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Diversity, ESG and stakeholder engagement have become critical board and C-suite issues impacting on realizing competitive advantage and delivering value. To examine leadership pathways to sustainability transformation, KPMG hosted an online event together with Henley Business School. 

The event brought together C-level business leaders from Finnish companies, an inspirational keynote speaker, Professor Andrew Kakabadse, and insightful panelists Juha Sihvonen, Managing Director, ATEA Finland Oy, Marina Louhija, Senior Vice President (responsibility and governance, legislation), Fingrid Oyj, Jussi Korpikoski, CEO, Founder, the Planet Company, and Kim Lehto, Director, Advisory, KPMG. In addition, Carina Hedberg, Advisory Director of KPMG, presented the key findings of KPMG Finland’s latest thought leadership Making Every Step Sustainable which familiarizes leadership with the thought and methods applicable to sustainability transformation.

Leadership is vital

Andrew Kakabadse, Professor of Governance & Leadership at Henley Business School, pinpointed in his keynote speech leaders' capabilities and mindset to efficiently oversee and guide the organization to a sustainable future. 

— Leadership is not important, it is vital. But what does leadership mean? What is the reality that we have to face across the world? What points should we raise with our leaders and what pressure should we put on our leaders to move forward, Kakabadse began.

According to Kakabadse's extensive global research, 100% of directors know what's happening in the organization, its problems, weaknesses, concerns. But still, 67% of them don't know what to do when facing sensitive dilemmas and challenges. At the same time, 85% of board members have no view of their company's competitive advantage. 

What could business leaders do to create a diversity of thinking, a shared perspective and more value for the company? According to Kakabadse, there is a simple and proven formula.

— The word engagement has turned out to be one of the most powerful words that any leader has to face. We actually could have a poor strategy, but the team that's engaged and has the courage could turn the poor strategy into great. 

— Engagement is critical to make the shared vision work and to execute the strategy in a way that delivers value, Kakabadse says.

The word engagement has turned out to be one of the most powerful words that any leader has to face.

Professor Andrew Kakabadse

Kakabadse suggests that leaders need to gather evidence to build engagement and alignment and test the strategy. 

— Those companies that are smart operationalize ESG concepts, integrate them into strategy and have a discipline for making things happen. They don't have to defend their opinion because they're evidence-driven. They have leadership, wisdom, and evidence that supports or challenges the strategy, Kakabadse summarizes. 

KPMG Finland's Thought Leadership study "Making Every Step Sustainable" is available on our website.

Our experts would be happy to support your organization and executive teams concerning ESG and leadership topics and provide further insights.

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