U.S. Companies Implement Sustainability Strategies to Drive Revenues

Feb. 15, 2018

Survey Findings Show Firms with Enterprise-Wide Sustainability Framework Report Better Revenue, Borrowing and Credit-Rating Outcomes. ING's sustainability report, 'From Sustainability to Business Value – Finance as a Catalyst', published today, finds that revenue growth is the most important factor when deciding to implement sustainability strategies, as 39 percent of respondents ranked this first. Cutting costs (35 percent) and brand reputation (30 percent), followed. ING commissioned this research to better understand how financing and other lending products can support its goal to help build a low carbon, sustainable society.

The "most mature" firms in the research – those with an enterprise-wide sustainability framework in place – reported better borrowing and revenue outcomes than peers. The report surveyed 210 finance executives from U.S. based companies across all major sectors with revenues from $500m to over $20 billion on the impact of sustainability strategies including improving energy efficiency, rethinking supply chains and transforming business models.

"We are witnessing an important shift in how companies in the United States view sustainability. Our research shows that it is no longer just about cutting costs or creating positive brand awareness ­– sustainability strategies are being deployed as true revenue drivers," said Gerald Walker, CEO, ING Americas. "The finance function holds the key to unlocking the business value of these strategies, and are crucial to pushing the sustainable agenda in the U.S. as the industry continues to mature."

For organizations to translate sustainability initiatives – such as circular economy operating models – into business value, the support from finance and treasury leaders is critical. Almost all respondents say their finance departments are playing a role in sustainability, with 53 percent saying that the department is the lead partner within the firm. Notable results from the survey include:

"The increasing demand for green financing marks an inflection point. Our survey found larger firms have attracted a new breed of investors focused on meeting socially responsible investment mandates," said Leonie Schreve, Global Head of Sustainable Finance at ING. "We expect this trend to now expand to organizations of all sizes, as respondents across the board reported an increased appetite to both issue green bonds and undertake green loans."


ING believes financial institutions have a duty to explore how their financing can help support energy transition and combat climate change. Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING, has taken on the role of 'climate finance champion' in the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, an informal network of CEOs established and strengthened with the help of the World Economic Forum ahead of the Paris Agreement in 2015 and announced in a session in Davos this year.

View the report here.



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