The sustainability-oriented enterprise of the future

Andrea Illy, excerpt from: ”Sviluppo&Organizzazione n.314: La Questione Organizzativa Italiana

In recent decades, the focus on sustainability has increased exponentially and has now become a criterion central to the way we do business: investors assess the value of a company with the spread of ESG ratings. But what is meant by ‘value of a business’? To answer this question, it is important to overcome the dualism that has been created in the Shareholder economy, which measures profit for shareholders, and Stakeholder economy, which takes into account the value generated for all stakeholders.


I believe that the moral duty of a business is to create profit in a sustainable way, without harming society and the environment, because doing so would reduce its own chances of development. Failure to create sustainability, in fact, risks undermining the value of a company, which will have to bear costs for the social and environmental damage it causes, spend more to keep customers increasingly sensitive to these issues, and suffer negative consequences in terms of reputation.

The more sustainable a company is, in essence, the more value it creates.

Based on these considerations, in 2020, together with a group of enlightened entrepreneurs, including Davide Bollati and Maria Paola Chiesi, I founded the Regenerative Society Foundation, with the aim of promoting a new regenerative and circular model of development that can replace the current extractive and linear model, which is no longer sustainable. There is, in fact, an urgent need for a new model of development that is able not only to reuse resources, trying not to produce residue, but also to revitalize natural capital, while pursuing the well-being of humans and the Planet. The real protagonists of this new regenerative approach can only be businesses, because they have investment capital, innovation, research and development and, collectively, are the only ones who can achieve the critical mass necessary to trigger change.

Today, there is a growing awareness of the need to turn things around, but it often comes up against the difficulty of ‘grounding’ ideas and projects in this direction. That is why, as a foundation, we want to make our know-how available, but also help the world of science to dialogue with businesses in all sectors with concrete solutions.

We could call the Regenerative Society Foundation an aggregator of experience and expertise, governed by business and directed by science, with a pragmatic and entrepreneurial vision that is the result of the founders’ journey. We start from knowledge, to fill existing cognitive gaps, and share good practices to define, even with institutions, new standards capable of directing research and investment. Our invitation is therefore to all virtuous companies, which perhaps already pursue the regenerative model ante litteram, as is often the case in the panorama of our country’s splendid enterprises. We hope that the pursuit of a regenerative model can become a further element in the definition of that Italian way of doing industry described in the book, which characterizes so many virtuous realities of Made in Italy.

Source: Sviluppo & Organizzazione n. 314

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