The Observatory

Business for Impact is an observatory launched by Changemaker Companies in partnership with a community of key sustainable business transformation players to provide clarity on where business leaders & policy makers stand regarding sustainable business transformation and nurture constructive debates among C-suite circles to move sustainability from peripheral to core strategy.

On the Minds of CEOs

While CEOs say sustainability has become business critical, they acknowledge a gap between their intention and their action to make sustainability core to their strategy. Global Behavioural Study ‘On the Minds of CEOs’ identifies 10 key drivers and barriers of CEOs driving sustainable transformation.

The study, run by anthropology & behavioural psychology experts, also outlines 4 company profiles and 6 behavioural profiles of Senior Leaders, allowing internal & external advisors to better adjust to CEOs diverse mental frames.

"I’m not always a first-mover
but I'm a fast follower."

CEO, Germany

Empathy towards CEOs does not mean complacency. Uncovering Senior leaders' intrinsic drivers & barriers to sustainable business transformation is the only way forward.

The study identifies six major drivers - mostly extrinsic - to Sustainable business transformation:

  • Meet existing and anticipated regulations
  • Anticipate critical threats to business operations
  • Access funds from private equity, banks, and investors, increasing pushing for ESG relevance.
  • Attract, engage, and retain talents.
  • Protect brand reputation, by aligning to perceived change in cultural values.
  • Compensate perceived lack of governmental action to tackle social & environmental issues effectively.

Four barriers - mainly intrinsic - outweigh drivers, slowing down leaders from engaging their business into a structural sustainable transformation - resulting in an action-intention gap:

  • Business transformation requires the resolution of ‘wicked problems'.
  • High public & media scrutiny, involving oversimplification of the issue and framing the transformation through a moral lens.
  • The diversity in topics, language, and metrics is leading to confusion and inaccurate appraisal of progress.
  • Lack of consumer impetus: individuals behaving inconsistently between what they claim & what they actually consume.

"I see myself as a politician, I’ve always seen businesses as a public space - they therefore must have positive impact on society."

CEO, France

Companies Behavior Profiles

We have identified 4 different company behavioral profiles, based on two key differentiators: public commitment to societal and environmental impact, and degree of change to a business' operations/ business model.

  • Reduce Peripheral Harm: See CSR as peripheral to core business, and focus on reducing negative externalities
  • More Talk Than Action: Initiatives and impact are still small and peripheral despite public commitment
  • Public First Movers: Proactively investing in and signaling strategy and initiatives which are transforming core business
  • Quiet Strategy: See sustainable business transformation as a strategic advantage and are investing in strategy and initiatives but not overtly communicating

CEO Behaviour Profiles

Our research outlines 6 individual behavioural profiles of CEOs, as plotted along the scale of change they are able and willing to make to operations/their business model.

  • The Business Purist believes that fair market businesses have an inherently positive impact on society and therefore does not undertake a distinct strategy for impact.
  • The Sporadic Initiator believes current activities -often peripheral to core strategy/operations- have a significant positive impact.
  • The Striving Navigator believes in the need to transform operations but is struggling to match this intent with equivalent action due to inconsistent readiness to change internal and external stakeholders.
  • The Advantage Seeker has a sense of urgency to seize a first mover advantage and sees an opportunity for profit in sustainable business transformation.
  • The Legacy Builder has had a successful career and feels a sense of achievement. He is looking for a way to give back to society.
  • The Long-term Advocate has always self-identified as an advocate for sustainability or social issues, having held strong prosocial values from an early age.

"If they’ve got to change their entire products or services - which their company has spent decades building and refining, as well as the business models and structures they operate in, then structural change is really difficult."

- Expert

What's next ?

Join us to explore which mix of strategies would be most effective to put the topic on every Board members agendas :

  • Peer-to-peer support between global leaders,
  • Industry coalitions to alleviate barriers,
  • Work at investors level to secure their support
  • Work with policy makers to strengthen legal incentives.

Angelos Souriadakis

Founding Partner

Ylios x Changemaker Companies

Arnaud Mourot


Ashoka Changemaker Companies

Yoram Bosc-Haddad

Senior Partner

Ylios x Changemaker Companies


Media enquiries

Business for Impact

Adelaide Vinay



Kris White

Behavioural Psychology Specialist



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