Blogs & Comment

Why take action on sustainability? Brand, Trust, and Reputation

Seventy two percent of CEO’s from around the globe say that brand, trust and reputation are the primary consideration for acting on sustainability. These are followed by: the potential for revenue growth and cost reduction (44 percent), personal motivation (42 percent), consumer and customer demand (39 percent) and employee engagement and retention (31 percent).
These are among the key findings of A New Era of Sustainability, a new survey of 766 CEOs around the globe that was released this week. The results are important because it’s largest research study of top executives ever conducted on the topic of sustainability and because of the credibility of it’s authors: the United Nations Global Compactand Accenture.
Other key findings include:

  • 93 percent said that sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies.
  • 83 percent said the economic crisis elevated the role of sustainability and ethics in building trust in business
  • 80 percent said it raised the importance of sustainability as a leadership issue for top management
  • 78 percent of the respondents believe that companies should engage in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders to address sustainability issues. Examples of potential partnerships include suppliers, NGOs and governments.
  • 77 percent said it led them to take a longer-term view of business and the role of sustainability
  • Education was identified by 72 percent of the respondents as the most important development issue for the future success of their business, followed by climate change at 66 percent

As discussed in this blog previously, the challenge isn’t deciding whether this is the right thing to do. The challenge is effective implementation. According to the survey, this involves:

  • Implementing strategy across business functions
  • Shaping consumer tastes in order to build a stronger market for sustainable products.
  • Training management, employees and the next generation of leaders to deal with sustainability issues.
  • Communicating with investors to create a better understanding of the impact of sustainability.
  • Measuring performance on sustainability – and explaining the value of business in society.
  • Working with governments to shape clearer regulation and create a level playing field.