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Beyond the environment: economic and social benefits of sustainability
Sustainability Transformation is not just about the environment – it brings economic and societal benefits, too.

Sustainability has entered the mainstream, and organisations around the world are realising their responsibility to drive change. They’re increasingly putting tangible action behind the rhetoric, understanding that sustainability will dictate their long-term success in a disruptive world.

The climate crisis demands immediate attention, and this understandably motivates a lot of corporate action. There is much that organisations can, and should, do in this space. But environmental change is just one part of Sustainability Transformation.

Fujitsu believes Sustainability Transformation means transforming business to drive positive, lasting change for the environment, economies and social wellbeing. With a balanced strategy that spans these three pillars, organisations can deliver benefits for people, profits and the planet.

“The concept of Sustainability Transformation covers not only short-term goals, but also initiatives for the future. Large enterprises have a particular responsibility to promote all areas of Sustainability Transformation,” explains Shunsuke Onishi, SEVP and Chief Revenue Officer* at Fujitsu.

So, how exactly are organisations approaching Sustainability Transformation? To find out, Fujitsu surveyed 1,000 business leaders across 15 countries and 10 industries, exploring the ways companies are making a difference across all three pillars of sustainability.

Organisations take a comprehensive view on sustainability

The research shows that organisations have high hopes for Sustainability Transformation, and their objectives are wide-ranging. 

Their top sustainability goal falls under the environmental pillar: responding to and complying with sustainability regulation. The high priority of this issue reflects new sustainability disclosure standards coming into effect across the globe, such as the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

However, other ambitions go beyond regulatory compliance. Leaders are equally committed to developing sustainable supply chains and ecosystems, seeking financial benefits that fall under the economic pillar. They are also focused on societal issues such as employee health and wellbeing, equality in the workplace, and the health of broader society.

Organizations’ top sustainability goals

  • Responding to and complying with sustainability regulation (18%)
  • Developing sustainably supply chains and ecosystems (18%)
  • Creating better health and wellbeing initiatives for employees (12%)
  • Empowering our people and customers to respond to social issues (11%)
  • Creating or using carbon-neutral products (10%)
  • Responding to consumer demand to be a more sustainable business (8%)
  • Driving equality in the workplace (7%)
  • Developing products that improve the health of broader society (7%)
  • Preparing for environmental emergencies (5%)
  • Ensuring that the physical locations we operate from are environmentally friendly (5%)

The data indicates that organisations’ Sustainability Transformations are indeed spanning all three pillars – but how are they performing in these areas?

Organisations are making progress on their environmental goals

Addressing their environmental impact is one of the first areas organisations look to when it comes to Sustainability Transformation. Consequently, more than half reported that they performed above expectation on internal and external sustainability targets.

“Many companies focus on the environment as the first step of their Sustainability Transformation, often because this is easier to measure than the other pillars,” Onishi says. 

Our research shows they still have a long way to go – only 2% of organisations have achieved net zero status, for example – but the fact that 70% of are working towards this is encouraging. Similarly, 68% are beginning to use or create carbon-neutral products, or planning to do this soon.

Fujitsu is fueling environmental change through digital innovation, with a focus on AI, computing, network, data and security, and converging technologies. Together with IHI, the company is leveraging blockchain technology to create a carbon trading and tracking ecosystem to identify energy savings in clients’ supply chains. The new platform will contribute to efficient environmental value trading to promote reduction of CO2 emissions.

Sustainability Transformation is driving economic success

Studies show consumers are increasingly demanding sustainability from the brands they choose, with people of all ages willing to spend more on sustainable products. This cultural shift is reflected in Fujitsu’s research, with more than half (55%) of organisations worrying they won’t be successful in 10 years’ time if they don’t address sustainability issues today.

“The economy of sustainability is a big issue on businesses’ minds today – it was a lively topic of discussion at Davos recently,” Onishi says. “Many people still see it as a cost, but this is a reactive way of thinking. They need to change their mindset and consider the wider sector value chain of sustainability.”

Three quarters (76%) of organisations are now developing sustainable supply chains and ecosystems, or planning to do so. Schneider Electric is one of them. The company earned global recognition for its “self-healing” supply chain platform driven by adaptive machine learning technology. This reduced carbon emissions by more than 100,000 tons in three years and saved more than €100 million.

Put simply, sustainability makes good business sense. The financial results speak for themselves: Sixty-four per cent of companies that say sustainability is their number one priority in the next five years reported above-expectation revenue, compared to 37% of companies who did not make it their top priority.

Companies whose Sustainability Transformation had a positive impact on the following areas:

Oceania – 71%
America – 86%
Asia – 72%
Europe – 61%
Oceania – 78%
America – 78%
Asia – 66%
Europe – 65%

Social wellbeing is benefitting from Sustainability Transformation

Social wellbeing is the final, crucial pillar of Sustainability Transformation. No transformation can be truly sustainable if its benefits aren’t felt equally across society, which is why organisations must put people and communities at the heart of their strategy.

Many companies have already adopted this approach, including Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s largest telecommunications provider. The company is conscious of its social responsibility and takes an active role in issues such as online hate speech, media literacy and internet safety for children.

Our research shows that societal change is seen as an increasingly important part of corporate sustainability. More than a quarter (26%) of organisations say driving equality in the workplace is one of the most important goals. The same number have already created better health and wellbeing initiatives for employees, and a further 74% are planning to.

“People might be overwhelmed or afraid of the complexity that comes with addressing social topics, but I believe you have to do it,” says Melanie Kubin-Hardewig, Vice President of Group Corporate Responsibility at Deutsche Telekom. 

“If you want to be a good performer on E, S and G – and I believe a lot of companies want that – you have to cover all. You have to find a good balance. [Because] in the end, one will not go without the others.”

*With effect from 1st April 2023

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