Nicolas Krafft, Formerly of L’Oreal, on Implementing Sustainability Initiatives

Developing a sustainability action plan as a company requires setting clear goals and implementing strategies to achieve them. It is a process that Nicolas Krafft, who has more than a decade of experience in the cosmetics industry, is particularly adept at navigating. 

Understanding the barriers your business will face on its journey to sustainable practices is key, Krafft says, highlighting the role of executive search in identifying leaders capable of navigating these challenges. Once those have been established, says the beauty industry expert, it’s time to put together a strategy that will help your company to overcome those barriers and make sustainability a central focus of its operations, and a key driver of financial success. Below are 5 steps from Nicolas Krafft on how to make sustainability a central part of your company’s practices. 

 Step 1: Identify your company’s 3 most prominent barriers to adopting sustainability practices. 

Sustainable practices require a shift, says Krafft. Where will those shifts be felt the most? There were three barriers identified that could be applied to many industries. These include:

  1. When yearly bonuses are tied to sales and profit targets, and not sustainability measures, meeting those sustainability goals will not be a top priority for managers
  2. Once the initial kickoff and company-wide promotion period for sustainable initiates has passed, there is likely to be a drop in interest among employees. 
  3. Even if the core company adopts sustainability initiatives, there will be a lack of buy-in for stakeholders beyond that core business. 

Step 2: Draft a strategy for overcoming the 3 barriers, with buy-in from key decision-makers.

In order for sustainability practices to work for a company and become part of its way of doing business, it has to be built in and rewarded. In addressing the barriers identified in the beauty industry, Nicolas Krafft determined key strategies to overcome them, including: 

  1. Make sustainability a financial imperative. Krafft suggests that business leadership should work with human resources to make sure that business unit managers include sustainability key performance indicators (KPI) into yearly bonuses. Nicolas Krafft notes that these KPIs should involve achievable short-term sustainability measures that contribute to the company’s larger sustainability goals. Performing life cycle assessments of the products can provide valuable information for setting these sustainability measures and identifying areas for improvement. 
  2. Revamp the company’s processes to make sustainability a key piece, rather than a one-time or annual initiative. Add sustainability to employee training and integrate it into the recruitment and onboarding process for new employees, Krafft recommends. 
  3. Design a coordinated communication and outreach plan for partners. Target communications to gain buy-in from various stakeholders beyond the core company, working with global and local opinion leaders, professional organizations, and working groups. 

Step 3: Identify key sustainability advocates who can help guide your company’s transition. Within your personal and professional network, according to Nicolas Krafft, it’s important to identify sustainability experts who can help you to design, implement, and enforce sustainability initiatives. These individuals can be found in a number of places, including business associations, government organizations, nonprofits, and academic partners. At the highest levels, says Krafft, a CEO, a Business Unit President, and a carefully selected Executive Committee should oversee sustainability initiatives and sponsor new projects. Businesses will also need a Head of Sustainability, Krafft says, who will serve as a key ally for advancing projects beyond the business unit’s scope and for sharing outside learnings and expertise. Next, Krafft says, there should be Operational Managers who serve as internal champions of sustainability and who help to build business cases for new sustainable practices. Then, he says, the business should activate the global and local industry association to engage independent but related businesses, such as individual beauty salons or spas in the case of the professional beauty industry. Finally, says Krafft, a business can engage the support and approval of a nongovernmental organization such as Green Circle Salons to give credibility to its sustainability endeavors, and to provide outside perspective and expertise. 

Step 4: Draft an action plan for how you will approach and leverage support from the sustainability experts and partners you’ve identified. Once you have mapped out the individuals you need to put a sustainability action plan in place, says Nicolas Krafft, you need to draft a plan for how to get them on board and build a fruitful relationship around meeting your company’s sustainability goals. He advises the following: 

  1. Determine how you will contact and approach the identified individuals.
  2. Determine how your objectives will be presented, whether in a group presentation, or one-on-one meetings, for instance. 
  3. Determine what incentives or reciprocal assistance your company will offer these individuals in exchange for their support. 
  4. Determine where there might be potential areas of conflict, and where there are opportunities to leverage shared goals. 

Step 5: Plan both one-on-one and group meetings with key stakeholders to advance your company’s sustainability plan. Nicolas Krafft stresses that both one-on-one meetings and larger group presentations are essential to moving a company’s sustainability plan from idea to action. One-on-one meetings, Krafft said, are important for establishing trust with experts, to share successes and failures in a more open format, and to receive honest, constructive feedback. These meetings are also crucial to identify key individuals and teams to work with and to get buy-in from each individual business unit, he says. But, adds Krafft, larger presentations are needed, too. At industry conferences and the like, it’s possible to generate broader interest in the company’s sustainability goals, to build excitement about new initiatives, and to connect local sustainability champions across the world to build a strong network, share learnings, and maintain enthusiasm.

Finally, Krafft says, new sustainability initiatives are an opportunity to bring the company together under a shared purpose. Incorporating sustainability goals and milestones achieved during company-wide meetings, he says, will help all staff to feel connected to this larger purpose.  

About Nicolas Krafft

Nicolas Krafft has more than a decade of experience in the cosmetics industry with some of the world’s largest cosmetics brands, most recently serving as the International General Manager for the Pulp Riot brand under the direction of Founder and CEO David Thurston. Prior to that role, Krafft was the VP of Global Business Development and a General Manager in Eastern Europe. Krafft has worked on launching new product lines, growing market share in complex business environments, and developing an international presence for brands like Kérastase, Matrix, and Biolage.


Article Editor

Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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