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New Report Shows Investors Tie Sustainability Performance to Financial Performance

In May 2016, MIT Sloan Management Review , in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a report entitled “Investing for a Sustainable Future.” This was the 7th consecutive year of the review. The takeaways are that investors increasingly associate sustainability performance with financial performance.

The report includes results from a survey of over 7,000 managers from 113 countries. The survey included questions about the importance of corporate sustainability. The results also break down answers from executives and investors to reach further conclusions. The investors included a wide range of institutional and strategic investors, ranging from pension funds to asset management companies.

Compared to results of previous years, it is clear that sustainability is becoming more and more important. This year’s survey found that investors believe that sustainability is important for a variety of reasons. The top reason is that good sustainability performance creates tangible value for the company. Other reasons include improved revenue potential and operational efficiency. According to the report, nearly half of investors say that they won’t invest in a company with a record of poor sustainability performance. Though, only a third of investors say that they consider inclusion on sustainability indices, like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, when considering an investment.

The report points to other studies which have shown similar results. A Harvard Business School study found that there is a strong correlation with ESG performance and strong valuations, expected growth, and lower costs of capital. Another 2015 review by Arabesque found that 80% of 200 studies concluded that good sustainability practices influence stock price.

Although investors are keeping a close watch on sustainability performance, companies are still struggling to define sustainability within their own company. Only 25% of respondents report that they have a positive business case for sustainability, even though 48% reported that they have a strong CEO commitment to sustainability.

The bottom line is that sustainability is becoming a key indicator for investors when evaluating the value of an investment. This is true for both large, publicly-traded companies, and smaller, venture-backed companies. Gone are the days when sustainability was just a box that you would check.  Today, more than ever before, investors are looking for companies that incorporate sustainability into their core mission.

Download and read the full report here.

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