Steve Howard joined IKEA as Chief Sustainability Officer in 2011, since then IKEA has undergone one of the fastest sustainability transformations of recent years. His announcement that he will leave IKEA in June 2017 created a moment to digest the process of transformational change, and we were delighted to give Steve our stage on the 8th May.

Steve’s story is remarkable. In 2003, he founded the Climate Group, a 100-person team that helped shape global climate policy. He joined IKEA in January 2011, turning a solid foundation for sustainability into no. 3 globally according to the latest Globescan survey. Investing €1.5bn in renewable energy and increasing sustainable product revenues to €1.8bn are just some of the standout achievements.

Steve’s mantra is “going all in”. He believes in risking failure whilst being obsessive about success, and consigning incrementalism to the history books. It’s a story of being ruthlessly committed to a mission whilst understanding of what matters to stakeholders, and building a world-class team. And somehow finding time to co-found We Mean Business along the way.

In his last public engagement for IKEA, Steve gave a TED-style keynote on what has – and hasn’t – worked during his time at IKEA, followed by an interview with Axel Threlfall. We discussed why;

  • The expectation for change must be set in the interview process
  • Total change can be easier than incremental change
  • 100% renewable energy has a robust business case
  • The focus must be on the top line, as well at the bottom line
  • Sustainability needs to be easy, affordable and attractive
  • Change is a team sport
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Event for: Directors/ Heads of: Sustainability | CSR | Environment | Innovation


  • Steve Howard

    Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group
  • Axel Threlfall

    Editor-at-Large, Thomson Reuters

Round Tables

  • The Art Of Transformation
    Drawing on the experiences of Steve Howard at IKEA, what are the top 5 things an individual or team should consider to transform an organisation from a social or environmental perspective? From winning over key people to setting targets to the merits of business cases v’s values cases. Which people and companies are getting this right?
  • Activating Customers
    As more companies look to engage their customers in their core purpose, we look at IKEAs LiveLAGOM project and asking how these types of initiatives can be taken to scale. How can an organisation go beyond influencing better purchasing to turning employees and customers into a community working together? How does one make the business case?
  • Climate Leadership
    How do we define corporate climate leadership post-Paris? If setting a science based target is the new norm, then is the next step to commit to net zero by 2050? What are the implications for heavy emitters? From a policy perspective, does leadership mean business going beyond managing its footprint to using its 'handprint', and if so, to what degree is business ready and willing to do so?
  • Collaborative Transformation?
    An African proverb says if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. What are the merits of a company showing great independent leadership versus one that works with other stakeholders to drive more systemic, sustainable change? Who are the critical actors in the collaborative approach, and does the table have a favoured solution?
  • My World
    Sustainability often fails to land effectively when it’s about big, global issues, which may explain the growing interest in “going local” and “my world”. How does a company go about identifying the issues that are relevant to a local community, and how can it engage them on issues that matter to them? Which companies are leading the way?
  • Renewable Transformation
    IKEA has a radical renewables strategy, committing to generate more renewable energy than the energy it consumes globally by 2020, and has already invested €1.5bn. Does the table feel other companies should pursue this strategy, and what are the relative merits of other renewable solutions such as on- and off-site renewables, buying permits etc.?
  • The Social Board
    If you can connect your board with the big issues in society, does purposeful transformation become easier? We’ll discuss the merits of the different emerging mechanisms – a CSO on the executive board (IKEA), youth advisory boards (Kingfisher), appointing worker reps (First Group), board immersions (BITC) and social Non-execs (PepsiCo). How should the customer be heard?
  • Transforming Energy
    What are the game-changing ideas that could transform the way we use energy? From global market mechanisms to nudge theory to company initiatives such as choice editing of products. Out of the box thinking is welcomed. Is there one stand out solution, and how could a small group of progressive businesses make it happen?
  • What Sustainability Does:


  • 17:30
    Arrivals and Networking
  • 18:00
    Welcome: Luke Clarkson, Managing Director, The Crowd
  • 18:05
    Keynote from Steve Howard, IKEA
  • 18:25
    Axel Threlfall in discussion with Steve Howard
  • 19:15
    Roundtable discussions (moderated discussions in groups of 10-12)
  • 20:00

