Sustainability Still in Corporate Mindset

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Sustainability Still in Corporate Mindset

More than half of corporate marketers and communicators believe that their organizations will increase their involvement in environmental sustainability initiatives during the next two to three years, according to a survey conducted by the Chicago-based American Marketing Association (AMA) and global communications firm Fleishman-Hillard, which is based in St. Louis. In addition, half of those surveyed believe that economic realities will encourage the adoption of such practices.

The findings come from a January/February online survey of more than 270 corporate communications professionals, primarily those holding marketing or public relations jobs.

Nearly one in six (58 percent) believe their companies will place more emphasis on developing corporate sustainability opportunities in the months ahead, despite economic realities.

But how those companies will talk about these efforts is uncertain. More than half don’t expect to increase communications about sustainability. About 43 percent say their companies will increase marketing of these programs because it’s the right thing to do, customers are asking for more information, it’s supportive of the corporate culture, and because sustainability offers a clear and distinct business advantage.

More than half of those surveyed believe that sustainability is an essential element of their company’s reputation right now. Nearly three-quarters believe that corporate reputation, corporate culture and technological advancements will drive sustainability.

Additional key findings from the study include:

-- More marketers and communicators (53 percent) define sustainability as the need to balance financial, human and natural resources for the long-term benefit of business and communities. Few define sustainability in terms of focusing on renewable energy resources (3 percent) or driving inefficiency out of the supply chain (10 percent)
-- Employees (82 percent) and customers (74 percent) are more likely to be the targets of communications about sustainability than are investors and analysts (52 percent)
-- Sixty-three percent believe that the Obama administration’s policies will further accelerate the adoption of sustainability programs
-- Even the most popular sustainability programs -- recycling (36 percent) and electric energy efficiency (20 percent) -- are extensively embraced by only a minority of businesses.