While most companies worldwide recognize sustainable business practices as a strategic imperative, many are not using rewards to incentivize progress toward their sustainability goals. This new report examines the multiple levers companies use to enact sustainable strategies, the reasons why they are not using rewards, and how rewards can be used as a key lever in helping organizations improve their sustainability performance.

This report documents separate, but complementary, research projects conducted by master’s students at both the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute. Using both quantitative and qualitative data via surveys and follow-up interviews, this research examined the levers of organizational design that could be used to accomplish sustainability-related goals.

Our sustainability challenges—climate change, species extinction, water scarcity, income inequality and the entire litany of sustainability problems—are falling on the next generation of business leaders. While it may be fair to state that the cause of these problems comes from business and the market, it is not fair to state that business and the market cannot solve them. Indeed, business is the most powerful entity on Earth, and it must solve them.

– Andy Hoffman, Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, Research Advisor