Gap between net-zero pledges and action at many companies

CEOs drag down net-zero action by ignoring operations managers


Laura Miller

Less than half of UK, US, and German companies have made significant changes to their daily operations to decarbonise, according to a survey.

Only 41% of 300 corporates in those nations, whose operations managers were surveyed by ESG software and data company Sphera, had made any changes.

A third (32%) said their firms do not align with science-based emissions targets.   

This is despite 85% of the companies now having a net-zero strategy, and 78% having allocated extra budget to sustainability and net-zero initiatives.

One reason for the discrepancy may be accountability for net zero is too heavily concentrated at the top, with 95% of respondents saying it sits solely with C-suite and board of directors.

Net-zero responsibilities are not being shared with operations managers, the research found. This goes against demand among them to be included.

Net zero operations

Two-fifths of operations managers receive little or no encouragement to contribute suggestions on improving the environmental sustainability of business operations, according to the survey.

Many operations managers are “passionate” about climate change, however, and are pushing for change. Four in 10 want carbon targets included in their performance reviews, according to the survey.

In addition to being passionate about the environment at their workplace, operations managers also emerge as being deeply concerned about the environment in their personal lives.

More than a third (35%) describe themselves as “highly supportive” of the need for radical climate action, and 32% drive an electric car.  

Paul Marushka, Sphera’s CEO and president, said: “With high levels of personal and professional commitment to sustainability, operations managers have emerged as the secret weapon for businesses in the fight for more sustainable operations. 

“Yet many companies are experiencing a gap between carbon pledges and operational practices because of limited involvement by operations managers.”

Operations managers have the influence and desire to help drive decarbonisation across business operations, supplier and partner networks, and need the data, software and best practices to do so, he added.

Marushka said: “Transparent tracking of decarbonisation results is the missing link between business net-zero pledges and practices that lead to progress.

“Operations managers are consistently calling for more frequent measurement of progress towards decarbonisation at every level.”

Latest Stories