Over 60% of survey respondents to a SAP report said their companies consider gender equality and climate change as key areas of focus.
Forty-five percent of C-level executives from medium and large companies in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico said their organizations already have a sustainability strategy and 22% said they are working on one.
These findings are from the Sustainability on the Agenda of Latin American C-level Executives study that was sponsored by SAP and they show how this topic is increasingly important to the agenda of multiple corporations in the region.
As one of the first studies of its kind conducted in Latin America, the report offers encouraging data on the progress and state of sustainability programs by businesses in the region. Among its many highlights is a key result: Six out of every 10 Latin American senior executives who participated, believe that sustainability is profitable.
The study gathered responses from 450 C-level executives from organizations in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina. They included both service companies (in financial services, retail, telecommunications, healthcare, entertainment and travel industries) and manufacturing companies (in oil and gas, mining, agriculture, pharmaceutical, construction and consumer product industries.)
Sixty percent of respondents affirmed that their company’s sustainability focus is set on the following areas: Gender equality (this is a main concern of companies in the region), the circular economy (second in relevance for manufacturing companies), training the workforce for the future (second in relevance among service companies), social entrepreneurship and climate change.
“Sustainable practices not only help the environment and our communities; they are also critical to obtaining competitive advantage, improving brand reputation and increasing employee satisfaction,” said Cristina Palmaka, President of SAP Latin America and the Caribbean. “Sustainability is no longer optional; it has become a must for businesses, and SAP has a portfolio of technology solutions to help customers best execute and measure their sustainable strategies,” she added.
The C-level executives who were surveyed also view their workforce as an engine to strongly drive sustainable strategies, with 30% of them saying that sustainability is an ‘extremely important’ issue for employees and 39% saying it is ‘quite important,’ especially those from Brazil and Mexico.
This finding is even more relevant when considering that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 and that for this group, sustainable practices are of vital importance. In fact, per The Millennial Impact Report, 64% of millennials said they would only accept a job if the company they join has a sustainability practice in place.
Technology is gaining traction as a foundation for sustainability management: 40% of organizations who participated affirmed that they use technology to drive their sustainability strategy and obtain effective indicators. Furthermore, the study revealed an important trend: The supply chain will become a driving force going forward, as 19% of respondents already consider that having sustainable practices is a key differentiator when selecting suppliers, with Brazil (27%) and Argentina (25%) having higher-than-average percentages.
The sustainability focus will continue to expand in 2021: 28% of survey respondents plan to increase resources allocated to this area, while 25% said they will keep the same level of investment they made in 2020 – a noteworthy fact, especially following a year of so many challenges.
To embark on the degree of business transformation that sustainability demands is not a simple feat; business leaders often have the responsibility of managing multiple priorities, all within a rapidly changing environment. Organizations that succeed in integrating sustainability into the DNA of how they do business, will achieve a solid foundation they can further build on, and a critical competitive advantage.
Recently, SAP announced its goal to achieve carbon neutrality for its own operations by the end of 2023, two years earlier than previously stated.