Arthur D. Little report examines key challenges to effective business sustainability

  • Arthur D. Little’s global survey reveals 33% of respondents that includes MENA respondents believe their respective company sustainability strategies are not understood, with little to no clear balance between short-term and long-term sustainability plans
  • Whereas 72% of companies maintain sustainability collaboration with existing partners, a growing number of organizations now collaborate with universities/R&D groups (12%) and downstream supply chain partners/end customers (16%).
  • Adopting sustainability within an organization can deliver both top-line and bottom-line benefits, leading to higher shareholder returns

Dubai, UAE: Arthur D. Little (ADL), the world’s first management consulting firm, today released an exclusive report exploring the state of sustainability and the challenges to adoption. With insights from Prof. Tima Bansal of Ivey Business School, the report, titled Overcoming the Challenges to Sustainability, is based on a global survey conducted by ADL which identifies the dynamic variables that are shaping business sustainability worldwide, including the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Despite understanding the benefits, the survey shows a fifth of companies (20%) still do not have a sustainability strategy in place — and less than 30% believe the impact of that strategy is clear to all employees. This failure to take meaningful action and embed sustainability at the center of organizations does not only cause potential environmental and social harm; it also holds back business performance.

Sustainability is a top priority for most business leaders, leading to a constant stream of announcements around specific commitments and targets. Yet, there is a clear gap between talk and action. In addition, sustainability commitments do not seem to have the same urgency or rigor as other business objectives. Among companies participating in the survey, 67% do not link management incentives to sustainability performance and just 33% have structured plans, roadmaps, and milestones to achieve their goals. These findings demonstrate that companies are struggling to embed sustainability in their operations.

Carlo Stella, Partner at Arthur D. Little Middle East said: “For companies worldwide, becoming sustainable is a major transformation process spanning culture, planning, metrics, governance, reporting, and mindset. Our latest report unveils the challenges organizations faces around sustainability and identifies initiatives to transform such organizations in sustainable businesses with greater shareholder returns.”

The report analyzes the current state of sustainability and sets out key recommendations to unlock the benefits of sustainability by adopting an ecosystem approach, integrating sustainability reporting, redefining culture, and focusing on innovation.

The report also highlights six key challenges faced by global companies to effective business sustainability. Among benefits leaders in sustainability have experienced recently are faster growth, reduced cost of debt financing, lower employee turnover, and increased resilience in the face of business risks and market challenges, as well as improved corporate reputation and branding.

About Arthur D. Little:

Arthur D. Little has been at the forefront of innovation since 1886. We are an acknowledged thought leader in linking strategy, innovation, and transformation in technology-intensive and converging industries. We navigate our clients through changing business ecosystems to uncover new growth opportunities. We enable our clients to build innovation capabilities and transform their organizations. Our consultants have strong practical industry experience combined with excellent knowledge of key trends and dynamics. ADL is present in the most important business centers around the world. We are proud to serve most of the Fortune 1000 companies, in addition to other leading firms and public sector organizations.