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Decision Maker Attitudes and Approaches Towards Sustainability in Business in 2011 Accenture C-Suite Executive Research in China, North America and the United Kingdom www.accenture.com/sustainability24


Sustainability Benefits Exceed Expectations for a Majority of Businesses The majority of businesses say that the benefits resulting from their sustainability initiatives have exceeded expectations, according to an international survey by Accenture. The survey of 247 C-suite decision makers in North America, United Kingdom and China revealed that 72 percent think the benefits of their sustainability initiatives exceeded expectations especially around brand attributes and costs. The majority of respondents view sustainability as an integral part of their business, but around a third see it as just peripheral. Two thirds believe sustainability initiatives are an investment for a business, not just a cost—but still a third are less sure.

Most companies that responded to the survey have at least a few sustainability programmes, with over a third having many. Even those without say they are still trying to implement sustainability initiatives and are likely to introduce at least some in the next year. A strong majority believe their company is investing the right amount in sustainability, with the view that next year they will invest somewhat more. Genuine concern for the environment and/or society as well as reducing energy and material costs are the main drivers of sustainability initiatives, while the cost of such initiatives is the main barrier followed closely by the inability to measure.

The survey also showed, however, that a hardcore of about a third of business leaders have yet to be convinced of the value of sustainability, thinking that it is peripheral to their business and that their business invests too much in sustainability business practices. The survey was conducted for Sustainability 24, Accenture’s global online event that brought together hundreds of leaders in the field of sustainability on May 25th 2011. The Sustainability 24 web address is http://www. accenture.com/sustainability24

For over 2 in 3 sustainability is important to their company—even more so for those that already have initiatives, and, not surprisingly less so for those without. How important is sustainability to your company?

2%

Not very important

Among those with initiatives

2%

Not at all important

28% 70% 30%

Somewhat important

Among those without initiatives

67%

Very important

13% 50%

25% 13%

1


Most companies see more benefits than expected with sustainable initiatives, specifically around brand attributes and costs. Benefits to initiatives (among those w/initiatives)

49%

Improved reputation and trust

How have the benefits from sustainable initiatives compared to expectations?

4%

47%

Seen as a responsible company

42%

Lower costs

41%

Improved brand Met requirements of customers or suppliers

Lower

24%

As expected

52%

Higher

20%

Much higher

38% 37%

More competitive

36%

Improved staff moral

34%

Driven innovation

33%

Combated rising energy costs

31%

Increased consumer demand

27%

Entered new markets Developed / sold new products and services

72%

25% 20%

Helped recruit new employees None of these

0%

Other

0%

Most view sustainability as an integral part of their business, but around a third see it as just peripheral. Which of the following is closer to your view?

Sustainability is an integral part of our business or Sustainability is a peripheral part of our business

68% 32%

2 in 3 believe sustainable initiatives are an investment for a business, not just a cost—but still a third are less sure. Do you view spending on sustainable initiatives as a cost or an investment? More of cost

34%

More of an investment

66%

2


A strong majority believe their company is investing the right amount in sustainable initiatives, with the view that next year they will invest somewhat more. Current Investment Levels

Next Year’s Investment Levels

60%

1% 2%

However, more are likely to say they spend too much than too little

21%

Much less Somewhat less

12%

Same amount

12%

Somewhat more

12%

Much more

11%

7%

1% Far too much

Too much

The right amount

Too little

Far too little

Most think the businesses sector is doing enough and 7 in 10 say it will cost a business more to be a “sustainable business”. Do you think business are doing enough to make sure their working practices are more sustainable? Equal amount say business are doing to much/too little

51%

45%

About the same or less

28%

28%

30%

23%

21%

24%

19%

7% Far too much

Does having a green, or more sustainable business, cost…?

5%

3% Too much

The right amount

Too little

Far too little

A lot more

A little more

About the same

A little less

1% A lot less

Most companies have at least a few sustainable programmes, with over a third having many. Does your company currently have any sustainable initiatives?

55% Respondents read: When thinking about sustainability, we’re referring to the way an organisation, on its path to high performance, creates value for its stakeholders by leveraging its assets and capabilities to drive innovation and profitable growth and striving for a positive economic, environmental and social impact.

38%

Yes, many 3

Yes, few

3%

3%

Don’t know

None


Even those without initiatives say they are still trying to implement sustainable initiatives and are likely to introduce initiatives in the next year. If have no initiatives: Which of the following is closest to your company’s introduction of sustainable initiatives?

If have no/don’t know initiatives: How likely are you to introduce sustainable initiates in your company next year?

