Forbes Research Debuts With Its First ‘State of Sustainability’ Report


Forbes Research, the new research division of the business magazine Forbes, has released its debut State of Sustainability survey that tapped C-suite leaders to get a pulse on corporate climate commitments and sustainability leanings.

“Today, more C-Suite leaders are looking to lead their business with purpose – solving the problems of people, planet and society in a way that’s still profitable,” Sherry Phillips, Chief Revenue Officer, Forbes, said in a statement.

“At Forbes, one way we are driving systemic change and living out our own purpose is by investing in proprietary research which arms key partners and audiences with insights into important issues, like sustainability. We believe that doing good is good for business, and our investments in this space can drive change forward,” Phillips said.

This report examines the progress businesses, and business leaders, are making towards their 2030 emissions reduction targets and 2050 net-zero sustainability goals on a global scale today,” said Janett Haas, SVP, Forbes Research and Forbes Insights, who led the research for the report. “Through this research, we’ve been able to identify gold-standard leadership practices for reaching sustainability goals as well as the challenges these leaders are facing to hit these important milestones.”

solar panels
Forbes’ new report looks at corporate sustainability. Courtesy Moritz Kindler | Unsplash

“The world’s businesses have contributed greatly to climate change, but they also possess the power to prevent, mitigate and adapt to its harms,” reads the survey.

Forbes Research says it surveyed 1,000 global C-suite leaders earlier this year from companies making at least $500 million in annual revenue. Forbes funds the research initiatives that it says will support its content and live events.

According to the recent findings, there was a 65 percent increase in just three years of companies that consider sustainability a top-three priority.

Topping the list of green initiative priorities: ensuring sustainable supply chains, decreasing emissions, and reducing plastic waste. Sixty-six percent of surveyed companies said they’re prioritizing supply chain sustainability over the next 12 months, while 61 percent are prioritizing ways to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and 38 percent are bringing an increased focus to reducing plastic.

The research also found that companies with chief sustainability officers (CSO) are more likely to hit emission reduction goals. More than 80 percent of companies that somewhat to completely agree they’re on track to halve emissions by 2030 have CSOs in place compared to 43 percent without.

Renewable wind power,
Renewable wind power, courtesy Efe Kurnaz | Unsplash

Survey participants were asked which technology they think will have the biggest impact on achieving global sustainability. The options included wind and solar power, carbon offsets, nuclear, hydrogen, and fusion energy. But the majority of respondents (69 percent) said they thought the technology that will have the greatest impact is still in development. That answer was followed by 62 percent that said carbon offsets, 61 percent for solar, followed by fusion (45 percent), wind (43 percent), hydrogen (38 percent), and nuclear (32 percent).

The energy sector led the pack of industries “highly confident” that their firm’s sustainability initiatives are helping the environment at 74 percent, followed by information technology at 62 percent, manufacturing at 60 percent, cities and communities at 59 percent, healthcare and life sciences at 58 percent, financial services and insurance and retail and consumer products both at 54 percent, transportation, logistics, and supply chain at 53 percent, agriculture and resources at 51 percent, and infrastructure and construction at 35 percent.

Forty-two percent of respondents said the biggest sustainability reporting and accountability challenge is a lack of clarity surrounding regulations and requirements. And only 20 percent of those surveyed said they agreed that their fellow C-suite counterparts are working to collaborate on sustainability goals. Only 15 percent of CxOs said they completely agree that they are on track to cut their emissions by half by 2030, and more than 33 percent said they were on track to fully transition to net zero by 2050.

“There is a lot of conversation at the moment around the state of sustainability and the role that companies should be playing in it,” said Ross Gagnon, Executive Director of Research at Forbes. “Forbes is driving systemic change in business, culture and society, and we think it’s important to tackle topics like sustainability through the Forbes lens to better understand how business leaders are approaching this area and provide actionable insights to move these initiatives forward.”

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