State of Sustainability 2015: Survey reveals untapped potential

A majority of businesses are already reaping savings from sustainability initiatives, but only 21% think they are "fully leveraging" these plans.

53% of respondents link sustainability with increased revenue, while 67% of corporate respondents say it is driving savings

53% of respondents link sustainability with increased revenue, while 67% of corporate respondents say it is driving savings

The figures come from a State of Sustainability survey of 1,500 consultants, corporate managers and green NGO officials, published by Ethical Corporation

The results of the survey show that 53% of respondents link sustainability with increased revenue, while 67% of corporate respondents say it is driving savings. Despite these successes, the report suggests companies may just be scratching the surface of sustainability gains.

Around one fifth of respondents felt their company is fully taking advantage of the potential of sustainability and only 42% say sustainability is integrated tightly enough into their business strategy.

The report concluded: "With tighter integration and greater leveraging of sustainability, the proportion of companies seeing business benefits can only go up."

Forecast

Looking forward at how companies planned to advance green initiatives, 88% said "creating a culture of sustainability" was important or very important. The second and third top-three issues were "embedding sustainability throughout the organisation" (82%) and "getting top-level buy-in" (81%).

Ethical Corporation explained: "Overall, our results indicate that, though organisations are moving ahead on sustainability, the emphasis is still on internal embedding of principles and culture change.

"Once this is done, what is arguably the real work of sustainability - realignment of operations - can become a bigger focus."

When asked to look ahead to the next five years, "creating a competitve advantage from sustainability" became the biggest priority. 

Perhaps the biggest concern unearthed by the survey was the amount of uncertainty about sustainability. Just 39% of respondents said they felt confident that they are accurately measuring the return on sustainability objectives.

"Clearly there is room for improvement in monitoring of the impacts on the bottom line," said the report.

Brad Allen


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