Company News » Mixed message hampers sustainability drive

The lack of a single industry or government benchmark to help businesses
measure their sustainability performance is holding back progress on the green
agenda, according to a recent survey. Two-thirds of the large-cap UK companies
questioned by financial software provider, Oracle, believe this to be true and
half feel a lack of understanding of environmental issues prevents employees
from making informed decisions on sustainability.

The report, Sustainable Performance Management, highlighted that the majority
of companies (92%) believe sustainability is a high priority business issue, 68%
are working to improve energy efficiency and 47% are hoping to report daily on
their carbon emissions in the future. While the figures look good, there are
mixed messages coming from businesses on how they can achieve their
sustainability targets.

All too easy
The downside is that companies are focusing on what the report labels “easy
wins” ­ changes that can be made quickly with no structural change to the
organisation. For example, 71% of respondents are lowering energy usage and 49%
are implementing a recycling scheme, but just 26% are educating employees on

Frank Buytendijk, vice president of performance and management at Oracle,
believes companies need to do more in the long term to tackle sustainability
with real changes to the way a company operates as a whole. He believes
companies should aim to work through what he calls the four stages of business
maturity; PR, risk, topline and bottom line.

“It all starts with PR ­ companies wanting to be seen to be doing the right
thing. Businesses then start to think about risk management and see where there
is a way for the business to integrate sustainability. Then cost savings
affecting your bottom line and, finally, your topline where you can end up
helping your customers by being green,” he says.