Leaders at Davos are showing a real sense of conviction about doing more for the environment but now need to translate their words into action, says Jill Ader, chairwoman of Egon Zehnder in an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW) at the World Economic Forum. “A lot of commitments are being given this week, which is very optimistic,” Ader told the German international broadcaster. “So yes, there’s lots of promise but there’s still a long way to go.” For change to really happen leaders must be willing to “dig deep” and take action to prevent corporate climate action becoming a mere “tick-box exercise”. While many companies have already gone public about when they will become carbon neutral, less has been said this year about diversity. Ader is confident though that diversity remains an inherent, underlying theme. “You don’t get to solve the world’s issues unless you’re really digging into what are the diverse views and the inequalities in society.”
Now it’s time for top management to address inequality and develop a diverse next generation of leaders, embracing not just gender diversity but LGBT and physical disability for example as well, urges Ader. Such true diversity will bring more people into the workforce and therefore be of economic, as well as social benefit.
Ultimately, for leaders to trigger corporate-wide change, real change first has to come from within, Ader concludes. “It only happens if you as a leader can really transform yourself in order to embody all of the things that we need and also make it your everyday work so that this is what the people across your organization do. It’s not just a sideshow or a side hustle, this is the core of what you do and it matters. And it’s not just about shareholder profit; that’s important but that’s no longer sufficient.”