The survey Sustainability in Finland 2019 by FIBS that was published today tells that Finnish companies have woken up to the reality of climate change. As many as 87% of the corporate executives and experts that responded to the survey stated that climate change would be an important or very important focus area of responsibility for their organisation during the next 12 months. Climate change was considered to be even more important than ethics (79%) or the circular economy (71%).
In contrast, companies have not yet understood the need to protect biodiversity, another major global challenge: biodiversity is the least important topic for companies, and only 8% of the respondents mentioned it as a very important focus area.
“At the latest, the climate report published by IPCC last October seems to have opened the eyes of business representatives,” says Manager Ulla Roiha, FIBS. “Companies are starting to understand their role as drivers of change towards sustainable development increasingly broadly. There are good reasons for this, even from the purely financial point of view.”
“However, it is very concerning that biodiversity was considered the least important focus area. Hopefully the recently published UN’s Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services will make companies understand quickly that protecting the natural capital is a vital necessity for both business as well as the whole planet,” Roiha emphasises.
Surprising support for regulation
Based on FIBS’s survey, companies want support from legislators for promoting sustainable development. The majority of respondents (55%) thought that global challenges should be solved primarily through legislation and international treaties.
“The hope for an equal operating field determined by regulations is understandable,” says Ulla Roiha. “However, it was surprising how little faith companies had in the voluntary actions by consumers and companies in solving global problems such as climate change. 47% of companies considered voluntary actions by consumers as the worst solution.”
The GDPR regulation is a reminder to take care of customer information and the protection of privacy
As many as 94% of the respondents stated that securing customer information and privacy was a part of their corporate responsibility measures. A year earlier, the same number was 85%. This seems to have been inspired by the end of the transition period of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU in last May.
Supporting the equality, equal opportunities and diversity of the personnel rose nearly to the top of corporate responsibility measures; 93% of the respondents stated that it had been included in the action plan of their organisation.
“This may be a result of the #metoo scandals and other equality and diversity discussions,” Ulla Roiha says. “It is great to see that social themes are coming up on the companies’ agendas. You could consider that companies that listen to their operating environment and act in accordance with its expectations are also in a good position with regard to an ethical review of their activities and building trust with their stakeholders, which in turn strengthens their competitiveness.”
FIBS’s corporate responsibility survey is the most extensive survey in the field in Finland. The survey offers a comprehensive overview of the practices, challenges and future outlook of the corporate social responsibility-related activities of large and medium-sized Finnish companies. The survey has been conducted every year starting from 2013.
In the recent 2019 survey, the participants included 188 managing directors/CEOs, heads of corporate responsibility and experts from the thousand largest companies in Finland (the database of Suomen Asiakastieto Oy) as well as some of the most important cooperatives and other actors. The survey was carried out through telephone interviews as well as electronic forms with information provided by telephone. The interviews were conducted from 10 January to 5 April 2019. The survey was conducted by T-Media.