Net Zero Strategies Lagging: Sphera Survey

According to a recent survey conducted by ESG software, data, and consulting firm Sphera, 85% of industrial companies in the U.K., U.S., and Germany have implemented net-zero strategies, but many are failing to incorporate them into daily business operations. The survey, which polled 300 operations managers, found that only 41% of operations managers have seen significant changes in daily practices as a result of the sustainability strategies, and 32% say their companies do not align with science-based emissions targets.

Many respondents reported that the responsibility for net-zero is too heavily concentrated at the top, with 95% stating that accountability lies solely with C-suite executives and the board of directors. Additionally, 42% of operations managers reported receiving little or no encouragement to contribute suggestions on improving the environmental sustainability of business operations.

However, the survey also found 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. Furthermore, 35% of operations managers described themselves as highly supportive of the need for radical climate action, and 32% drive an electric car, indicating a strong personal commitment to the environment.

The survey also revealed 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 increasing 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.”