Data: How Large Organizations Set and Communicate Sustainability Goals

By Kate Katz, Meghan Hall |  August 16, 2022

Our most recent survey, designed with our partners at Planbox, set out to understand the current state of sustainability efforts in large organizations. This survey is part of our sustainability series, which has explored how companies like Goodyear, Kickstarter, and Oshkosh have incorporated sustainability into their operations and company goals.

The data below comes from a survey fielded from May to July 2022, which received 46 qualified responses from a range of industries. Two-thirds of the respondents work for an organization with 1,000 or more employees. Fifty-four percent of our respondent companies are headquartered in North America, with 30 percent based in Europe, and the remaining 16 percent based elsewhere.

Language is important — it helps organizations communicate about exactly what they are trying to achieve. When talking about environmental and sustainable development topics, the vast majority — 65 percent of our respondents — said they use “sustainability.” Respondents who selected “other” detailed that they sometimes combine the above terms, use terms like “zero emissions,” “zero waste,” and “zero inequality” to discuss their environment and climate goals.

Eighty-seven percent of our respondents told us that they have developed sustainability goals inside their organizations, while 13 percent said those goals are still in the works. While so many of our respondents have set objectives, only 24 percent of respondents said that the goals are widely communicated and understood throughout their organizations.

And, of course, with goals, come measurements. So, how are our respondents in large organzations tracking their progress? While many have adopted their own key performance indicators (KPIs), others said they rely on a combination of those KPIs and the United Nations’ sustainability KPIs to move their organizations forward.

The largest segment of respondents (35 percent) told us that their organizations have moved toward their sustainability goals “moderately well,” with 28 percent boasting that they are doing “very well.”

So, who’s involved with making that success happen? Our respondents could select as many responses as were applicable to their organizations for this question. Employees and partners help make sustainability progress happen in 87 percent and 78 percent of organizations surveyed, respectively.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they felt confident that their organization has the right resources and systems needed to achieve their sustainability goals in place. Just 11 percent said they did not feel confident about that at all.

Our respondents play a variety of roles within their organizations when it comes to sustainability. The overwhelming majority (87 percent) said they play a part in their organization’s sustainability efforts, while just 13 percent of respondents said they were not directly involved in the activity.

You can download a PDF file of these charts below; InnoLead members can find the a PowerPoint version in our Data & Templates area.

This data is part of our coverage of sustainability issues. Thanks to Planbox for its support of this series.

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