C-suite leaders in India are most confident about sustainability progress with 57% saying their organisation has a sustainability strategy that has been acted upon and clearly communicated, versus 43% globally, finds a study. 61% believe their CEO is personally committed to sustainability and organisational progress has been made, versus 51% globally, according to the report by Russell Reynolds Associates - global leadership advisory and search firm.
There is a significant opportunity for more leaders to recognise the potential of sustainability to unlock value for people, planet, and profit. 45% C-suite leaders in India are candid in saying their sustainability approach is mainly driven by brand management concerns—that is, they want to be seen as socially responsible and reputable or to use sustainability for competitive differentiation.
29% of C-suite leaders in India say their sustainability efforts are motivated by value creation—that is, they want to have a positive impact by creating new sustainable products/services, or by creating opportunities and access for disadvantaged or underserved groups.
India was the third most likely of all markets studied to cite value creation as a primary driver of their company’s sustainability strategy, behind Brazil and Mexico, finds the study titled “Divides and Dividends: Leadership Actions for a More Sustainable Future”.
Vijuraj Eranazhath, a consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates, said: “In many ways, India’s record on sustainability is a source of pride… Sustainability must become a fundamental strand of business strategy, not an add-on to business as usual.”
“Our research shows that while business leaders in India are firmly committed to sustainability action, many are running into myriad challenges on their sustainability journeys, from bureaucracy and a lack of organisational investment to short-term pressures from investors. It’s also comforting to note that next-gen leaders in India seem to be getting a lot more exposure to strategic sustainability initiatives vis-a-vis the global average – which sets up Indian businesses well for the future.” Vijuraj adds.
Business leaders face numerous obstacles
C-suite leaders must overcome many challenges on their sustainability journeys, suggest the study. A lack of organisational investment is the top barrier to embedding sustainability across business strategy, cited by 51% of C-suite leaders in India. Other challenges include short-term pressures from investors (47%) and organisational complexity (46%), the study adds.
Next-generation leaders are powering sustainability activities in India with 70% of them in India have taken on three or more job responsibilities in the past two years to improve environmental and social outcomes—well ahead of the global average (40%) and their APAC neighbours (49%).
Russell Reynolds Associates fielded a survey in 11 growth and mature markets across three job levels. The 9,501 business leaders surveyed were from medium to large size businesses and represent C-suite leaders including CEOs, next-generation leaders who report directly to the CEO or other c-suite executives and employees at multiple levels that do not report to the c-suite.