SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

Aberdeen Group

June 24, 2009 11:45 ET

Sustainability Is the New "Green"

Research of 1,607 Executives From 36 Countries Identifies Sustainability as One of the Top 5 Priorities in 2009

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - June 24, 2009) - Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), announced the release of its The 2009 State of the Market: Mid Year Insights Report which found that for more and more companies, positive social and environmental performance is inextricably tied to a vision of long-term viability and success, however, sustainability is not synonymous with "green" or environmental initiatives. Throughout the past year, Aberdeen's research shows that leading companies have made a resoundingly strong business case for the adoption of genuine sustainability strategies to drive demonstrable business results -- from bottom line cost reductions and enhanced brand value, to optimized performance and ability to attract and satisfy customers, partners and employees.

The report finds that sustainability is an increasingly important aspect of corporate strategy. Across a wide array of sectors, representing firms of all sizes and from all geographies, sustainability and corporate responsibility have grown in importance even as the economy has become more challenging. The emergence of responsibility-framed strategies for business sustainability underscores the increasing importance of social and environmental stewardship to shareholders, customers, trading partners, and regulators alike. The increasing integration of sustainability criteria into organizational strategy marks a dramatic shift in the culture of the business ecosystem worldwide. Indeed, this shift in vision and action has decisively transformed the global market and the very nature of internal and external processes, requirements, alliances, and opportunities.

Based upon findings from over 700 companies worldwide, results continue to demonstrate that sustainability initiatives are increasingly championed by C-level executives. A robust 84% of all respondents already have (65%), or plan to have (19%), executive leadership for their company-wide sustainability strategy. Further demonstrating the continued importance of sustainability even in the current economic climate, for 71% of respondents, dedicated sustainability budgets are either being maintained at current levels (34%) or are being increased (37%). Only 3% of respondents indicated that their sustainability budget will decrease.

Our research further reveals that top performing organizations with responsibility-framed strategies have achieved dramatic competitive advantages. In fact, sustainability-driven top performers have reaped impressive rewards across the value chain -- from bottom line cost reductions and enhanced brand value to optimized performance and an improved ability to attract and satisfy customers, trading partners, and talent. Results from Aberdeen research demonstrates that leading companies have made a resoundingly strong business case for the adoption and expansion of genuine, sustainability strategies and initiatives. However, for too many companies sustainability is a focus for the benefits it delivers according to metrics that are not measured at all, unevenly measured, or not communicated. As a result, the positive impact of sustainability initiatives on the efficiency, quality, and resilience of a company is often only anecdotally understood while the work of making the business case in quantitative as well as qualitative terms is unevenly attended to.

A key takeaway of the report is that CEOs who don't have a sustainability strategy in place should immediately benchmark current performance while investigating opportunities to drive measurable linked to desirable business, social and environmental outcomes.

About The 2009 Aberdeen Report State of the Market: Mid Year Insights:

Each section of the report is designed to serve two purposes: 1) educate the CEO on key trends, initiatives and developments; and 2) provide guidance to functional leaders as they encounter new challenges, embrace new opportunities and adapt to the changing economic environment, providing executive teams with a roadmap to navigate through uncertain times. A copy of the report can be obtained at: http://resources.aberdeen.com/2009AberdeenReport

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen provides fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having queried more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to Aberdeen for insights that drive decisions. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) 854-5200, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748.

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