Several recent studies have highlighted how talent today is demanding responsible action from employers towards meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. This expectation is now extending to consumers as well.
In their recent ‘No Planet B Global Study’, Oracle captured responses from 11,000 global business leaders and consumers, including 1,000 Australians, on the progress of ESG goals. The results were unsurprisingly startling, to say the least.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents are willing to walk away from a brand that does not demonstrate serious commitment towards WSG, with the same percentage also willing to quit their current employer to join an organisation that is more focused on achieving their ESG goals.
The survey further found that over 75% of Australian respondents are willing to pay a premium for products and services from businesses that can clearly demonstrate their progress on environmental and social issues. A similar percentage stated that they would rather work for and invest in these companies.
The urgency towards meeting ESG goals is being acknowledged by leaders with 89% calling for sustainability and societal metrics to inform traditional business metrics and 90% seeking to boost investments in sustainability.
“It's never been more critical for businesses to invest in sustainability and ESG initiatives, as people don’t just want to hear about it – they’re looking for decisive action and are demanding more transparency and tangible results,” said John Leonard, Vice President of Applications, Oracle Australia.
“Business leaders understand the importance, yet often have the erroneous assumption that they need to prioritise either profits or sustainability. The truth is this is not a zero-sum game. The technology that can eliminate all the obstacles to ESG efforts is now available, and organisations that get this right can not only support their communities and the environment but also realise significant revenue gains, cost savings, and other benefits that impact the bottom line,” Leonard added.
85% of Australian business leaders believe sustainability and ESG programs are critical to the success of their organisations today, with the top four benefits identified as:
- Strengthening the brand (36%)
- Attracting new customers (35%)
- Increasing productivity (31%), and
- Improving supply chain management (31%)
Both business leaders and consumers are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) to help meet future goals, with 71% believing businesses would make more progress towards sustainability and social objectives with the help of AI.
In fact, 88% of Australian business leaders believe robots make better sustainability and social decisions than people, with 95% of the same group believing human bias and emotions hurt corporate sustainability efforts.
“The events of the past two years have put sustainability and social initiatives under the microscope, and people are demanding material change. While there are challenges to tackling these issues, businesses have an immense opportunity to change the world for the better,” Harvard Professional Development CIO advisor and instructor Pamela Rucker said.
“The results show that people are more likely to do business with and work for organisations that act responsibly toward our society and the environment. This is an opportune moment. While thinking has evolved, technology has as well, and it can play a key role in overcoming many of the obstacles that have held progress back,” she added.
A whopping 91% of Australians believe that sustainability and social factors are more important than ever. 91% of Australians also admit that society has not made enough progress, with a little over two-thirds (68%) stating that events since the start of the COVID pandemic have caused them to change their actions.
The three reasons for lack of progress were found to be:
- People being too busy with other priorities (44%),
- More emphasis on short-term profits over long-term benefits (41%) and
- Believing people are too lazy or selfish to help save the planet (40%)
A significant majority (85%) of consumers now want companies to demonstrate action and proof of progress. Just less than half of respondents are looking to businesses to make meaningful changes, believing they can contribute more than governments and individuals.
“Given Asia Pacific’s large share of the global population and emissions, climate vulnerabilities, and technological and financial strengths, the global fight against climate change will be won or lost in Asia Pacific,” Deloitte Asia Pacific sustainability and climate lead Will Symons said.
“It’s imperative that we take action on climate change and businesses have a narrowing window to lead the way.”