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Companies’ 2012 Sustainability Plans: Focus on Employees, Suppliers

Employee engagement and supplier sustainability performance are the corporate sustainability initiatives that will get the most time and resources in 2012, according to a study by Green Research.

The Annual Sustainability Executive Survey, 2012, a poll of close to 50 senior sustainability executives, found that 88 percent plan to invest significantly in employee engagement and 73 percent will invest in supplier performance next year. The surveyed firms are the leading companies in a dozen industries across North America and Europe, 80 percent of which have revenues of $1 billion or more, Green Research says. Of those surveyed, three quarters are the most senior sustainability executive in their organization.

The survey also found that sustainability spending will rise significantly next year. About a third of the companies are adding staff to their sustainability departments in 2012, and 50 percent will increase spending on sustainability initiatives company-wide. One quarter will increase the budgets of their sustainability departments.

Green Research principal analyst David Schatsky said companies are using their sustainability teams to coordinate sustainability strategy and help other departments make the business case for such initiatives, while funding a number of departments to support the programs.

The report also found that only two corporate sustainability rankings are relevant to a majority of companies, with 64 percent of respondents saying they considered the Carbon Disclosure Project important to their company and its stakeholders, and 53 percent saying the same about the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. All other rankings received support from 29 percent of respondents or less.

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