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One in four European business leaders believe they can’t reduce environmental impact

New research released today by Ricoh Europe reveals that one in four business leaders believe their organisation can’t make improvements when it comes to reducing its impact on the environment.

Research conducted by Opinion Matters for Ricoh Europe polled 1,500 business decision-makers across Europe. It reveals that 60% agree that there is no incentive for the C-suite to help mitigate the company’s negative environmental impact. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds (65%) are unsure about, or don’t have the resources, to achieve meaningful change. Yet 67% say that their employees care more about how environmentally sustainable the company is now compared to five years ago.

The findings suggest business decision-makers find it hard to know where to begin when it comes to improving their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) performance. This is despite a significant push by the EU to help businesses improve their ESG performance, including the availability of funding and assets through projects such as InvestEU and Digital Europe.

Only 27% of business leaders say they have set long-term environmental sustainability goals – meaning most have failed to implement a basic roadmap for change. There is hope that this will soon change, following the COP26 Summit where world leaders pledged to help end deforestation, phase out coal and lower methane emissions.

The lack of planning and action is thrown into sharp relief by the fact most businesses (65%) recognise the importance of environmental sustainability for their competitiveness in the market they operate in.

Combining digital transformation efforts with a clearly articulated ESG framework is one way businesses could start to see benefits across their organisation.

David Mills, CEO, Ricoh Europe, says: “The first step is often the hardest in any business change programme. There will be many areas where improving operations or productivity overlaps with ESG goals, so it can be the ideal place for businesses to start.

“Digital transformation is one thing that can help drive operational and ESG gains. This can prove particularly attractive given the EU has established programmes to help businesses digitise and improve sustainable performance as part of its pandemic recovery strategy. But making any changes towards ESG goals needs to be complemented with a clear framework and commitment to measurable success.

“At Ricoh, we align our business and ESG strategy with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rather than being a hindrance, aligning to the SDGs to improve our environmental and social performance is a competitive advantage. The tide is most certainly shifting. The stark reality is that those businesses that do not contribute to improving environmental and societal outcomes will ultimately be ignored by the market.”

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