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And you thought Sustainability & Green Thinking was a passing fancy… NOT!

By Dian Hasan | September 15, 2009

For all the skeptics out there who are convinced that “the green movement” was just loads of hubris, and a fad that will soon evaporate… think again! A recent recent survey of CEO conducted by Accenture shows that sustainability is here to stay, the following are just some of the findings:

93% of CEOs believe sustainability will be critical to the future success of their companies.

88% of CEOs believe it is important that business schools develop the mindsets and skills for future leaders to address sustainability, overall citing this as the second most important change that needs to accelerate for the tipping point to be reached, broadly equal in importance to the actions of customers, investors and government regulation.

1 in 4 CEOs say that lack of skills and knowledge among senior and middle management is one of the top three barriers to them as a CEO implementing an integrated and strategic company-wide approach to sustainability, and 86% say their organisation should invest in enhanced training of managers to integrate sustainability into strategy and operations.

Most CEO’s surveyed said that by 2015 sustainability will be fully incorporated into their company’s footprint. And any such move will of course also impact positively the company’s brand positioning. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross as appeared in Reputation Exchange blog:

Accenture just completed an impressive research study among global CEOs and other influentials around the world for the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in 2010.  They say that it is the largest survey ever among CEOs on sustainability. Some of the key findings are worth thinking about as sustainability defines the corporate reputation landscape in a few short years to come:

  1. Brand/trust/reputation is the strongest reason why CEOs say they are taking action on sustainability (72% say so). The next best reason lags fairly far behind at 44% –  potential for revenue growth and cost reduction. Reputation seems to be behind the motivation for many CEO and corporate actions these days.
  2. CEOs recognize that the consumer is the most influential stakeholder on the issues of sustainability in the years ahead — 58% of CEOs say so and it is a perception that ranks even higher than employees (45%).  They believe that consumers are King despite the mixed evidence on whether consumers are demanding products that are sustainability-true (a word I just made up).
  3. Collaboration is critical to the sustainability movement.  Here I have to agree since I am seeing a greater focus among clients on partnerships and coalitions in all areas, including CSR. As Accenture writes, “…global challenges are too broad and too complex to go it alone.” Multi-stakeholder partnerships are the new trend in corporate reputation building.
  4. One of the more significant findings was that 81% of CEOs say that sustainability is now embedded into the strategy and operations of their companies — a big jump from 50 percent three years ago.  New to me was that sustainability is being built into executive compensation packages today.
  5. CEOs believe that by 2015, sustainability will be fully integrated into company footprints. A large 80% believe that by then, this dynamic will be commonplace. That is not far away and it is about time. I was telling someone who interviewed me recently that although 2015 feels as if it is upon us, the truth is that this has been a long way coming. I recall back in 1990 when I first learned more about the Fortune Most Admired Companies survey how surprised I was that environmental/social responsibility was so low on the totem pole of reputation drivers. I thought there had to be a mistake. But that is what it was then. All in all, it has been a long progression to get to 2015.

Inspiration: Reputation Exchange

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