Businesses have been on the defense for the last 18 months, reacting to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. As we transition out, post-pandemic growth is high on the boardroom agenda and businesses are turning their attention to how to “build back better”. With this, sustainability is the topic on everyone’s lips, and whilst climate change is dominating the news agenda, there is also wider conversation taking place among senior business leaders.
In our new report, Investing in a Sustainable Supply Chain, we spoke to investors across the United States and the United Kingdom to get their first-hand perspective on sustainability within supply chains. We heard how their behavior is changing and the risks they believe businesses will face if they do not embrace ESG as a core pillar of business strategy (Environmental, Social, and Governance).
In the report, we reveal five key insights that are likely to impact businesses as they prepare for the future:
Sustainability impacts investment decisions
97% of investment managers told us they consider the sustainability standards of a business’s supply chain when making investment decisions, telling us that having a sustainable supply chain is no longer a ‘nice to have.’ Investors will be looking for real, measurable results and businesses will need to be ready to show them.
Investment managers see risk in businesses that don’t change
Over eight in 10 (84%) investment managers stated that issues with supply chain sustainability and (a lack of) ESG standards are a financial threat to their investments. Further, 85% believe that businesses who do not have supply chain sustainability standards will see share prices fall as a result over the next decade. There is a firm belief that inaction on ESG has material consequences for businesses.
There is increasing rigor, but still a gap in assessing sustainability progress
Investment managers are focused on sustainability in supply chains, with nine in 10 (89%) discussing ESG standards in the supply chain with the companies they invest in, with two-fifths (37%) having these conversations frequently.
When Investment managers are looking at supply chain standards, they most commonly look for suppliers audits (39%), data reporting procedures (37%), and analysis of financial reports (37%).
The responses suggest that there is action, but a lack of common adopted assessment methods and standards amongst the investment community. Evidence points towards the emergence of an ESG style reporting and measurement approach being favoured amongst investors and large corporates, making sustainability, and progress on sustainability, visible and measurable.
Sustainable supply chains matter to investors over the long term
Investors believe this topic has longevity, with 88% of investment managers saying that supply chain sustainability standards will be a key criterion for investment decisions over the next ten years. Eight in 10 (80%) also believe that businesses without supply chain sustainability and wider ESG standards will struggle to access capital in the next ten years, indicating that business who do not act now risk inhibiting their future growth.
A trade-off between long-term purpose and short-term profits is accepted
Conversations about procurement and supply chain strategy must go beyond cost and consider ESG impact on top and bottom line, short and long term. Seven in 10 (70%) of investment managers believe that businesses should accelerate purpose initiatives at the expense of short-term profitability.
Corporate purpose is a prized asset in the current climate and businesses who understand how to make their work for them will be able to bring employees, consumers, regulators and investors on side.
Click below to download Proxima’s Investing in a Sustainable Supply Chain Report to find out more about the future of supply chain sustainability.
If you are interested in speaking to one of our consultants about building your own sustainable procurement strategy, click here.