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Leadership Skills for a Sustainable Economy

To enable the potential of business to lead moves towards sustainable economy, it is critical that individuals at every level in all businesses types are equipped with skills they need to take action.
The vast majority of the leading businesses surveyed in this inquiry are saying
  • Their businesses need to do more
  • They plan to do more
  • Though almost half have already started - they want to see a lot more action.

In recognition of this, Vincent de Rivaz committed, in his role as HRH The Prince of Wales’s National Ambassador for 2009, to lead an inquiry with Business in the Community into the leadership skills needed to enable the transition to a sustainable economy.

This publication provides an overview of the findings of this inquiry and is aimed at business (from Board directors to HR directors and middle managers), Governments and non-governmental organisations.

What do the findings tell us?

The vast majority of the leading businesses surveyed in this inquiry are saying their businesses need to do more, they plan to do more and - although almost half have already started - they want to see a lot more action.

To a large extent, it is not the required leadership skills that are new – but this vastly more complex context in which they need to be applied. The companies surveyed believe they will benefit most from transferable business to business learning as well as more tailored third party support - tangible programmes designed by and for business.

What next?

To take this work forward, a collaborative business-led ‘Sustainable Skills Initiative’ has been launched. This initiative is responding to the findings of the inquiry through ensuring that transferable learning, scaleable programmes and other resources are identified and put in place to inspire, engage and support companies in developing these skills.


The inspiration for the pictures in this report is drawn from examples of collaboration in nature. Competition is often described as the dominant force in the fight for survival. However cooperation is also common in the natural world. Indeed as rainforests and coral reefs reveal – the two richest ecosystems on earth have evolved through cooperation at every level.

This skills inquiry has shown overwhelming recognition of the need for leadership skills on the issue of sustainability; and also the distance we still have to travel. This distance is too great for any one business to cover alone – collaborative business-led action is essential to share resources and address the skills gap. The most effective businesses are those that can unlock the potential of their employees to play a positive role in creating transformational change in their workplace and communities. At Business in the Community we make it our mission to help employers to do just that.

- Stephen Howard,
Chief Executive, Business in the Community