Corporate Sustainability at a Crossroads

Progress Toward Our Common Future in Uncertain Times

The culmination of an eight-year sustainability research partnership between BCG and MIT Sloan Management Review, this report assesses the current status of corporate sustainability—and distills key trends and best practices from the multi-year collaboration.

Corporate sustainability is at a crossroads. Much progress has been made, but it is unevenly distributed and its future is uncertain. On one hand, potential changes in policy and regulatory strategies in the United States threaten to slow or even reverse the progress. On the other, the recognition that sustainability can contribute to competitive advantage and growth, combined with growing investor interest and the advent of new analytics tools, accelerates it.

Three factors—size, global reach, and the degree of regulation—are strong predictors of which companies will have a sustainability strategy. And those companies that have successful sustainability strategies follow many, if not all, of eight best practices:

  1. Set a sustainability vision and ambition.
  2. Focus on material issues.
  3. Design the right organization to achieve the ambition.
  4. Explore business model innovation opportunities.
  5. Develop a clear business case for sustainability.
  6. Get the board of directors on board.
  7. Develop a compelling sustainability value-creation story for investors.
  8. Collaborate with multiple stakeholders to drive strategic change. 
protected by reCaptcha

Subscribe to our Sustainability eAlert.