Factors driving action included the need to meet board environmental commitments (40%); a desire to boost the way the company is viewed by society (39%); a chance to develop new products (38%); and to boost revenues and profit, (37%).
Edward Manderson, lecturer in environmental economics at the University of Manchester, said he had been "surprised" at how widespread the view was that "taking sustainability action improves profitability".
In its annual study, SAP surveyed 1,702 European business leaders to cast a light on the challenges companies face to advance their sustainability plans as Europe seeks to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Business leaders cited several barriers to action on sustainability, such as difficulties measuring return on investment and the impact on the environment, as well as a lack of clarity on how to embed sustainability into business practices and a firm's organisational strategy. They also fretted about lack of funding.
Despite concerns about funding, just 13% of companies said they included their chief financial officer in sustainability decisions.
"I'm not convinced that a lot of organisations have a clear view on the investment required, or even the financial opportunity. That's where the barriers are for the CFO," said Sarwar Khan, global head of digital sustainability, business at Britain's biggest broadband and mobile provider BT.
As global regulations tighten over companies' impact on the environment, the need to provide greater corporate disclosures was another obstacle, SAP showed, particularly around so-called Scope 3 emissions from corporate value chains.
"Most organisations now understand that Scope 3 is a really, really important part of them getting to net zero. Organisations today are figuring out how to get started on that journey," Khan said.