Sustainability: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage

SPECIAL REPORT: Sustainability & Innovation

February 10, 2011

MIT Sloan Management Review

How fast are businesses adopting sustainability-driven management? New study results reveal two distinct camps: ’embracers’ and ‘cautious adopters.’ And the practices of the embracers may be providing a snapshot of how the management future will look. 

This report on the second annual Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group reveals two distinct camps of companies: “embracers” — those who place sustainability high on their agenda — and “cautious adopters,” who have yet to focus on more than energy cost savings, material efficiency, and risk mitigation. The report identifies seven specific practices exhibited by embracer companies, which together begin to define sustainability-driven management. These include the need to move early, even if you don’t have complete information; to be authentic and transparent both internally and with the external stakeholders; and to work aggressively to “de-silo” sustainability, integrating it throughout company operations.


 • Improved brand reputation is perceived as the biggest benefit of addressing sustainability.

• Automotive is seen as the industry for which sustainability is most critical now.

• The commitment of the cautious adopters to sustainability is increasing at a far faster rate than that of the embracers.

• Most companies — whether currently embracers or not — are looking toward a world where sustainability is becoming a mainstream, if not required, part of the business strategy.


This topic will be further explored and discussed at the Association for Sustainability in Business Conference titled, ‘Taking Care of Business: Sustainable Transformations’ on the Gold Coast in September 2011.

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