You want a clean, green New Zealand? Well no, not if it is going to negatively impact on the bottom line, according to the majority view of New Zealand privately-owned businesses.
The latest survey finding from the Grant Thornton International Business Survey leaves New Zealand almost at the bottom of the global scale against other countries when it comes to wanting to be environmentally friendly versus being profitable.
Only 35% of businesses said they would introduce environmentally friendly practices if they were to negatively impact the bottom line of their businesses – leaving New Zealand 34th out of 36 economies surveyed; just below Russia. Another 53% said they would not introduce such practices and 13% did not know.
In contrast, in Australia 55% said yes to environmentally friendly practices, 36% said no, and 9% did not know – putting Australia in 15th place on the global league table.
“This is something of a shock result for a country that is in the habit of waving the clean, green flag,” said Grant Thornton New Zealand spokesman Peter Sherwin. “It does make our environmental image somewhat fragile, although the major exporters may have a different stance to smaller companies.
“What this result is reflecting is the view of the average medium-sized New Zealand business as against the corporates. It is the sort of pragmatism that privately-held companies tend to adopt.
“It could be said to be something of a reality check. This is middle New Zealand talking.
“It could also reinforce the current Government’s more cautious approach to embracing climate-change actions and financial imposts.”
Another interesting aspect is that the support for environmentally-friendly practices was weaker in the South Island (31%) than the North Island (36%).
The same businesses, ironically, held a much bolder view when it came to the question “How environmentally friendly do you consider the business community in your country to be?” New Zealand registered a positive balance of 34% on this question, equal with Brazil in 17th place, although still down on Australia, which had a positive balance of 45% and was in 12th place.
Peter Sherwin said this could possibly validate the feeling that the wider business community thought big exporters or corporates were doing their bit to be environmentally friendly even if the medium-sized businesses themselves were not keen on such practices because of the potential to damage profits.
“The issue is whether those who persist with their green agenda during the downturn will be the businesses best placed to seize competitive advantage through the recession,” he said.