According to a recent study conducted by the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Accenture Management Consulting where 1,000 global CEO’s were asked questions regarding their communities implementation of sustainability, more than 67% of these CEO’s feel like business is not doing enough in regards to addressing global sustainability issues.
Sadly, only a small 15% of CEO’s believe that any progress has been made within the past three years making consumers realize that sustainability needs to become an important priority.
However, 82% of CEO’s believe that sustainability is a crucial and critical key component in transforming the world’s major economy issues. An astounding 46% of CEO’s believe that consumers consider price, quality and availability more important than sustainability.
Who is the UNGC?
The United Nations Global Compact was originally launched in 2004 with hopes of encouraging businesses to implement socially acceptable sustainability policies. Businesses are then encouraged to report on the implementation of sustainability to the UNGC when sustainability studies are conducted. This year, the UNGC partnered with Accenture Management Consulting to conduct a large sustainability survey of CEO’s in regards to sustainability within their communities.
UNGC Survey Findings
This year’s sustainability survey findings show that most CEO’s feel like the global economy is not focused on sustainability and is not doing its part. It seems that business leaders have difficulty embedding sustainability throughout their businesses due to the pressures and constraints to meet market demands and expectations.
Addressing the issues of sustainability seems gets lost in the mix of business. Many business leaders answered the UNGC survey discouragingly in that they feel like they’ve taken their companies as far as they can go in regards to sustainability.
More business leaders seem to be throwing in the towel on sustainability altogether due to a growing skepticism that sustainability is in fact critical to the success of their businesses. With that said, there are still a few strong business leaders who continue to fight harder with their sustainability commitments intensifying.
In regards to investor interest and incentives, 52% of CEO’s see investor interest as a driving factor in the advancement of sustainability policies and practices. A small 12% of CEO’s viewing investor pressure as a motivating factor. And 69% of CEO’s believe that the importance of investor interest will increase as a driving factor in guiding business leaders to implement more sustainability practices.
Barriers to Sustainability
- According to 51% of CEO’s, one of the leading barriers to advancements with sustainability is a lack of financial resources. And 40% of CEO’s feel that economic conditions are to blame.
- Linking sustainability and business value is another barrier that continues to rise significantly since the 2007 UNGC sustainability study. In this year’s study, 37% of CEO’s cited this failure as a barrier, compared to 18% in 2007, and 30% in 2010’s study.
- The fact that many CEO’s believe that consumers will always place sustainability below price, quality and availability is most definitely a barrier.
CEO’s Call for Action
One thing’s for sure, CEO’s all seem to agree that government intervention and a call to action is needed and must be taken. CEO’s also believe that this call to action must be justified. Business leaders believe that in order to align sustainability with public policy, the government must intervene.
When it comes to government intervention, 55% of CEO’s believe that regulation and standards need to be prioritized, 43% feel that an adjustment to incentives and subsidies is necessary, and 31% seek government intervention through taxation.
Twenty-one percent of CEO’s call for action with softer approaches such as voluntary and information approaches. One thing’s for sure, action needs to be taken.