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Sustainability in the Covid era 
"The coronavirus economic slowdown is squeezing company budgets, but sustainability must not be pushed off the priority list due to financial expediency."
Philippe Poletti
Chairman of Ardian Sustainability Committee

What does the Covid-19 crisis teach us about sustainability and resilience?

Philippe Poletti: It confirms what we already believed intuitively: companies with the most advanced sustainability practices tend to be more resilient. Our initial post-Covid analysis shows a direct correlation between companies that fared well during the crisis and the companies with the best sustainability performance, as measured by our methodology.

We knew before the crisis that sustainable companies perform better, and the coronavirus crisis encourages us to continue on this road.

If company budgets get squeezed, will that mean firms cut funding to sustainability initiatives?

Philippe Poletti: Commitment to sustainability does not necessarily entail increased budgets. It can be about giving employees more responsibility for tackling sustainability issues in the workplace and in their daily lives. In fact, many sustainability measures, such as improving energy efficiency, can save considerable amounts of money.

“Not only do we encourage companies to become more sustainable, we also equip them to act.”

How do you make the case for sticking to a sustainability transformation program amid a global slowdown?

Philippe Poletti: Sustainability is not a “nice-to-have”, it’s a “must-have” and it is key to companies successfully transforming themselves, so they can be more resilient.

Sustainability not only makes companies better businesses, it also addresses the concerns of investors, consumers and regulators, all of whom want to see firms do the right thing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of that.

Inula, one of our portfolio companies, is a prime example – it sells essential oils and natural therapies, and its sales have risen thanks to the increased focus on health and wellbeing. The company’s sustainability program and purpose-led strategy have also helped to motivate employees and make the business more resilient during the pandemic.

How can finance help companies recover strongly from the impacts of a recession?

Philippe Poletti: Not only do we encourage companies to become more sustainable, we also equip them to act. The companies that scored highest in Ardian’s 2019 sustainability ranking were also the most resilient to the pandemic during the early months of 2020. Because the issues are so urgent, we must help them to change, to be better companies and to make positive impacts.
86 %
OF PORTFOLIO COMPANIES, FOR WHICH CLIMATE CHANGE IS A MATERIAL ISSUE, HAVE ACTION PLANS TO REDUCE THEIR GHG EMISSIONS AND/OR ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT

How does Ardian’s Sustainable Buyout strategy fit into this?

Philippe Poletti: Our Sustainable Buyout strategy bridges the gap between impact investing and ESG integration. We invest in companies that are not social businesses but still produce positive externalities. By investing, we can transform them into high-performing and resilient companies that provide measurable impacts on society and the planet.

We do this by providing companies with individualized support and ESG roadmaps, giving equal weight to the impact of their supply chains, their own operations and the goods and services they sell. When we invest in a company, we sit down with the managers and define a long-term roadmap, which we review every year to see what progress has been made.

Why is the Sustainable Buyout strategy so important?

Philippe Poletti: It is a first step towards providing a more rounded vision of our impact and that of our investments. One of our biggest priorities is to ensure that we can deploy this way of investing at a large scale.

And it is not a proprietary approach that we want to keep to ourselves. We have to engage with the industry on topics such as sustainability measurement methodologies, so that there is a global shift in best practice. Companies have a hugely important role to play in meeting global sustainability challenges and investors have a vital role to play in helping them to do so.

6500
JOBS CREATED ORGANICALLY IN OUR BUYOUT PORTFOLIO SINCE 2013 (EXCLUDING M&A BUILD-UPS)
Driver of positive
impact
Driver of positive
impact
Sustainability Report 2020
DRAG
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