A new report shows positive direction of travel for corporate sustainability – and confirms insights from the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility work themes.

As a Brit, I have to confess that today – June 23rd – I am rather preoccupied by how my fellow countrymen and women are voting in the UK referendum on EU membership. In a timely reminder, however, not to be too parochial, today also marks the launch of the 2016 UN Global Compact (UNGC) /Accenture CEO study on Sustainability.

This triennial survey of business CEOs across the world now captures a decade of insight and evolving thinking and practice. Earlier surveys in 2007, 2010 and 2013 have tracked progress on how far businesses across the world were embedding sustainability. Today’s report finds 97% of CEO respondents believe that sustainability is important to the future success of their business; and is noticeably more upbeat than the last survey in 2013. There is a strong endorsement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a framework for business action on sustainability. 70% see the SDGs providing business with a clear framework to structure sustainability efforts.

These UNGC/Accenture CEO surveys have been an invaluable resource influencing the research, teaching and advisory work of Cranfield University School of Management’s Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility that I have the honour to direct. I have repeatedly used the insights from the surveys to help shape the Centre’s work programme. Indeed, the 2007 survey was presented at a business-NGO-public sector-academia scoping workshop in July 2007 at Cranfield School of Management which helped launch the Doughty Centre.

The UNGC/Accenture teams are to be congratulated on the availability of so much resource digitally at the point of launch including infographic, slide-deck and key points summary. Interesting just how accessible and visually attractive the resources have become in less than a decade. (Although I do have to confess that older, digital migrants like me are also hoping for a PDF and hard copy version of the material as well!)

I am pleased to see that a number of Doughty Centre work areas marry themes of the 2016 UNGC/Accenture CEO survey. These include the critical role of business coalitions (cf our “Corporate Responsibility Coalitions: The Past, Present & Future of Alliances for Sustainable Capitalism”); the insight that businesses typically pass through Stages of Corporate Sustainability Maturity (cf our “Business Critical: Understanding a Company’s Current and. Desired Stages of Corporate Responsibility Maturity) and the importance of business adopting a broader societal purpose.

A big congratulations and thank you to friends at Accenture Sustainability practice for this new report.

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