How Committed Are Companies to Sustainability?

Sustainable LeadershipSustainabilityBoard and CEO AdvisorySustainability Officers
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December 06, 2022
2 min read
Sustainable LeadershipSustainabilityBoard and CEO AdvisorySustainability Officers
Executive Summary
CEO commitment to sustainability using a value creation approach and setting clear accountability metrics for executives are key aspects of an effective sustainability strategy.
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Companies are increasingly responsible for identifying, executing, and communicating sustainability related goals. From 2021 to 2022, there has been an increase from 10% to 17% of executives who stated their compensation is in part tied to their impact on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) goals and metrics. While this is a 70% increase overall and a step in the right direction, there is still much more progress needed to be made in integrating accountability for sustainability goals.

Executives need to fully grasp three key areas when setting sustainability goals and metrics:

  1. How committed is the organization’s CEO to sustainability outcomes?

  2. What is the primary driving force for the organization’s sustainability strategy? (e.g., value creation, brand management, impact reduction, or risk avoidance)

  3. What metrics are being used to measure sustainability commitment among leadership? (e.g., compensation, internal and external working groups, or products/services redesigned with sustainability in mind)

In this series, we delve into research from the Russell Reynolds Associates’ 2021-2022 Global Leadership Monitor and 2021 Divides and Dividends to help organizations in different geographic regions and industries build and maintain effective sustainability strategies for the future.


  • Asia (China/Hong Kong)
  • Americas (United States)
  • Europe (United Kingdom and Germany)
  • Oceania (Australia)


  • Consumer
  • Financial Services
  • Healthcare
  • Industrial/Natural Resources
  • Technology
  • Professional Services



2021/2022 Global Leadership Monitor
The Global Leadership Monitor is an annual online survey of executives and non-executives. The Global Leadership Monitor tracks key threats to organizational health and leadership preparedness to face them, as well as indicators of confidence in leadership, and leaders' engagement and career aspirations.

All data has been weighted by GDP to create a more representative share of business contribution from each market. Not all percentages in charts add up to 100% as a result of rounding percentages and the decision in certain cases to exclude the display of certain sectors and “neither/nor,” “unsure,” “other,” “none of the above,” and “don’t know” responses.

Russell Reynolds Associates surveyed our global network of executives using an online/mobile survey in February and March of 2021, and in March of 2022.

2021 Divides and Dividends Research
The study was conducted with 9,500 employees and next-generation leaders in 11 growth and mature markets from April 16 to May 12, 2021.