Sustainable growth: 14th Annual Global CEO Survey

June 2011
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Sustainable growth: 14th Annual Global CEO Survey

At a glance

PwC surveyed more than 1,200 senior executives to share their perspectives on "good growth: - growth that is financially, environmentally, and socially more sustainable. From their responses, five key challenges emerged.

The leap between understanding sustainability issues and knowing what to do about them is a big one. While long-term strategies anchor objectives in place for more sustainable growth, management teams still need to know what to do today to meet those goals.

To find out more, we asked more than 1,200 senior executives who compete on the global stage to share their perspectives on what they are focused on today to promote “good growth”—growth that is financially, environmentally, and socially more sustainable.

Where are companies sharpening their sustainability agendas over the next three years?
From the responses, five key challenges emerged:

  • How do we tap into growing customer sentiment about environmental and corporate responsibility practices?
  • Where are the opportunities to develop more ecofriendly products and services?
  • To what extent do we need to work more effectively with governments on issues involving global risks, including climate change?
  • How do we protect against natural resource depletion that could threaten growth prospects?
  • If we have the right ecoinnovation strategy, how do we attract the right people to deliver it?

The role of strategic planning and measurement 
These areas of focus will require collaboration from a range of minds, both inside and outside company walls. Ecoinnovation, for example, often requires collaboration from multiple industries. Understanding customer need may require new or different practices in locating opportunities along the value chain.

For every company, the answers start with strategic discipline – how well strategies are designed so that they work together to create value. This means having a coordinated approach for assessing operating models, the innovation pipeline, and environmental and corporate responsibility practices, among other things.

What to look for
When considering the sustainability agenda, company leaders should look for common signs of strategic planning, including:

  • Assessments of the company’s unique sustainability-related risks and opportunities
  • Identification of options
  • Market analyses
  • Assessments of public sector incentives to determine the viability and potential of proposed strategies
  • Development of a realistic strategic vision
  • Implementation plan design
  • Communications strategy and measurement systems

Careful assessment can reveal the right focus and pace to realize the most value from company efforts.