CEOs: Sustainability critical to success

Despite the global economic downturn, a majority of CEOs (93 percent) agree that sustainability will be critical to the success of their companies, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture.

The 766 CEOs polled worldwide also said that the economic downturn didn’t slow the progress of the corporate sustainability movement. In fact, 80 percent said it did the opposite, elevating the importance of sustainability because it’s a source of cost efficiency and revenue growth.

The survey also found that businesses are taking sustainability more seriously. In a 2007 survey, 50 percent of CEOs said that sustainability issues had become part of their company’s strategy. In the 2010 survey, the number jumped to 81 percent.

What’s more, 91 percent of CEOs said their companies would employ new technologies to address sustainability issues over the next five years, and 78 percent of respondents agreed that companies should collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, including government agencies and environmental NGOs, to tackle sustainability issues.

“Business leaders recognize they are going to have to take a real lead, for example, holding the line on sustainability in their business models, tackling the roadblocks with diligence in tough-to-crack areas like supply chain and performance management, and working hard to respond to and shape customer demands that turn sustainability into an opportunity for growth and innovation,” said Mark Foster, Accenture’s group chief executive of management consulting and global markets.

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