Sustainability to define leading firms over next decade

5th July 2017

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Integrating sustainability values will be the key defining feature of leading organisations over the next ten years, according to research by GlobeScan and SustainAbility.

A survey of 1,000 sustainability experts worldwide found that social responsibility is also one of the top five expected characteristics of such firms, along with honesty, innovation and communication.

In addition, being environmentally conscious, carbon-neutral, ethical, collaborative, and demonstrating executive leadership are predicted to distinguish leading businesses over the next decade.

“It is essential that companies address sustainability throughout their business operations and make it core to the way they do business,” a report from GlobeScan says.

“Sustainability metrics should be taken with the same level of leadership focus as traditional financial metrics.”

When asked to rate the sustainability performance of their own national governments, Asia received the most positive responses, while Latin America was the region with the least.

Among non-profit organisations, World Wildlife Fund is regarded as the global leader in advancing sustainable development, followed by Greenpeace, with effective stakeholder engagement and collaboration the main reasons given.

The research shows consumer-facing companies are increasingly more likely to be leaders in sustainable development integration, when heavy industrial companies like Shell and BP used to be.

Unilever is considered the top global corporate sustainability leader for the seventh year in a row followed by Patagonia and Interface, which has scored highly for the last 20 years.

The sustainability experts also cited IKEA, M&S, Natura, Tesla and Nestlé, with leading companies receiving high scores for their vision, and setting ambitious goals.

“A handful of companies with powerful visions and values have won more share of mind among experts in recent years,” GlobeScan director, Eric Whan, said.

“Meanwhile, it’s becoming harder for others to break through, even though many are making great progress. This is no reason to stop.”


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