One-half of businesses recently polled lack a sustainability strategy. Those with a strategy are more likely to be focused on improving perceptions and responding to increasing regulations, rather than meeting social needs or generating revenue opportunities.
CEOs made up the majority of respondents to the survey, developed by The Vandiver Group and sponsored by PR firm Pinnacle Worldwide, and although less than half have a strategy today, 55 percent said sustainability will grow in importance and require increased resources and attention.
The results also show that companies are more focused on perception (7.1 on a 10-point scale) than revenue growth (rated 6 on the same scale). Meanwhile, companies rated reducing consumption and increasing pollution control as more important (7.1 and 6.6 out of 10, respectively) than meeting social needs (5.28 out of 10 points) as drivers of their sustainability strategies.
The study found that nearly one-third of businesses are developing a sustainability strategy, and just less than one-half already have an existing strategy. Six percent of respondents characterized their company as a “recognized leader” in sustainability. The survey found that larger companies were slightly more likely than smaller companies to have strategies and staff dedicated to the area of sustainability. An overwhelming 75 percent of respondents said sustainability is either “an important part of our organization’s corporate strategy,” or said they expect the topic “to become increasingly important in the future.”
Other findings include:
• CEOs were reported to be the primary drivers of sustainability decisions, with communications and public affairs managers rarely in that role.
• More than 65 percent of companies do not have dedicated sustainability staff. Of those with dedicated staff; nearly half have fewer than five employees working more than half of their time on sustainability.
• “Improving perception of the company” was rated as more important than increasing revenue via sustainability programs. However, revenue was still seen as “somewhat important.”
• Nearly half of companies surveyed have less than $50,000 allocated annually to sustainability-related programs. Ten percent have more than $50,000 allocated, and 3 percent have more than $500,000 allocated.