Weekly Highlights September 2, 2014

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 1:00pm

Are We Experiencing a New Wave in Corporate Sustainability? The Economist Editors Think So / And Explain

There’s an interesting take by the influential The Economist magazine – on corporate sustainability.  The editors have been focusing on sustainability, CR, and related topics for a decade or more.  In the latest exploration of the topic, the editors look at what they see as the “first wave” of corporate sustainability, which (they say) focused on specific objectives that were measurable:  cost saving; increased share price valuation; protecting license to operate.  (All sound intentions, we could say, and if achieved, a measure of good management.)

And they explain the “second wave” is emerging:  that is, say the editors and the folks they interview, more specific  objectives set and focus on key targeted audiences, or constituencies, to make favorable impressions (suppliers, customers, investors). As corporate sustainability journeys mature, objectives are set with both company and key stakeholders in mind.  Unilever, aiming to help a billion people improve their health and well-being.  In this way, sustainability becomes more a core part of overall strategy, not a standalone or “accompanying” strategy.

We see this in our close monitoring of corporate sustainability reports. The leaders are more “wholistic” in their views of what the strategies and actions are, and what they accomplish (or intend to accomplish).  It reminds the G&A team of the 1980s rhetorical question – what business are you in?   Answer:  Airlines – in transportation, in leisure and travel, not just aircraft operations.  Stock brokerage:  helping people build wealth and create security (not just selling stock for commission).

The sustainability leaders are thinking through the meaning of their business operations and what their stakeholder expectations are or might be – and what is material to disclose and explain.  The Economist article is a new presentation of the changing face of corporate sustainability – what the editors think of as “the new wave.”  Good read for you as the calendar pages turn and here in the USA we begin what is essentially a new business year (as summer winds down).

Top Story of the Week

A new green wave      
(Friday - August 29, 2014)
Source: The Economist - BILL MCKIBBEN, an American environmentalist, once dismissed sustainability as “a buzzless buzzword”. That seems about right. A survey of 2,000 companies by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group found that two-thirds of business people thought social and environmental matters were “significant” or “very significant” but that only 10% thought they themselves were doing enough about it.

Sustainability in Focus

Sustainable Supply Chains - 3 Ways To Reduce Procurement Risks  
(Friday - August 29, 2014)
Source: Procurement Leaders - What do companies like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Wilmar International and Mars have in common? They’ve all made public commitments to implement a zero-deforestation policy throughout their supply chains. With...

This is just a sample of some of the articles from this weeks SustainabilityHQ Highlights.  You can view the full Highlights by using the following links. Sustainability | ESG, Highlights for the Week of September 2, 2014

Keywords: Media & Communications | G&A Institute | GRI | Governance & Accountability Institute | SWF | Sovereign Wealth Funds | SustainabilityHQ | business & trade | environmental | esg | governance