Summary of What Companies Can Learn from World Leaders in Societal Impact

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In 2017, the Boston Consulting Group released its first report on “total societal impact,” arguing that social responsibility – not just shareholder value – should drive company strategy. Simply put, socially and ecologically responsible companies get better financial results. This follow-up report, published in 2019, highlights thriving Nordic companies that serve as role models of sustainable business practices and lends weight to the argument for corporate responsibility.

About the Authors

Douglas Beal, Fredrik Lind, David Young, Matias Pollmann-Larsen, Adam Alagiah-Glomseth and Ingrid Lundestad are professionals with the Boston Consulting Group.



Nordic companies lead the world in “total societal impact” (TSI) due to visionary leaders and influential and sympathetic external stakeholders.

Firms in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden lead the world in total societal impact while continuing to thrive financially. Indeed, more than 60% of Nordic companies rank among the world’s top 20% for environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. The trend of Nordic leadership holds across the four industries that BCG surveyed: consumer packaged goods, biopharmaceuticals, oil and gas, and retail and business banking.

How do the Nordic firms achieve their outsized success? It starts with committed, visionary business leaders and board members and extends to three types of influential, sympathetic external stakeholders: First, Nordic...

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