Sustainability has become the watchword of our modern moment. Shareholders may withhold investment from firms that don’t center responsible environmental practices. Consumers demand sustainable goods and services, and an increasing share of workers seeking employment with firms that aim to address inequities.
Corporations large and small have promised to do their part, but are they? A new survey shows that the answer to that question depends largely on whom you ask. Executive search and management consultancy Russell Reynolds Associates interviewed hundreds of global employees and C-suite executives to plum the depths of the gulf between what companies say they are doing and how employees perceive their actions.
Here are a few key findings of the report, Divides and Dividends: Leadership Actions for a More Sustainable Future, which the firm released in January 2022:
- C-suite leaders in the U.S. are more likely than their global counterparts to say they are personally committed to advancing sustainability and that their organizations have made progress — 69 percent in the U.S. vs. a 51 percent global average. However, employees are less enthusiastic — only 31 percent of U.S. workers agree.
- Top-level leaders are also more likely to cite corruption, abuse of power and gender inequality as issues affecting the future of society, while employees are more focused on climate change, pollution and the pandemic.
- Just over half of employees (53 percent) say their organizations are doing all they can do reduce climate impacts compared to 78 percent of C-suite leaders.
RRA’s surveyed 6,670 employees and 907 C-suite leaders in 11 countries — the U.S. and UK, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, France, Spain, India, Germany, China and Australia. Interviews were conducted in the spring of 2021.
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