C-suite barometer: outlook 2024 - UK data insights

Based on insights from almost 800 executives across 27 countries, this year’s C-suite barometer highlights optimism among UK business leaders, despite many challenges being faced.

UK confidence and optimism are on the up

UK C-suite executives are more optimistic about growth and revenues, compared to their global counterparts - with 96% reporting company growth this year - a significant increase from 87% last year, in contrast to the global average of 89%. Furthermore, nearly all UK executives (98%) anticipate growth in 2024, with 60% attributing this to organic growth.

Top of the C-suite agenda

Like their global counterparts, UK C-suite executives recognise the central role of IT and new technology in driving digital transformation. However, the UK stands out with a heightened emphasis on sustainability strategy and supply chains/operations as top priorities, reflecting greater emphasis on environmental concerns and corporate responsibility.  

Whilst energy security is a high priority globally, the concern is more pronounced in the UK, with over half anticipating a substantial impact on their companies. Navigating the energy landscape will be crucial.

In the UK, customer acquisition and brand strategy/positioning are key investment areas. Sustainability initiatives follow closely, demonstrating a balanced approach towards growth and corporate responsibility.  Compared to global leaders, UK executives exhibit a stronger inclination toward engaging government/regulators and a lesser focus on external growth opportunities.

UK C-suite executives aligned with global counterparts on the impacts of AI

While the prominence of new technology as a UK trend has slightly diminished due to a redoubled focus on energy prices, technology remains firmly among the top four trends.

UK organisations maintain robust levels of investment in IT systems and digitalisation. This commitment underscores their drive to enhance efficiency, streamline processes, and stay competitive in the digital age.

A significant 87% of UK C-suite executives believe that generative AI will impact their organisations. More than half anticipate this impact to be major. While the UK adoption of AI for internal processes and products/services is slightly lower than the global average, it remains a strategic move. Interestingly, 57% of UK executives express ethical concerns regarding AI; however this sentiment is even higher globally at 74%. Nonetheless, 92% of UK executives think more regulation is important.

Sustainability reporting down in the UK as regulation concerns increase

56% of UK C-suite executives state that their organisations produce sustainability reports compared to 71% globally – a drop from 75% last year. Respondents pointed to understanding regulations as a significant challenge - now equal to data capture/quality. Sustainability reporting is the area where UK leaders feel they lack in-house expertise the most. Human rights is also emerging, as an important aspect of ESG that is gaining more recognition amongst business leaders.

When it comes to ‘talent’, eliminating bias in the recruitment process is a top challenge for UK leaders

Nearly half of UK organisations view eliminating bias in the hiring process as a critical recruitment challenge. UK leaders prioritise learning, training and development along with Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) commitments as essential factors for attracting talent. UK priorities reflect a commitment to creating a strong workforce that prioritises diversity and invests in employee growth.

Discover the full UK results here.

Read the global C-suite report here.

If you would like to discuss any of the findings of this year’s C-suite barometer please get in touch.

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C-suite report - UK data insights