Investors Slow to Embrace Sustainability, Accenture Says


by | Aug 16, 2013

AccentureInvestors are beginning to understand the risks of unsustainable practices, although the pace of change is slow, according to the preliminary findings of a global study conducted by Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact.

For instance, just 7 percent of CEOs in the communications industry regard investors as an important voice in guiding their approach to sustainability, writes Peter Lacy, managing director of Accenture Sustainability Services in Asia Pacific, in a column for The Guardian.

The study, which is conducted every three years, includes interviews with 76 CEOS and a survey of more than 1,000 chief executives globally. The study also examines investor and consumer attitudes to sustainability. The final results will be presented in September at the UNGC Leaders’ Summit in New York.

In 2010, the last time the study was conducted, Accenture found that while CEOs were placing sustainability at the core of their business strategies, many struggled to implement them. CEOs said one of the most significant obstacles to execution was the complexity of integrating a company-wide approach to sustainability across different functions.

CEOs also said at the time, investors didn’t care as much about sustainability.

This year, the study aims to uncover how this relationship has changed, and understand the role investors are playing in companies’ efforts to align business performance with sustainability leadership, Lacy writes.

A separate Accenture study released in 2012 found 44 percent of senior executives said sustainability is critical to their businesses. That figure rises to 64 percent in emerging markets.

The 2012 study surveyed 250 senior executives in the US, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, as well as China, Brazil and India, about sustainable business and commercial growth. Some 78 percent of respondents said sustainability is vital to the future growth of their businesses. The only region where this percentage slipped below 70 percent was Japan, at 63 percent, while it rose to 91 percent in emerging markets.

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