Employees Skeptical of CEO's Sustainable Strategy

Sustainable LeadershipLeadership StrategiesEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceLeadershipSustainability
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2月 07, 2022
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Sustainable LeadershipLeadership StrategiesEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceLeadershipSustainability
Executive Summary
Russell Reynolds Associates' research report, "Divides and Dividends" was featured in Expansión.

Excerpt from article originally published in Expansión by Ana Medinar

Russell Reynolds Associates' research report, "Divides and Dividends" was featured in Expansión.

More than half of the managers say that their company has implemented a sustainability strategy, but only 25% of workers agree.

55% of Spanish companies' senior management assures their organization has a sustainability strategy that has been clearly implemented and communicated, but only 25% of the employees agree with this statement. It is one of the conclusions of the study Divides and dividends: leadership actions for a more sustainable future, by Russell Reynolds, an executive search and leadership advisory firm. The study is the result of the first international survey, conducted among more than 9,500 managers, employees and leaders of the next generation of companies in eleven countries, including Spain, which reveals what executives and workers think about the efforts to advance the sustainable agenda, at a time when responsible business practices will be essential for recovery after the pandemic.

The percentage of 55% of the Spanish senior management is much higher than the world average 43%, whereas 25% of national employees is slightly below the rest of the world's average of 29%. In Russell Reynolds' view, this perception gap is worrying and requires compelling communication plans to ensure the commitment of the entire organization.


The survey also shows that 33% of Spanish executives say that their CEO is personally committed to advancing sustainability and that progress has been made, well below the world average 51%. When asked about the driving force of their sustainability actions, 37% cited brand management concerns: they want to be seen as socially responsible and reputable or use sustainability for competitive differentiation, compared to 45% worldwide. For 24%, value creation sets the agenda (21% worldwide) and 20% talk about avoiding risk (17% worldwide).

Spanish managers and employees, like their counterparts in other countries, identify the main threats facing society. Both groups cite climate change and the global pandemic as major problems. For Spanish managers, the pandemic is the greatest threat (33%), followed by climate change (32%). For workers, climate change ranks first (41%) and the pandemic third (31%). The only notable divergence is that the latter cite corruption and abuses of power as a critical problem (second, with 32%), but ranks only fifth in the list of managers' concerns (23%). Executives, on the other hand, tend to focus more on environmental issues, such as deforestation and biodiversity loss (third place, with 26%), and pollution (fourth, with 25%).

On sustainability issues affecting their workplace, both groups talk about economic problems, such as the pandemic and the shortage of workers with in-demand skills. Employees feel that economic inequalities are a major problem (2nd place), but come in fifth place in managers' priorities. Similarly, employees consider corruption and abuses of power to be the fourth biggest problem in their workplace, while for senior management they rank ninth.

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