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New Metrics

The new and evolving metrics that are helping expand the way businesses create, quantify, manage and report their impacts, and the value they deliver.

Announcing The Product Social Footprinting Programme

During my past five years at PRé, I’ve observed how companies approach different issues. I’m very interested in social impact assessment, and I experienced that companies have wildly different approaches for assessing the social impacts of their products and services, and for managing product social sustainability.

Utility – the Fundamental Metric of Social Impact

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”— John DonneIs the world a better place because we exist?Socially useful business is neither a new idea nor one that is particularly at odds with the fundamental point of business — to sell things that people want or need.However, demonstrating social utility has becoming rather a burning issue in recent years, spurred not just by the slow growing questioning of the current mode of international capitalism but also by the rather more pointed challenges to the purpose of whole sections of the economy raised by the recent financial crash.

Lost in Translation: How to Find a Common Language Between Departments

Despite the progress being made in organizations around the world in the pursuit of sustainability, many still suffer from internal breakdowns in communication on the subject, even when all teams are, ultimately, working toward the same goal. We asked a variety of practitioners their thoughts on solving two of the perhaps most common “language barriers” within companies today — that between Marketing and Sustainability teams, and between LCA practitioners and, well, the rest of the company. And the common theme around solutions seems to involve little more than changing your perspective.

Kering Releases EP&L Methodology to Encourage Wider Adoption of Natural Capital Accounting

Today, Kering released the results of its Environmental Profit and Loss Account (EP&L) — measuring the environmental footprint of its operations and across supply chains — and released the methodology as an open-source tool to encourage other corporations to clarify their impact on the environment.

Valuing the Invaluable: How WWF Is Helping Companies Protect the Ultimate Shared Resource

Cross-Posted from Organizational Change. Water is essential to business of all kinds — from resource extraction to retail. Its scarcity poses collective risks; not just to a company’s facilities, but also to the municipalities in which it operates and the communities comprising its consumer base.

Creating More Value, Profit with 21st-Century Financial Statements — and CPAs

Shareholders would revolt — and fire the CEO, CFO and Boards of Directors — of companies who ignore more than 80 percent of the factors that drive more value and profit.Prepare for a revolution, as 84 percent is the proportion of corporate value in the S&P500 corporations that is intangible. That’s right — the plant, property and equipment, as well as inventory, receivables and cash recorded on regulatory- required financial statements are only 16 percent, or one-sixth, of the value of your S&P500 index.

How a Life Cycle-Driven Business Model Can Accelerate Sustainable Value Creation

When Peter Bakker from the WBCSD declared that corporate social responsibility is dead, he urged us to create new definitions of success. The change to a more holistic approach is already happening. However, shouldn’t we place the shared value that we create at the heart of what we do?

#BusinessCase: Dow/TNC Study Highlights Benefits of Valuing Ecosystem Services

According to a recent study in Ecosystem Services, businesses may pay more for less reliable sources of water in the future.

Is It Objective to ‘Be Objective’ About Sustainable Business Metrics?: Part 14

In 13 earlier parts of this series, Claire Sommer and I developed 25 pitfalls in the sustainable business metrics field, based on the experiences of many mostly non-business fields. (Find them here.)It is tempting to believe objectivity is possible, humans are rational creatures, and decisions should (and could) be based on these. To be a member of such a higher species is reassuring (however much one might question this status on some “Page 1” newspaper days).

‘Return on Meaning’: Top Meaningful Brands Enjoy 46% Higher Share of Wallet Than Low Performers

Meaningful Brands® – Havas Media Group’s metric of brand strength – is the first global study to show how our quality of life and wellbeing connects with brands at both a human and business level. The study includes 1,000 brands, 300,000 people, 12 industries and 34 countries; and covers the role brands play in our communities and our personal wellbeing, as well as marketplace factors that relate to product performance such as quality and price.

