Survey reveals 69% of CEOs view sustainability as a growth opportunity

MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2024

Sixty-nine per cent of CEOs view sustainability as a leading business growth opportunity in 2024, according to a recent survey of CEOs and senior executives by Gartner, Inc.

"As CEOs reset their long-term strategies, environmental sustainability remains one of the leading factors that will frame competition," said Kristin Moyer, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner.

"Despite much corporate greenwash, recent economic conditions could have triggered a reversion to environmental, social and governance (ESG) cynicism and a refocus on profit at all costs. However, the overall commitment of CEOs appears unwavering."

The 2024 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey was conducted from July to December 2023 among over 400 CEOs and other senior business executives in North America, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and South Africa, across different industries, revenue and company sizes.

"Sustainability consistently remains a top 10 business priority, surpassing even productivity and efficiency this year," said Moyer.

"Leaders and investors know environmentally cavalier corporate behaviour is a mid-to-long-term risk to business results, with a big price to be paid when environmental factors are ignored as externalities. However, smart CEOs realize big sustainability challenges create new areas of business opportunity."

Survey reveals 69% of CEOs view sustainability as a growth opportunity

Achieving Sustainable Business Growth

According to Gartner's annual survey, the leading ways CEOs are using sustainability to drive business growth are through sustainable products and services (33%); sustainable business practices (18%); stakeholder engagement (18%); and decarbonization (18%). Digital investments and innovation is ranked ninth at 8% (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Environmental Sustainability to Drive Business Growth

Survey reveals 69% of CEOs view sustainability as a growth opportunity

Source: Gartner (June 2024)

"Digital technology can accelerate progress toward sustainability goals, going beyond compliance to help enterprises reach targets, enable new business models and unleash revenue streams," said Moyer.

According to Gartner, digital technology plays an important role in driving both financial and sustainability outcomes. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT), data and analytics can optimize wind turbines, which reduces costs and greenhouse gas emissions. AI and IoT can reduce food loss costs and waste; whereas a circular economy marketplace can create new revenue and reduce waste.

Survey reveals 69% of CEOs view sustainability as a growth opportunity

Climate Change Driving Agenda

The Gartner survey revealed that 54% of CEOs say their businesses are affected by changing weather patterns, at least moderately. Over half (51%) acknowledge changing weather patterns are causing them to plan changes to the way they operate or have already done so.

"CEOs see that climate change is causing weather pattern shifts that are directly impacting their business operations already," said Moyer. "Those operations must be adapted, with technology playing a vital role in driving these changes, especially in the dynamics of supply chains."

The Gartner survey revealed the biggest impact of changing weather patterns cited by CEOs is operating dynamics (30%), particularly changes to logistics, such as warehousing, timing and routing of deliveries. Relocations (including nearshoring) comes in second (14%), followed by automation, technology and data (13%).