Moving From Thought Leadership To Action Leadership

IKEA One Home One Planet action leadership blog

Year after year, research by GlobeScan and others shows persistently low levels of consumer trust in large companies, especially in North America and Europe. In a recent GlobeScan study in the United States, we found that consumer trust depends, above all, on companies proving themselves by their actions – that is, by what they are doing to operate in the best interests of society.

Experts’ recent gloomy assessment of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) means the need for action is greater than ever. In his introduction to the white paper published by CSR Europe and GlobeScan (From Urgency to Action: Business and the SDGs), Stefan Crets makes “a call [to business] to be part of the action and demonstrate leadership on issues that concern us all and the generations that will come after us.”

There are encouraging signs of a shift towards action by some big brands, one of which is IKEA, which recently moved up the rankings in the latest GlobeScan/SustainAbility Leaders Survey.

A couple of months ago, I participated in a very different kind of stakeholder conference where the focus was less on talking and more on action. The One Home One Planet event was hosted by IKEA (Ingka Group) at their store in Kaarst, Germany. The aim was to inspire and co-create solutions for the key challenges facing not just IKEA but all of us in the world beyond the blue and yellow boxes.

There is a great video (see below) and report (download here) that give a taste of the two day event – involving 200 stakeholders from across the world – and its unique IKEA vibe.

IKEA One Home One Planet 2019 Report blogWhat stood out in Kaarst was the decision by IKEA “to move from thought leadership to action leadership”.

And this was demonstrated in three new commitments announced by Ingka Goup CEO Jesper Brodin:

  • Roll out a concept for improving employment skills for refugees and migrants in all Ingka Group markets by the end of 2020
  • Continue work on the business case for urban farming during 2019 and begin salad production at all Ingka Group operated IKEA stores by the end of 2020
  • Test furniture leasing in 30 markets during 2020.

With little more than a decade before 2030, there is an enormous amount of work required to deliver on the UN SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. My sense is that once we hit 2020, there will be growing expectations for business to do even more.

As Jesper said at the end of the conference – “Enough talk, let’s get to work!”