Whether companies are fulfilling their promises of decreasing carbon emissions for the sake of the environment or for increasing profits and appeasing the public is up for interpretation. Nonetheless, companies are taking the necessary steps to go green.
According to a survey from tech analyst firm Gartner, 87% of business leaders aim to increase their company's sustainability measures. And according to the surveyed executives, 80% say they're going green because of pressure from customers.
Following pressure from customers, 60% of executives say they feel pressured by investors to beef up sustainability initiatives, and 55% attribute this pressure to regulators. But a looming recession and political interventions that affect the prices of materials and energy are factors when a company considers its sustainability measures.
The top areas where survey respondents said sustainability programs are mitigating cost increases are energy consumption, business travel, and customer transactions.
"Sustainability enables businesses to cope with disruption," said Kristin Moyer, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner, said in a press release. "Economic uncertainty, geopolitical conflict, and escalating materials and energy costs are forcing businesses to re-examine all forms of expenditure."
"This focus on essentialism, in combination with increasing stakeholder desire to see progress on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, creates new opportunities for organizations to grow while mitigating cost and risk."
Companies are particularly interested in investing in sustainability because it shields them financially from disruption, according to 86% of surveyed executives. Sustainability initiatives also decrease business costs, particularly energy consumption (65%) and business travel (42%).
Executives also look at sustainability as a means to innovate, as 42% of surveyed respondents say sustainability increases differentiation and enterprise growth via sustainable products.
But it's still essential for companies to invest the time and money that's necessary to adhere to their sustainability goals. Moyer warns of greenwashing, a deceitful marketing strategy that makes customers perceive a product or company as environmentally friendly when it's not.
"Investing in sustainability can support product differentiation but be wary of greenwashing risks – there are no shortcuts to sustainable growth," Moyer said.
"Focus on product attributes that are important to customers and how these priorities shape buying decisions. When viewed through a strategic lens, sustainability can provide a ray of sunshine for businesses during difficult market conditions."