HomeEnvironment & ClimateStudy Shows People Prioritise More Sustainability-Focused Organisations

Study Shows People Prioritise More Sustainability-Focused Organisations

By Schalk Burger

A study of more than 11 000 consumers and business leaders across 15 countries, including South Africa, found that people are more likely to do business with and work for organisations that act responsibly toward societies and the environment, enterprise software services multinational Oracle reports.

The study conducted by Oracle and Harvard Professional Development CIO adviser and instructor Pamela Rucker shows that 98% of people worldwide believe society has not made enough progress on sustainability and social efforts.


Nearly all respondents, 98%, say they want to make progress on sustainability and social factors to save the planet for future generations, with 57% of them believing that businesses can make more meaningful changes on sustainability and social factors than individuals or governments alone.


“The events of the past two years have put sustainability and social initiatives under the microscope and people are demanding material change. While there are challenges to tackling these issues, businesses have an immense opportunity to change the world for the better.


“This is an opportune moment. While thinking has evolved, technology has as well, and it can play a key role in overcoming many of the obstacles that have held progress back,” Rucker says.


In South Africa, 97% of people believe sustainability and social factors are more important than ever, 87% says the events over the past two years have caused them to change their actions and 98% believe society has not made enough progress.

Further, 56% attribute the lack of progress to people being too busy with other priorities, 50% believe it is the result of more emphasis on short-term profits over long-term benefits, and 46% of respondents in South Africa believe people are too lazy or selfish to help save the planet.

Consumers Expect Sustainability – A Strategic Imperative for Brands

In South Africa, 57% of respondents believe businesses can make more meaningful change on sustainability and social factors than individuals or governments alone, and 89% believe businesses would make more progress towards sustainability and social goals with the help of artificial intelligence, and 61% believe bots will succeed to further progress to sustainability and social goals where humans have failed.

Further, business leaders know sustainability efforts are critical to corporate success and even trust bots over humans alone to drive sustainability and social efforts, and 91% believe sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) programmes are critical to the success of their organisations.

Executives in South Africa identified the top three benefits as strengthening the brand, at 54% of respondents, increasing productivity, at 45%, and attracting new customers, at 49%.

Almost all business leaders, or 92%, are facing significant obstacles when implementing sustainability and ESG initiatives. The biggest challenges include obtaining ESG metrics from partners and third parties, highlighted by 45%, a lack of data, at 48%, and time-consuming manual reporting processes, highlighted by 37% of business leaders, the study showed.

“Additionally, 97% of business leaders in South Africa admit human bias and emotion often distract from the end goal, and 92% believe organisations that use technology to help drive sustainable business practices will be the ones that succeed in the long run.”

Further, 90% of business leaders in South Africa would trust a bot over a human to make sustainability and social decisions, including that 60% believe bots are better at collecting different types of data without error, 50% believe bots are better at making rational, unbiased decisions, and predicting future outcomes based on metrics/past performance, at 54% of business leaders in South Africa that responded, the study showed.

“Business leaders believe people are essential to the success of sustainability and social initiatives and believe people are better at implementing changes based on feedback from stakeholders, at 61%, educating others on information needed to make decisions, also at 61%, and making context-informed strategic decisions, at 48%.”

The study reveals that 77% of South Africans would switch jobs to work for a more sustainable company.

“Most people in South Africa, or 76%, are willing to cancel their relationship with a brand that does not take sustainability and social initiatives seriously, and 77% would even leave their current company to work for a brand that places a greater focus on these efforts,” says Oracle Global Marketing software-as-a-service senior VP and CMO Juergen Lindner.

“It has never been more critical for businesses to invest in sustainability initiatives, as people do not just want to hear about it. They’re looking for decisive action and are demanding more transparency and tangible results. Businesses need to prioritise sustainability and social issues and rethink how they use technology to make an impact,” he adds.

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