According to a new study conducted by the American Marketing Association and Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., nearly one in six (58%) corporate marketers and communicators think their organizations will increase involvement in environmental sustainability initiatives over the next two to three years, and half believe the economy will actually encourage the adoption of sustainable practices.

More than half of those who participated in the  sustainability survey (pdf) believe that sustainability is an essential element of their company’s reputation right now. The study also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents believe that corporate reputation, corporate culture and technological advancements will be the drivers for sustainability, while 63% say the Obama administration’s policies will further accelerate the adoption of corporate sustainability programs.

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Reality Tempers Optimism

While the majority of companies will continue to invest in sustainability initiatives during the next year, the study found that the ways in which companies anticipate communicating that commitment are mixed. About 43% of respondents expect their companies to increase marketing of their sustainability programs and say they will do so for the following reasons:

* Because it is the right thing to do
* Because customers are asking for more information
* Because it is supportive of the corporate culture
* Because sustainability offers a clear and distinct business advantage

Additional study findings:

* The majority (53%) of respondents define sustainability as the need to balance financial, human and natural resources for the long-term benefit of business and communities.

*  Few define sustainability in terms of focusing on renewable energy resources (3%) or driving inefficiency out of the supply chain (10%).

* Employees (82%) and customers (74%) are more likely to be the targets of communications about sustainability than are investors and analysts (52%).

* Even the most popular sustainability programs – recycling (36%) and electric energy efficiency (20%) – are extensively embraced by only a minority of businesses.

About the study:  Findings are based on an online panel survey of 270 corporate communications professionals, primarily those holding marketing or public relations jobs.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.