The Past 10 Years Have Brought Much Progress in Corporate Sustainability Efforts -- What Does The Future Hold?

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The Past 10 Years Have Brought Much Progress in Corporate Sustainability Efforts -- What Does The Future Hold?

G&A's SustainabilityHighlights (6.2.2017)
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Friday, June 9, 2017 - 9:00am

We have made tremendous progress over the last 10 years in such areas as the embrace of corporate sustainability, corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, and related approaches by the global corporate sector...and in the continuing adoption of sustainable investment policies and approaches by a widening universe of institutional and individual investors. 

Yes, we do have some headwinds coming to Washington DC with the new administration and its legion of deniers and naysayers that expresses doubt about such critical issues as climate change (and the causes thereof), and about the need for continued vigilance and commitment to stay the course in terms of America's environmental protection policies. 

What do you think the next 10 years will bring?  (Get out the crystal ball, folks!)  A survey by GlobalScan and SustainAbility just released -- 2017 Sustainability Leaders Survey -- was debuted at the recent meeting of Sustainable Brands in Detroit, Michigan.

Top Findings:  Unilever will continue to be seen as the global leader in corporate sustainability.  (We think of Newton's First Law of Motion demonstrated here -- things in motion tend to stay in motion - that is, with vision, discipline, actions taken, continued commitment at the top, as is the case with Unilever and its sustainability journey, over many recent years).

Patagonia is in second position on this, said survey responders.  Then comes Interface (#3), Ikea (#4), Marks & Spencer, and Tesla -- all tied for fifth place. You can access the news release for the survey, and download the slides used for the survey presentations - the links are in our Top Story, courtesy of CR (magazine).

We think Newton's Third Law of Motion will be at work over the next decade.  That is, when one body (a corporate leader in sustainability) exerts a force on a second body (the leader's peers in the industry or sector, or investment competitor), the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude, and opposite in direction. 

That in our interpretation is that the leader's peers will strive to catch up and outperform on their respective sustainability journeys.  Some, in very surprising and innovative ways (the "opposite direction" reference).  That has been happening over the past decade as corporate sustainability leaders keep setting the pace and their peer companies race to catch up and surpass.  Just look at the hockey stick (over the decade) of US headquartered companies embracing the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for disclosure and reporting on their sustainability efforts.  CDP annual filings by companies also are dramatically rising.  There is spirited competition to get into the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, and peer indices, in the board rooms and corporate suites of public companies.

And that has been good for everyone -- shareholders and stakeholders alike, and for the general society. Yes, we have some headwinds -- but for a good many stakeholders, the Washington headwinds are good reason to double up on the efforts and prove the sustainability (and climate change) nay-sayers and deniers WRONGHEADED!

What's on your list of things positive in the sustainability arena over the next 10 years?  Share your thoughts with us.

This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view the full issue.

Keywords: Media & Communications | Corporate Citizenship | Corporate Social Responsibility | G&A | G&A Institute | GRI | Governance & Accountability Institute | SRI | SWF | Sovereign Wealth Funds | business & trade