More than half of senior executives polled indicated that their respective companies have a formal sustainability strategy in place, while another 31 percent said they are either working on a plan or expect to eventually adopt one.

In the study, "Corporate Sustainability: A Progress Report," Big Four firm KPMG surveyed 378 senior executives, including 86 from the U.S.

The survey was released in connection with the launch of the KPMG Global Center of Excellence in Climate Change & Sustainability, based in the Netherlands.

The findings also confirm that U.S. companies are closing the gap with their counterparts elsewhere. More than 62 percent of executives globally say they have implemented a formal sustainability program.

 “These results are encouraging and we see highly focused companies continuing to make progress in developing and implementing sustainability strategies that they say result in greater profitability and efficiency,” said John R. Hickox, who leads KPMG’s Climate Change & Sustainability practice in the Americas. “Many others remain challenged, however, as to what issues or measures they should use for reporting their environmental health, safety and corporate social responsibility program results to stakeholders – and how to utilize those metrics to transform their business operations,” added Hickox .

When asked to identify the key business drivers for implementing sustainability-related business objectives within their companies, the U.S.  executives cited enhancing brand reputation (37 percent), regulatory or legal compliance (35 percent), reducing costs (34 percent), product or service differentiation (24 percent), and increasing profitability and managing sustainability risks (both 23 percent). Other business drivers included: customer retention (20 percent), staying competitive (15 percent), generating shareholder value (13 percent), and recruitment and employee retention (8 percent).

More than 43 percent of the U.S. respondents also said that it was difficult to overcome organizational focus on other programs that provide more readily measureable short-term financial benefits.

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