NTT: The Business Case for Social Sustainability


How doing social good improves business and economic performance

To analyze how firms foster social sustainability—and the benefits and challenges they face—NTT commissioned ThoughtLab to conduct a survey in February 2023. ThoughtLab reached out to 250 senior executives from companies in eight regions. These included North America (US, Canada, and Mexico), Europe (Germany and the UK), and APAC (Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore). They surveyed companies across five industries:manufacturing; telecoms and technology; retail and consumer goods; financial services; and healthcare and life sciences. These companies varied in size: revenue ranged from $1 billion to over $100 billion.

To identify these companies’ stage of maturity in social sustainability, ThoughtLab’s economists created an analytical framework that measures each firm’s level of progress (ranging from planning to advanced stage) in 10 key initiatives to achieve their sustainability goals. Their analysts scored each company’s response for each initiative and then plotted each company along a bell curve and classified 22% as social sustainability beginners, 56% as intermediates, and 22% as leaders.

This paper focuses largely on sustainability leaders, since they provide unique insights into the benefits of embracing social sustainability and the practices that deliver the best results.

To analyze the impact of social sustainability efforts on a company’s performance, ThoughtLab first calculated the revenue impacts of moving along the social sustainability maturity curve. Using a maturity framework and the maturity categories, they calculated the average impact that a firm’s social sustainability initiatives have had on the firm’s revenue.