I was sat in the foyer cafe of one of the most impressive corporate headquarters I have ever visited, formalising a business relationship with the company's Head of Sustainability. In the cavernous main foyer space groups of surprisingly young sharp suited men and women were being politely ushered between presentations on different aspects of the company's operations given by its top executives.
"It's investor day." explained my companion looking over at the suits, "This is one of the reasons we need to up our game - to keep these guys happy."
When I was writing The Green Executive two years ago, I considered including investor pressure in the business case for sustainability, but ultimately omitted it as none of the executives I interviewed for the book cited it as a driver. When I asked the question, I got equivocal answers. But times change, so is investor pressure now a compelling reason to take sustainability seriously?
Well, according to consultants PwC, increasingly so. In a report released earlier this year, they identified seven pieces of evidence pointing in this direction:
1. Sustainability shareholder resolutions gaining traction - more people are voting for them.
2. Steady growth in sustainable investment in the last 15 years.
3. Studies suggest positive relationships between sustainability and financial performance.
4. Financial institutions are forming sustainability research departments.
5. Entry of well-funded financial information providers into the sustainability information provision business.
6. New research shows that investors are keen to access sustainability data.
7. Growing interest among institutional investors.
So the conclusion seems to be investor interest is increasing rapidly and will soon start telling - suggesting that this is indeed one more reason to stay ahead of the curve on sustainability.