Anna Lungley

Chief Sustainability Officer at dentsu

Social Impact for a sustainable future

Can great ideas and data help to solve society’s greatest challenges? Anna Lungley, Chief Sustainability Officer at dentsu, believes we can push the reset button together and create meaningful change in the world

Global mega-trends are reshaping our world. Climate change, biodiversity loss and inequality are causing exponential disruption. COVID-19 has highlighted the fragility in our global economy and accelerated the call for a global reset. It’s time for change, but incremental change is no longer enough.

Digital technology holds the key to game-changing solutions that will enable business to respond to rapidly changing societal needs, creating new markets and sustainable business models. As a global leader in media and digital communications, we have the opportunity to guide our people, clients and society through this disruption by fusing data, technology and creativity in a way that helps create a more sustainable, equitable future for everyone. It’s this passion for meaningful progress and the knowledge that we can help that drives us.

Making change happen

Social Impact is our strategy for achieving this. As a global network of 45,000 people, we have the creativity, skills and expertise to make this happen. We use ideas and data to find solutions to society’s greatest challenges. This includes measuring the inclusivity of the digital economy through an annual survey called the Digital Society Index. It has highlighted challenges and opportunities that have informed our strategic priorities, including the need to diversify the digital economy. It’s why we launched The Code, to share our skills and capabilities with the next generation of diverse talent, and Female Foundry, to help female-founded businesses to thrive. We also recognise the importance of working with our partners and clients to drive delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This includes our global pro bono charity partnership with Malaria No More, which aims to eradicate malaria within a generation. In the last two years we have helped raise over $14 billion for new research into combating malaria. Through this work, we launched a new brand, ‘Zero Malaria’, which is a call to action for policymakers and NGOs around the world to unite.

Sustainable business practices

Just as we recognise the positive difference we can make in society, we also recognise the impact that a global business like ours has on the environment. We are uncompromising in our ambition to achieve best-in-class environmental performance and have been leading the way in our industry. Today we are powered by 100% renewable electricity across the entire international business and have committed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2030.

We know that by building value for society, we will build a more sustainable business. We also know that this is important to our people. People today are more aware of social issues than ever before and they care more about the impact they have on their world. Seventy-eight percent of consumers expect brands to bring about social change and 64% of people choose or boycott a brand, or switch to another brand based on its stand on societal issues. According to dentsu Pulse, 27% of millennials have gone so far as to contact a brand asking them to speak up. People will no longer tolerate inauthenticity and business and brands that want to retain customers, or attract talent, need to ensure that they are acting in the best interests of society.

It’s this shift in values that creates the greatest opportunity. The Anthropocene – the geological period in which we are living – is a result of human activity. Biodiversity loss is a result of unsustainable consumption and lifestyles that call for more and more. Inequality has been exasperated. People are ready for change. At dentsu, we have the ability to accelerate this shift by influencing the way that people think, feel and act. We can change mindsets, create empathy and help the world find a better way. Our goal is to help one billion people shift to making better, more sustainable choices by 2030.

We have reached a tipping point where real change is possible. It’s an exciting opportunity we must grasp. We can press that reset button together and build a better future… we just need to think differently.