Only four per cent of business revenue goes to sustainability efforts


A new study from Designit reveals that businesses across the globe are failing to address sustainability, despite every impetus to act.

Companies spend an average of just four per cent of revenue on sustainability according to the global study that highlights a gap between businesses spearheading positive change and those stalling for time in new study of corporate behaviours to tackle climate crisis.

‘Laggard’ companies are more likely to have responsibility for sustainable practices fall to a CSR role, whereas ‘leaders’ make it the CEO’s responsibility.

In the worst cases, 11 per cent of international businesses consider sustainability at board level only once each year. This compares to those companies deemed ‘leaders’ in sustainability that constantly review their strategies, with 78 per cent always including it on their quarterly boardroom agendas.

The Designit findings, compiled from 1,000 sustainability professionals with an influence on or responsibility/accountability for sustainability, ESG or corporate responsibility within large organisations, reveals that the most advanced businesses are much better at partnering and collaborating for greater value.

These businesses experience more benefits for their net zero efforts, and reference profitability as a driver for sustainability almost twice as much as the least advanced businesses (70 per cent and 38 per cent respectively).

Furthermore, CEOs at the most advanced businesses – those classified as ‘leaders’ – are 50 per cent more likely to have ultimate responsibility for sustainability, while ‘laggards’ are twice as likely to allocate ultimate sustainability responsibility to someone in a CSR role.

By covering all levels of maturity in corporate sustainability practices, the Leaders and Laggards analysis assesses the behavioural and attitudinal distinctions between the most advanced businesses (‘leaders’ representing 12 per cent of the total respondent size), and those falling behind (15 per cent are ‘laggards’).

Designit hopes that highlighting the behaviours of leaders against laggards can lessen the gap between the two and allow less advanced businesses to design effective sustainable transitions that move beyond the superficial. This entails applying strategic design across the entirety of a business, from organisational structure to product development.

“Our findings show that all businesses – no matter where they stand on the road to improved environmental practices – face multiple internal and external challenges that design-led innovation is specially prepared to tackle,” says Miguel Sabel Pereira, Designit’s European head of sustainability.

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