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Businesses need sustainability

23 April, 2010

Australian businesses will need to engage in sustainability reporting in the future to remain competitive, according to a new report.

The report, entitled People-Productivity-Planet - Business Sustainability Report, is the biggest Australian survey on business leader and employee attitudes to sustainability reporting, and was conducted by the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne, Beaton and WellmarkPerspexa.

Sustainable business practice covers five major areas of operations – environment, community and social, workplace practices, marketplace and business conduct, and ethical governance. More than 10 000 leaders and employees in a range of Australian businesses and industries participated in the survey.

Findings revealed:

  • Sustainability reporting will be needed in the future to remain competitive
    57 per cent of leaders in sustainability reporting organisations give preference to suppliers who have a good sustainability record.
  • Employees support and seek out sustainable businesses
    41 per cent of employees in reporting organisations said if they changed jobs they wouldn't want to work in an organisation that doesn't tackle sustainability issues.
  • Australian business leaders support sustainability reporting
    Over 95 per cent of respondents said committing to sustainability yields benefits for organisations.

Professor Rob Moodie, the inaugural Chair of Global Health, Nossal Institute for Global Health, said sustainable business was integral to a healthy planet and to healthy people.

"As nations, we need the healthy products of business, and as individuals we thrive if we have safe, secure, meaningful and rewarding jobs. As this survey reveals, there is a growing realisation that the environment has a major impact on human health, and the role of business – in terms of products, services, carbon footprint, community and social operations and investments, to name a few – should not be underestimated."

Dr George Beaton, Executive Chairman of Beaton Research and Consulting and Executive Director of WellmarkPerspexa, said "Our results demonstrate the huge latent potential for sustainability reporting in Australia – the will is there, but a substantial proportion of organisations are yet to find the way.

"There's no use getting warm and fuzzy over nice ideas - organisations will only be truly sustainable if they commit to formally measuring, monitoring and managing towards improvement."

Associate Professor Grant Blashki of the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne and Professor Danny Samson of the Department of Management and Marketing in the University's Faculty of Business and Economics and Ms Maia Gould of Beaton, coauthored the report.

Source: University of Melbourne

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