Nearly 50% of CFOs Say Sustainability is Key Driver of Financial Performance

by | Sep 19, 2012

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Nearly one half of CFOs see sustainability as a key driver of financial performance and two-thirds are involved in driving strategies in their organizations, according to a global Deloitte survey of 250 CFOs, representing companies with greater than $1 billion in annual revenue.

The Sustainability: CFOs are Coming to the Table survey, which was conducted by Verdantix on behalf of Deloitte and included financial officers from companies based in 14 countries, found the percentage of CFOs and COOs accountable to their company’s board for sustainability issues nearly doubled from 20 percent to 36 percent in the past year.

At the same time, sustainability accountability decreased for CEOs from 56 percent in 2011 to 44 percent this year. This shift represents a transfer of sustainability authority from “face of the brand” CEOs into the hands of those empowered with operating authority and substantive budgets, Deloitte said in a report summarizing the survey.

As a result, CFOs have become increasingly focused on a number of sustainable operating practices, including tax and financial reporting and investments in technology that will further reduce the footprint of company travel and energy use.

One in two retail CFOs plan to invest in building energy equipment in the next two years, according to the survey. Video conferencing, data center efficiency equipment and electric vehicles were three areas that saw the largest year-over-year gains in investments CFOs were planning to make.

Some 56 percent of CFOs said they planned to invest in video conferencing this year, up from 42 percent in 2011. More than one-thirds of CFOs (35 percent) say they plan to invest in EVs this year, up from 21 percent in 2011. More than half of CFOs (52 percent) plan to invest in data efficiency equipment in 2012, up from 38 percent last year.

A Deloitte report released in June found a company’s environmental behavior affects its market value. The report, “Drivers of Long-Term Business Value: Stakeholders, Stats and Strategy” said an organization’s understanding of how its stakeholders perceive and value the organization’s environment, social and governance issues can lead to financial benefits.

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