Half of business leaders see sustainability as competitive advantage


Almost half of business leaders believe that a sustainability policy gives them a competitive advantage, according to a study from Coca Cola Enterprises written by Economist Intelligence Unit.

Despite fears that the financial crisis from 2008 would lead to companies abandoning sustainability investments, the report says this has not been the case.


The study found that 52 per cent of businesses surveyed had maintained their commitment to sustainability objectives despite the crisis.

Leadership from senior managers was seen as the main factor that would lead to successful implementation of sustainability initiatives with some companies linking management compensation to sustainability initiatives.

Other companies were found to be reshaping their functional structure to align their sustainability initiatives with their business development.

At present, only 31 per cent of companies include environmental metrics in their financial reporting and only 26 per cent have all departments report on their sustainability endeavours.

Cutting costs while delivering sustainability objectives was the most popular form of sustainability initiatives and the report found that two thirds of companies are engaged in waste reduction and recycling.

More than half of the firms are involved in energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives.

New technology platforms are also playing an important role in developing more sustainable business models with more than four in ten respondents harnessing technology to generate new ideas and platforms as part of their sustainability objectives.

This can mean tapping into industry insights and customer feedback on tracking resources through the product lifecycle.

Indeed, over three-fifths of respondents say technology is contributing to their sustainability innovations with more than four in ten using data analytics to design more sustainable products.

However, 44 per cent of company bosses blamed financial challenges as the leading obstacle to the implementation of their company’s sustainability strategy.

The report said: “While a significant minority views sustainability as a source of competitive advantage, the battle to embed sustainability in business is far from over.

“Financial obstacles continue to hinder companies’ progress, and while executives acknowledge that sustainability can deliver business advantages, most see this is terms of improved reputation.”

See the full report at http://www.cokecce.com/system/file_resources/93/report_-_ACTUAL_FINAL.pdf