Isolation Hindering Sustainability Integration – Report
Wednesday, 13th November 2013 at 9:37 am
A lack of communication between isolated sustainability professionals and their corporate colleagues is emerging as a major barrier to greater integration of sustainability, new global research suggests.
The State of Sustainable Business Survey 2013 by global business sustainability network BSR and international consultancy GlobeScan showed a low level of engagement between corporate sustainability departments and key internal and external stakeholders.
Now in its fifth year, the study, one of the world’s largest annual surveys of corporate sustainability executives, had 711 professionals from BSR’s global member network surveyed on their organisation’s sustainability practices.
Sustainability professionals had the poorest levels of communication with colleagues in investor relations, with which 37 per cent were engaged, human resources (34 per cent) R&D (32 per cent) marketing (28 per cent), and finance (16 per cent)
Past results indicate these levels are decreasing, with each percentage dropping between two and 14 points since the 2012 survey.
“The trend toward weaker engagement between sustainability functions and core functions such as finance, marketing, HR, investor relations, and R&D, is concerning. Not only is engagement limited with these strategic areas, but collaboration between them and sustainability teams has declined—in some cases by a significant margin,” GlobeScan CEO Chris Coulter said.
“While there is a clear need for external collaboration, there is an equally important case to be made for greater internal collaboration.”
The focus of the CSR and Sustainability Communications of respondents proved equal in terms of internal and external focus.
Continued high levels of engagement were evident between sustainability and corporate communications departments, with the majority having said they engage regularly with corporate communications (75 per cent), public affairs (66 per cent), supply chain (64 per cent) and the CEO’s office (59 per cent).
The report said the top barrier to doing so was convincing leadership of sustainability’s value and changing management’s mentality.
Respondents designated sustainability integration as the single most important leadership challenge for business today, with 62 per cent in agreement. This dwarfed the next most frequently cited, convincing investors about the value of sustainability, which accrued 28 per cent support.
Only roughly one fifth of respondents (21 per cent) said they had been able to fully integrate sustainability into their core business.
Read the full report here.