Sustainability leaders at high-revenue firms have growing influence, according to a Verdanitx survey, which finds 92 percent of responding companies have a sustainability officer who reports to the CEO or another member of the executive committee.
According to the global survey of 260 senior sustainability decision-makers, sustainability leaders have increasing executive committee influence, decision-making authority and budgetary contributions across 21 key initiatives spanning assurance, consulting, energy management, natural capital, reporting, supply chain and other sustainability activities.
Highlights from the report include:
- CEOs increasingly recognize sustainability impacts financial performance: 28 percent of CEOs consider sustainability as factors that already impact quarterly and annual financial performance, compared to 21 percent in 2012.
- CSOs’ budgets for sustainability vary dramatically: 65 percent of CSOs own budgets of up to $2.5 million; 26 percent have budgets between $2.5 million and $15 million; 5 percent have over $15 million; and 4 percent have no budget at all.
- Firms favor spending on employees: 28 percent of sustainability budgets are invested on employees and 21 percent is spent on consulting services. Ten percent of budgets are spent on assurance providers.
- Improving environment, health and safety, energy and sustainability reporting are top priorities: more than 90 percent of respondents cite improvements in health and safety, energy and environmental management as “very important” or “important.”
- CSOs overwhelmingly publish sustainability reports but only half are third-party assured: eight out of 10 firms already publish sustainability reports but only 39 percent of firms pay for external assurance of their entire sustainability or integrated report.
A separate Verdantix report published last month aims to help CSOs and VPs of environmental sustainability understand the circumstances where natural capital — the finite stock of natural assets (air, water and land) from which goods and services flow — is relevant for their business, the risks involved in ignoring natural capital and the options available to them to implement sustainability strategies that take better account of natural capital.