From ambition to action


    December 30, 2019


    As the public and leading industry analysts call for better sustainability target setting, Nicola Kimm discusses the importance of reporting and measuring


    2019 could go down in history as the year the world woke up to the need for urgent action on climate change. A freshly energized public is demanding that governments and businesses take the lead in changing things for the better to avert an impending crisis.

    And the shift in public mood is playing out in consumer behavior, as people use purchasing power to stand behind the companies willing to contribute to a sustainable future. Business leaders know they need to improve their environmental sustainability. But making the leap from ambition to action isn’t always a straightforward path.

    Climate justice
    Photo credit: Lorie Shaull

    An expert view

    A recent Strategy Insight paper from industry analyst firm Navigant Research sheds some light on how environmental sustainability can be a meaningful priority and increasingly, a commercial advantage. Organizations that look at sustainability too broadly, say the analysts, struggle to set meaningful targets.

    Nicola Kimm, Signify’s global head of sustainability, agrees that it pays to be specific. “With Signify, we can make our strategy very specific to lighting. When Signify became a separate company, we launched our new company purpose: to unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. And we linked the purpose to our sustainability program: the environmental part connects to better world, the social part with brighter lives.”

    “In the first year as a separate company, we took a leading place on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. That’s because sustainability was already very much integrated in our business and way of working. These two things came together: a new company with a lofty purpose and our history as part of Royal Philips with a strong sustainability program.”

    Tape measure

    Key to success

    Signify has been the Industry Leader in the electronics category of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for three straight years. One of the keys to success is tying sustainability goals to specific metrics.

    The authors of the Strategy Insight paper from Navigant give the example of setting science-based targets; that is, targets that are “in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.”

    What gets measured, gets managed"

    “I think target setting is THE number one way to advance your sustainability program.” says Nicola.  “There’s the saying, ‘what gets measured, gets managed’. It’s only through target setting that you can really mobilize the company.”

    Accountability is important, too. According to the Navigant Research report although 65% of US-based companies hold senior-level executives accountable for sustainability performance, only 8% tie executive compensation to sustainability issues.

    Nicola agrees it’s a leading practice. “We’ve gone so far as introducing a leadership bonus element for sustainability. 20% of our long term incentive for executives is based on our sustainability performance.”

    Getting involved

    Engaging leadership is essential, but to fully embed sustainability in your company, the paper recommends engaging and motivating the wider employee base.


    “It’s about getting people involved in different ways through their roles. So, people working at a factory will be involved in waste recycling and energy reduction. For people developing products it’s about embedding sustainability into the innovation process and for people selling products, it’s about explaining the sustainability benefits for our customers. At Signify, sustainability isn’t the sole preserve of the sustainability department. It touches us all.”


    Read more about Signify’s sustainability commitments here .

    About the author:

    Annie Macfarlane

    Annie Macfarlane

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2023, we had sales of EUR 6.7 billion, approximately 32,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for seven consecutive years and have achieved the EcoVadis Platinum rating for four consecutive years, placing Signify in the top one percent of companies assessed. News from Signify can be found in the Newsroom, on X, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors is located on the Investor Relations page.

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