1 December 2020

New HSBC survey: Corporate Australia’s focus on sustainability surges to new high amid bushfires, pandemic

New research from HSBC reveals that companies in Australia have accelerated their focus on sustainability over the past year as the nation grapples with the impact of both the devastating summer bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid uptick is driven by factors including the ability to increase sales as awareness of environment, social and governance (ESG) factors among shareholders and consumers spread across most sectors of the economy.

Media contacts

Ashleigh Baines
T: +61 409 853 944
E-mail: ashleigh.baines@hsbc.com.au

Tala Booker
T: +61 407 936 731
E-mail: tala.booker@hsbc.com.au

  • More companies in Australia have metrics in place to measure environmental, social and governance issues compared with 2019
  • Customer demand a prime factor in new corporate sustainability practices
  • Corporate push likely to accerelate further as economies transition to net zero carbon

Sales forecast to jump

More than four out of five (84%) Australian companies expect a ramp up in sales over the next year as a direct result of their efforts to incorporate sustainability principles in their business. The majority (40%) expect sales growth of up to 5% but more than a quarter (28%) believe their sales could surge by between 6% to 9%, with a smaller number expecting an even greater increase.

Steve Hughes, Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC Australia credits “the heat to go green” to the Australian public’s increased awareness of environmental issues and the understanding that companies play an integral role in supporting the transition to net zero carbon.

HSBC’s Navigator surveyed decision-makers in more than 10,000 companies in 39 markets, across Asia Pacific, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East including 200 in Australia, and revealed that three quarters (75%) of Australian businesses now have metrics in place to measure environmental sustainability (up from 68% in 2019).

Cutting carbon, energy use

In the last 12 months alone, the amount of Australian businesses measuring their carbon emissions has doubled (18% in 2020 vs. 9% in 2019) and the number of firms measuring their energy usage has risen to more than a quarter  (26% in 2020 vs. 16% in 2019). Those measuring green building products and services has jumped to 17%, compared to just 8% in 2019.

Hughes continued: “Not only are we seeing companies diversifying their product range, our research suggests that recent events have acted as a major catalyst for businesses to review their impact on the environment.”

Social sustainability is also now firmly in their sights, with 77% of Australian firms measuring their performance against this essential part of the ESG equation.

“It’s clear that opportunity favours businesses prioritising the sustainability agenda. To be less sustainable is to be at a disadvantage,” said Hughes.

Hughes concluded: “Sustainability has become a regular part of our conversations with our corporate clients as they seek to adapt their business models to make the transition to net zero carbon.”

About HSBC Bank Australia

In Australia, the HSBC Group offers an extensive range of financial services through a network of 45 branches and offices. These services include retail and commercial banking, trade finance, treasury and financial markets, payments and cash management and securities custody. Principal HSBC Group members operating in Australia include HSBC Bank Australia Limited (ABN 48 006 434 162 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 232595) and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (ABN 65 117 925 970 and AFSL 301737).