Owners and CEOs, overall, are not sold on sustainability as a competitive advantage, according to a study by the Shelton Group.
The study found personal belief drives business decision makers. CEO Suzanne Shelton says this means appealing to a CEO’s desire to do the right thing is more important than making the business case for sustainability alone.
When it comes to purchasing managers, on the other hand, Shelton Group’s B2B Pulse found that sustainability is more likely to be viewed as a competitive differentiator. And while purchasing managers are less willing than others to pay a price premium for sustainable products, sustainability is more personally important to them than others in purchase decisions (81 percent, compared to 71 percent overall).
The study also found that not all industries are created equal in regards to sustainability:
- Education leads the way, with far more sustainability initiatives than other sectors (8.2 initiatives on average, compared to 5.3 for businesses overall).
- While energy savings/cost reductions are the primary decision drivers, there are differences by sector. For example, the health care sector is driven more by health and wellness, but product efficacy is critical; education cares more about local sourcing; etc.
- Construction/renovation is significantly more likely to believe that sustainability offers an opportunity for competitive differentiation.
- Sectors don’t always reflect their leaders. The retail sector, for example does not particularly prioritize renewable energy initiatives and actually lags behind other sectors in the development of sustainability scorecards.
- Over half of hospitality industry decision makers acknowledge that their facilities are inefficient.
PwC’s 17th Annual CEO Survey, published last week, found 75 percent of participants agree that satisfying societal needs beyond those of investors, customers and employees, and protecting the interests of future generations, is important to their business.