A new report from Bain & Company, Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability, finds that only 2 percent of corporate sustainability programs achieve or exceed their aims, compared to 12 percent of other corporate transformation programs.
These are the results of a survey of more than 300 companies engaged in sustainability transformation and interviews with the heads of sustainability at companies that have been recognized for their sustainability results.
While corporate sustainability programs are often dismissed as ‘greenwashing’ campaigns, it turns out that even companies with the best of intentions fall victim to a few key ‘change traps’ that keep them from achieving their goals. Jenny Davis-Peccoud, who leads Bain’s Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility practice said,
Too often, sustainability gets stuck in first gear, while the need for change is accelerating. Once companies learn to navigate common roadblocks, they open the door to a transformational journey and the potential to leave a legacy, prompting companies to redefine what it means to be a leader in their industry.
Bain found that many employees do not see sustainability as a business imperative, with more than 60 percent of survey respondents citing public reputation as the key driver for sustainability change. Employees also deprioritize sustainability because of perceived business trade-offs and an absence of incentives. Lack of resources and competing priorities are the two top obstacles employees say threaten to derail sustainability programs, and less than a quarter of respondents say they are held accountable for sustainability through incentives.