17-11-2021 15:40

Positive trends on the horizon as companies shift toward sustainable business

As society transitions towards a sustainable future, Nordic companies are proactively adapting their business strategies to reflect the coming change. According to the latest Nordea Business Insights report, Swedish companies are progressing the most in this area.
Smiling young woman holding greens on farm

In 2019, many of Nordea’s corporate customers reported that they were only just beginning their sustainability journey. Two years on, companies have made progress in several areas.

Nina Arkilahti, Head of Business Banking.

 “Our corporate customers are progressing with integrating sustainable activities such as measuring their greenhouse gas emissions and assessing energy consumption. We can see positive trends emerging,“ comments Nina Arkilahti, Head of Business Banking.

“Companies are increasingly focusing on their sustainable transition due to customer demand, brand value and new business opportunities – and, to a lesser degree, legal obligations,” she continues.


Reasons for transitioning

Companies are increasingly focusing on sustainability due to customer demand, brand value and new business opportunities. There is less focus on legal obligations.

Progress towards sustainability

Assessing energy consumption is considered to be the most important activity and is also the area where companies have progressed the most.

High demand for sustainability support

Customers of all sizes are highly interested in being supported in their sustainable transition.


Progress and priorities

When it comes to integrating sustainability activities into the business strategy, Swedish companies have advanced the most. They are also the country that place the highest importance on progressing with sustainability-related activities.

Finnish companies prioritise transitioning as a means of driving new business, whereas Danish firms see meeting customer demand as the strongest driver. In Norway, companies tend to view sustainability transitioning as a platform for innovation.

As for priorities, Nordic companies generally consider assessing energy consumption to be the most important sustainability-related activity. This is also the area in which they are all progressing the most. The next two biggest areas of progress are measuring greenhouse gas emissions and shifting to green vehicles.

Company size matters

Looking at company size, most smaller companies have not yet taken direct action towards a sustainable transition, whether in terms of dedicating resources or advancing with various sustainability activities.

Companies that are larger, by turnover and workforce, are more likely to have begun a sustainable transition and assigned dedicated responsibility for this.

“Going green doesn’t have to mean that companies are expected to do it all on their own,”says Nina Arkilahti. 

“While companies are proactive in their approach, they realise that they need support to fully integrate environmental, social and governance factors into their business. And that’s something that we can help with at Nordea,” she concludes.

About the Nordea Business Insights survey

Nordea’s 2021 Business Insights survey aims to understand where corporate customers are on their sustainability journey, the reasons behind their transition and what they needed support with.

The results shed light on the progress, focus areas and challenges of small, medium and large Nordic businesses in their attempts to go green.

Nordea’s corporate customers were invited to participate in the survey and the data was collected from 672 respondents across the four Nordic markets. It covers:

  • general questions about the sustainable transition in each company,
  • a deep dive on specific activities related to sustainability and how each company currently perceives them,
  • questions regarding interest in current and future sustainability-linked financing/investment products,
  • company metrics (full-time employees, turnover, sector, etc.).
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