Sustainability’s Role in Business Performance

Environmental sustainability is, undeniably, a debt that business owes to society.

But it can also be a path to increased profitability and competitiveness. Think of it as first-mover advantage: companies that act bigger and faster on sustainability are performing better. Meanwhile, time is running out on a fast-follower strategy.

Our survey respondents illuminate the way forward for companies looking to scale their sustainability efforts – and their performance. Learn more by reading our findings.

Top categories of findings

Investment reasons

Regulation is driving sustainability. But so is the impression companies leave on the world.


Respondents see revenue and profit opportunities in sustainability, but the commitment of top leadership and the board matter more.


The fit between sustainability and the business's objectives and results is not as clear as businesses would like.

Data quality

Respondents are frustrated with sustainability data.

Data dissatisfaction drivers

When data is difficult to work with, insights wither.

Financial materiality

The perception of sustainability’s financial effects plays an important role in the actions companies take.
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Impact on profitability

Companies overwhelmingly recognize that sustainability is intertwined with their bottom line.

Impact on competitiveness

Companies see a strong link between sustainability and their long-term competitive advantage.

Investment priority areas

Investing to stop climate change matters most, but when grouped with the other top priorities, a holistic strategy emerges.

Reporting standards

Respondents are struggling to find third-party sustainability reporting standards that are most relevant to how they do business.

Measurement methods

Most companies rely on estimates and calculations rather than sensor data.

External reporting methods

Nearly everyone is telling the world about their sustainability actions.

Impact on strategic and operational decisions

If you aren’t thinking about sustainability in strategic and operational terms, you’re in the minority.
Graphic with man and green background

The Balance Sheet Blind Spot: How Sustainability Affects Competitiveness and Profits