The problems include a lack of communication and engagement by executives, ineffective use of data, siloed technologies that don’t share processes or information and a lack of cross-company and industry collaboration and partnership.
Yet while the value of sustainability initiatives is not being realized broadly, the study also shows that the business case for them is well understood. Executives expressed eagerness for their organizations to become more sustainable, citing efficiency (58 percent), improving brand reputation (46 percent) and meeting customer needs (44 percent) as top business benefits for sustainability efforts. Overall, 63 percent of the executives surveyed indicated that their company has a formal sustainability plan already in place.
Most organizations responding to the survey described loosely defined sustainability commitments and limited connections with internal and external audiences. Roughly two thirds of executives who do have sustainability plans in place say the scope and vision of the plans are not effectively communicated across the organization or externally.
However, the research did identify a small group of executives – about 9 percent – who have embraced sustainability-focused processes and are reaping the benefits. These “sustainability leaders” are defined by traits such as setting clear expectations at the strategic level, applying the transformative power of technology and data management and engaging with important audiences such as employees, supply chain partners and policymakers.