For 25 years, I’ve developed CSR strategies. And now I see that CSR is becoming business as usual.You’d think I’d be celebrating. But I’m not — because CSR has stalled.This struck me in 2012 when I developed the Qualities of a Transformational Company for Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and started tracking corporate innovation in CSR (see 38 case studies of transformation in action at CBSR’s website). That’s when I saw where we needed to be.
Today marks two years since we launched our Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) and the anniversary is particularly significant as the Rainforest Alliance is publishing its independent evaluation of our progress. I believe this may be the first time that any company attempting to implement ‘zero deforestation’ in its supply chain on such a scale has submitted its programme to independent third-party evaluation.
At the University of North Carolina, sustainability consulting projects have an unique way of taking shape.A marketplace type of approach to teaming up with industry partners has helped UNC’s Center for Sustainable Enterprise take aim at large-scale projects with multiple clients.
Last week saw the launch of a new initiative that will offer 15 post-graduate scientists from nations across Africa the opportunity to work with UK academic institutions in subject areas such as water management, sustainable farming, energy and waste.The ‘SABMiller Royal Society Exchange Programme’ is a seemingly unlikely collaboration between one of the UK’s leading science establishments and a multinational brewer. I went along to Wednesday night’s launch event at the Royal Society in London to find out how beer is helping to fund new sustainable technologies.
Business schools play a critical role in society.They support the continual evolution of our economies, the industries that shape them, the people that lead them, and the thinking behind it all.But it’s not just a role. It’s also a responsibility.In today’s hotter, scarcer, and more open world (to borrow from Andrew Winston’s The Big Pivot), that responsibility is greater than ever. More than at any other time in history, humanity is collectively aware of its impact on the planet. We know that our current actions, if left unchecked, will lead to unknown disruptions of life on earth.
Back in 2012, a Deloitte study remarked how chief finance officers (CFOs) were ‘coming to the table’ in matters relating to board-level sustainability. The CFO role has evolved to the point where it is now widely perceived as an enabler for sustainable business – customers, shareholders and other key stakeholders are increasingly looking to connect corporate financial performance to social and environmental impacts, and accountability for this tends to rest at the door of the CFO.
Lack of preparation has left supply chains in Brazil, China, India and the United States more vulnerable to climate risks than those in Europe and Japan. However, suppliers in China and India deliver the greatest financial return on investment to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate the strongest appetite for collaboration across the value chain. This according to research released Tuesday by CDP and Accenture.
When it comes to corporate transparency, times are changing. Gone are the days when a company could be considered a leader simply by publishing an annual report. Today’s stakeholders want to truly engage with your company’s story, especially when it comes to sustainability — and they want to do it on their own terms, with clickable, personalized information.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is an impressive concept. It covers everything from business operations to corporate governance. It includes streamlining and automating corporations; making all business processes highly efficient, cost-effective and fully automated; all resource use fully planned, controlled and understood. ERP today provides an integrated view of core business processes across various departments, ranging from sourcing, manufacturing and sales to accounting and payroll.
Mark Clifford’s forthcoming book, The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency (Columbia Business School Publishing, March 2015), offers a hopeful take on major trends in the region, such as entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies working together to generate solutions in energy, land and water conservation that are efficient and sustainable.
Paul Polman is CEO of Unilever, a member of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Lead Group and Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. This is his observation following his involvement at Lima COP 20.
Many companies today view sustainable business practices as an integral part of their overall strategy — and much more than an opportunity to enhance their brand image. A natural extension of this trend is increased demand for experienced executives who can help companies meet their environmental goals. According to a 2014 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, approximately 625,000 ‘green’ jobs were created in the renewable energy sector alone in the United States last year. In many cases, these are well-paying positions requiring higher education and/or specialized training.
The Hershey Company, in partnership with Project Peanut Butter (PPB) — a project aimed at ending child malnutrition across sub-Saharan Africa — has announced that the Project’s newest manufacturing facility (in Kumasi, Ghana) is now beginning full operation. Thanks to a nearly $1 million investment from Hershey, the new plant will produce PPB’s peanut-based Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs), which the organization calls the world’s most effective treatment for severe childhood malnutrition.
McDonald’s unprecedented corporate-transparency marketing campaign, “Our Food. Your questions,” is the fast food giant’s attempt to reduce the impact of one major aspect of its brand and operations — low prices and massive amounts of highly processed foods have led to questions about what exactly is in its food, whether it is all safe for human consumption and how integral various aspects of sustainability are to its supply chain.
Innovation. We love it! Especially in the trending world of sustainability.And rightly so: The potential impact and influence of sustainability innovation in the shaping of a more positive human existence is immutable and immeasurable.Innovation’s role in reinventing and reimagining the way the domestic, private and public sectors use, reuse and replenish the limited resources we have at our disposal is critical to our survival as a race. So anything that inspires us to escalate our ability to innovate, whether that might be of the incremental, process or radical kind, deserves all the help it can get. We cannot really afford for sustainability innovation to stall or fail — but it does so, all too often.
How do you engage corporate employees to focus their determination and creativity in working toward business goals? Sparking and capturing the imagination, and dedication, of employees is a core issue for any company — particularly for those focused on sustainability issues.
John Meynard Keynes once said: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” I think most business leaders would scoff at the idea that an economist guides their business decisions, but a step back in time might challenge their skepticism.
Karen Little, Director of Development at Kiva, and Ann Ewasechko, Global Manager of Strategic Partnerships & Innovation in Education at HP, discussed the great success of their joint social campaign “Matter to a Million” during a Wednesday afternoon session. Matter to a Million is a 5-year global partnership between HP and Kiva aiming to support 1 million entrepreneurs around the world through microlending and, as Ewasechko said, to empower employees to make an impact and a difference.
Julian Borra of the Thin Air Factory and Thomas Kolster, author of Goodvertising, provided another immensely entertaining and engaging presentation from SB ’14 London’s main stage in Tuesday’s afternoon brief session. Every footballing cliché in the book was employed to warm up the expectant audience, and we weren’t disappointed.This sustainability tag-team took us on a journey towards new thought processes in problem-solving. They pointed out that innovation for sustainability is often more about the way the innovation process is approached and managed, rather than the innovation itself. To illustrate this view, the team offered two thought-provoking quotes:
As Marks & Spencer’s Plan A programme moves into a new phase — that of engagement — the company’s director of sustainable business, Mike Barry took to the stage Tuesday evening at SB ’14 London to offer his insights into how companies can build long-term, restorative models that are as much about inclusivity as they are profitability.