New study published today says that 93 percent of CEOs see sustainability as important to their future success – no kidding? So why aren’t they executing sustainability?

A new report on sustainability and based on a survey of more than 750 CEOs and indepth interviews with 50 of the CEOs was published today by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture. This study called A New Era of Sustainability represents the largest CEO-based study on sustainability of its kind to date.

The highlights of the study include:

  • 93 percent of CEOs see sustainability as important to their future success.
  • Those who agree in the importance of sustainability into their business do not necessarily report success in executing that objective.
  • Re-establishing consumer trust is the immediate issue (branding and corporate image).
  • Technology, collaboration and a greater understanding of consumer desires are critical success factors.
  • The investment community must more effectively factor progress toward sustainability into valuation models.
  • CEOs believe that we are moving toward an era in which businesses will no longer focus purely on profit and loss as the primary means of valuation, but rather take into account also the positive and negative impacts on society and the environment.

My impression from this study is that many business leaders believe in the virtues of sustainability but have not necessarily done anything to make their business sustainable – yet.  Sustainability is still mentioned as an item that is gaining force and that will need to be imbedded in future plans (“we are moving toward an era”), just not right now I guess.

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Posted in corporate sustainability, sustainable development
6 comments on “New study published today says that 93 percent of CEOs see sustainability as important to their future success – no kidding? So why aren’t they executing sustainability?
  1. Nice example of the lacking priority of sustainable strategy. Even though the importance is confessed by the CEOs, the neglect of sustainable topics in practice becomes obvious. This reflects the journey of businesses from compliance to business & sustainable development and the need for each company to go on this journey to achieve ‘sustainability’.
    According to this survey, at least the willingness seems to exist which is the first step.
    Jeremy, you should found a consultancy and make serious money – I am sure most of us would accept a job offer to assist you. ☺

  2. katemul181 says:

    I found a website which has examples of companies that have successfully implemented sustainable development strategies in their business and have won awards for their achievements, for example Coca-cola and Wal Mart. Have a look its: http://www.wec.org.

  3. I believe they desperately need the proper incentives to do so. It should be a stick and carrot approach. Whether it be their own country’s government or a larger global authority that imposes certain directives and rewards positive efforts, companies must have these incentives to push and pull them in the right direction. However these incentives must also help them keep their key stakeholders (read: shareholders) happy. Basically – a healthy bottom line. Until these are in place, CEOs will continue with this lip-service regarding sustainability in surveys.
    PS. I wonder what the other 7% had to say!!

  4. jeremy says:

    Julie – can you please provide a hyperlink to the report.

    Constanze – I think you should found the consultancy and offer me a job 🙂

  5. crazykouts says:

    CEOs able to move forward and execute corporate sustainability strategies will need to demonstrate unwavering commitment and leadership. This wonderful TED Talk is a favourite among the U of O bunch: http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html
    In some ways this Talk speaks to the “paradigm revolution” too.
    [I’m not sure if I was able to link the website properly.]

  6. casimonek says:

    Good topic to bring to the table. I’ll be sure the read the article in full and see what could explain the gap between the talk and the walk.
    Crazyouts, thanks for the link. Great talk!

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