Unit4’s 2022 Business Future Index: Accelerated Change Delivered Progress on ESG Goals, but More Work Is Needed to Recruit and Retain Diverse Talent

February 9, 2023
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Unit4, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for mid-market services organizations, today announced the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-focused findings of its second annual Business Future Index. The survey found that acceleration of business transformation drove major improvements in ESG over the two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but much work remains to be done.

Unit4 commissioned a survey of 3,450 respondents across 12 global markets to gain insight into how the acceleration of people, policy and technology changes over the past 12 months have affected business operations, including ESG results, which are a key metric for modern organizations. As companies compete for top talent, progress on ESG initiatives and corporate social responsibility (CSR) can remove barriers to recruiting and retention.

Key Findings

  • Sustainability has improved: 24% of respondents reported their organization was doing very well in meeting sustainability goals in 2022, a significant improvement over the 19% who reported that in 2021
  • ESG performance is stronger: 69% of organizations say they’re in a better position now to meet ESG and CSR goals because of accelerated change in the workplace
  • Poor ESG poses a talent barrier: 20% of respondents said their organization is perceived to have poor ESG credentials
  • Recruitment and retention of diverse talent is lagging: 36% of responding businesses said they struggle to find and keep staff across a mix of generations and other key diversity categories
  • Most organizations aren’t prioritizing diversity: 25% of respondents reported that their organizations plan to improve diversity

Adopting Flexible Working Can Drive ESG Improvements

The improvement in meeting sustainability and ESG goals suggests that the acceleration of digitalization and flexible working has had a positive impact on sustainability.

That makes sense in the context of the pandemic. Widespread adoption of remote working, less permanent office space, fewer geographical limitations affecting workforce diversity, less business travel, and a greater reliance on data for business decision-making can all contribute to meeting sustainability goals. But the fact that more than a third of respondents say they face challenges with recruiting and retaining diverse staff across multiple categories, and that only a quarter plan to improve diversity, is troubling.

“As other research makes clear, diverse teams are an asset to any and every business, so the ESG and CSR findings in the 2022 Business Future Index suggest that more organizations should take steps to improve diversity,” said Tania Garrett, Chief People Officer, Unit4. “ESG is about more than metrics – doing the right thing benefits the business, its people and the environment at large. When businesses adopt flexible working and provide supporting tools and processes, they can improve employee wellbeing, productivity and engagement in addition to ESG metrics.”

Survey Methodology

Unit4 commissioned independent technology market research specialist Vanson Bourne to undertake the quantitative research that this report is based on. They interviewed a total of 3450 respondents in May and June 2022, from 12 regions: US (1000), Canada (150), UK (400), Germany (400), France (200), Netherlands (250), Norway (200), Denmark (100), Sweden (200), Belgium (150), Australia (200) and Singapore (200). Respondents were from all private and public sectors (including IT and technology; business and professional services; education; and charity and nonprofit), and from organizations with 200-20,000 employees. Respondents from all departments and seniority levels were allowed to participate. There are also references throughout to historical data conducted using the same methodology in 2021. The findings from this research programme can be found here.

About Unit4

Unit4’s next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions power many of the world’s mid-market organizations, bringing together the capabilities of Financials, Procurement, Project Management, HR, and FP&A to share real-time information, and deliver greater insights to help organizations become more effective. By combining our mid-market expertise with a relentless focus on people, we’ve built flexible solutions to meet customers’ unique and changing needs. Unit4 serves more than 5,100 customers globally across a number of sectors including professional services, nonprofit and public sector, with customers including Southampton City Council, Metro Vancouver, Buro Happold, Devoteam, Save the Children International, Global Green Growth Institute and Oxfam America. For further information visit www.unit4.com.

For more information, please visit https://www.unit4.com/.

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