Businesses must hit sustainability goals to survive

Businesses need to address sustainability to survive, new Vodafone Business report reveals.

Further collaboration and better use of technology will be key to enabling businesses to reach sustainability goals that are vital to their survival, a new Vodafone Business report today reveals.

The report finds that although businesses see the sustainability agenda as ‘absolutely necessary’ for their organisation to continue to operate, the difficult economic situation and other challenges have caused sustainability progress to stall.

Businesses considered ‘Fit for the Future’ have a more positive attitude to change and are more adaptable to challenges, meaning they can still focus on their sustainability strategies despite worries about the economy and other external factors.

The annual global study commissioned by Vodafone Business and conducted by B2B International, Fit for the Future surveyed 3,101 businesses across 15 countries, and finds three main barriers to sustainability success:

  • A large majority (71%) of businesses agree that greater collaboration between organisations is needed to make progress on sustainability challenges.

  • Technology remains a challenge, with a lack of tech skills (27%) and poorly informed decisions about green technology (26%) identified as barriers to sustainability progress.

  • Businesses recognise previous approaches are not enough and need to go beyond ‘offsetting’, with 54% stating that their sector has become too reliant on it.

The need for an ecosystem

Businesses understand the need to collaborate to mitigate the impact of climate change, with a real appetite to form new links and move forward with a sustainable ecosystem approach that will benefit everybody. They are willing to work with their competitors, as well as universities, charities, regulators and governments, to tackle the sustainability challenge together.

‘Fit for the Future’ businesses are willing to lead the way on improving sustainability within their sector, utilising their deeper understanding of the challenges faced and their willingness to collaborate with other organisations.

The right technology tools are critical

Technology can play a leading role in overcoming sustainability challenges, with many calling for another industrial revolution to create a more sustainable economy. ‘Fit for the Future’ businesses see the potential that technology can have as both an optimiser and a catalyst for change.

Organisations across all sectors see a lack of technology skills and poorly informed decisions about green technology as big barriers to progress on sustainability. These need to be overcome to realise the potential of technology.

Going beyond ‘offsetting’

Fit for the Future organisations understand previous approaches to sustainability are no longer enough and are becoming more active when it comes to sustainability, moving beyond ‘offsetting’ and taking real steps to act.

These businesses are taking a more holistic view on sustainability, which includes changing their supply chains, value chains and their wider spheres of influence. This is in direct response to increased scrutiny of businesses’ sustainability strategies, with many highlighting that an accusation of ‘greenwashing’ would have a detrimental impact on their reputation.

Vinod Kumar, CEO at Vodafone Business said: “Businesses clearly understand that sustainability challenges require collaboration with an ecosystem of companies and governments coming together in response. Technology also plays an important part in our battle for a sustainable future; IOT, for example, is already helping many businesses around the world to become more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprints. At Vodafone Business, we are collaborating on innovative projects and bringing new solutions to support businesses on both their sustainability and digital transformation journeys. Our partnership approach means we can help businesses that might be lacking the necessary technical skills or knowledge necessary to make the right decisions on technology investments.”

Read the full Fit for the Future Report here.

Research methodology

We started our Fit For The Future project with a programme of secondary research. Vodafone Business’ Insights team analysed many sources, drawing out and extrapolating themes and business needs. This thinking was then taken into qualitative and quantitative research to test it and dig deeper. Key business challenges were explored amongst businesses as a whole and through the lens of being “Fit For The Future”.

Our qualitative research took place in UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and South Africa and consisted of 31 depth interviews with business decision makers, investors and journalists. 3,101 businesses of all sizes and sectors were surveyed via a 15 minute survey across 15 different markets (Australia, China, Germany, Spain, Ireland, India, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, UAE, UK and USA).

About Vodafone

Unique in its scale as the largest pan-European and African technology communications company, Vodafone transforms the way we live and work through its innovation, technology, connectivity, platforms, products and services.

Vodafone operates mobile and fixed networks in 21 countries, and partners with mobile networks in 47 more. As of 30 June 2022, we had over 300m mobile customers, more than 28m fixed broadband customers and 22m TV customers. Vodafone is a world leader in the Internet of Things (IoT), connecting around 160m devices and platforms.

We have revolutionised fintech in Africa through M-Pesa, which celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2022. It is the region’s largest fintech platform, providing access to financial services for more than 50m people in a secure, affordable and convenient way.

Our purpose is to connect for a better future by using technology to improve lives, digitalise critical sectors and enable inclusive and sustainable digital societies.

We are committed to reducing our environmental impact to reach net zero emissions across our full value chain by 2040, while helping our customers reduce their own carbon emissions by 350m tonnes by 2030. We are driving action to reduce device waste and achieve our target to reuse, resell or recycle 100% of our network waste.

We believe in the power of connectivity and digital services to improve society and economies, partnering with governments to digitalise healthcare, education and agriculture and create cleaner, safer cities. Our products and services support the digitalisation of businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Our inclusion for all strategy seeks to ensure no-one is left behind through access to connectivity, digital skills and creating relevant products and services such as access to education, healthcare and finance. We are also committed to developing a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the customers and societies we serve.

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