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Sustainability paying off for most businesses

Most businesses are making savings from sustainability initiatives, but few believe they are ‘fully leveraging’ these plans, according to business intelligence company Ethical Corporation.

The Bottom Line

In the company’s survey of 1,500 consultants, corporate managers and green NGO officials, 53% of respondents said they could link increased revenue to sustainability activities.

Of corporate respondents, 67% said sustainability was driving savings and 30% rated ‘sustainability as a source of competitive advantage’ as the most important issue facing their company in the next five years.

These positive figures were dampened by indications that businesses are not making the most of the impact sustainability could have.

Only a fifth of respondents felt their company was fully taking advantage of the potential of sustainability, while 42% said sustainability was integrated enough into their business strategy.

The world’s leaders are expected in September to adopt the post-2015 global development agenda, setting poverty reduction and sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030.

Businesses will be called on to shoulder much of the burden in delivering the promises made by leaders.

Corporate respondents valued ‘a culture of sustainability’ highly, with 88% rating this as important or very important.

Ethical Corporation’s State of Sustainability report said: “Organisations are making strides in terms of incorporating sustainability into their strategies and are, in particular, seeking to minimise environmental and social impacts in their supply chains.

“There is still a huge amount to do in moving from theory to practice, fully operationalising sustainability and understanding the business case and the impact on revenues. Grappling with these issues will be the key challenge in the year ahead.”

The report also highlighted the problem of properly evaluating the effect of sustainability initiatives, with only 39% of respondents saying they felt confident they were measuring this accurately.

“Clearly there is room for improvement in monitoring of the impacts on the bottom line,” the report concluded.

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