The rise of the ‘B Corp’ is changing the face of business.

Startups are increasingly prioritising ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance – while long-established companies have to be seen to be doing their bit for the local community and environment.

“A new wave of economics, focused on doing equally great things for profit, planet, and people – driven by automation and AI – is emerging,” says Mick Hollison, president at Cloudera. 

“For business leaders this means it’s time to refocus how they think about technology investment – identifying not only the data that will support growth, but also the technology that will help employees and communities gain meaningful access to it.”

Enterprise data cloud company Cloudera conducted a study of 2,213 enterprise business decision makers — including 54% C-Suite representation — and 10,880 knowledge workers in the USA, EMEA, India and APAC. 

It showed that ESG is identified as a top priority for business leaders and those who fail to act for the good of communities put business growth and talent at huge risk. 

More than one quarter of business decision-makers are now putting increasing investment in ESG ahead of developing new products and services or accelerating financial growth. 

Additionally, knowledge workers believe as much as 49% of the data their business uses on a day-to-day basis should be focused on doing good for the communities it serves. This is a sentiment 52% of business decision makers agree with – a clear indication that profit and ESG are no longer mutually exclusive pursuits.

“It’s my sincere belief that using big data and AI to make more sustainable business decisions will be a critical aspect of future competitiveness,” said Erica Orange, VP at futurist consulting firm The Future Hunters.

“A core part of this will come down to rethinking business success metrics to go beyond profit-driven metrics and focus on real environmental impact.” 

‘David Attenborough’s Blue Planet convinced me I had to join the fight to save the world’

Almost a quarter (24%) of business decision makers and over one in five (22%) knowledge workers believe that their company should be publicly supporting sustainable business practices. 

In addition, the vast majority of knowledge workers (81%) argue there is a need to use AI to deliver more sustainable business practices that benefit both their organisation and the communities it serves. 

But that said, less than a third (31%) of business decision makers are active regarding the implementation of these technologies and have a limited understanding of how they work.