Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to participate in discussions about climate change threats and environmental issues with people across private, public, governmental, and research sectors. Whether at an island retreat in Puget Sound, a corporate conference at a resort or in the halls of our esteemed universities, the same questions get asked: How can we get people to care more? How do we motivate people? What’s it going to take?What if these are the wrong questions to be asking?Let’s consider this question by first reconsidering the context.
The link between a healthy environment and public health outcomes has become increasingly evident. President Obama recently used his proclamation of Public Health Week to highlight the relationship between a changing climate and public health, citing increased cases of asthma and injuries from severe weather as examples. The President called out doctors, nurses and public health officials as key drivers in accelerating this understanding and mitigating future impact.
The Dow Chemical Company announced today a strategic set of commitments designed to redefine the role of business in society. Dow says its 2025 Sustainability Goals use a global lens to magnify the Company’s impact around the world, driving unprecedented collaborations to develop a societal blueprint that will facilitate the transition to a sustainable planet and society.
Last month’s announcement that Heinz will acquire Kraft Foods opens a bevy of questions for a company that as a combined force will have annual sales of at least US$28 billion. At a time when consumer food tastes are changing, especially amongst millennials, some will question the viability of a company that relies on sales of ketchup and mac and cheese. But this massive company’s reach also brings up questions about its environmental and human rights impacts — particularly when it comes to palm oil.
Can social auditing be repurposed for greater good? That was the question posed during a breakout session of the Sedex Global Responsible Sourcing Conference in London last week. Muriel Johnson, AAG Project Manager at Sedex, asked a panel of leading business representatives if social auditing could be used to advance sustainable development within global enterprise, rather than as a simple mechanism to manage risk in the supply chain.
Cross-Posted from New Metrics.
German software company SAP’s operating profit improves EUR35 million ($38 million) to EUR45 million ($49 million) when its employee engagement index rises one percentage point, according to the company’s 2014 integrated report.The financial impact of a higher employee engagement index results, among other things, from the fact that dedicated employees are more innovative and absent from work fewer days. Likewise, because they are more loyal to the company, there is less missed revenue and less recruiting and training costs traditionally associated with higher turnover rates.
This week, Nestlé released the summary of its 2014 Nestlé in society: Creating Shared Value report, which highlights the company’s progress — and challenges — in meeting its societal commitments. The report gives stakeholders the opportunity to scrutinize Nestlé’s progress during 2014 against 38 specific objectives. The full online version of the report will be available from April 7.Three new commitments cover responsible marketing to children, ensuring that all employees and stakeholders can easily report possible compliance violations, and working against corruption and bribery.
Clif Bar has released the second installment in its Farmers Speak series. Where the first centered on organic oats; the second installment “gives voice” to organic almonds — a key ingredient in 17 products across the company’s CLIF®, CLIF® Organic Trail Mix, LUNA® and CLIF® Kit’s Organic Fruit + Nut Bar brand bars.The video tells the story of Burroughs Family Farm — which grows nearly 1,000 acres of organic almonds in Merced County, in California’s Central Valley — and the family’s decision to make the bold transition from conventional to organic farming practices.
Last week, the London assembly told mayor Boris Johnson to pull City Hall’s £4.8bn pension fund out of coal, oil and gas investments, after assembly members voted on a motion to support the fossil fuel divestment movement.The motion calls on the mayor to publicly support the principle of divestment and to begin the process of ridding the London Pension Fund Authority (LPFA) of its fossil fuel portfolio. But the vote is non-binding, meaning the mayor is bound only to consider its proposals and write a response.The Green Party’s Jenny Jones proposed the motion, which was unanimously supported by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Six of the Conservative’s nine members were absent. Those who were present voted against.
On Thursday, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) announced it has taken action against members that are not fulfilling basic membership obligations intended to create a more transparent, environmentally sustainable and socially responsible palm oil industry. A number of prominent NGOs working in the field — including World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) — commend the action as an important first step, but emphasize the Roundtable's need for more teeth in ensuring progress toward a truly sustainable palm oil industry.
Cross-Posted from Supply Chain.
Last fall, HP became the first company in the IT industry to require direct employment of foreign migrant workers in its supply chain with the release of the HP Foreign Migrant Worker Standard.Three months after HP the release of this new standard for preventing exploitative labor practices and forced labor, Sustainable Brands spoke with Bob Mitchell, Global Manager of Supply Chain Social & Environmental Responsibility, to learn how the program is enabling HP to ethically recruit and manage foreign migrant workers.
Whether as competitive differentiation, long-term risk management, or hedging against future regulation, internal carbon fees are becoming increasingly popular with companies as varied as Shell, Microsoft and Disney.
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.
Last week, Royal Dutch Shell’s board of directors ratified a shareholder resolution that commits the oil giant to investing in a low-carbon future. The resolution called for the company to commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, invest in renewable energy, scrap bonus systems that are associated with climate-harming activities, and base its business model risk assessment against the widely considered “safe” warming limit of 2ᵒC (as signed by 141 governments at the UN’s Copenhagen Accord).
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.