Survey: Sustainability sparks strong feelings among employees
Employees feel more strongly about environmental sustainability than their employers, according to a survey of more than 200 brands and agencies conducted by marketing website The Drum and marketing agency gyro.
The report, Mind the Gap: How Marketers Feel About Sustainability, found that while the vast majority (83 percent) of marketers feel a moral imperative to incorporate sustainability practices into business, only 38 percent of the companies they work for have a defined sustainability strategy.
For purposes of defining “sustainability,” the report acknowledges that the word has many definitions and methodologies used to measure it. However, it says similar themes can be found in all definitions. These include being environmentally responsible, fostering transparency and strong ethical values, and creating a sustainable future.
The report also highlights several key business benefits to integrating sustainability into business practices. Fifty-two percent of marketers feel that investing in sustainability will positively influence the perception of their brand. Meanwhile, 53 percent of marketers are happy to collaborate with competitors around common sustainability issues and 41 percent agree that sustainability initiatives will be a key source of competitive advantage over the next five years.
“While marketers already understand the soft benefits of sustainability, they are also starting to see the hard returns,” gyro global chief strategy officer Patrick O’Hara said in a statement. “Our survey shows that business people – especially marketers – are increasingly aware that sustainability has hard business benefits including greater brand favorability, operational efficiencies and competitive advantage.”
The findings echo a survey released by consulting firm Pure Strategies in which respondents reported gaining about $800 million from increased sales and $800 million in manufacturing cost savings from sustainability efforts. They also reported additional earnings in risk reduction, productivity gains, and enhanced growth opportunities adding up to billions in value.
Additionally, consumers are willing to pay more for “sustainable” products and services, according to two other studies published in January. One of these, released by Unilever, found a third of consumers (33 percent) are now choosing to buy from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good.
Unilever says this represents a potential untapped opportunity of $1,024 billion out of a $2.7 trillion total market for sustainable goods.
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