BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Poll 2011

Publication date
November 2011
Global Governance and the Role of Business
Responsible Business in Emerging Markets
Free/Pay for content
Results from the “BSR/GlobeScan State of Sustainable Business Poll 2011,” released at the BSR Conference 2011, show that global businesses remain highly committed to sustainability. For the second straight year, more than eight in 10 respondents are optimistic that global businesses will embrace CSR/sustainability as part of their core strategies and operations in the next five years. The poll resulted from a survey of nearly 500 business leaders drawn from BSR’s global network of nearly 300 member companies.

The BSR/Globescan survey also revealed that almost two thirds of respondents (62 percent) identified the integration of sustainability into core business operations as the most important leadership challenge over the next year. Other challenges include convincing investors that sustainability enhances value (30 percent), and planning for the long term (30 percent).

The business leaders surveyed cite human rights, climate change, workers’ rights, and water issues (in that order) as the top priorities for their companies’ CSR/sustainability efforts in the year ahead.

Human rights surpassed climate change this year for the first time, with 65 percent noting it as a priority. Climate change followed closely, with 63 percent saying it was a priority, and 61 percent saying workers’ rights were a priority. There was a sizable increase in interest around water availability/quality over the past 12 months; in this year’s survey, 54 percent noted it as a priority, up from 47 percent last year.

Respondents continue to acknowledge that the public does not have a high level of trust in business and identified three important actions companies should take to address this gap: “increasing the transparency of business practices” (55 percent); “measuring and demonstrating positive social and environmental impacts” (51 percent); and “creating innovative products and business models designed for sustainability” (42 percent, up significantly from 34 percent last year).

Respondents were also asked to pick the three areas where companies are demonstrating the most leadership today, and the three actions that will drive ongoing business success. “Measuring and demonstrating positive social and environmental impacts” was selected most often (40 percent); followed by “creating innovative products and business models designed for sustainability” (38 percent); and “responding promptly and effectively to accidents, product-quality issues, and other incidents” (38 percent).

In addition to being mentioned as a key element of business leadership, “creating innovative products and business models designed for sustainability” appeared as the most important driver of business success by far (70 percent).