Sustainability shows a profit and reaches a tipping point

MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) recently published their annual global executive study and research report: Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point. Each year, they conduct a survey of nearly 3,000 executives asking them about the state of sustainability in their companies.

The results show the tremendous growth and support of sustainability all over the world. And, what is this tipping point they’re talking about? The point at which companies are not only seeing the need for implementing sustainable business practices (to maintain a competitive advantage) but they’re also starting to see the payoff.

This year’s results showed some very interesting trends that cut across industries including energy/utilities, consumer goods, commodities, chemicals and automobiles. A summary of results show that: 

1. Seventy percent of the companies surveyed have included sustainability as part of their management agenda and have no interest in turning back;

2. Two-thirds view sustainability as necessary to being competitive in today’s marketplace; and
3. Many companies are increasing their commitment to sustainability.

Another interesting point is that emerging markets are strengthening their commitment to sustainability. That’s something that global corporations will want to keep in mind as they expand into these rapidly growing markets – not only does sustainability provide you with a competitive edge in the U.S. but it might also help as you grow your business abroad.

Lastly, the report classifies a new category of sustainability “embracers” as Harvesters. These are the companies that prioritize sustainability throughout all levels of the company, integrate sustainability as part of a long-term business strategy, engage external stakeholders including regulators, suppliers, NGOs and citizen groups, and view sustainability as more than a reputation-enhancement strategy; they view sustainability as a way to drive profit and innovation. The question has always been: Is sustainability profitable? The answer, according to the Harvesters: Yes, it is.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new sustainability tipping point. 

Recent Authors

Jim Meszaros

Executive Vice President

Paul Massey

President, Powell Tate; Global Lead, Social Impact

Pam Jenkins

President, Global Public Affairs, Weber Shandwick

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