Firms 'making headway in sustainable growth drive'
Dubai, September 8, 2013
Companies committed to the United Nations Global Compact - the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative - are moving from good intentions to significant actions, said a report.
The Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013 is based on survey responses from nearly 2,000 companies across 113 countries.
It provides a snapshot of the actions taken by businesses to embed responsible practices into their strategies, operations and culture.
According to the report, companies indicate that they see the big picture of how addressing sustainability issues - from human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, to broader societal goals such as education, poverty and health - is good both for business and the societies in which they have a presence.
However, while progress is being made, there is a long journey ahead for companies to fully embed responsible practices across their organisations and supply chain.
There is a clear gap between what companies "say" and what they "do".
Companies are making commitments, defining goals and setting policies at high rates, but still have much work to do to on the action steps.
For example, 65 per cent of respondents develop sustainability policies at the chief executive level, while only 35 per cent train managers to integrate sustainability into strategies and operations.
Another key finding is that size is the most significant factor in sustainability performance.
While small and large companies are committing to the UN Global Compact in equal numbers, large companies are significantly more likely to move beyond commitment to action across all issue areas.
However, the survey has uncovered an encouraging development - smaller companies are increasingly taking steps to catch up to their larger peers.
The report found that supply chains are a roadblock to improved performance.
Supplier sustainability ranks as the top barrier for large companies in their advancement to the next level of sustainability performance.
While a majority of companies have established sustainability expectations for their suppliers, they are challenged to track compliance and help suppliers reach goals, for example.
At least 70 per cent of Global Compact companies are advancing broad UN goals and issues, by aligning their core business strategy, tying social investment to core competencies, advocating the need for action and implementing partnership projects.
"While corporate leaders recognise the importance of global sustainability issues, there are still many challenges to be met," said UN Global Compact executive director Georg Kell. "Companies must put words into action - by implementing policies, measuring their effectiveness and reporting their progress publicly," he added.-TradeArabia News Service
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