AmCham’s latest Sustainability Forum convened at Roche’s Oslo headquarters. Focusing on the corporate sustainability journey, the forum was kicked off by presentations from Roche Director of Public Affairs and Communications Hans Christian Hansson and ReputationInc Managing Partner Dennis Larsen, who discussed the diverse range of issues related to both communicating sustainability issues and better integrating sustainability practices across the entirety of a business.
Drawing from his background as a foreign correspondent for NRK and an advisor for Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Hansson took forum participants through how Roche has put sustainability at the core of its business by making all of its employees ambassadors for sustainability and working hand-in-hand with both public and private sector stakeholders.
“From patients to governments, our stakeholders have extremely high expectations of us when it comes to sustainability. We can’t just talk the talk – we really need to walk the walk when it comes to these issues,” he remarked.
As the world’s largest biotech company, Hansson further noted that it was critical to have a deep local understanding when translating Roche’s global sustainability commitment across borders, a point he illustrated by discussing how different his native Northern Norway is from Basel, the Swiss city that plays home to Roche’s global headquarters.
“For us, it was very important to identify focus areas in Norway so that we could show our Norwegian stakeholders that we are a credible partner that shares key goals critical to the development of society,” he concluded.
Hansson was followed by ReputationInc Managing Partner Dennis Larsen, who discussed how companies can harness qualitative and quantitative analysis to build upon the “sustainability opportunity” by engaging stakeholders, building an influence-generating reputation, and leveraging that influence to drive transformational, systemic change.
“It’s critical to use strategic long-term thinking to engage the stakeholders that matter to us. If you want to reap the rewards of your reputation, you need to be bold and forward looking, actively engage with transparency, align your strategies across your business, and ensure you promote capable voices. Then you can truly drive change.”
Larsen then discussed how companies could avoid reputation pitfalls, noting the importance of finding the right communicative balance – neither under nor over communicating – and setting ambitious, yet realistic goals. This concept of balance carried over to his closing remarks – a stimulating exploration of how a lack of resources and competing priorities are the greatest barriers to change, and how leadership support is the greatest factor in transformational success.
At the conclusion of the presentations, forum participants then took part in dynamic roundtable discussion concerning the range of themes discussed by Hansson and Larsen.
“It is interesting how companies often look at developing country-specific sustainability and communication strategies, but then at the same time they reduce Europe to one big blob. By doing this, they lose the ability to leverage local insight to connect with a specific country,” noted one participant, who then argued for the importance of using quantitative and qualitative analysis to develop strategies tailormade for local stakeholders.
Another participant noted the crucial role of companies in driving change.
“We cannot survive without a sustainability focus, and it is interesting to be here and see how different companies and industries are looking at their global footprint and finding ways to contribute.”
The forum then ended, with participants noting their excitement for future meetings.
“Today truly delivered on my expectations – the presenters certainly provided a lot of food for thought,” concluded one participant.
Many AmCham companies have been on the sustainability journey for some time, while others are trying to find their way to a sustainable future. Though our members are represented through the full spectrum, we know that several are at the forefront within their respective industries.
Hence, AmCham brings select, cross-industry member company representatives together on a quarterly basis to discuss opportunities, share best practices and find out how AmCham members can play a role in the Norwegian sustainability agenda going forward. Read more about our Sustainability forum here, and please contact us for interest in future forums at firstname.lastname@example.org.