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In collaboration with


The Survey
Questions and
Access the full online report
Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point at
S p e c i a l R e p o r t S U STAI N A B ILIT Y N EA R S A TIPPI N G POI N T

The Survey:
About the

Questions and
For the third year, MIT
Sloan Management Re-
view, in partnership with
the Boston Consulting
Group, conducted a global

survey, to which more than
4,000 executives and man-
agers responded. The
analysis in this report is
based on a smaller sub-
sample of 2,874
respondents from com-
mercial enterprises, with
1. What are the primary business challenges 4. Is the term sustainability concrete respondents from aca-
facing your organization over the next two anduseful? demic, governmental and
years? (Please select your top three) nonprofit organizations ex-
Yes cluded. The respondents
Innovating to achieve competitive differentiation organizations are located
No, but it is the best term available around the world; more
Growing revenue than 40% do business in at
No, I would suggest (please use commas to least three regions, led by
Reducing costs and increasing efficiencies separate multiple suggestions) Europe, North America and
Profitably acquiring and retaining customers Australia/New Zealand. A
Responding effectively to disruption of our wide variety of industries
are represented. The sam-
business model 5. Has your organizations business model ple was drawn from a
Increasing operating speed and adaptability changed as a result of sustainability? number of sources, includ-
ing MIT alumni, MIT Sloan
Attracting, retaining and motivating talented Management Review sub-
people Yes
scribers, BCG clients and
Responding effectively to threats and No other interested parties.
In addition to these sur-
opportunities of sustainability I do not know vey results, we interviewed
Responding effectively to threats and academic experts and sub-
opportunities of globalization ject matter experts from a
number of industries and
6. Which of the following factors have led disciplines to understand
to changes in your business model as a the practical issues facing
2. What factors does your organization result of sustainability considerations? organizations today. Their
consider as part of sustainability? (Please choose all that apply) insights contributed to a
richer understanding of the
(Please choose all that apply) data and provided exam-
Resource scarcity (e.g., increased commodity ples and case studies to
Increased emphasis on long-term perspective prices and price volatility) illustrate our findings.
Economic sustainability of the organization As a matter of termi-
Owners demands for broader value creation nology, we used
Corporate social responsibility issues (i.e., more than profits) sustainability to cover
Employee health and well-being Customers willing to pay a premium for environmental, economic
and societal topics. Re-
Environmental issues sustainable offering spondents had a similar
Customer health and well-being Legislative / political pressure view. We asked respon-
dents What factors
Safety issues Meeting demands of existing employees does your organization
None of these consider as part of sustain-
Customers prefer sustainable products / ability? and asked them
services to choose all that applied
Competitors increasing commitment to from a list of options. A
3. Is pursuing sustainability-related strategies clear majority selected
sustainability economic sustainability
necessary to be competitive?
Maintaining license to operate (62.1%). Environmental
and corporate social re-
Yes Stricter requirements from partners along the sponsibility issues,
No, but will be in the future value chain increased emphasis on
long-term perspective and
No Competing for new talent employee health and well-
Do not know None of the above being were in the next tier.


S p e c i a l R e p o r t S U STAI N A B ILIT Y N EA R S A TIPPI N G POI N T

7. How has your organizations com- 11. What are the greatest benefits Increased employee productivity
mitment to sustainability in terms to your organization in addressing Reduced costs due to energy efficiency
of management attention and invest- sustainability? (Please choose up to
ment changed in the past year? three reasons) Reduced costs due to materials or
waste efficiencies
Significantly increased Access to new markets Reduced risk
Somewhat increased Better innovation of business models There are no benefits
Business as usual / No changes and processes

