Next-Generation Leaders at the Vanguard

Next-generation leaders are a critical cohort in advancing the sustainability agenda. Are US organizations investing enough in their future executives?


US Insights Introduction     All Local Insights     Global Insights


US next-generation leaders are poised to ascend the C-suite with significantly more sustainability experience than their global peers.

In the past two years, 53% of future executives have taken on three or more job responsibilities to improve environmental or social outcomes—ahead of the global average (40%). The US sits only behind India (70%) and Brazil (58%) when it comes to preparing their future executives to take over the sustainability mantle.

Workers who have taken on 3+ job responsibilities to improve and social outcomes (US)

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Importantly, this cadre of future executives has solid experience in areas that are most critical to embedding sustainability across business strategy. When asked about the specific roles they were involved in, 41% said identifying new approaches to make products or workplace more sustainable, while 35% said creating or redesigning products or services to reduce their environmental impact.

In the past two years have your job responsibilities included any of the following ways to improve environmental and social outcomes? (US)

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At the same time, however, organizations must be mindful of the sustainability attitudes they instill in their future executives. We know that many C-suite leaders still view sustainability as a brand threat to be managed, rather than a driver of value for people, planet and profit. If these outdated assumptions filter down the organization, future executives are unlikely to gain real-world experience in driving transformative sustainability outcomes. This risk must be managed.


Action Items

  • Make sustainability-related responsibilities a core element of next-generation leaders’ roles and put in place measures to enable, empower and reward them for driving sustainability outcomes.

  • Hold C-suite executives and next-generation leaders accountable for sustainability outcomes across day-to-day management practices and hiring and promotion approaches, with 360-degree evaluations that measure both performance and behaviors.



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