French conglomerate Kering has been named the most sustainable company in the global luxury and fashion industries and second-most sustainable across all industries by Corporate Knights’ Global 100 Index. Kering is an international luxury group based in Paris. It jumped to second place from 47th in 2018 and 80th place in 2017. First place honors went to Danish bioscience company, Chr. Hansen A/S.
Corporate Knights is a leading ranking index that reports on clean capitalism and corporate sustainability on a global scale. To rank prospective companies, they evaluate 21 key performance metrics, including resource management, employee management, financial management, clean revenue and supplier performance.
Why is this significant?
Owner of a wide array of luxury goods brands—among them Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Kering has global influence and makes a largescale impact. The simple fact that a multinational conglomerate the size of Kering has catapulted itself to the top of the list proves that dedication to sustainability is not only possible but doable, regardless of size.
Kering has successfully delivered on the trifecta of positive social, financial, and environmental outcomes without missing a step.
Not surprisingly, there were only two other companies in the luxury, apparel and accessories industries that made Corporate Knights’ list— Inditex and Adidas.
Fashion and the manufacturing of clothing are known to be major contributors to global pollution, by way of water pollution, toxic chemicals, and textile waste that enters the environment. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture. Microfibers used to make polyester are not biodegradable and have been found to be ingested by sea life. Destination Zero, Greenpeace’s seven-year program to detox the clothing industry, tested a number of fashion brands’ products and confirmed the presence of hazardous chemicals. It has been instrumental in pressuring brands to remove toxic chemicals from their supply chains.
So how can companies make strides towards sustainability goals?
First, create a plan. Kering invested time and money into developing a strategy for lowering its pollution footprint. It publicly announced its intentions towards sustainability by 2025, aligning itself with the U.N.’s sustainable development objectives. As part of their plan, they clearly delineated the areas needing attention and corrective measures; most of them having to do with reductions in carbon emissions, water pollution, and improvements in cotton production and cattle farming.
Second, establish accountability and elicit buy-in from all parties involved. Begin by cultivating a culture shift and awareness of values at the level of employees and key executives.
Third, build in mechanisms for honest assessment of sustainability. Create an open dialogue. Set up true data collection markers to ensure proper aggregation and reporting on key data points that serve to help access and promote the success and potential value of any new initiatives.