Corporate climate pledges are falling short

A survey of operations managers shows that 85% of companies have a net-zero-strategy, but only 41% have changed operations accordingly.

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A survey of 300 operations managers in industrial sectors across the U.K., U.S. and Germany by ESG software, data and consulting firm Sphera has found that 85% of companies now have net-zero strategies. However, the majority are failing to incorporate them into daily business operations.

Only 41% of operations managers have seen sustainability strategies produce significant changes in daily practices. Just 32% say their firms do not align with science-based emissions targets.

Many report that responsibility for net zero is too heavily concentrated at the top. In fact, 95% reporting that accountability for net zero lies solely with C-suite executives and the board of directors. Furthermore, 42% of operations managers receive little or no encouragement to contribute suggestions on improving the environmental sustainability of business operations.

Please find the full report, Operational Landscape: The Inside View of Industrial Decarbonization from Operations Managers, here.

Yet the survey finds a growing desire among mid-level employees to share responsibility for climate change goals, with 40% of operations managers calling for carbon targets to be included in their performance reviews. In addition to being passionate about the environment at their workplace, operations managers also emerge as being deeply concerned about the environment in their personal lives. Thirty-five percent describe themselves as highly supportive of the need for radical climate action while 32% of them drive an electric car.

The survey also finds that 40% of companies now have a public net-zero strategy. Of those companies, 43% have allotted more than 20% additional budget dollars to sustainability and net-zero initiatives. That shows an increasingly widespread commitment to climate action at the board level.

Paul Marushka, Sphera’s CEO and president, said: “With high levels of personal and professional commitment to sustainability, operations managers have emerged as the secret weapon for businesses in the fight for more sustainable operations. Yet many companies are experiencing a gap between carbon pledges and operational practices because of limited involvement by operations managers. Our report finds that operations managers have the influence and desire to help drive decarbonization across business operations, supplier and partner networks. Now, what they need are the data, software and best practices to do so.”

Marushka continues: “Transparent tracking of decarbonization results is the missing link between business net-zero pledges and practices that lead to progress, with operations managers consistently calling for more frequent measurement of progress towards decarbonization at every level. Throughout the report, transparent results emerge as essential to building the trust and confidence of employees and customers in corporate climate change pledges. The key is to treat emissions reduction targets like financial targets, which are included in everything from quarterly reviews to employee KPIs. Existing technologies and content, such as data analytics and AI, already enable companies to rapidly record and reduce their carbon footprint.”

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