Gränges’ employees a sense of pride and loyalty.

“A lot has happened in just a few years. It used to be tough for a company to engage its employees in sustainability matters, nowadays people take it for granted, that a company takes social and environmental responsibility.”

Hedevåg previously worked at Swedish Match where she was leading the group’s sustainability efforts among other things. The fact that Gränges had already identified sustainability as part of the foundations of its strategy, and that some of the groundwork had already been done, was appealing as she entered her new position.

“My previous experience will enable me to drive the work internally, and to promote sustainability both internally and externally.”