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Learning the advantages of sustainable growth

Darrell Rigby (Partner at Bain & Company and leads the firm's Global Retail Practice (
Suzanne Tager (Manages Bain's Global Retail and Consumer Products Practices.)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




The paper aims to consider why leading companies – such as Toyota, GE, Timberland and Starbucks – regard environmental sustainability as a strategy to create growth and how they do it.


The paper reviews how consumer‐based companies are incorporating sustainability throughout their businesses in: their products' design and assortment, supply chains, operational footprints, and messaging to consumers, investors, and employees.


The paper finds that such efforts fall into one of three stages: novice, engaged and innovative. Most companies surveyed have a “portfolio” approach to sustainability, tackling some activities within each category.

Research limitations/implications

At this time, conclusive data proving the direct links between sustainability and profitability are lacking.

Practical implications

Whether your enterprise's environmental awareness is just beginning or has progressed to creating a new eco‐platform for growth, the paper identifies four actions that can help you gain an advantage in this critical area.


The ultimate idea is to create a sustainable business platform in both the environmental and economic sense of the word, so companies need to experiment now with innovative sustainability solutions.



Rigby, D. and Tager, S. (2008), "Learning the advantages of sustainable growth", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 24-28.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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