23 March 2021: This report is the result of an in-depth survey conducted in Q4 2021, which took the pulse of over 1,000 executives from 39 countries around the world.
- Business transformations in technology (68%) and sustainability strategies (62%) most likely.
- ESG firmly on the C-suite agenda: three quarters plan to boost investment in sustainability initiatives and most have made public commitments on a range of ESG topics.
- But research suggests gap between intent and action.
We conduct our annual barometer to hear, and understand, the opportunities and challenges our clients are facing. One of the most notable findings of the study at the end of 2021 was the sense of confidence and resilience we uncovered: with the ongoing impact of the pandemic, rising inflation and the horrifying attack on Ukraine, these are qualities that are likely to be tested once again this year. Mark Kennedy Partner and member of the Group Executive Board
Tech and sustainability transformations ahead
Our research shows that leaders expect to transform their businesses, with technology and sustainability-related transformations being the most likely: nearly two thirds (62%) expect to transform their sustainability strategy in the coming years, second only to technology transformation (68%).
A sense of confidence and resilience
Businesses are confident they can respond to the trends ahead: 94% are confident they can respond to trends in technology/innovation; 91% are confident in responding to expectations for governance, ethics and social responsibility; and 90% are confident responding to new or higher regulatory requirements. And most (88%) believe they have the resilience to weather a crisis. In the face of increasing cyber risks, over two thirds (68%) are confident their data is completely protected.
ESG on the C-suite agenda: time to turn intent into actionable strategies
Businesses expect to transform their sustainability strategies, boost investment in sustainability initiatives, and are making public commitments on a range of ESG topics. Clearly ESG is in focus for C-suite executives.
Chris Fuggle, Co-Head of Sustainability at Mazars comments: “The big challenge is to turn intentions and commitments into achievable strategies. It is critical to build understanding of ESG at the highest level, embed it in the core business strategy, and have a plan that you follow through on a daily basis. This isn’t a quick fix, but the important thing is starting the journey.”
From strategy to action
Considering the transformations expected, confidence to respond to trends, investments planned, and commitments made on ESG, there appears to be a gap between intent and action.
Having the programmes in place and the right leaders with the right skills will be crucial. Our study identified the three most important skills leaders will need in the coming three to five years as: strategic vision and planning; analytical thinking and problem solving; innovation and creativity. With the focus on ESG and high confidence to respond to expectations for governance, ethics and social responsibility, it’s perhaps surprising that ‘sense of purpose for the organisation’s future’, ‘strong ethics to drive and lead responsibly’ and ‘emotional intelligence’ are lower down the list.
Kennedy comments: “Competition for talent is fierce, particularly with the rise of ESG and people’s expectations of how businesses should behave. Organisations that can demonstrate their values and their vision, and who can develop, recruit and empower their people with the right skills, have the opportunity to build competitive advantage.”
Our research shows businesses feel prepared and confident to respond to the trends and transformations ahead. But to deliver on their promises they need to focus investments and ensure their strategies are achievable. Now is the time for action.
Download the full report
About the study
The Mazars C-suite barometer was designed and conducted by GQR Research, in collaboration with Mazars. The data was gathered via an online survey between 24 September 2021 and 25 October 2021. The total sample is N=1,130, with 1096 sourced from online panels and 34 invited via email directly from Mazars.