Progress on environmental sustainability and cybersecurity weigh heavily on the Canadian C-suite, a study from IBM says.
At its annual conference in Toronto on Thursday, the firm released Canadian results from a global study of more than 3,000 CEOs worldwide.
For the first time, a majority of Canadian respondents (56%) ranked sustainability as a high priority.
“This represents a significant leap from a year ago when less than a third (31%) of Canadian leaders cited sustainability among their priorities,” the release said.
An even greater proportion, 59%, accepted responsibility for business impacts on the environment, amid mounting pressure to act, the study said.
The greatest pressure came from board members and investors, cited by 79% and 68% of respondents, respectively. Additional pressure came from regulators (56% of respondents), government (55%) and ecosystem partners (52%).
Only 17% of CEOs cited pressure from consumers, and 12% cited pressure from employees.
While more than half of CEOs (53%) expected to achieve their sustainability targets, 24% said the targets announced by the government for their industries weren’t achievable.
Further, less than half of the Canadian CEOs (47%) felt their sustainability investments would accelerate business growth.
CEOs who make progress on sustainability see opportunity where others see cost, IBM said in its study: “From the strategies they embrace to the stakeholders they engage to the digital capabilities they leverage, leading CEOs approach sustainability as an opportunity that can drive growth and positively impact their business.”
Cybersecurity awareness was also a growing concern. It was cited as a top priority by 57% of respondents, compared to 46% last year.
“[C]ybersecurity awareness appears to be growing ever more important in the face of increasingly costly and frequent attacks, the price tag of which rose to $6.75 million per incident on average last year, an all-time high for Canada,” the release said.