Sustainability occupies a central and permanent place in corporate boardrooms now. Almost 31 per cent of companies worldwide say sustainability is contributing to their profits, and 70 per cent have placed sustainability permanently on their management agenda, according to a new global study by MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The study also shows that while 70 per cent to 80 per cent of organisations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) indicated an increased level of commitment to sustainability in the previous year, more than 80 per cent of companies are planning on increasing this commitment in 2012.
The study, entitled Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point, found that two-thirds of companies see sustainability as necessary to being competitive in today’s marketplace, up from 55 per cent a year earlier.
In addition, two thirds of respondents said management attention to, and investment in, sustainability has increased in the last year.
The third annual Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study by MIT SMR and BCG comprises a survey of more than 2,800 corporate leaders representing every major industry and region of the world and a series of in-depth interviews with experts and corporate practitioners from a range of disciplines and organisations.
The study focuses on ‘Harvesters’ -the 31 per cent of companies that say that sustainability is contributing to their profits. Harvesters are not merely implementing individual initiatives such as lowering carbon emissions, reducing energy consumption, or investing in clean technologies; they are changing their operating frameworks and strategies.
Harvesters tend to have a distinctive organisational mind-set and design that supports sustainability.
Rend Stephan, Partner & Managing Director in Boston Consulting Group, Middle East said: “Compared to non-Harvesters, Harvesters are three times as likely to have a business case for sustainability. They are also 50 per cent more likely to have CEO commitment to sustainability, twice as likely to have a separate sustainability reporting process and twice as likely to have a separate function for sustainability.”
He also added: “Harvesters are also 50 per cent more likely to have a person responsible for sustainability in each business unit and more than 2.5 times as likely to have a chief sustainability officer.”
The report identifies three key areas where sustainability has driven significant organisational change among Harvesters: changes in organisational structure, a business model for sustainability and greater collaboration among geographic business units, customers and suppliers.
MIT SMR’s Sustainability & Innovation project is an exploration, in partnership with BCG, into how sustainability pressures are transforming the ways we all work, live, and compete.
S&I’s research, reporting, and community help managers to understand better the new forces that will affect their organisations, to navigate through the overwhelming mass of information about sustainability, and to fend off threats and capitalise on opportunities that sustainability issues present.
MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalise on the opportunities generated by rapid organisational, technological and societal change.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. They partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises.