Survey: Recession Slows Corporate Sustainability Efforts

by | Mar 4, 2009

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chartThe economic recession is postponing some sustainability-related corporate spending, according to a new Booz & Co. survey,  reports Manufacturing Business Technology Magazine. The good news: there are signs of a continuing focus on sustainability in the manufacturing sector.

A new survey, Why Some Companies Are Making the Wrong Moves, conducted in December 2008 by Booz & Company of 828 senior managers, finds that companies  are losing confidence in their leadership’s ability to withstand the current economic crisis.

One key finding indicates that “green” efforts will be significantly delayed due to the recession. The survey reveals that 40 percent of respondents expect green and other corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to significantly slow due to the downturn, while 29 percent of respondents don’t believe it will delay green projects. The pullback will be especially evident in transportation and energy industries, with, respectively, 51 percent and 47 percent of respondents in those industries saying CSR agendas will be delayed.

Here’s the breakdown by industry:

In transportation, 51 percent said the economic crisis would delay CSR progress; in both energy & utilities and financial sectors, 47 percent agreed it would hinder progress; in consumer goods, 40 percent said there will be delays, and in industrial goods, 38 percent concurred. In professional services, 35 percent said there will be delays, and in both telecom & media and healthcare & pharma sectors, 27 percent agreed CSR agendas will be postponed.

Conrad Winkler, a Booz & Co. partner based in Chicago, said in the article that he believes the economic crisis is impacting green initiatives in the manufacturing sector for three key reasons – a severe contraction in the building of new plants, credit from banks is harder to get, and the lower cost of gas and energy in recent months changes the payback calculation. However, he adds that it’s notable that 29 percent of respondents don’t think the economic crisis will delay CSR projects.

Other recent CSR reports include those from the Roberts Environmental Center of Claremont McKenna College, Salter Baxter, and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute.

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