BOSTON—Sustainability is at the top of corporate agendas worldwide, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals have become major considerations in companies’ digital transformation programs. New research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) shows that more than 60% of companies consider ESG factors a primary focus or a key criterion for selecting and prioritizing digital initiatives, and more than 80% plan to increase their investments in sustainability.
These are among the findings in a new BCG article, titled “The Five Digital Building Blocks of a Corporate Sustainability Agenda,” being published today. The article, which is based on a survey of more than 850 companies worldwide, shows a clear link between digital capabilities and sustainability, and it outlines the digital prerequisites for achieving sustainability goals.
“Companies that are successful in their digital transformations are nearly twice as likely as other organizations to see ESG goals as a key focus of digital initiatives,” said Hamid Maher, a managing director and partner at BCG and a coauthor of the article. “One reason is that successful transformers shift from digital reengineering to innovation as they move past the nuts-and-bolts challenges of delivering a transformation and focus on how their new capabilities can help tackle broader opportunities in their company’s sustainability agenda.”
The article looks at how companies are setting their E, S, and G digital priorities, and it notes significant differences among industries regarding the importance that companies put on ESG and how much each industry emphasizes the E, S, and G. While one in four companies overall makes ESG the primary focus area of its digital transformation, the percentage in individual industries ranges from almost twice that (in medtech, biopharma, and automotive) to about one in ten (for telecommunications, software, fashion, and luxury). But even in the lagging industries, digital leaders put a high priority on ESG: 38% for telecommunications and 64% for software, for example.
“Because climate change is so pervasive as an issue, one might intuitively assume that E dominates over S and G. But company investments cover all three aspects of sustainability fairly equally, and our findings actually show that S and G are becoming higher priorities,” said Rich Hutchinson, global leader of BCG’s Social Impact practice and a coauthor of the report. “Overall, 80%, 70%, and 69% of companies have digital initiatives that focus on social goals, governance considerations, and environmental programs, respectively.” (See exhibit.)
Again, there are significant differences by industry as well as by region that the article covers. Regionally, for instance, social initiatives are the most-pursued priority in North America and Europe, where diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns run high, while governance initiatives rank first in Asia.
Finally, the article details the five prerequisites critical to using digital technologies to move ESG initiatives forward:
To learn more, a copy of the article can be downloaded here.
To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we work closely with clients to embrace a transformational approach aimed at benefiting all stakeholders—empowering organizations to grow, build sustainable competitive advantage, and drive positive societal impact.
Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives that question the status quo and spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting, technology and design, and corporate and digital ventures. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, fueled by the goal of helping our clients thrive and enabling them to make the world a better place.