Indian businesses today recognise the potential of sustainability to unlock business value, with 62% of companies noting it is not difficult to be sustainable and profitable at the same time, reveals a recent study by Oxford Economics and SAP.
However, although the significance of sustainability is well understood, much work remains to be done to ensure sustainability ambition translates into action, it noted.
The study found that just 17% of respondents have calculated their total organisational carbon input. More importantly, out of the organisations that have acted upon a sustainability strategy, only 7% are receiving significant value from it.
“It’s a positive sign that Indian organisations believe it is viable to improve profits and protect the environment at the same time. The use of technology can aid us strategically to assist companies realise real, genuine, and quantifiable business value,” said Kulmeet Bawa, president and managing director, SAP Indian Subcontinent.
Data a major gap to going green
Access to accurate and insightful data throughout the business value chain is critical to maximising sustainability outcomes. But just four in ten (44%) of respondents said they have invested in data analysis to measure sustainability in their business, and a similar amount (43%) said they were training staff how to capture sustainability data.
Organisations must move beyond driving transparency for legal compliance to expand sustainable practices throughout industrial business networks and value chains. To do this, they must use technology to gather data, optimise business processes, and make more sustainable business decisions.
Regulatory compliance a key sustainability driver and a challenge
More than half of Indian respondents (60%) noted that regulatory mandates are the primary drivers of their sustainability strategies. This aligns with the fact that regulatory compliance (45%) is the major benefit derived ahead of reduced carbon emissions and increased operational visibility.
It is clear that organisations may need to refocus their strategies to achieve greater value from sustainability. Too much focus on compliance was cited as the third highest challenge to sustainability success by Indian respondents.
Role of leadership central in driving progress on sustainability
Senior leadership can play a pivotal role in engaging and driving their companies on a sustainable transformation by setting out clear cut path and goals. Yet only 22% of businesses have incentivised leaders based on sustainability strategy success and only half (52%) say their employees are active participants in their sustainability efforts.
Business leaders must walk the talk by clearly engaging with key audiences like employees, supply chain partners, and policymakers on how to leverage the transformative power of technology and data management to be a more intelligent, sustainable enterprise.
“Sustainability leaders go beyond vision to ensure that sustainability initiatives are acted upon. They communicate with key constituencies both inside and outside the company, and they use integrated technologies to measure and track performance in a way that drives accountability,” said Edward Cone, editorial director, Oxford Economics.