Would financial incentives persuade your organisation to become greener?

A survey highlights that financial professionals believe that financial incentives and new environmental legislation are key to persuading organisations to reduce their negative environmental impact.

The research was carried out with 110 senior financial professionals (finance directors and managers) across a range of UK public and private sector organisations.

According to the survey, 39% of senior finance professionals state that financial incentives alone are most likely to persuade their organisations to become more environmentally conscious, a 15% increase on the results from the survey.

Just under a third (32%) state that new environmental legislation, combined with penalties for non-conformance, would influence their organisation to become greener, compared to just 8% in 2008.

Of the remaining respondents, 11% state that a move to shared services would encourage greener operations and 10% believe that the introduction of a Government-led green education programme is the answer. The final 8% suggest that an upturn in the economy is vital to moving green issues higher up the corporate agenda.

The survey also highlights that 66% of senior finance professionals are “concerned” about the negative impact their company is having on the environment. This figure is significantly lower than the 94% of finance professionals who admitted that they were “concerned” in the same survey three years ago.

20% state that they are “not concerned” about their company’s environmental impact, compared to just 3% previously. The remaining 14% of those surveyed “didn’t know” if they were concerned by their organisation’s environmental impact or not!

The survey results appear reflective of today’s challenging market conditions. Given the UK’s fragile economy, it is perhaps unsurprising that senior finance professionals are now less concerned about their organisations’ environmental impact compared with three years’ ago.

It is also of little surprise that finance professionals believe that their organisations are more likely to take the green agenda seriously if the Government provides financial incentives or enforces UK-wide environmental legislation for businesses. Without a compelling ‘reason to act’, organisations will continue to drop the green agenda down their priority lists whilst they deal with more pressing economic matters.

Despite the apparent downward shift in environmental concern, finance professionals remain convinced of the business benefits of ‘going green’. 90% confirm that going green is still a key consideration within their organisation’s current buying process, with 18% of these stating that this consideration was now ‘more important than ever’. 6% believe that going green is not a factor within their purchasing while only 4% admit that becoming greener is no longer a priority.

In light of the survey findings, the question is raised as to whether businesses’ concern for the environment is merely limited to a ‘tick box’ on a tender document. Whatever organisations’ true motivations might be, it is important that they do not lose sight of the green agenda.

Government pressure will continue to be placed on businesses, encouraging them to operate in a more sustainable manner and so finding technologies and processes that support greener ways of operating should remain high priorities, even at a time of economic austerity.

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Julian Buck is Managing Director of Version One. Julian was previously customer services and support director at COA Solutions, one of Version One’s largest resellers.