60%

75%

20%

25%

13%

7% 0% We tried and failed to implement sustainable initiatives

Never tried

We tried and are still working on trying to implement sustainable initiatives

Very likely

Somewhat likely

Not very likely

Not at all likely

Currently most companies reduce electricity and implement green IT. Looking forward, they plan for more Green IT and sustainable innovation in new products. Reduce the amount of electricity used

51%

28%

Green IT Sustainability talent and skills initiatives

47%

33%

Sustainability based innovation and new products or services

37%

Sustainability performance management & disclosure

38%

28%

Reduce the amount of packaging your company uses when selling

37%

26%

Promote green transport initiatives for employees (e.g. cycling or car sharing or electric vehicle concessions)

36%

31%

Water & waste management

44%

39%

26%

Sustainable supply chains

30%

35%

33% 31%

Smart buildings

32% 32%

Maintain partnerships with environmental organisations

28%

Carbon emissions management

32%

23% 24%

Only use Fair Trade suppliers

21%

Carbon trading capabilities Other

51%

40%

27%

1% 0%

4


A strong majority believe their company is investing the right amount in sustainable initiatives, with the view that next year they will invest somewhat more.

1st

Drivers to initiatives Investor pressure

Benefits of initiatives Improved reputation and trust

Barriers to initiatives Cost of sustainability initiatives

and 2nd

Lower costs Combated rising energy costs

Regulatory requirements

The government / local authorities don’t provide enough incentives and

3rd

Consumer / customer expectation

Seen as a responsible company

The belief one company can’t make a difference to global warming Company cultural inhibitors

and

and

Opportunities for business growth and higher margins

Lack of consumer interest and Don’t think that sustainable alternatives will work as well for their business

General concern, reducing costs and expectations drive sustainable initiatives, while set-up costs, lack of interest and belief in benefits are the largest barriers. Drivers of initiatives (among those w/initiatives)

Barriers to initiatives (among all)

Genuine concern for environment / society

53%

Reducing energy and materials costs

50% 47%

Consumer / customer expectation

43%

Cost of sustainability initiatives

31%

Inability to measure sustainability initiatives The government / local authorities don’t provide enough incentives

30% 29%

Opportunities for business growth and higher margins

45%

The belief one company can’t make a difference to global warming

Reputation / brand / trust

44%

Lack of consumer interest

24%

Lack of senior leadership commitment

24%

Company cultural inhibitors

23%

35%

Competitive differentiation

31%

Regulatory requirements Investor pressure

25%

Investors don’t value / reward company for sustainable investments

Staff and recruitment pressure

24%

Don’t think that sustainable alternatives will work as well for their business

None of these Other

5

0% 0%

Other Brand and business growth also key

None of these

21% 13% 2% 7%


While both are seen as on the right track with sustainable initiatives, business is seen as doing a better job than the government. Do you think sustainability initiatives of business, overall, are on the right track? Business

Government

85%

72%

28% 15%

Right track

Wrong track

Right track

Wrong track

And business is seen as having the most responsibility and success in promoting progress and innovation.

36%

More responsible for ensuring progress in a sustainable way

28%

Doing the most to drive action towards innovative sustainable solutions

25%

Doing the most to drive action towards innovative sustainable solutions

41%

23%

47%

26%

49%

27%

Most say the level of the financial sector's investment is about right—but equal amounts say it is too much or too little— most only have some confidence in their ability to provide funding. Confidence in the financial sector to provide funding for sustainable technologies

Financial Sector’s Investment level in Sustainable Initiatives

45%

No confidence

18%

Not much confidence

56%

Some confidence

19%

Lots of confidence

28%

21%

21%

19%

7%

7%

Far too much

17%

Too much

The right amount

Too little

Far too little 6


Copyright Š 2011 Accenture All rights reserved.

About Accenture Sustainability Services

Accenture, its logo, and High Performance Delivered are trademarks of Accenture.

Accenture Sustainability Services helps organizations achieve substantial improvement in performance and value for their stakeholders. We help clients leverage their assets and capabilities to drive innovation and profitable growth while striving for a positive economic, environmental and social impact. We work with clients across industries and geographies to integrate sustainability approaches into their business strategies, operating models and critical processes. Our holistic approach encompasses strategy, design and execution to increase revenue, reduce cost, manage risk and enhance brand, reputation and intangible assets. We also help clients develop deep insights on sustainability issues based on our ongoing investments in research, including recent studies on consumer expectations and global executive opinion on corporate sustainability and climate change.

ACC11-1350 / 02-2604

Find out more at www.accenture. com/sustainability or contact us at sustainability@accenture.com.

About Accenture Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with more than 215,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$21.6 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2010. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

Accenture Decision Maker Attitudes  

Accenture Sustainability's Research report on "Decision Makers Attitudes and Approaches towards sustainability in Business in 2011"

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