Want business growth tomorrow? Act on climate today.
Today's executives are managing through geopolitical tensions, a global pandemic, talent scarcity, frequent cyberattacks and, on top of all that, a climate emergency. That's according to 2,600+ CEOs from 128 countries and 18 industries, as shared in the 12th United Nations Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study.
And alongside a growing loss of confidence in governments and public institutions, people are counting on CEOs to be social leaders. The good news? Many CEOs are ready to act.
Sustainability is clearly at the top of the CEO agenda, as it protects companies across industries against the rising tide of uncertainty. And while we've seen Chief Sustainability Officers join executive teams in record numbers, CEOs are taking direct ownership of sustainability issues.
Our study found that 98% of CEOs now unequivocally feel it is their role to make their business more sustainable. And, in 2022, nearly three-quarters of CEOs agreed they were accountable for their firm's sustainability performance—up from just 19% in 2013.
CEOs aren't just talking about sustainability or viewing it as a regulatory compliance issue. They're also making real changes to their businesses to better engage with key stakeholders. Four in 10 (39%) are increasing R&D funding for sustainable innovation, for example. Additionally, more than half (54%) of CEOs are improving visibility into the social impacts of their company’s value chain, and a third (34%) are reducing scope 3 emissions. It’s a meaningful shift in C-suite priorities.
Modern CEOs are owning their responsibility to protect local communities in the regions they operate. At the same time, the majority (90%) feel that limited support from government is negatively impacting their ability to tackle today's interlinked global challenges. These leaders want to see governments adopt more "green" policies—including incentives for renewables and establishing a global price on carbon—to help the private sector create a more equitable and sustainable world.
are launching new products and services for sustainability
are enhancing sustainability data collection across their value chains
are investing in renewable energy resources
are transitioning to circular business models to build resilience
Embracing sustainability offers opportunities for industry transformation, competitiveness and new growth. Here are the 15 core initiatives CEOs should embed across their businesses.
Not meeting the SDGs is a real concern. It’s also an enormous opportunity for companies that reinvent their enterprises and harness sustainability as one of the key forces of change in the next decade—using technology and innovation to drive growth.
PETER LACY / Global Sustainability Services Lead & Chief Responsibility Officer