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Results of an 8-year study reveal the secrets to sustainability

Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management conducted an 8-year study including interviews with 150 executives and 60,000 survey respondents from companies around the world to "assess the emergence of corporate sustainability across industries and elaborate the above eight critical insights that can help executives accelerate their company’s contribution to our common future."

Corporate Sustainability at a Crossroads MIT Sloan Mgt and Boston Consulting Group

Their culminating report "Corporate Sustainability at a

Crossroads" is worth putting on your list for this weekend.


8 Evidence-Based Factors That Drive Profitable Strategic Sustainability

Key Lesson #1: Set your sustainability vision and ambition: 90% of executives see sustainability as important, but only 60% of companies have a sustainability strategy.

Key Lesson #2: Focus on material issues:Companies that focus on material issues report up to 50% added profit from sustainability. Those that don’t focus on their material issues struggle to add value from their sustainability activities.

Key Lesson #3: Set up the right organization to achieve your ambition:Building sustainability into business units doubles an organization’s chance of profiting from its sustainability activities.

Key Lesson #4: Explore business model innovation

opportunities: Nearly 50% of companies have changed their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities.

Key Lesson #5: Develop a clear business case for sustainability: While 60% of companies have a sustainability strategy, only 25% have developed a clear business case for their sustainability efforts.

Key Lesson #6: Get the board of directors on board: 86% of respondents agreed that boards should play a strong role in their company’s sustainability efforts, but only 48% say their CEOs are engaged, and fewer (30%) agreed that their sustainability efforts had strong board-level oversight.

Key Lesson #7: Develop a compelling sustainability value-creation story for investors: 75% of executives in investment companies think sustainability performance should be considered in investment decisions, but only 60% of corporate executives think investors care about sustainability performance.

Key Lesson #8: Collaborate with a variety of stakeholders to drive strategic change: 90% of executives believe collaboration is essential to sustainability success, but only 47% say their companies collaborate strategically.

Source: D. Kiron, G. Unruh, N. Kruschwitz, M. Reeves, H. Rubel, and A.M. zum Felde, “Corporate Sustainability at a Crossroads: Progress Toward Our Common Future in Uncertain Times,” MIT Sloan Management Review, May 2017.

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