Do Sustainability Efforts Pay Off for Businesses?

Almost three-quarters of business leaders say the benefits of their sustainability initiatives have exceeded their expectations, according to a new survey.

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Business leaders say sustainability initiatives -- such as reducing electricity use -- have big benefits.As more companies incorporate sustainability initiatives into their everyday operations, business leaders are beginning to see the payoff play out in overall company performance. According to a recent survey of 247 C-suite decision makers in the United States, United Kingdom and China by global consulting firm Accenture, 72 percent said the benefits resulting from their sustainability initiatives have exceeded expectations. Only 4 percent reported that their efforts to incorporate sustainability have failed to meet expectations.

In a sign that more companies are making strides to act responsibly, the survey found that 93 percent of companies currently have sustainability initiatives in place, and 68 percent of respondents consider sustainability an integrated part of their business operations now. The other 32 percent consider sustainability peripheral to their business. When it comes to the types of sustainability initiatives that companies are pursuing, 51 percent are focusing on reducing the amount of electricity used in their building and green IT, followed by 47 percent in the area of sustainability talent and skills initiatives, and an additional 44 percent are developing sustainability-based products and services.

In terms of the business benefits that leaders have identified as a result of these initiatives, 49 percent of respondents cited reputation and trust, while 42 percent said their actions have led to lower costs, and for 41 percent, an improved brand. "It's clear that sustainability is no longer merely a matter of compliance, but a proactive way to energize commercial strategy," Bruno Berthon, managing director of Accenture Sustainability Services, said in a statement.

The survey also identified the most significant barriers for companies in incorporating sustainability initiatives. Not surprisingly, 43 percent said cost was a significant barrier, along with 31 percent who said the inability to measure sustainability initiatives played a role, and 30 percent who cited the lack of government incentives.

Tags: Accenture, Accenture survey, corporate responsibility, green businesses, News, sustainability initiatives

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