2023-01-25 10:02:00

Companies Fall Short on Climate Pledges by Failing to Embed Net-Zero Actions Into Operations, Survey Finds

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  • Sphera survey finds 85% of U.K., U.S. and German companies now have a net-zero strategy, and 78% have allocated extra budget to sustainability and net-zero initiatives.
  • Yet only 41% have made significant changes to daily operational practices to decarbonize.
  • 95% say net-zero accountability sits solely with C-suite and board of directors, and responsibilities are not being shared with operations managers.
  • 40% of operations managers want carbon targets included in their performance reviews, and many are passionate about climate change action.

CHICAGO, Jan. 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- A survey of 300 operations managers in industrial sectors across the U.K., U.S. and Germany by ESG software, data and consulting firm Sphera, has found that 85% of companies now have net-zero strategies, but the majority are failing to incorporate them into daily business operations. Only 41% of operations managers have seen sustainability strategies produce significant changes in daily practices, and 32% say their firms do not align with science-based emissions targets.

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Many report that responsibility for net zero is too heavily concentrated at the top, with 95% reporting that accountability for net zero lies solely with C-suite executives and the board of directors, and 42% 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% 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% describing themselves as highly supportive of the need for radical climate action and 32% driving an electric car.

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

Paul Marushka, Sphera's CEO and president, said: "With high levels of personal and professional commitment to sustainability, operations managers have emerged as the secret weapon for businesses in the fight for more sustainable operations. Yet many companies are experiencing a gap between carbon pledges and operational practices because of limited involvement by operations managers. Our report finds that operations managers have the influence and desire to help drive decarbonization across business operations, supplier and partner networks. Now, what they need are the data, software and best practices to do so."

Marushka continues: "Transparent tracking of decarbonization results is the missing link between business net-zero pledges and practices that lead to progress, with operations managers consistently calling for more frequent measurement of progress towards decarbonization at every level. Throughout the report, transparent results emerge as essential to building the trust and confidence of employees and customers in corporate climate change pledges. The key is to treat emissions reduction targets like financial targets, which are included in everything from quarterly reviews to employee KPIs. Existing technologies and content, such as data analytics and AI, already enable companies to rapidly record and reduce their carbon footprint."

Additional findings:

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

Please find the full report, Operational Landscape: The Inside View of Industrial Decarbonization from Operations Managers here.

About Sphera
Sphera is the leading provider of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and risk management software, data and consulting services focusing on Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S), Operational Risk Management (ORM), Product Stewardship and Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM). For more than 30 years, we have served over 6,700 customers and a million-plus users in 80 countries to help companies keep their people safe, their products sustainable and their operations productive. Learn more about Sphera at www.sphera.com. Follow Sphera on LinkedIn.

About the research
Sphera surveyed 300 operations managers, split evenly across Germany, the U.K. and U.S., the three biggest Western economies with the largest carbon footprint1 helping shine a light on attitudes and behaviors among those employees on the front line of corporate climate change commitments.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Astrid Dickinson

1 https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions

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