Climate change topples talent as CEOs’ biggest concern

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Cybersecurity, climate change and supply chain issues have topped the list of the biggest threats to growth, according to business leaders in KPMG’s 2021 CEO Outlook.

In August 2020, the report found the biggest risk to growth was talent as businesses lacked investment in their people.

Yet talent has now fallen off the ranking of CEOs' top concerns for growth.


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Supply chain risk was ranked second on the list of concerns in 2020, and it has since jumped to take the shared top spot.

Over half (56%) of global CEOs asked in 2021 said their business's supply chain has suffered during the pandemic.

Environmental/climate change risk jumped three spots in 2021 as over half (58%) of businesses face increased pressure from stakeholders to report on environmental and social governance (ESG) issues.

As a result, 30% of CEOs said they plan to invest more than 10% of their revenues toward sustainability over the next three years.

Commenting on the rising importance of ESG Bill Thomas, global chairman and CEO at KPMG International said: “If there is a positive to come out of the past 18 months, it is that CEOs are increasingly putting ESG at the heart of their recovery and long-term growth strategies.

“I’m encouraged about what the future holds because business leaders are acknowledging that they need to be the drivers of positive change, supporting measures to tackle environmental dangers, as well as societal challenges — from gender and race, to equity and social mobility.”

The second biggest risks to growth for the next few years for CEOs were listed as emerging/disruptive technology, regulation and operational risks.

In January this year, just 42% of business leaders said they were optimistic about growth of the global economy over the next three years. For August, this has now jumped to 60%.