Companies Shifting from Commitment to Action in the Drive Towards a Sustainable Future

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Companies Shifting from Commitment to Action in the Drive Towards a Sustainable Future

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Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 7:00am

New York, 5 September 2013 /3BL Media/ - Today the United Nations Global Compact released its flagship Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013. Based on survey responses from nearly 2,000 companies across 113 countries, the report provides a snapshot of the actions taken by business to embed responsible practices into their strategies, operations and culture.

Findings show that companies committed to the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative – are moving from good intentions to significant actions. Companies indicate that they see the big picture of how addressing sustainability issues – from human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, to broader societal goals such as education, poverty and health – is good both for business and the societies in which they have a presence. However, while progress is being made, there is a long journey ahead for companies to fully embed responsible practices across their organizations and supply chain.

Following are key findings:

  • There is a clear gap between what companies “say” and what they “do”. Companies are making commitments, defining goals and setting policies at high rates, but still have much work to do to on the action steps. For example, 65 percent of respondents develop sustainability policies at the CEO level, while only 35 percent train managers to integrate sustainability into strategies and operations.
  • Size is the most significant factor in sustainability performance. While small and large companies are committing to the UN Global Compact in equal numbers, large companies are significantly more likely to move beyond commitment to action across all issue areas. However, the survey has uncovered an encouraging development:  smaller companies are increasingly taking steps to catch up to their larger peers.
  • Supply chains are a roadblock to improved performance. Supplier sustainability ranks as the top barrier for large companies in their advancement to the next level of sustainability performance. While a majority of companies have established sustainability expectations for their suppliers, they are challenged to track compliance and help suppliers reach goals, for example.
  • Everyone benefits from a better world. Seventy percent of Global Compact companies are advancing broad UN goals and issues, by aligning their core business strategy, tying social investment to core competencies, advocating the need for action, and implementing partnership projects.  

“While corporate leaders recognize the importance of global sustainability issues, there are still many challenges to be met,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “Companies must put words into action -- by implementing policies, measuring their effectiveness and reporting their progress publicly. The Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013 provides a resource on sustainability for Boards of Directors, business leaders and sustainability officers as they lead their organizations to a sustainable future.”

The UN Global Compact combines the universally accepted principles and convening power of the United Nations with the private sector’s solution-finding strengths. Through the initiative, over 8,000 businesses based in 145 countries are driving the discussion on corporate sustainability, and momentum continues to build as companies look for ways to align their actions with global development priorities.

Today’s report will provide the backdrop for the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2013: Architects of a Better World on 19-20 September in New York. As the premier UN event with business, the Leaders Summit will set the stage for business to help advance the global sustainable development agenda. This year’s event will bring together 1,000 chief executives and leaders from civil society, Government and the UN to unveil a global architecture to align business action with global priorities.

About the UN Global Compact 
The United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices. Launched in 2000, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, with over 12,000 signatories from business and key stakeholder groups based in 145 countries.

About the Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013

The Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013 looks at the state of corporate sustainability today – providing an in-depth review of the actions taken by companies around the world to embed responsible practices into their strategies, operations and culture. Based on responses to the Global Compact Annual Implementation Survey, the report provides a robust view on how businesses everywhere – and of all sizes – are adjusting their policies and practices to address today’s sustainability agenda.

The purpose of this report is to assess corporate action against the steps of the Global Compact Management Model – and look specifically at the range of elements considered critical to a comprehensive sustainability approach: management practices to embed sustainability throughout the organization and into the supply chain, and actions on the Global Compact principles. Companies’ efforts to contribute to global priorities through core business practices, philanthropy, advocacy and partnerships are also reviewed.

Media Contact

Kristen Coco

Public Affairs and Media Relations

UN Global Compact

+1 917-367-8566 / +1 917-288-0787


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