I read an interesting report the other day published by the United Nations Global Impact and the consultants, Accenture. It looked at the views of 766 top CEOs around the world in relation to sustainability and the results show that the latest GDP downturn and age of austerity has not dampened the desire to make supply chains more sustainable.
Amazingly, of the 766 interviewed, 80% said that the downturn had made their commitment to sustainability even stronger with an opportunity to save money and help the environment. 81% state that sustainability is a key part of their overall strategies and operations (up from 50% only three years ago when the same survey was undertaken).
The following barriers were identified to progress: complexity across business functions; competing strategic priorities; and lack of recognition from financial markets.
The following five actions were felt to be required for change to occur: shaping customer tastes, training staff, educating the financial markets re the benefits of sustainability, measuring performance and finally working with governments to shape regulation.
The top three elements that CEOs cited for taking action on sustainability are branding, trust and reputation (72% of those surveyed mentioned these). The next most important elements were the potential for cost reduction and revenue growth (44%), personal motivation (42%), consumer demand (39%) and employee engagement and retention (31%).
The majority of those surveyed cited education (72%) and climate change (66%) as the two biggest issues that they faced, followed by resource scarcity and health.
91% of CEOs said they would be investing in new technology to address sustainability over the next five years, particularly relating to improved energy efficiency.
In summary, a good start has been made by top CEOs, with the majority now recognising that sustainability is a key strategic imperative moving forwards. There are however major barriers to be faced and the scale of change required means that a huge shift in thinking and action is needed.
To read the full report, visit https://microsite.accenture.com/sustainability/research_and_insights/Pages/A-New-Era-of-Sustainability.aspx