Venue Details

The Great Hall, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA

Who's Attending

Responsible Property Investment Analyst Aberdeen Asset Management
Director: Water, Energy & CAPEX ABInbev
Sustainability Director ABM
Senior Destinations and Sustainability Manager ABTA Ltd
Senior Consultant Acre
Principle Consultant Acre
Consultant Energy and Carbon Acre
Environmental Sustainability Manager Adnams
Associate Director Anthesis
Investor Anthesis
Investor Anthesis
Chief Strategist Anthesis
Investor Anthesis
CFO Anthesis
Anthesis Anthesis
Investor Anthesis
Director Anthesis
Corporate PR Director Apple
Supplier Management Co-ordinator Arcadia Group Limited
Environmental stakeholder specialist ArcelorMittal
Associate Arup
Corporate Responsibility Manager Aviva
Co-Chair B Lab UK
CSR Manager Bank of England
Vice President – Global Investments and Solutions Barclays
Director – Premier Global Clients Barclays
Head of Executive Development Barclays
Group Citizenship Barclays
Environment Manager Barclays
Head of Innovation Trade and Working Capital Barclays
Head of Sustainability Bilfinger GVA
Head of Communications and Policy Bioregional
Analyst BMO Global Asset Management
Head of Engineering and Energy Management Boots UK
Head of Sustainable Design and Construction Bouygues Construction
Global Development, BP Target Neutral BP
Climate Science and Sustainability Manager BP
Programme Director, Mobility BP
Lead Project Manager British Standards Institute (BSI)
Head of Sustainable Business Innovation BT Group Plc
Senior CRS manager Bupa
Sustainability Advisor Bupa
Senior Corporate Advisor CAF
Senior Corporate Client Manager CAF
Sustainability Consultant Capgemini
Sustainability Analyst Capgemini
Sustainability Manager CBRE Group
Associate Fellow Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge
Corporate Advisor Charities Aid Foundation
Journalist Collectively / The Guardian / Positive News
Senior Consultant Context
Partnership Manager Cool Earth
Environment Manger Costain Group Plc
B Corp Manager Danone
Corporate Responsibility Manager Debenhams Plc
CEO Delphis Eco
Global Environment Manager Dentsu Aegis Network
Sustainable Agriculture Manager Diageo
Principal Consultant DNV GL
Head of UK Assessment DNV GL
Senior Director DNV GL
Development Manager Earthwatch Institute
Sr Development Adviser Earthwatch Institute
Circular Economy lead Ebay
Director of Place Commissioning Essex County Council
Contributing Editor Ethical Performance
Innovation Director Fahrenheit 212
Managing Partner Fintricity
European Director Forest Stewardship Council
social impact investor Freelance
Co-founder & Executive Director Future Fit Foundation
Global Operations Properties EHS leader GE International
Charity Engagement Executive GivingForce
CEO GivingForce Limited
Public Policy Manager GlaxoSmithKline
Senior Executive- Public Affairs, Policy & Insight Grant Thornton LLP
Sustainability Executive Grant Thornton UK LLP
Environment & Energy Manager Hammerson
Sustainability Manager Heathrow
Dir Energy & Environment Hilton Worldwide
Senior Sustainability Manager Hilton Worldwide
Senior Environmental Manager HS2 Ltd
CEO Hubbub
Creative Partner Hubbub
Awards & Events Marketing Manager ICAEW
Sustainability Executive ICAEW
LAGOM Project Manager IKEA
Country Sustainability Manager IKEA
Sustainability Life at Home Leader IKEA
Founder IM2 Group
Business Development Integrated Environmental Solutions
Director Intentional
Innovation Partner Interface
Group Sustainability Manager Interserve Plc
Sustainability Manager JLL
Community Manager JLL
Senior Manager, Corporate Responsibility John Lewis Partnership
Senior Sustainability Manager John Lewis Partnership
Responsible Sourcing Manager JOHN LEWIS PLC
Env Manager kier
Energy & Environmental Manager King’s College London
Operations Sustainability Manager King’s College London
Code of Conduct Manager Lego
Senior Account Manager Lightsource Renewable Energy
Senior Account Manager Lightsource Renewable Energy
Senior Development Manager Lightsource Renewable Energy
Director of Innovation Mace Ltd
Senior Consultant MADE-BY
Local Marketing Manager Marks & Spencer
Global Sustainable Sourcing Insight Manager Mars
Global Sustainable Sourcing McDonalds
Manager Sustainability Strategy, Engagement, Integration McDonalds
Founder Mission in Action Ltd
Senior Sustainability Manager Multiplex Construction Europe
Sustainability & Property Director Nando’s Chickenland Ltd
Do the Right Thing Manager Nando’s Chickenland Ltd
Do the Right Thing Project Manager Nando’s Chickenland Ltd
Managing Director – Europe Natural Capital Partners
Business Development Manager Natural Capital Partners
Social & Community Capital NatWest
Founder Neighbourly
Client Engagement Neighbourly
Strategy Director Nice and Serious
Global Head of Business Development – Energy Norton Rose
Note Taker
Note Taker
Group Energy Manager Nuffield Health
Sustainability Lead OPDC
Senior Environmental and Sustainability Advisor Osborne
Head of Private Sector Partnerships Oxfam
Head of CR Penguin Group UK
Head of EHS Prudential plc
Global CR Manager PWC
Senior Consultant Quantis
Sustainability Manager Rexam
Environment Reporting Manager Royal Bank of Scotland
Senior Sustainability Manager Sainsbury’s
Senior Impact Advisor Save the Children
Ethical Trade Coodinator Selfridges
External Relations Shell
Solar Partnerships and Projects Manager Shell
HSSE and CO2 Manager Shell
Social Performance Adviser Shell
Head of Sustainability Skanska UK Plc
Water Efficiency Manager Southern Water
Social Impact Campaigns Starbucks
VP Sustainability Tate & Lyle PLC
Dir Sustainability Taylor Wimpey
Teds Conscience Coordinator Ted Baker Plc
Head of Sustainability Telford Homes PLC
Communications Director Tesco
Corporate Reporting Manager Tesco
Sustainable Sourcing Manager The Body Shop
Multimedia Editor The Climate Group
Head of RE100 The Climate Group
Events Manager The Crowd
Chairman The Crowd
Founder The Crowd
CEO The Crowd
Environment and Sustainability Officer The Natural History Museum
MD and Founder This World Can:
Sustainability Marketing and Communications Manager TUI Travel
Sustainability Manager UBM EMEA
Global Partnership Manager Unilever
VP Sustainable Business Unilever
Information & Analytics Sustainable Business Specialist Unilever
Corporate Responsibility Manager Unite-Students
Head of Sustainability University Of Greenwich
Practitioner Doctorate Student for IKEA UK & Ireland University of Surrey
Sustainability & CSR Manager Vacherin
Technical Director Verco
Sustainability Consultant Verco
Energy and Resource Consultant Verco
Senior Sustainability Advisor VINCI Facilities
Senior Sustainability Advisor VINCI Facilities
Sustainability Manager Virgin Media
CSR Manager Walgreens Boots Alliance
Manager, Net-Zero We Mean Business
Communications Director We Mean Business
Content Editor We Mean Business
Agricultural Commodities Manager WWF
Global Sustainability Strategist Yale University