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In a new survey conducted by public opinion research consultancy GlobeScan and global think tank SustainAbility, experts ranked Unilever, Patagonia, IKEA, Interface and Natura &Co as top leaders in sustainability. Experts say that long-term resilience of brands now depends on their sustainability record and the ability to innovate new business models for the future.
GlobeScan and SustainAbility recently released their findings from the latest annual Leaders Survey, which has tracked global expert opinions on the sustainability of brands and companies since 1997. In the 2020 survey, Unilever, Patagonia, IKEA, Interface, and Natura &Co were ranked top on the list of companies most recognised for their leadership in sustainability. Four new names were also added to the list this year, including Microsoft, Ørsted, L’Oréal, and Tata.
This year’s list was compiled using the responses of over 700 experts across 71 countries. Experts were asked without being prompted to name companies that they perceived as being leaders in integrating sustainability into their operations and business strategy.
Unilever, who ranked first, was recognised by 42% of the experts, marking the 10th consecutive year that the conglomerate has topped the list. It was also unsurprising for Patagonia to nab second place, given its long-running reputation for its environmental responsibility and purpose-driven mission that has drawn the brand over 9,000 applications per position at the firm.
Of all the companies named, only two – Natura &Co and Tata – are headquartered outside of North America and Europe.
These results suggest shifting expectations for leadership and show the potential for new approaches to sustainability leadership during these unprecedented times.Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan
The report says that the highlight of their findings is that four companies have joined the list of sustainability leaders in just one year, representing what GlobeScan CEO Chris Coulter has described “a remarkable amount of change in this survey’s history”.
“These results suggest shifting expectations for leadership and show the potential for new approaches to sustainability leadership during these unprecedented times,” Coulter added.
Across the board, experts voiced that moving forward, especially as the coronavirus drives up awareness of environmental and social responsibility amongst consumers, companies must put the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), human rights and ethical issues at the core of their business models in order to build resilience in the long-term.
Embed environmental sustainability and ESG in strategy, develop new and sustainable business models, improve risk management and business continuity planning, and transform supply chains. The time to act is now.Mark Lee, Executive Director of SustainAbility
Transforming supply chains and risk preparedness were also listed by the experts as urgent priorities that businesses need to focus on.
“The 2020 survey makes clear what the private sector must do to increase resilience and the ability to withstand future shocks in the wake of Covid-19,” explained Mark Lee, executive director of SustainAbility.
“Embed environmental sustainability and ESG in strategy, develop new and sustainable business models, improve risk management and business continuity planning, and transform supply chains. The time to act is now.”
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock / Patagonia / IKEA / designed by Green Queen Media.