Majority of U.S. companies polled making progress.

Author:Ladd, Scott

Nearly 55 percent of United States executives polled in a recent survey said their organization has a formal sustainability strategy in place; another 12 percent are working on new strategies, according to a recent survey of business leaders.

Conducted by KPMG International as a progress report on the state of corporate sustainability, the study also determined that U.S. companies are bridging the divide with their global counterparts. More than 62 percent of global executives surveyed said they have already initiated a formal program.

Key drivers behind most sustainability programs--not only in the U.S. but globally--have been brand enhancement and customer influences. Challenges to building and maintaining such programs include determining and measuring metrics, obtaining sufficient internal data and being able to meet various reporting requirements.

Many company leaders say they are finding strategic advantages in embracing and implementing a comprehensive, cohesive sustainability program. The three main benefits from sustainability programs are better or more efficient business processes and practices, the increased profitability or shareholder value and an ability to attract or retain new or existing customers, according to the respondents.

"Leading companies that have embedded sustainability programming and reporting into their processes and culture are finding ways to leverage their investment to cut costs, and meet regulatory and customer expectations," said John R. Hickox, who leads KPMG's Climate Change and Sustainability (CC&S) practice in the Americas.

"It is all about believing in the transformative benefits that thinking differently can bring to a company, its culture and its bottom-line results."

Asked to identify critical business drivers behind promoting sustainability-related business objectives...

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