Blog: Leonie BarrieA new era of sustainability?

Leonie Barrie | 23 June 2010

Almost every meeting I've ever attended on corporate social responsibility has stressed the importance of buy-in from top executives from the CEO down if it is to become truly ingrained into a company's ethos. It's all well and good for individuals within an organisation to be committed to sustainability, but if there's no support at the top then it will be virtually impossible to turn well-intentioned words into action.

So it's encouraging to see research that suggests today's CEOs are more committed than ever to creating sustainable businesses in which environmental, social and corporate governance issues are embedded throughout their operations, supply chain and subsidiaries.

And even more encouraging is the fact that the main motivator is no longer just social responsibility, but is equally about achieving performance benefits such as lower costs, stronger customer relationships and increased revenues.

The report - 'A New Era of Sustainability Study 2010' - from the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture, is based on a global survey of more than 750 CEOs from around the world. Apparently 93% of CEOs now see sustainability as important to their future success despite the recent economic downturn, with rebuilding consumer trust as the most pressing concern.

Furthermore, they believe that within a decade, a tipping point could be reached that fully meshes sustainability with core business.

Of course challenges remain and execution across an organisation - particularly in the supply chain - is highlighted as especially difficult. And integrating sustainability into global businesses will entail a staggering number of regulatory, technology, investment and consumer changes too.

But it's great to see that some progress is being made and that we're getting nearer to the day when businesses will no longer measure their success in terms of profit and loss, but will also be assessed on the positive and negative impacts they have on society and the environment.

A New Era of Sustainability: UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study 2010


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