Sustainability and Clean Tech Meet the ‘Perfect Storm’ as Sector Surges


Hunt Scanlon Media | August 16, 2021

The Hunt Scanlon Media article, "Sustainability and Clean Tech Meet the ‘Perfect Storm’ as Sector Surges," features findings from our joint report with the United Nations Global Compact, "Leadership for the Decade of Action​." The article is excerpted below.

No one was saying it in so many words, but the report that the United Nations Global Compact and Russell Reynolds Associates released last year was aimed at nothing less than helping to save the world. Six years ago, leaders from 193 nations at an historic UN summit adopted 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that involved everything from eradicating hunger to taking urgent action to overcome climate change. They were big, tough, imposing goals, with a deadline of 2030. With but nine years to go, the world remains far from meeting these objectives.

One big reason that progress is lagging is the contrast between what business leaders say about their commitment to sustainability and what they have actually delivered. For example, a previous study showed that 92 percent of CEOs said they believe integration of sustainability will be important to the future success of their business. Yet only 48 percent of chief executives said they were implementing sustainability in their operations. Only 21 percent of CEOs, meanwhile, said they believe that business is playing a critical role in achieving the SDGs.

And when it came to recruitment, Russell Reynolds Associates analyzed close to 4,000 role specifications for senior executive hiring and board appointments for 2019. Fifteen percent of executive and non-executive role specifications referenced sustainability (up from nine percent in 2015), but in only four percent was sustainability experience or mindset an actual requirement for those jobs.

So it was that the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and Russell Reynolds Associates joined forces to find out how organizations can make sustainability “core to the DNA” of their leadership teams. In addition to extensive background analysis, 55 “sustainability pioneers” were interviewed in-depth for the report, “Leadership for the Decade of Action.”

These trailblazers were chief executive officers and board members from a wide range of businesses around the world who were focusing on, and making progress toward, sustainability goals and were seeing commercial results. Among them: Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever; Alfred Kelly, chair and CEO of VISA; Ann Cairns, vice chair of Mastercard; David Ricks, chair and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company; Hans Vestberg, chair and CEO of Verizon Communications; and Brad Smith, president of Microsoft.

Read the full article here.

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Sustainability and Clean Tech Meet the ‘Perfect Storm’ as Sector Surges