Largest CEO Research Study on Corporate Sustainability

I just popped into the study “A New Era of Sustainability” that was published in June 2010 and might provide support for CEOs who want to make their company more sustainable. The UN Global Compact together with Accenture surveyed 766 companies and additionally asked 50 CEOs and 50 other leaders about sustainability. Here are some key results from the study:

  • Demonstrating a visible and authentic commitment to sustainability is especially important to CEOs because it is part of an urgent need to regain and build trust from the public and other key stakeholders, such as consumers and governments—trust that was shaken by the recent global financial crisis.
  • CEOs address sustainability issues the following way: (1). The consumer is (or will be) king (“CEOs identify the consumer as the most important stakeholder in influencing the way in which they will manage societal expectations over the next five years.”) — (Governments are seen as less relevant than consumers – I guess that we must hope that the Myth of the ethical consumer is not true …). (2). Importance of technology and innovation. (3) Collaboration is critical (“while CEOs believe civil society is an essential partner in tackling these issues, they believe non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are declining in their influence on corporate sustainability agendas. Just 15 percent of CEOs identified NGOs as one
    of the key stakeholders influencing their approach to sustainability, down 12 percent from 2007.”)
  • “Currently, the burning issue is how to better incorporate sustainability into daily practice.”
  • 88% of CEOs believe that they should be integrating sustainability through their supply chain. Only 54% believe that this has been achieved within their company. An almost identical performance gap is seen for subsidiaries.
  • Consumer uncertainty: The consumer may be king when it comes to driving profitable sustainability, but the CEOs surveyed are looking for clearer signals that sustainability actually drives buying behaviors. Similarly, they are unclear as to the extent to which sustainability concerns will drive purchasing decisions by businesses and governments.”
  • Regulatory uncertainty: Across the board, CEOs spoke of the need for greater clarity around the shape and scope of future regulation in response to regulatory challenges.”

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