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Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point

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In This Article
  • This comprehensive research report follows up on sustainability trends identified in an earlier preview article published by BCG and MIT Sloan Management Review.

  • This special report details the survey results, more fully examines the implications of those findings for companies, and shares three lessons for senior leaders.

  • The majority—70 percent—of executives surveyed said that their companies have made sustainability a permanent fixture on the management agenda.

  • Yet, sustainability still has ground to gain: overall, the practice ranks just eighth in importance among other management-agenda items.

 

The majority—70 percent—of executives surveyed by the third annual Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study conducted jointly by The Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review said that their companies have made sustainability a permanent fixture on the management agenda. These and other findings—and their implications for companies and lessons for managers—are detailed in Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point, a research report published in MIT Sloan Management Review. This special report follows up on sustainability trends identified in an earlier preview article published in the Winter 2012 issue of the Review.

February 2012
Interactive: How Business Views Sustainability
Most executives view sustainability as a strategic priority, but their companies’ actions and initiatives vary widely by industry.
Several findings indicate that sustainability is gaining ground: About two-thirds of the nearly 3,000 executives surveyed from the commercial sector said that sustainability was necessary to being competitive in today’s market. And nearly one-third said that sustainability activities contributed to profitability—we call the companies that they lead “Harvesters.” This research report details the characteristics that those organizations share in common.



Still, the study’s findings also indicate that sustainability has more ground to gain: for example, while sustainability has made it onto many management agendas, responses indicate that it ranks just eighth in importance among other agenda items. Nonetheless, the study provides evidence that an increasing number of companies are taking sustainable business practices seriously even when the business case for such practices isn’t yet obvious. It is also reveals that many companies are making striking commitments to sustainability and some are already seeing profits emerging as a result.

About the Authors
  • Executive Editor, MIT Sloan Management Review’s Big Ideas initiatives
  • Partner & Managing Director
    Global Leader, Strategy Practice
  • Geneva
  • Managing Editor and Special Projects Manager, MIT Sloan Management Review