This suggests that a majority of organisations do not believe there is real value to be gained from sustainability actions. Indeed, a very small minority of respondents mentioned bottom line contributions as drivers of sustainability measures with only 7% citing improved competitiveness; 2% mentioning customer appeal; and none whatsoever pointing to profit growth.
This flies in the face of international evidence that businesses which perform well on sustainability metrics tend to do better than their peers when it comes to attracting capital, winning new customers, recruiting and retaining top talent, and a range of other measures.
There is therefore a need for a change in mindset among the leadership of many Irish businesses. The evidence is there that they understand the nature and scale of the challenge, but do not yet appreciate the real benefits of taking action to meet it.
The overall conclusion is that much work needs to be done if Irish organisations are to meet the sustainability goals set for them by governments, regulators, investors, customers and society at large. Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson has described the climate challenge as the moonshot for this era. Just as President Kennedy set an eight-year timetable for his country to land a man on the moon, we have the same timescale available to meet our 2030 decarbonisation targets.
Let there be no mistake, we have a steep mountain to climb, and we are standing at the foot of it at present. However, the evidence from the SOS Report for 2022 is that organisations do understand the scale of the challenge. That is an important first step but understanding now needs to be converted into action.