Sustainability is a key challenge for pharma businesses

Sustainability is an imperative agenda for pharma businesses, and our recent survey looks at how companies in the sector are progressing. We are seeing a lot of pressure on businesses to develop and implement an ESG agenda and to act on policies that meet ESG challenges. This pressure is growing across the ecosystem and is driven by customers, investors, employees and the general public.

Organisations such as the NHS are asking suppliers about their timeframe to achieve net zero — suppliers need to prepare for this and start the journey now or get left behind. This is far from a simple task — making complex decisions about how to measure ESG and preparing the metrics and communications are as vital as effecting change within businesses.

Sustainability is also an important issue in the war for talent. With firms struggling to both recruit and retain the people they need, strong ESG performance has become an important part of the way employees choose employers.

Investors, patients and the general public are all piling on the pressure for better sustainability too. Deciding how to accommodate all of this in a meaningful way is crucial. This challenge is multidimensional; therefore, choosing how and where to begin the process is an essential first step. Experienced guidance can make all the difference for businesses that know what they need to achieve but are struggling to understand how to achieve it.

Customers are changing their procurement procedures - sustainability is no longer just a nice-to-have — it’s now a commercial essential if you don’t want to get left out in the cold and risk losing customers, investors and talent.

Quantifying the impact of all of this is hard. Inevitably there are trade-offs to be made as businesses balance the day-to-day necessity of making money with the journey towards a more sustainable future. We help them to make these choices, identify the trade-offs and communicate the plan.

Assessing stakeholder needs and understanding what is feasible are important. Getting this right allows priorities to be identified, a roadmap to be developed, and a strong communications programme to be put in place.

ESG is important for investors too. We help private equity businesses measure the potential of opportunities through an ESG lens. 

“Our deep sector experience and strategy expertise mean that we are now putting sustainability at the heart of commercial strategy.” 

Verena Ahnert, Partner, London 

“No longer just a nice-to-have anymore, sustainability is now a business essential.”

Andre Valente, Partner, London

The year ahead

Next year will be more of the same — the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis only make the journey to net zero even more vital as companies search for ways to reduce their reliance on fossil fuel energy and shift towards more renewable sources to fuel their businesses.

Covid created a powerful debate about access to vaccines — social inclusion is an important part of ESG and will remain an important topic in the year ahead.

Why L.E.K.?

Smart businesses understand that they need to treat sustainability as a mainstream commercial topic rather than a fringe issue. As well as a major strategic necessity, if delivered well, ESG offers a huge commercial opportunity.

The future is about the survival of the most sustainable. Sustainability demands a lot of organisations — our job is to help you see which demands are most material and how to prioritise and act on them.

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