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Sustainability becomes part of core business

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Companies see the benefit of operating in a sustainable manner according to new survey. Sustainability is not seen as a separate track, but becoming a natural part of operations.
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 Luca Crisciotti, CEO of DNV GL - Business Assurance
Luca Crisciotti, CEO of DNV GL – Business Assurance

In DNV GL’s recent ViewPoint customer panel survey, conducted in collaboration with EY and GfK Eurisko, 1,524 respondents from a wide set of industries and geographies flagged their opinions on sustainability and how it is integrated into their business.

The survey showed that close to 44% have incorporated sustainability into their overall business strategy, 55% have invested in initiatives during the last three years in order to better integrate sustainability into their operations and 60% have a clear policy for how to achieve this task. 

Considerable benefits

An increasing number of companies have realized that sustainability is not a fad. It is not something that is added as a separate track to normal business operations. 

Stakeholders, such as customers, NGOs and governments, are placing increasing demands on the business community. Concerns about natural resources are rising. Consumers are demanding more transparency and traceability for the products they consume. 

Operating in a sustainable manner both benefits wider society and provides a company with significant market-related, financial and regulatory advantages.

Almost 80% of the survey's respondents reported that the benefits of integrating sustainability into business operations equalled or were greater than the costs. And it should not come as a surprise that market-positioning benefits, such as improved customer relations and enhanced brand reputation, topped the list of positive outcomes (41%). Customers reward brands that care.

Regulatory compliance (32%), financial effects (27%) and improved relations with other stakeholders (20%) were also highlighted as key benefits.   

Overcoming the barriers

However, the fact that sustainability is rising on the corporate agenda does not mean that turning the concept into tangible actions is straightforward and without obstacles. 

One in four respondents flagged a short-term focus as the main obstacle. Likewise, a quarter reported a lack of management awareness and insufficient staff competencies as key hurdles to attaining the long-term objective.

In order to achieve results, management must be committed to prioritizing time and resources, building internal awareness and competence and establishing effective support mechanisms. The adoption of management systems was flagged as the most important initiative to support integration processes, as indicated by 53 % of the respondents. 

Says Luca Crisciotti, CEO of DNV GL – Business Assurance, “ There is an increasing, growing need for companies and organizations to integrate sustainability into their core business. This means making sustainability principles a primary driver in determining business strategies, both integrating them into long-term policies and objectives and shaping operational processes and procedures. By enabling sustainable business performance, companies are better equipped to meet stakeholder demands, drive change and build long-term value.