Research into how Nordic corporates view ESG and sustainability points to customer demand being the key factor behind any business shift to further consider sustainability, according to Nordea's most recent research into business attitudes.
Its Business Insight Report aggregated views of some 2,145 respondents. Of these, 34% ranked customer demand as the most important reason to focus on sustainability. However, for corporates with more than 100 employees, brand value ranks as the primary reason to focus on sustainability.
Larger companies are likely to have worked with sustainability for longer periods, being subject to more media scrutiny and regulations, as well as having more resources to invest in sustainability.
Another key finding is that there are significant differences between the Nordic markets: With some 68% of Finnish corporates reporting that they have integrated sustainability into their business models, for Norway and Denmark the equivalent figures are 33% and 39% respectively.
Aleksi Lehtonen, head of Business Banking Finland, said: "It's interesting to see that both customer demand and brand value rank higher than legal demands for both small and large companies. It shows that companies really understand the value of working with sustainability."
"More banks and financial institutions like Nordea are integrating what we call the ESG factors into their models. If we are to lend money to a customer, we want to know that the customer has a sustainable business model. It's all about evaluating risks. Long-lasting banking relationships are simply good business - both for us as a bank and for customers and society at large."
"The clear message we receive in our dialogue with our corporate customers is that the journey towards more sustainable businesses has just started. Exactly how to get there will most likely differ depending on the market as well as the type of business. It is of course natural that while manufacturing industries and natural resources producers will focus more on environmental issues, the service sector will focus more on social responsibility and corporate governance."