Corporate Sustainability Leaders to Focus on Employee Engagement and Supply Chain in 2012

Study Identifies the Only Two Sustainability Ranking Schemes Relevant to a Majority of Companies

New York City (November 30, 2011) – Green Research, a New York-based corporate sustainability research and advisory firm, today released a new report based on its annual survey of sustainability executives. The report, a planning and benchmarking tool for sustainability executives, finds that companies will focus significant staff time and financial resources on two sustainability initiatives above all in the coming year: employee engagement and supplier sustainability performance. Believing engaged employees to be a key to high performance, 88 percent of companies will be investing significantly in employee engagement in 2012, while 73 percent will focus on improving the sustainability performance of their suppliers. “Companies have good reason to focus on employee engagement and supply chain,” said David Schatsky, author of the report. “Engaged employees make things happen. And the supply chain is where the bulk of the environmental impact is for many companies.”

The study analyzes the staffing and spending plans and high-priority initiatives of top sustainability executives at some of the world’s leading companies. It draws on an exclusive, in-depth survey of nearly 50 senior sustainability executives (three quarters of which are the senior-most sustainability executive/chief sustainability officer) at global companies. These are leading companies in a dozen industries across North America and Europe, 80 percent of which have revenues of $1B or more. “We think this is the highest-quality panel of respondents ever assembled for a survey focused on corporate sustainability tactics and strategies,” said Schatsky.

The report finds that sustainability spending will rise significantly in 2012. About a third of companies surveyed are adding staff to their sustainability departments in the coming year. And fifty percent of firms will increase spending on sustainability initiatives across their companies, compared to a quarter that will increase the budgets of their sustainability departments.  “Companies are funding various departments to support their sustainability initiatives, rather than centralizing those funds with sustainability teams,” said Schatsky. “The crucial role of sustainability teams, besides coordinating sustainability strategy, is to help other departments make the business case for those initiatives,” he added.

Other topics covered in the research include: carbon accounting, ecolabels, life cycle assessment, corporate reputation, sustainability reporting, environmental credits and offsets, and sustainability rankings. The report found that despite a proliferation of corporate sustainability rankings, only two rankings are relevant to a majority of companies: the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. Sixty-four percent of respondents consider CDP important to the company and its stakeholders; 53 percent say the same about the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. All other rankings are important to a small minority of companies and their stakeholders.

The study, “Annual Sustainability Executive Survey, 2012” is available online at To learn more about the research, please visit or contact David Schatsky at 646-783-8337 or


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Filed under carbon, Life Cycle Assessment, press release, Supply chain, sustainability

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