As we consider the gains and challenges of 2013 one thing is certain, 2014 is geared to present a new set of challenges for most companies as they seek to strengthen the implementation of their sustainable practices. Companies will likely need to have a stronger united front on corporate sustainability so as to boost their corporate reporting on Economic, Social and Governance. This will surely increase reporting and thus enhance overall business transparency.
In 2014 companies will need to consider whether they have the internal capability to manage the impact of their operations and to turn sustainability challenges into business growth opportunities. Companies will need to also consider whether or not they are providing the innovation and solutions needed for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. As new strategies or updates to current strategies are considered for 2014, most CEOs will keep in mind the fact that the UN Global Compact Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013 indicates that most CEOs have their doubts regarding the progress made in the implementation of sustainable practices. These findings should not be over looked given the fact that the study was based on a survey of 1,000 CEOs across 103 countries and 27 industries who gave insight into their views on the pathway towards a sustainable economy. If 2013 is anything to go by, 2014 should be the year in which most companies seek more collaborative projects and greater innovation so as to enhance impact. It should also be the year in which active intervention by government should be required in order to align public policy and to step up efforts to provide an enabling environment for the private sector to advance sustainability. To this end, reporting should be seen as a way of helping to improve business performance and a way of ensuring that smart public policies create the right framework conditions and eco-systems for sustainable business growth.
Lastly, the energy and commitment of middle management to move the CSR agenda upward inside their companies should not be over looked. As their CEOs (and CFOs) are doubtful about the link between sustainability and revenue growth and shareholder value, they should be supported in trying to implement relevant benchmarks.