More than half of global company leaders are looking to redefine ESG goals and become more purpose led.

This is just one of the findings revealed in a recent survey of business leaders by HLB International. The HLB Survey of Business Leaders 2023 collected 575 survey responses from business leaders across 60 countries and a range of industry backgrounds between September and November last year.

15 per cent of respondents said their businesses already identified as purpose-led businesses and a further 37 per cent said they attempted to meet wider stakeholder expectations in their ESG goals.

This reflects the increasing need for business leaders to recognise that investors, customers and employees are demanding strong ESG principles.

However, there remains work to be done, as the survey shows. 40 per cent of respondents indicated they only complete the ESG actions required by regulators, rather than treat the wider themes of sustainability as an opportunity for innovation. A further eight per cent do not have any established ESG goals at all.

While ESG commitments can be overlooked amid ongoing market turmoil, it is important that companies remember that sustainability and profitability aren’t mutually exclusive.

Wider commitments to ESG practices, social welfare, and good governance can actually help leaders weather disruption and emerge stronger from it with a more sustainable and profitable business model.

Many investors for example are finding companies that have strong ESG practices in place more attractive. A company that can clearly communicate its ESG objectives demonstrates a commitment to acting as a good corporate citizen.

The survey also highlighted the challenging period ahead which has been deemed the ‘permacrisis’, defined as an extended period of instability and insecurity and identifies eight major risks facing global businesses.

Over half of respondents now feel acutely concerned about the impacts of inflation (82 per cent), economic uncertainty (79 per cent), geopolitical risks (74 per cent), rising resource costs (71 per cent), rising interest rates (64 per cent), access to talent (61 per cent), exchange rate volatility (60 per cent), and cybersecurity issues (60 per cent). Climate risks and social instability were also of concern, at 58 per cent and 49 per cent respectively.

In terms of the technologies that will be of most importance to business over the next five years, artificial intelligence was the highest ranked at 50 per cent, followed by cloud computing at 47 per cent, and renewable energy technologies at 40 per cent.