Accenture has published a 2010 research report which is billed as representing the largest study of CEO viewpoints ever conducted on the topic of corporate sustainability strategies. This report, which is titled A New Era of Sustainability, (registration sign-up may be required) was compiled in conjunction with the United Nations Global Compact and summarizes the views of over 1000 Global Compact member CEO’s.  In the Foreward, Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, and Bruno Berthon, Managing Director of Accenture’s Sustainability Services context the insights from this report as helping to set the corporate sustainability agenda  for the next ten years.  The report also provides important supply chain management guideposts related to sustainability initiatives.

This report identifies widespread agreement among CEO’s that the next era of sustainability is not a separate strategic initiative but rather fully integrated into the strategy and operations of companies.  These CEO’s however voice a pragmatic approach, with over 50 percent believing that the tipping point is a decade away.

Three areas were identified as driving key approaches and ongoing strategies:

  1. CEO’s identify consumers as the most important stakeholder in influencing the way in which their corporations will manage societal expectations over the next five years. These executives however are still looking for clearer signals that sustainability factors will actually drive consumer buying behaviors.
  2. Over 90 percent indicated that their company would employ new technologies to help meet their sustainability goals over the next five years.
  3. CEO’s confirmed that partnerships and collaboration with suppliers, governmental agencies and NGO’s are now a critical element of their company’s approaches to sustainability issues.

The report clearly notes the perceived difficulty in moving from strategic to  implementation segments of sustainability initiatives, and implementation of sustainability across the supply chain was specifically called out as a top barrier.  While 88% of CEO’s believe that their companies should be integrating sustainability through their supply chain, only 54% believe that these efforts have been achieved within their company.

If your role involves sustainability and green supply chain initiatives, this report may well be an important reference.  If sustainability initiatives have not as yet reached visibility and definition in your particular organization, you can anticipate that it within the coming months.

Bob Ferrari