Firms failing to embed net zero into operations

While 85 percent of companies now have net-zero strategies, the majority are failing to incorporate them into daily business operations.A survey [registration] of 300 managers at organisations in industrial sectors across the U.K., U.S. and Germany by ESG consulting firm Sphera, claims that while 85 percent of companies now have net zero strategies, the majority are failing to incorporate them into daily business operations. Only 41 percent of operations managers have seen sustainability strategies produce significant changes in daily practices, and 32 percent say their firms do not align with science-based emissions targets.  

Many report that responsibility for net zero is too heavily concentrated at the top, with 95 percent reporting that accountability for net zero lies solely with C-suite executives and the board of directors, and 42 percent of operations managers receive little or no encouragement to contribute suggestions on improving the environmental sustainability of business operations.

Yet the survey finds a growing desire among mid-level employees to share responsibility for climate change goals, with 40 percent of operations managers calling for carbon targets to be included in their performance reviews. In addition to being passionate about the environment at their workplace, operations managers also emerge as being deeply concerned about the environment in their personal lives, with 35 percent describing themselves as highly supportive of the need for radical climate action and 32 percent driving an electric car.

The survey also finds that 40 percent of companies now have a public net-zero strategy, and 43 percent have allotted over 20 percent extra budget to sustainability and net-zero initiatives, indicating an increasingly widespread commitment to climate action at the board level.

Additional findings:

  • 73 percent of companies are already actively exploring or addressing the challenge of Scope 3 emissions, and 43 percent percent of operations managers are already discussing sustainability issues with suppliers and partners.
  • 22 percent of operations managers say regulations are still the main driver of business attention to sustainability initiatives.
  • Just 40 percent of operations managers rate employee engagement with their organization’s sustainability strategy very highly.