Sustainability leaders at high-revenue firms have growing influence

According to a new global survey of 260 heads of sustainability conducted by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, 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. 92 per ccent of responding firms have a sustainability leader who reports into the CEO or another member of the executive committee.

“We found that while few sustainability leaders point to large budget increases, our results reveal sustainability spending across entire organizations is typically up to ten times bigger than the sustainability team’s budget with over two-thirds expecting corporate-wide spending growth” stated Yaowen Ma, Verdantix Analyst and author of the report.

The Verdantix report, “Global Survey 2014: Sustainability Budgets And Priorities” is based on interviews with senior sustainability decision-makers and budget-holders from 260 firms with revenues between $250 million and over $20 billion.

The Heads of Sustainability were from 13 territories: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the Middle East, Russia, South Africa, the UK, and the USA. Respondents’ firms spanned 21 industries covering business and financial services, consumer services, energy and basic resources, manufacturing, and retail and consumer products.

Highlights from the report include:

  • CEOs Increasingly Recognize Sustainability Impacts Financial Performance: 28 per cent of CEOs consider sustainability as factors that already impact quarterly and annual financial performance (21 per cent in 2012)
  • CSOs’ Budgets For Sustainability Vary Dramatically: 65 per cent of CSOs own budgets of up to $2.5 million. 26 per cent have budgets between $2.5 million and $15 million. 5 per cent have over $15 million. 4 per cent have no budget at all.
  • Firms Favour Spending On Employees: 28 per cent of sustainability budgets are invested on employees and 21 per cent is spent on consulting services. 10 per cent of budgets are spent on assurance providers.
  • Improving EH&S, Energy And Sustainability Reporting Are Top Priorities: Over 90 per cent 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: 8 out of 10 firms already publish sustainability reports but only 39 per cent of firms pay for external assurance of their entire sustainability or integrated report.

Don’t miss our upcoming webinar: 10 Hot Sustainability Trends for 2015 – 22 January 2015: Find out more

Contact: Amanda Wilson, Tel +44(0) 203 371 6779 awilson@verdantix.com

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