January 27, 2021
This month we’re marking one year since the launch of Bloomberg Green, our editorial brand focused on solutions for a changing climate, with the release of the Business Guide to Green. Based on original research and analysis by Bloomberg Media Data Science and Insight and Bloomberg Media Strategy, in consultation with the Bloomberg Green founding partners, the report offers a detailed roadmap for taking sustainability action.
Such data-backed, practical intelligence is more needed than ever, as companies across industries recognize their collective responsibility to address the most urgent challenge of our time. To learn more about the key takeaways for organizations seeking to make climate commitments identified in the report, we sat down with Bloomberg Media Chief Marketing Officer Anne Kawalerski.
Q: 2020 was an unusual year, to say the least. How were companies engaging with sustainability, amid so much else to cope with?
A: Nearly all of the respondents in our sample — 98% — made climate commitments in 2020! That’s across global markets including the US, the UK, Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong. And 93% of them plan to take climate actions in 2021. So sustainability definitely isn’t on the back burner.
What we did see is that the commitments companies made in 2020 tended to be more simple to execute, while future plans involve more complex goals. For example, reducing waste or recycling more was the most common commitment last year, as an emphasis on single-use plastics and PPE loomed large. Looking forward, relying on 100% renewable power and becoming climate/carbon neutral rank highest across respondents.
Climate goals are for the long-term, of course. That’s why we wanted to look closely at both the triggers that help organizations prioritize action and the barriers they can anticipate. We believe both need to be addressed to deliver the best outcomes.
Q: Do longer-term and shorter-term actions require different approaches?
Our findings indicate that the triggers for both long and short term commitments are similar within organizations. For example, we’ve seen that there is often interest in building brand reputation through short-term climate actions, especially in more consumer-focused sectors such as healthcare and technology. But there’s also a correlation between organizations that cite “improving brand perception” as an extremely influential trigger and “lack of long-term planning and strategy” as an extremely influential barrier.
Making a stronger connection between immediate reputational needs and a far-reaching vision can unlock greater brand value from an action. Even if the priority is a near-term boost, the organization should still focus on stakeholder endorsement and communicating the financial upside to taking action.
Q: What factors have the biggest influence on a business’s climate strategy?
A: The data shows that there are two broad areas leaders need to pay equal attention to in order to be successful. The first is internal motivations and pressures. That goes beyond having leadership on board — although that’s extremely important. It’s also things like making sure you’re communicating the financial upside effectively, ensuring the right team is in place and figuring out ahead of time how you’re going to measure the results.
The other big area is external influences. Public opinion can be a powerful external trigger, particularly in the United States and other countries where the regulatory landscape is nascent. But since climate and sustainability are inextricably linked to every facet of how business runs, that’s far from the only external factor to consider. We saw that pressure to attract or retain customers, pressure from competitors and supply chain pressure all play important roles.
The Business Guide to Green breaks down all these factors, with analysis that helps companies put it all together, see where they stack up and plan for the future.
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