Making sustainability tangible and measurable – this is the aim that Dr. Axel Kölle and Dr. Christian Geßner have been pursuing since the foundation of the Center for Sustainable Leadership (Zentrum für Nachhaltige Unternehmensführung (ZNU)) in 2009. 15 The employees work for the application-oriented research institute within the Faculty of Economics at the Witten/Herdecke University. The network for responsible corporate action currently comprises 70 members – including renowned small and medium-sized food producers, logistics and service companies. Scientific institutions and foundations are also part of the ZNU network. This corporate network represents approx. 80,000 jobs and a total turnover of approximately 25 billion euros. Through practice-oriented research, professional education on sustainability, the annual ZNU Future Conference and working groups within the ZNU partner network, the parties involved contribute to a more sustainable form of leadership. The ZNU is self-financed by these differend fields of activity.
The aim is to make sustainability a tangible concept for today’s and tomorrow’s skilled employees and executives and to convince them of sustainable corporate leadership along the lines of driving sustainable change.
To us sustainable management means gradually assuming more responsibility for people and nature at both the company and product level – from the company location all the way along the value chain to society. In doing so, it is important to keep the global North-South divide and future generations in mind. Implementing sustainability is a medium to long-term learning process that requires an open dialogue with the company's stakeholders.