Survey: Sustainability a marketing issue for German managers


According to a company survey by the HR consultancy Russell Reynolds, protecting the climate and the environment is good for the image of many German managers, but has no consequences for the business model. “46 percent of the German board members surveyed state that sustainability measures are taken for marketing reasons” in order “to be viewed as socially responsible and to set themselves apart from the competition through a sustainability image,” said the management consultants in Frankfurt am Main. “Only 15 percent of board members rely on sustainability for additional value creation.”

Only every fourth board member surveyed in Germany believes that their company has a sustainability strategy that is clearly communicated and implemented. According to the study, one in three thinks that their CEO is personally committed to sustainability. Accordingly, “the majority of German board members and executives still see sustainability primarily as a reputational risk that needs to be managed.”

Young managers in Germany are also relatively little concerned with it: In the past three years, only 26 percent have had three or more tasks related to sustainability – compared to 40 percent of their age group in an international comparison.

Executives in Germany in particular see the conversion to sustainable management as one of the greatest tasks of the next ten years, said management consultant Max von der Planitz. “Almost all the leaders we spoke to want to help build a better world.” It seems paradoxical: “In the eleven markets we examined, German employees and board members are most likely to agree on the critical issues, which should actually make it easier to adapt the business models.”

For the study, Russell Reynolds surveyed 9,500 board members, junior executives and employees in eleven countries around the world. In Germany, the consultants surveyed 89 board members and 658 employees and junior executives.


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