EPA: US Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall 9% Since 2005

Total greenhouse gas emissions generated in the United States increased by 2 percent from 2012 to 2013, but emission levels in 2013 were 9 percent below 2005 levels, according to a new annual report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).The EPA’s 20th Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks tracks total annual US emissions and removals by source, economic sector and greenhouse gas going back to 1990. The agency uses national energy data, information on national agricultural activities and other national statistics to provide a comprehensive accounting of total greenhouse gas emissions for all man-made sources in the United States.

How Superficial Interpretations of Sustainable Business Metrics Can Be Totally Off-Base: Part 13

In 12 earlier parts of this series, Claire Sommer and I developed 22 pitfalls in the sustainable business metrics field, based on the experiences of many mostly non-business fields. (Find them here.)

H&M's 2014 Sustainability Report Shows Progress With Garment Collection Program

H&M more than doubled the amount of collected garments with its garment collective initiative in 2014, according to its new sustainability report. In total, more than 13,000 tons of textiles have been collected — as much fabric as in 65 million T-shirts.Now, the apparel company has established a new goal of increasing the amount of products made of recycled fibers by at least 300 percent by the end of 2015.

General Mills Makes ‘Significant Progress’ Toward Sustainable Palm Oil Goals

General Mills made “significant progress” in 2014 toward its commitment to sustainably source 100 percent of its 10 priority ingredients by 2020, according to the company’s annual Global Responsibility Report.It is furthest along towards the goal of sustainably sourcing 100 percent of two raw materials: palm oil (83 percent) and fiber packaging (99 percent).The 10 ingredients represent more than 50 percent of the company’s annual raw material purchases and cover a broad range of raw materials including oats, wheat, corn, dairy, fiber packaging, cocoa, vanilla, palm oil, sugar cane and sugar beets.

GISR Launches Platform to Help Cure Sustainability ‘Survey Fatigue’

The Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR) has announced the launch of its Center for Ratings Excellence (CORE) Program — designed to accelerate the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into the global financial markets.In 2014, sustainability-oriented assets under management eclipsed $20 trillion, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. These investments are shaped by a growing market for sustainability research and ratings from more than 100 organizations covering more than 50,000 companies on approximately 10,000 performance metrics.

Context, Business Risk & Stampeding Black Elephants

Would you invest in a business that gave you only one figure — number of customers — by which to assess both its current state and future prospects? Of course, not; you would inquire about total sales, costs, revenues, margins, market share, and other figures.Any business decision-maker wants multiple figures. Context, and contextualizing data, is key.

Volvo Bests Carbon Reduction Goal by 10M Tons

Volvo last year reduced the total lifetime carbon dioxide emissions of its products by 40 million tons against a 2008 baseline, besting its goal by 10 million tons, according to the company’s 2014 sustainability report.The automaker also surpassed its target to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its production plants by 0.2 million tons (12 percent), compared to 2008, instead achieving a 20 percent reduction (0.4 million ton) by the end of last year.Other 2014 highlights from Volvo’s report include:

Advanced Data Visualisation Reveals How Companies View Climate Risk

Much of the valuable information that companies communicate to their shareholders about their ESG performance and the social and environmental risks facing the business lie not in the tagged financials nor even in the structured tables and graphs embedded in annual reports, but rather in the paragraphs that flow around the numbers and figures.

Avaya Exceeds CO2 Reduction Goal 2 Years Early

Avaya, provider of customer and employee engagement communications technologies, has exceeded its carbon reduction goal two years early by adopting desktop and mobile videoconferencing systems, according to the company’s 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report (PDF).Avaya delivers technology solutions that enable organizations — from mid-market companies to large enterprises — to increase customer and team engagement. It serves some 300,000 customers around the world across a broad range of industries. More than 95 percent of the Fortune 500 companies are Avaya customers.

Seventh Generation and 3,000 Business Partners Call on Congress to Reform Chemical Safety Laws

Seventh Generation, the nation's leading brand of non-toxic and renewable bio-based household, baby and personal care solutions, called on Congress last week to strengthen the country's outdated chemical policy.