Coca-Cola study finds leadership key to sustainability

Leaders who grasp the importance of sustainability are the most important driver behind a company's green strategy.

That is the key conclusion of a new study (PDF) by Coca-Cola Enterprises, which interviewed more than 300 business executives in Europe to understand the motivations behind corporate sustainability strategies.

The research, unveiled this week and developed in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, found that nearly three-quarters of companies have been able to maintain their sustainability plans despite the economic downturn.

However, 43 percent reported that perceived high costs and lack of belief in rates of return remained the biggest barrier to future investments. Just one-fifth of companies admitted that sustainability efforts had boosted their short-term profits.

When asked what factors determine the success of a company's sustainability strategy, senior leadership engagement (41 percent) was the most frequently cited answer.

John F. Brock, chairman and chief executive officer at Coca-Cola Enterprises, said the study showed the need for business leaders to embrace disruptive new approaches to sustainability.

"We need to advocate for this among the broader European business community to create breakthroughs in sustainable business," he said in a statement.

Brian Gardner, senior editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, added that the findings show sustainability related initiatives were becoming mainstream in Europe.

"Companies are learning how to better integrate this into their businesses profitably," he said. "There is still a lot of room to improve but this is a profoundly positive change."

This article originally appeared at Business Green.

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