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Business places more value on sustainability

October 31, 2010

When you think business you might think big business, financial bailouts, profitability… whatever comes to mind, it probably isn’t environmental sustainability. But the truth is, if businesses do value efficiency and sustainability, they will make the biggest change. So it comes as good news that CEOs are looking more and more towards the environment and towards their consumers as they move forward.

In a recent study by the UN Global Compact and Accenture Sustainability Services, CEOs have said they value sustainability in business and think it is key to maintaining strong relationships with stakeholders and consumers.

Here are some of the highlights of the findings via Bloomberg Businessweek:

• CEOs identified the consumer as being as important a stakeholder as their business and government customers on this issue, driving companies to take action in response to new attitudes and needs.

• Ninety-one percent of CEOs report that they will use new technologies to address sustainability over the next five years. Social media in particular were highlighted as both an opportunity for increased consumer engagement but also a challenge in terms of greater transparency.

• CEOs identified partnerships and collaboration (e.g. with NGOs) as an increasingly important element in furthering goals of social development.

• Furthermore, post-financial crisis, CEOs around the globe recognize a critical role for sustainability in rebuilding trust with stakeholders. Seventy-two percent of CEOs highlighted “brand, trust, and reputation” as key motivations for taking action on sustainability.

(What’s that BP? AIG? You need our trust and your reputation back?)

Whatever the motivations or methods of achieving greater social and environmental responsibility, I think it’s a promising sign that 93% of CEOs (that participated in this study) thought sustainability was crucial to the success of their company. We, as consumers and investors really do have the power to make demands of business. This is a poignant reminder that even though many CEOs sit high up in an office far from main street, they still do listen. Well, to our spending habits at least.

 

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