Stakeholders demand business leadership on climate

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See how senior execs are using advanced tech for sustainability and profit.

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Executives are well poised to address consumer, investor and employee demands for climate leadership.

Senior business leaders are adopting advanced technologies to drive business growth and sharpen their competitive edge. But there is ample opportunity to use those same innovations to elevate their sustainability goals, as revealed in the second annual Business and the Fourth Wave of Environmentalism report.

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Stakeholder pressure is rising...

Across every sector, business leaders are feeling the heat from all stakeholders to address their environmental impact. That includes consumers, investors, employees, regulators and businesses holding themselves to account.

All

Retail

Manufacturing

Energy

Tech

Finance

Yet commitment to sustainability varies widely

Across industries and from the CEO level to directors on the ground, commitment to sustainability strategies varies considerably. This could indicate disconnects between senior leadership and on-the-ground managers over the importance of using technology for sustainability.

Share of business leaders committed to these 4 key sustainability pillars in 2019.

Investment lags, creating an opportunity gap

And despite an overwhelming belief that emerging tech can boost both ROI and sustainability, only 59% of leaders are actually investing in tech for this purpose. This 33-point gap represents a critical opportunity for companies to deliver on their sustainability commitments and lead on climate — potentially gaining a competitive advantage with consumers and investors.

What business leaders believe (left) and their actual investment (right).

The energy and tech sectors pull ahead

When it comes to using Fourth Wave technology for sustainability, the energy and technology sectors have advanced the most, year over year. Both industries lead the charge in using data, AI, automation and sensors, and both see strong potential in how they can improve their environmental impact.

Share of companies using advanced technologies for sustainability.

Balancing profit with purpose

CEO engagement on issues such as health care, sexual harassment, gun control, immigration and now climate has been steadily on the rise, largely because of stakeholder pressure to act. Fortunately, using advanced tech to address environmental concerns can also be good for the bottom line.

Get the report for details on the technologies and opportunities that business leaders are exploring to close the gap between their sustainability commitments and their actual investments toward those goals.

Download the report [PDF]

Environmental Defense Fund commissioned KRC Research to survey 600 business leaders at the CEO, VP/SVP and director levels, at companies with $500 million to $5 billion in revenue. The sample was balanced across five industries: retail, manufacturing, energy, technology and finance.

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