CEO Study
How Germany’s CEOs drive sustainability

The joint study "From Attitude to Action: How Germany’s CEOs Drive Sustainability" by the FUTURE Institute for Sustainable Transformation, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Bain & Company is based on extensive interviews with more than 20 top executives in advance of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. It revealed that priorities have clearly changed.

“The only way to ensure prosperity and equity in this world is by creating a nature positive zero carbon world economy.” In his foreword, Johan Rockström aptly sums up the scale of the challenge for global business. The message has been heard – and understood – by Germany’s top leaders. This became very clear in our more than 20 talks with CEOs and board members, which formed the basis for this study:

  • Nine out of ten believe that over the next five years, sustainability will be at least as important as the topic most discussed so far, digitalization.
  • Almost fifty percent think sustainability will be even more important than the ongoing digital revolution – priorities have shifted.
  • Fifty percent of decision-makers feel that companies are not only drivers of the upcoming transformation but also driven: Growing pressure from customers and employees, investors and thought leaders having palpable effects.
  • Also, the upcoming transformation will inevitably involve trade-offs. Six out of ten leaders still believe profitability and sustainability to be conflicting goals.

Over the longer term, however, such antagonisms will fade. All top leaders feel that in the mid-to long term, their organizations will have to undergo fundamental changes and reconcile economic, ecological, and social goals.

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