To shape a sustainable future, for both their business and wider society, the C-suite are increasingly investing in technology and sustainability. With uncertainty the norm for the foreseeable future, they need to continue to be bold today, to achieve sustainable success tomorrow.Mark Kennedy Partner and member of the Group Executive Board
Mazars 2023 C-suite barometer reveals bold leadership to shape a sustainable future
C-suite barometer: outlook 2023
- Majority of businesses (86%) have a positive outlook for growth for 2023
- Business leaders name transforming company technology and implementing a new or revised sustainability strategy the top two strategic priorities from coming three to five years
- Economic uncertainty, energy prices, geopolitical instability and difficulty recruiting a skilled workforce named key factors holding back growth in coming year
Optimism in the face of ongoing challenges
Despite economic instability, growing energy prices and geopolitical tensions, executives are optimistic about their company’s future growth: 86% have a positive (28% very positive) outlook for growth in 2023.
Trends impacting businesses in 2023 and confidence to respond
According to our research, the top three external trends expected to have the biggest impact on businesses this year are:
- economic trends including inflation and higher cost of living.
- energy prices and/or shortages.
- emergence of new technologies.
Leaders are most confident in their ability to manage emerging technologies (54% very confident). They are least confident coping with geopolitical instability (23% very confident), energy prices/shortages (27%), scarcity of talent (32%) and economic trends (33%) - these are also considered the main barriers to growth.
The Mazars Confidence Index (average percentage of ‘very confident’ across all trends) stands at 37%, slightly down on the previous barometer (44%) but up on our 2020 research (32%).
Embracing a digital world
Transforming company IT/technology is the top strategic priority for leaders over the coming three to five years. The emergence of new technology is expected to have a big impact on their business and executives recognise the importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, big data and Web3. Cyber threats remain an everyday reality but leaders are confident their data is protected.
Investing in a sustainable future
A new or revised sustainability strategy is second on the list of C-suite strategic priorities for the coming three to five years and over two thirds (68%) plan to increase investment in sustainability initiatives in the coming year, signifying the importance of ESG on the C-suite agenda. Most businesses (65%) produce a sustainability report, but admit data quality and tracking can be challenging, and just over a third (36%) feel totally ready for new ESG reporting requirements.
Recognising the importance of diversity and talent
A quarter of leaders say a new or revised talent attraction and retention strategy is a strategic priority, with nearly a third (28%) identifying the inability to attract a skilled workforce as a barrier to their company’s growth. Despite acknowledging the importance of a diverse workforce, true equity remains elusive in many companies, with little progress in terms of gender diversity among top decision-makers.
Our research shows executives are committing time, money and resources in the areas that matter most: technology, sustainability and people. In the face of ongoing uncertainty, this shows courage, with leaders making bold moves to shape a sustainable future.
Kennedy concludes: “Businesses will face further volatility this year - they will have to be agile and may need to re-prioritise and re-focus. But companies have developed a lot of resilience since the financial crisis of 2008, which will stand them in good stead for the coming year.”
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About the study
The Mazars C-suite barometer was designed and conducted by GQR Research, in collaboration with Mazars. The data was gathered via an online survey between 9 November 2022 and 14 December 2022. The total sample is N=832.