Large U.S. companies continue to be involved in sustainability, and most companies see an alignment between sustainability and their overall business strategy, according to a new report and related podcast from Deloitte.
The Deloitte report, “Sustainability in Business Today: A Cross-Industry View,” and podcast, “Three Things Your Chief Sustainability Officer Won’t Tell You,” also find that many companies have a gap between their leaders’ sustainability aspirations and the way that sustainability is enabled within their organizations.
The survey indicates the importance of sustainability to the future of the respondents’ businesses and the challenges that sustainability leaders face in trying to align their organizations sustainability practices with their principles.
Among survey respondents, all but three said their sustainability priorities were at least partially aligned with their organizations’ business priorities, says Deloitte. However, a number of respondents noted that alignment was an ongoing process that occurred at different rates in different areas of the business.
BSR’s report, “The New Frontier in Sustainability: The Business Opportunity in Tackling Sustainable Consumption (PDF),” identifies opportunities for companies to deal with sustainable consumption through three key parts of the business value cycle — product design, consumer engagement and use, and end-of-use.
“For years, sustainable consumption has been framed as a limitation on business,” says Aron Cramer, BSR president and CEO, who recently led a workshop on the subject. “But in a world where our consumption patterns outpace the planet’s ability to regenerate resources by 30 percent, businesses that figure out how to deliver enhanced value by radically reducing material inputs and engaging consumers on product use will be well-positioned for success.”
As an example, cited by BSR, design choice for things like material weight and packaging have direct impacts on transportation costs and fuel use, while choices about energy efficiency directly impact energy consumption in a product’s use phase.
In some cases, a focus on sustainable consumption may result in a significant redesign of familiar products, and in other cases, there may be an opportunity to deliver the same value through services (such as car-sharing) rather than products (such as car sales), says BSR.
Findings from these two surveys fall in line with an earlier survey of CEOs released by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture that found 93 percent of respondents see sustainability as crucial to their future success.