New Sustainability Study: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage

How fast are businesses adopting sustainability-driven management? The new Sustainability & Innovation Study identifies two distinct camps — ‘embracers’ and ‘cautious adopters’ — and offers a snapshot of how the management future will look.

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Leading Sustainable Organizations

Corporate adoption of sustainable business practices is essential to a strong market environment and an enduring society. What does it mean to become a sustainable business and what steps must leaders take to integrate sustainability into their organization?
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While global economic and political factors might have predicted otherwise, corporate commitments to sustainability-driven management are strengthening.

But even as enterprises overall are strengthening their commitments, one cohort of organizations is expanding its commitments far more aggressively than others — and a gap has emerged between sustainability strategy leaders (“embracers”) and laggards (“cautious adopters”).

Those are among the key findings yielded by the second annual Sustainability & Innovation survey of global corporate leaders — a collaborative study by the Boston Consulting Group and the MIT Sloan Management Review. How are organizations responding to the challenges and opportunities of sustainability? How are the terms of competition shifting — or not shifting — in the face of sustainability concerns? How is cutting-edge management practice being transformed as a consequence? Those are the questions explored in this study, through both the global survey and a series of in-depth research interviews with thought leaders and business executives. This article contains the study’s results.

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This article presents the highlights of our Special Report Sustainability: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage. The full report includes complete survey questions and answers.

The discovery of broad-based growth in sustainability-related investments is explained in part by further findings that companies increasingly believe sustainability will become a source of advantage, should be incorporated strategically in all aspects of a business’s operations and eventually will require a sea change in competitive behavior. “We need to integrate sustainability, not as a layer, but in the fabric of the business,” argues Katie Harper, Sustainable Supply Chain Manager at Sears Canada, voicing a common view.

“The only way to continue growing and continue being a successful business [is] to treat sustainability as a key business lever in the same way that you treat marketing, finance, culture, HR or supply chain,” says Santiago Gowland, vice-president of brand and global corporate responsibility at Unilever. “So really [it’s] core to the ability of the business to grow.”

About the Research »

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Topics

Leading Sustainable Organizations

Corporate adoption of sustainable business practices is essential to a strong market environment and an enduring society. What does it mean to become a sustainable business and what steps must leaders take to integrate sustainability into their organization?
See All Articles in This Section

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