McKinsey survey shows increasing emphasis on sustainability

A new McKinsey Global survey has shown that executives at all company levels see sustainability as a core business issue but that many problems remain with programme implementation, measurement and reputation.

These are among the key findings from the survey which asked respondents about the actions their companies are taking to address environmental, social and governance issues.

Corporate reputation takes centre stage in the survey coming top in a list of thirteen activities considered important by business.  However, many of this year’s respondents say their companies are not pursuing the reputation-building activities that would maximize financial value and that reputation management has the highest value creation potential for them over the next five years.

Incorporating sustainability remains an organisational challenge but one that can be delivered with “strong leadership, clear internal and external goals, a focused strategy and broad management buy-in”, says McKinsey.

According to the report findings sustainability is becoming a more strategic and integral to businesses. In past surveys, when asked about their companies’ reasons for pursuing sustainability, respondents most often cited cost cutting or reputation management.

Now 43 percent say their company’s seek to align sustainability with their overall business goals, mission, or values, up from 30 per cent who said so in 2012.  CEOs were twice as likely as they were in 2012 to say sustainability is their top priority.

At companies that are already taking action, respondents most often cite challenges that related to execution, the absence of performance incentives, accountability and the presence of short-term earnings pressures.

The report identified  four characteristics that organisations possessed which made them successful in implementing a sustainability strategy: senior leadership engagement with the programme; clear structures and accountability in delivering the strategy ; the importance of external networks and relationships and finally the need to have employee engagement across the company.

Click this link to visit the McKinsey survey website.