Sustainability climbs agenda
A new study has revealed that sustainability has climbed up the agenda within corporate boardrooms.
The global study, carried out by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), showed sustainability now occupies a central and permanent place in corporate boardrooms – with 31 per cent of companies saying sustainability is contributing to their profits, while 70 per cent have placed sustainability permanently on their management agenda.
The study, “Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point”, found that two-thirds of companies see sustainability as necessary to being competitive in today’s marketplace, up from 55 per cent a year earlier.
In addition, two-thirds of respondents said that management attention to, and investment in, sustainability has increased in the past year.
More than 2,800 corporate leaders representing every major industry and region of the world were questioned in the survey. The study focuses on “Harvesters” – the 31 per cent of companies that say sustainability is contributing to their profits.
Compared to non-Harvesters, Harvesters are three times more likely to have a business case for sustainability, 50 per cent more likely to have CEO commitment to sustainability, twice as likely to have a separate sustainability reporting process and twice as likely to have a separate function for sustainability.
“There’s a learning curve to incorporating sustainability into strategy,” explained Knut Haanaes, a BCG partner and co-author of the report, who leads the firm’s sustainability practice.
“Companies that have had it on their agenda and have worked on it for years are now seeing tangible results. Our research suggests a pattern: first a company focuses on reducing costs, boosting efficiency and enhancing its corporate reputation. Then, after a while, it takes a broader view, becoming innovative with products and processes, and gaining access to new markets.”