Sustainability Poll Results: Organization, Collaboration and Trends

Last month we conducted a brief poll to help us think about some of the questions we are considering for this year's sustainability research, both the survey and interviews. The polls closed last week, and we've got some charts depicting reader responses below.

Question:Where did sustainability initiatives begin in your organization?

Our first question was about where sustainability initiatives originate in organizations. Historically, that's been EH&S, and the poll bore that out, with almost twice as many people citing that as the next two most popular answers, Operations (18%) and the C-suite (16%). It could be interesting to see how that plays out. Do initiatives which begin in the organization's C-suite have greater impact, or longevity, than those that begin in, say, operations? Do retailers tend to start in the marketing function, and then move to the supply chain? Cut with demographic data, and looked at over time, this could yield some useful info.


Question: Does your organization collaborate with any of the following around sustainability? (Select all that apply.)

We were also curious as to who organizations are partnering or collaborating with, and were (pleasantly) surprised that almost as many of you are partnering with academic organizations (23%) as with local or regional NGOs (24%). And while only 11% are collaborating with organizations that are considered competitors, that still speaks to a trend getting lots of attention recently, and one we'd like to dig in to. The benefits to these different kinds of collaboration also bear investigation.


Question: Which of the following sustainability trends or movements are you familiar with? (Select all that apply.)

Our third and final question was a reflection of our curiosity about our readers' knowledge and awareness of various trends. There's plenty of interest in the wider sustainability movement around things like collaborative consumption, and cooperative business models, but we weren't sure how far those ideas have penetrated the mainstream management mindset. The trend readers were least familiar with was radical transparency in accounting; the most familiar trend was producer responsibility, which has gotten lots of support and uptake in the EU.



Next month we'll post a couple quick "primers" on some of these trends, and continue with our polling. If you have a question you'd like to know your peers' thinking on, send it to us at

1 Comment On: Sustainability Poll Results: Organization, Collaboration and Trends

  • rodney | July 23, 2012

    On behalf of Equal Exchange, a Massachusetts-based $50M social enterprise, that is organized as a co-operative, and who delivers most of our social impact by trading with small farmer co-ops around the world, we’re glad to see that the survey included a question about the co-operative business model.

    While we would have wished that more people were familiar with the model we can’t say we’re surprised that only 22% were.

    This is one reason why we have, for 26 years now, always tried to weave the importance of the co-op model into our marketing, and our advocacy (for ex, at trade shows where we’ve the opportunity to influence peer businesses).

    It is also why a few years ago we gave a $12,000 grant to Prof. John Whitman, then at Babson College, to create a free, online, graduate level wiki-style curriculum to introduce the co-op model to academics, and especially to graduate students (from any relevant discipline).

    We also often speak at biz schools to – among other things – explain the significance of the co-op model to our own 100+ person social enterprise and its role for the hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers we trade with around the world.

    http://www.EqualExchange.Coop and our blog http://www.SmallFarmersBigChange.Coop

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