SAP report reveals insight from its sustainability survey

Renaud Heyd, SAP UK’s CFO comments on the recent SAP sustainability report, which shares critical insight from its survey of 4,700 business leaders

Despite leaders across Europe demonstrating their intent when it comes to making sustainability progress, companies continue to be obstructed by barriers of their own making. 

That’s according to SAP’s annual Sustainability Report, which reveals more than eight in 10 (85%) bosses will maintain or increase their investments in sustainability action by 2026. 

But, while 27% of European businesses say environmental action is already having a strong impact on revenue and profit opportunities, just 13% have assigned accountability for this work to the CFO.

What’s more, almost one-in-three (31%) have difficulty proving ROI, making long-term progress harder to prove and sustain.

In carrying out its research, SAP surveyed 4,700 business leaders, including more than 1,700 within Europe. The study explores the key motivations and challenges facing organisations looking to reduce their environmental impact at scale.

Shifting incentives for sustainability action

Measures to safeguard the planet may, in the past, have been seen as a moral or ethical obligation, but today’s business mindset is rapidly evolving.

European businesses are increasingly seeing the long-term financial benefits, with almost two in five (37%) reporting that revenue and profit opportunities are a leading motivator for sustainability action.

And, against a backdrop of inflation, supply chain issues and the rising cost of living, European leaders are increasingly steadfast in their environmental commitments as they view sustainability action as a means to offset economic uncertainty. 

Almost three in five (59%) of European leaders expect to see a positive financial return on their sustainability investments within the next five years.

“Our study shows it’s time for finance leaders to realise that having a solid sustainability action plan makes business sense,” comments Renaud Heyd, CFO at SAP in the UK and Ireland.

“It’s imperative to attract funding from investors who need to make their portfolio greener, and to get a competitive advantage as customers demand sustainable products throughout the supply chain.

“As taking steps to improve the planet becomes more than just an ethical question and leaders see long-term material gains, CFOs have the authority and expertise to champion the environmental roadmap.” 

Assigning sustainability strategy to the CFO

In spite of the link between environmental action and long-term revenue generation, SAP’s research shows businesses are not involving finance leaders in taking sustainability action, which is holding back progress. 

Currently, just 7% of European businesses have assigned responsibility for setting the strategic direction on sustainability action to their organisation’s CFO. 

Instead, this is falling to a variety of other leaders, including the Board of Directors (24%), CEOs (24%), COOs (10%) and Chief Risk Officers (9%). 

Moreover, the study suggests this approach isn’t effectively translating the economic value of sustainability progress across the business.

As many as 30% of businesses cite funding issues as one of the top five barriers to taking sustainability action, while a further 19% cannot obtain the support of senior stakeholders to take action.

Read the full report: SAP Sustainability Report 2023


For more insights into Sustainability - check out the latest edition of Sustainability Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter

Other magazines that may be of interest - EV Magazine | Energy Digital


Sustainability LIVE Net Zero will be hosted live from the QEII Centre, London on the 6th and 7th of March, and streamed globally via our virtual event platform Brella. Sustainability LIVE Net Zero will delve deeper into the strategies, innovations, and collaborative efforts propelling us toward a net-zero future. The conference and exhibition gives the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and actively contribute to crafting a sustainable future. 

Following Sustainability LIVE Net Zero, viewers can also sign up for Sustainability LIVE Dubai, Singapore and New York.

Sign up to the The Global Sustainability & ESG Awards 2024, coming to London on the 10th September 2024. 


BizClik is a global provider of B2B digital media platforms that cover 'Executive Communities' for CEO's, CFO's, CMO's, Sustainability Leaders, Procurement & Supply Chain Leaders, Technology & AI Leaders, Cyber Leaders, FinTech & InsurTech Leaders as well as covering industries such as Manufacturing, Mining, Energy, EV, Construction, Healthcare + Food & Drink.

BizClik, based in London, Dubai & New York offers services such as Content Creation, Advertising & Sponsorship Solutions, Webinars & Events.


Featured Articles

Why ESG Executives must Attend Sustainability LIVE Net Zero

Sustainability & ESG executives have the opportunity to hear the world’s best sustainability leaders as they present and discuss the future of net zero

Sustainability LIVE Net Zero Speakers: Tech and Mobility

New speakers join the lineup as Sustainability LIVE Net Zero recruits leaders to discuss technology, mobility, and carbon reduction through innovation

COMING SOON: Top 100 Women in Sustainability 2024

This March in honour of International Women’s Day, Sustainability Magazine will release its annual Top 100 Women supplement

Sustainability LIVE Net Zero: Conservation and Travel

Net Zero

Capgemini Sponsors Sustainability LIVE Net Zero Conference

Net Zero

Sustainability LIVE Net Zero: Decarbonised Future with AI

Net Zero