A NEW REPORT out this week has revealed that nine out of ten current CEOs and future business leaders believe that companies should have a social purpose.
The study – a joint initiative between Coca-Cola Enterprises, Cranfield University and The Financial Times – also revealed that while 86% of current leaders think businesses are already putting this into practice, just a fifth of the younger generation agrees they are doing so – showing a clear gap between the views of today’s CEOs and the next generation.
The results were collated from the views of 50 CEOs and almost 150 MBA and MSc students and recent graduates across Europe, and will be launched today in London at the Future for Sustainability Summit: Enhancing the Value of Business.
The research indicates that both current and future leaders agree that a business’ profit and the ability to provide shareholder value are the best barometers of business success today. However, the groups disagree on how that may change in the future. While the overwhelming majority of current CEOs feel that profitability and shareholder value will remain key in the future (94% and 88%, respectively), the findings suggest future leaders have higher expectations of the role business should play, claiming that societal and environmental impact (80%), innovation (61%) and development of future talent (57%) will be more important indicators of business success in the years to come.
The two groups also differ in opinion about the barriers to businesses combining social purpose with profit. Two-thirds of CEOs (66%) view external factors such as government and regulation as the main barrier, while the majority of future leaders cite internal factors, such as current management attitudes (55%).
“Forward-looking organizations are already focusing on how to balance profit and purpose, and there is clearly a growing expectation on businesses to do this,” said John F. Brock, Chairman and CEO of CCE. “Today’s leaders play an essential role in integrating environmental and social issues into strategic decision making, but future generations have even higher expectations of business. It’s clear that social and environmental purpose will increase in importance in the years to come, and that collaborative innovation is the key to unlocking success.”