Executive Suite: We Are Not Responsible for Global Warming

Published: Dec 17, 2009

Topics: CSR       

An interesting poll being conducted by a U.K. CSR professional on LinkedIn caught my attention today. It addresses the hot topic of global warming and asks whether the claim that it is caused by man made emissions is untrue and not based on sound science. Interestingly put. Even more fascinating are the votes and how they break down by job function, job title and company size. Are women more concerned about global than men? Is the executive suite conscious of the threat or do they form “Bah! Humbug!” category? See below for the poll results broken down by various demographic categories:

global warming

The overall results show that 60% of the respondents disagree. So far so good.

global warming poll

A quarter of the C-level respondents and a fifth of poll takers who are management believe this statement is true, i.e., that global warming is not caused by man made emissions: A stark reminder of how removed the executive suite remains from the need for sustainability at companies. At many companies green initiatives are flowing upwards, and hitting the executive wall.  Sustainability efforts remain strictly restriction to reputation building and are a long way off from making them part of a company’s long term strategy.


Another interesting separation by job function. 50% of the poll takers who work in marketing believe global warming isn’t caused by us, while a third of creative and finance personnel believe it isn’t our fault. Interesting because marketing departments are the visible motivators behind a company’s reputation and initiatives in the do-good arena. If they don’t believe man made emissions are at fault, they are not enforcing more sustainability work at their companies because the message isn’t reaching the board room, which as we see above, don’t believe global warming is a human error.

gender gap

While the ratio is almost the same, there are significantly more men who claim ignorance. Interestingly they also make up 85% of the total respondents. Finally only to our final chart.

climate change

Surprised? The baby boomers firmly believe we are not responsible for global warming with 64% of respondents aged 55 years and older agreeing with the statement in question. Reassuring though and balancing the awareness scale somewhat, over half of the respondents in the 25 to 54 age group believe man made emissions are the cause behind global warming.

So there you have it. The main enforcers of change in companies’ board rooms and the executive suite remain ignorant of the need for sustainability in corporate America. This may sound like a much broader statement than what is implied by this poll, but it is rooted in the belief that if we don’t realize the difference between natural disasters and errors caused by human consumption, change at the top is near impossible. Couple that with marketing teams who remain assured global warming is not caused by man made emissions and we have a lose-lose situation. Add in the confusion over what really constitutes Corporate Social Responsibility and the belief that it is costly to inculcate sustainability measures and what do we get? An executive suite resistant to CSR and the triple bottom line because it is easier to ignore something we don’t understand, especially when profits have shrunk and consumer confidence is at historic lows.