Somewhat decreased Better innovation of product /

service offerings 13. Overall, has your organization
Significantly decreased developed a clear business case
Enhanced stakeholder / investor relations or proven value proposition for
Do not know
Improved brand reputation addressing sustainability?
Improved perception of how well
company is managed Yes
8. How do you expect your organiza-
tions commitment to sustainability Improved regulatory compliance Have tried to, but too difficult to develop
in terms of management attention Improved ability to attract and retain No
and investment to change in the top talent Unsure
year ahead?
Increased competitive advantage
Will increase significantly Increased margins or market share
Will increase somewhat due to sustainability positioning
Business as usual / No changes
Will decrease somewhat 12. Regarding sustainability in your organization, does your organization have
Will decrease significantly Used to
Used to have have but
Do not know but now no longer No but Do
embedded in our committed coming not
Yes organization to soon No know

9. What do you believe is the status of Strong CEO commitment

sustainability on the agenda of your to sustainability
organizations top management? A chief sustainability
officer (CSO)
Already a permanent fixture and core A separate function
strategic consideration for sustainability
On the agenda permanently, but not core Responsible person
Temporarily on the agenda, but not core for sustainability per
business unit
Excluded from the agenda, because
viewed as a passing fad Clear communication
of responsibility of
Never considered for the agenda sustainability
Separate sustainability
10. When did the topic of sustainability
first appear on your organizations Company / operational
management agenda? (Please pick an KPIs related to
approximate year range from scroll- sustainability
down list) Personal KPIs related
to sustainability
Link between sustainabil-
ity performance and
financial incentives


14. How significant an obstacle is each of the following to evaluating the business 20. Name the organizations that you
case for sustainability-related strategies? (Please rate on a scale of 1 to 5, where look to as world-class in addressing
1 = Not at all significant and 5 = Very significant) sustainability. (Name 3-10 companies)
1 2 3 4 5
Opposition from executives or influential individuals 21. In which country do you currently
Difficulty quantifying intangible effects of sustainability reside?
strategies (e.g., brand reputation, employee hiring,
retention and productivity)
22. In which country is your organiza-
Difficulty predicting customer response to sustainability
tions head office located?
Lack of individual financial incentives for considering
sustainability 23. Which of the following best
Difficulty capturing comprehensive metrics about describes your current position?
sustainability impact of operations
Difficulty quantifying sustainability-related risks C-suite executive (e.g. CEO, CSO, CFO)
Lack of model/framework for incorporating sustainability
in business cases Academic
Competing priorities Non-profit executive
Uncertainty about future carbon pricing Government staff
15. In general, how do you believe your 17. How strong is your personal
organizations sustainability-related commitment to sustainability?
actions/decisions have affected its 24. Which of the following best de-
profitability? Among my top priorities scribes your organizations industry?
In line with other priorities Classification Sub-classification
Added to profit [ISIC codes]
Lower than other priorities
Broken even neither adding to Academia / higher
No commitment education
nor subtracting
Subtracted from profit
Do not know 18. Could a difference in sustainability
commitment between you and your
Conglomerate /
current, or potential future, employer
16. Has sustainability caused your be a reason to change or not choose a
company to increase its collaboration Construction
with any of the following? Consulting / Profes-
(Please choose all that apply) Yes sional services
No Consumer products
NGOs Energy and utilities
Do not know
Governments / policy makers Financial services
Industry associations Healthcare
19. Which regions do you look to Industrial goods and
as world-class in addressing sustain- machinery retail
Customers Industrial services
ability? (Choose all that apply)
Internal business units across Media and
geographies Africa North America entertainment
Internal business units across functions Asia-Pacific South America Non-profit
Suppliers Public sector /
Australia / None government
Contractors New Zealand
Technology and tele-
Local communities affected by Europe communications
operations along the supply chain Other
Middle East
None of the above


S p e c i a l R e p o r t S U STAI N A B ILIT Y N EA R S A TIPPI N G POI N T

25. What is your organizations total 26. In which region does your organization
headcount? primarily conduct business?

<50 employees Global primary business spread across

50 - 200 employees three or more regions

200 - 1,000 employees Africa

1,000 - 10,000 employees Asia-Pacific

10,000 - 100,000 employees Australia / New Zealand

>100,000 employees Europe

Middle East
North America
South America


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