I love IKEA products because they are simple and beautiful, yet affordable for me as a student. Their package design is not only convenient for customers, but also saving lots of storage space and transportation cost. Turns out that they have put a lot of effort into sustainability, reflected through their “People & Planet Positive Strategy”. I was surprised that in all of the sustainability rankings I have seen, IKEA has never been on the top list (correct me if I’m wrong).
In a TEDtalk that Steve Howard- IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer did in June 2013 titled “Let’s go all-in on selling sustainability”, he gave a lot of great advice that was applicable to businesses seeking to make social and environmental innovations. Here’s a recap:
- Customers care about sustainability and they need businesses to help out with that, but specifically by developing products or services that are easy, affordable, and attractive.
- Measure what you care about and lead the change – and don’t wait a hundred years.
- Go in 100% because if your goal is at 90%, everyone in the business will find a reason to be in the 10%.
- It’s about setting clear direction, being transparent, having a dialogue with the right partners, and choosing to lead on the issues that really count.
- Make sustainability affordable for the many, not a luxury for the few (this reminds me of the shared-value we talk about in class).
- Sustainability is nice to do but it is also a must do, and everyone can do it from an individual level. Be a discerning consumer. Support the companies that are acting on this.
Stemming from their vision, here are some of their achievements and what is coming up next:
- Sold more than $1.13 billion of “sustainable” products in 2014
- Goal: using 100% renewable, recyclable, and recycled materials in home furnishing products.
- Achieved 75% LED lights. Goal: 100% LED selling by 2015
- Goal: 100% Better Cotton by 2015
- Created Forest Stewardship Council, certified 35 million hectares of forestry – about the size of Germany. Goal: Double the volume of certified material in the next three years
- Operations: Installed 300 solar panels (second largest solar private owner in the U.S), 14 wind farms (224 wind turbines), operate in six countries. Goal: produce more renewable energy than uses by 2020.
- Supply chain: created codes of conduct and supply chain audit and helped stop child labour. Goal: Help improve the lives and protect the rights of 100 million children by 2015.
To me, their goals are very specific and they are driven to go 100% in. They have gone beyond just-a-furniture-company, instead, they go all-in with their investments in sustainability. Not just half-hearted, but all-in. Their products are accessible to the majority, while fulfilling all of the social and environmental goals. Respect!