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Deloitte Global Survey Reveals CEOs Face Growing Pressure to Prioritize Human Sustainability

Deloitte Global Survey Reveals CEOs Face Growing Pressure to Prioritize Human Sustainability

In a recent report released by Deloitte and independent research firm Workplace Intelligence, a compelling trend has emerged: CEOs are increasingly feeling the heat to enhance human sustainability within their organizations.

This comprehensive survey, now in its third year, underscores the significant pressures from employees, customers, and board members, driving the need for businesses to prioritize the well-being and growth of their workforce.


Key Takeaways

  • 80% of CEOs feel pressured to enhance human sustainability

  • 88% of leaders are willing to tie compensation to sustainability metrics

  • Significant gaps exist between executive perceptions and employee realities

  • Public reporting of sustainability metrics is crucial for accountability


Growing Demand for Human Sustainability

The study reveals that approximately 80% of CEOs report feeling pressured by various stakeholders to make public commitments to human sustainability. Specifically, 82% of employees, 78% of customers, and 77% of both partners and board members are urging leaders to advance human sustainability initiatives.

This growing demand highlights the shift in focus towards creating value for people as human beings, encompassing aspects such as health, well-being, skill enhancement, and equity.

Leaders Embrace Responsibility

Interestingly, the pressure is not met with resistance but with enthusiasm. A staggering 88% of leaders express a willingness to link their compensation to human sustainability metrics. Furthermore, 71% believe that leadership should change if it fails to advance human sustainability.

This readiness reflects a broader recognition of human sustainability as an enterprise risk that warrants continuous measurement and board-level discussion.

Disparities in Perception

Despite these encouraging trends, significant gaps exist between executives' perceptions and workers' realities. While 82% of executives believe their companies are advancing human sustainability, only 56% of workers agree.

This disconnect is evident in the belief that work is a positive force in employees' lives—90% of executives think so, compared to just 60% of employees.

Workforce Well-Being: A Critical Component

The focus on workforce well-being, a key element of human sustainability, continues to be a priority. However, only about one-third of workers report improvements in physical (34%), mental (32%), financial (35%), and social (31%) well-being.

In contrast, at least 70% of executives believe these aspects have improved for their employees, further highlighting the perception gap.

Potential Benefits of Commitment

Commitment to human sustainability holds promise for enhancing employee experience and engagement. Approximately 70% of workers believe increased commitment would boost their job satisfaction, productivity, and long-term loyalty to the company.

Additionally, 69% feel it would enhance their trust in leadership.

Public Reporting and Accountability

A significant 82% of executives agree that companies should publicly report their human sustainability metrics.

However, 81% acknowledge that their organizations fall short of making these commitments public. Many leaders cite the triviality of achievable goals as a reason for hesitance, with 32% feeling embarrassed to publicize them.

The Importance of Understanding Worker Experiences

The Deloitte report highlights a critical shift in the corporate world towards prioritizing human sustainability. While significant strides have been made, the disparity between executive perception and employee reality necessitates a more profound understanding of worker experiences. Embracing human sustainability can foster long-term benefits for both businesses and their people, driving a more inclusive and equitable future.

“It’s promising that so many of today’s leaders are willing to take ownership of human sustainability,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence. “However, some executives don’t realize that their own employees are dealing with a suboptimal work experience. The disconnects uncovered in our research should be a call to action for leaders as they embark on their mission to create greater value for all stakeholders within the broader human ecosystem.”

“Embracing human sustainability can have benefits for both business and people,” said Paul Silverglate, U.S. Executive Accelerators leader and Deloitte's US Technology Sector vice chair. “Today’s C-suite has an opportunity to help ensure it is prioritized at the highest levels of their organizations, helping them become more rewarding and productive places to work.”

“There is an incredible momentum building for organizations to make meaningful change,” added Jen Fisher, retired managing director at Deloitte US. “But leaders should move away from a legacy mindset that centers on extracting value from people and instead embrace the concept of human sustainability, which can support the long-term, collective well-being of individuals, organizations and society.”

Ongoing Debates and Regulatory Changes

The momentum for human sustainability is building, and regulatory changes may soon follow. Companies need to stay ahead by proactively addressing these challenges and committing to transparent reporting. As the landscape evolves, the role of leaders in driving meaningful change cannot be overstated.

This detailed overview presents the essential findings and insights from Deloitte's latest research on human sustainability, highlighting the growing importance of this critical issue in the corporate world.

For further details, access the full report here.


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