How to create a sustainable business

To succeed in business today, you must champion green growth.

The combined pressures of customers, employees, investors and regulators compel companies to promote sustainability and reduce the damage they cause to the planet and its people.

Additionally, McKinsey to research shows that sustainable leaders who drive green growth not only increase their company’s chances of survival, but can also generate greater profits and create greater business opportunities.

So what exactly is green growth and how can you implement a successful green growth strategy?

What is Green Growth?


According to Luciano Barin Cruz (illustrated), recognized expert in sustainable development and professor of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at HEC Montréal, green growth refers to the promotion of economic growth on a sustainable basis.

the Full-time MBA at HEC Montreal is ranked among the top 30 sustainability MBA programs in the world by Corporate Knights, and integrates green growth and CSR throughout the curriculum.

“It’s always a challenge to reduce our emissions, but we also need to think about how we can replenish the damage we’ve caused. Green growth is about growing while respecting the environment,” explains Luciano.

By achieving green growth, organizations can support the shift to a green economy, moving away from the linear “take-do-waste” model to one that can improve well-being and enhance social equity while reducing the environmental impact.

There are three key players in a green economy: sustainable finance, sustainability-focused governments, and sustainable businesses.

So how can you implement a green growth strategy and build a sustainable business?

3 ways to implement a green growth strategy

1. Consider the environmental impact of your business operations

The first step to ensuring sustainable economic growth is to minimize the negative environmental and social impact of business operations in your supply chains, says Luciano.

This can be achieved through the decarbonization of supply chains, shifting from fossil fuels to renewable and clean energy sources, reducing carbon emissions.

On the social side, companies must ensure that suppliers pay workers a fair wage, that health and safety regulations are respected or that child labor has been eradicated.

“It’s also about how you can regenerate and grow at the same time,” says Luciano. “Green growth is about having an economic model that allows us to regenerate nature that has been damaged.”


2. Adopt a regenerative business model

Unlike the linear take-make-waste model, a regenerative or circular business model finds strategies for creating value from waste.

Luciano gives the example of a circular economy initiative, Loop Mission, which started producing freshly squeezed juices after being approached by a Quebec fruit and vegetable importer who wanted to create value from their food waste. .

“They realized they could reuse 1.5 kg of fruit and vegetable waste,” notes Luciano. “Then a big brand that makes bread approached Loop Mission and asked what they could do with their leftover bread. Loop started producing beer and mixing fruits and vegetables.

By adopting a regenerative business model, a company can optimize its natural assets to generate greater profits and support the shift to a circular economy.

HEC Montréal, explains Luciano, is leading research efforts in the field, with seven professors from the school participating in the Quebec Network for Research on the Circular Economy, a consortium that aims to develop training and education. focused on the circular economy.

3. Focus on your local community

Sustainable businesses also champion inclusivity and seek to create value for local communities.

Luciano says the local community has been involved in the construction of HEC Montréal’s new building in downtown Montreal, which will open in the fall of 2022.

The building was designed to be regenerative in nature, taking advantage of green roofs and geothermal energy. This will reduce overall building emissions, keeping pollution levels low in the city.


The new HEC Montréal building in downtown Montreal, opening in fall 2022.

What MBA skills do you need to achieve green growth in your business?

Business schools like HEC Montreal strive to ensure that future leaders have the tools to master green growth and build sustainable businesses.


Valerie Dulude (illustrated), MBA student at HEC Montréal and CSR Vice-President for the MBA Student Associationhas more than seven years of experience in the field of sustainable development and agriculture as a consultant.

She chose to do an MBA to hone her leadership skills and secure a senior position in CSR consulting upon graduation. She says HEC Montreal was the right choice for her because the program integrates sustainability into every MBA course.

“You have to be a generalist and a strategist who can integrate environmental and social considerations into all aspects of a business,” she explains.

MBA courses offered by HEC Montreal include sustainable development and environmental management, sustainable supply chain, responsible marketing, ethics in finance, and contemporary issues and social responsibilities.

Students also have access to student clubs focused on sustainability – including HumaniTerre, NOVA Group and HECOresponsable – where they collaborate with their peers and put theory into practice by working on various sustainability projects.

For Luciano, the key skills you need to lead a green growth strategy include analytical skills, critical thinking and adaptability.

“You also have to be a visionary; to start moving the business in another direction,” he says.

“You may not know what the solution to the problem is, but if you start working on it today, you start collaborating, technologies can start being created, and eventually we can get closer to finding the right ones. solution.”