SustainAbility http://www.sustainability.com/ Global Feed en-US <![CDATA[The evolving private sector response to climate change post-Paris Agreement]]>

Although not due to enter into force until 2020, the Paris agreement is already shaping public policy and corporate action.

The 21st of March 2016 marked 100 days since the historic climate agreement was struck in Paris between 195 countries, setting the first long-term goal for carbon emissions reduction. It was bolstered, too, by the World Economic Forum, whose work demonstrates that global leaders for the first time perceive the failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change as the top risk in terms of greatest potential impact.

While the Paris agreement is officially due to enter into force in 2020, it is already shaping public policy and corporate action. Pre- and post-Paris, governments have not been the only actors motivated to commit and act. Business was a key voice leading up to COP21, and the role of business is even more crucial as we shift from the negotiation table to the massive systemic change that is required to keep global warming to 1.5°-2° Celsius. Below we highlight three priority areas where action is taking place by the private sector.

Changing business models

The energy utility, oil and gas, and financial sectors are being questioned on the viability of their business models in a low carbon economy, and some are ready to change. The CEO of Energy UK, a lobbying organisation that had staunchly defended fossil fuels is now supportive of a coal phase out, and will lobby for clean energy. Their own policy research on “pathways to 2030” with KPMG shifted the group to focus on longer-term thinking and financing. JP Morgan also joined Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley to announce that it would no longer be funding new coal-fired power plants and will shrink its credit exposure to companies that generate most of their revenue from coal mining and sales.

Leading as advocates

The Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and other corporate sustainability leaders (e.g. BT, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, and Nike). So far 376 companies and 183 investors are involved, representing $7.9 trillion in revenue and $20.7 trillion in assets under management. Who will join the coalition next?

Improving disclosure

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has established the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, chaired by Michael Bloomberg. The task force will develop voluntary climate risk disclosure guidelines for use by companies in providing information to lenders, insurers, and investors. While early, business widely regards this as a signal that investors are taking climate change seriously and are interested in the guidelines to be issued by the end of 2016 on reporting the potential impact of climate change on energy sources, physical properties, and supply chains.

We expect to see more ambition and action from business in a post-Paris world through exploring low carbon business models, setting science-based targets and being more active on internal carbon pricing, as well as the shadow pricing of other resources such as water. More than 400 companies already use or are considering an internal carbon price to future-proof their business, as CDP reports. What’s next for you?

Read more about SustainAbility’s Global Trends and Opportunities: 2016 and Beyond.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/the-evolving-private-sector-response-to-climate-change-post-paris-agreement http://www.sustainability.com//blog/the-evolving-private-sector-response-to-climate-change-post-paris-agreement
<![CDATA[The Business Response to Displacement & Migration]]>

images © press association

More than a million refugees crossed into Europe in 2015 alone, part of the 50 million refugees worldwide. According to the World Economic Forum, if a country was created from all the displaced people it would be the 24th largest in the world.

Migration is not new, but the scale in Europe in contemporary times is. It is not the first refugee crisis – consider Europe after World War II, and situations in the Middle East, Africa,Latin America and Asia since – only in a higher concentration (largely by Europe’s own doing) and closer to home. Only true optimists would say it is the last. Lest we forget, the oldest refugee camp (since 1991) is a long way from Europe in Dadaab, Kenya, hosting more than 300,000 refugees. While it’s the latest chapter in a long history of displacement, the ‘choices’ migrants have are still abysmal: refugee camps, urban poverty and/or dangerous, usually illegal journeys to safety.

The business and moral case for caring about and acting on the ‘crisis’ of refugees and migrants* in Europe is here and now – and frankly, has been for some time – and will be with us for a while to come.

But it’s political, many say. This is true – to a point.

Governments and the European Union have been wrangling with what to do, culminating in an uncertain one in, one out deal with Turkey that may endanger migrants. Even the bright spot in Europe where refugees were most welcome, Germany, has dimmed after challenges with crime against women that, for some, highlights the tall order of integrating refugees socially and culturally. Others worry that a warm welcome in Europe incentivises more people to move, enriching smugglers. Given that many migrants are middle class and collected enough money to pay high smugglers’ fees, it is a real concern but also testament that migrants are “asking not for handouts, but for the chance to earn a living.”

Companies are Responding

The repercussions of inaction (i.e. a more unequal, unstable society) are too great for business. Understanding the dynamics and where business can contribute through its core activities and strategies, as well as respond effectively in philanthropic ways, will make business more resilient. Isolating people from mainstream economies and societies cannot be good for business.

I spoke with two companies, IKEA and MasterCard, to get their first-hand views of what the refugee crisis means for business and what can be done. “We experienced people literally walking through Serbia,” I heard from Irena Dobosz, Sustainability, Customer Relations and Communication Manager, IKEA South East Europe, “I’m very proud that IKEA mobilised very quickly in all affected countries,” she added, explaining that IKEA everywhere has projects supporting local communities as part of delivering on the company’s vision of ‘a better everyday life’ for people, regardless of where they are. In the unanticipated circumstances, management’s support was crucial. “All long-term projects had been budgeted well in advance. This was new and unexpected, but we still got the additional support and it’s on-going.”

In collaboration with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other local organisations, IKEA Retail focused on donations in-kind, providing all kinds of household items and furniture – from beds, mattresses and bed linen to baby items and interactive toys for child-friendly areas in refugee camps organised by Unicef and others. In some countries, consumer donations are matched (or multiplied) by IKEA. In many countries, IKEA co-workers are actively involved. For instance, in Germany, IKEA co-workers are engaged to support refugees and IKEA donates home goods products, to the point of experiencing a shortage of beds at one point.

Not only is IKEA’s follow through impressive, but IKEA Foundation has a relatively long history of action in this area. Since 2010, the company has financially contributed to the UNHCR – €76 million in years recent alone, making IKEA its largest corporate donor – and also supported Médecins Sans Frontières in Syria and other affected areas. Since 2014, UNCHR and IKEA Foundation have also partnered to run the Brighter Lives for Refugees cause-related marketing campaign to raise funds. For every LED light bulb (and later lamps as well) sold during the campaign period, the IKEA Foundation donated Є1, which summed up to Є30.8 million, to bring light and renewable energy to refugee camps across Africa, Asia and Middle East. A uniquely IKEA contribution as ‘masters of flat pack’ is loaning their know- how and design expertise to housing, developing the social enterprise, Better Shelter (aka ‘IKEA shelter’), to provide innovative and more effective temporary home solutions.

In combination, the work via IKEA Foundation and the company itself, is powerful. The company’s response is also evolving to develop pilot internships and work experience opportunities to more fundamentally support refugees longer term. As Dobosz sees it, “I believe that refugees most want to be back in their homes, in peace. I am hopeful for them that they can return one day. For those who do not or cannot, I hope that they have a real option for integration.” IKEA also recognises the power of collecting and communicating the stories of its employees, internally and externally, to shift public opinion.

Speaking to Paul Musser of MasterCard, it was evident that the company’s actions in a crisis like this one are deeply rooted in the Shared Value model the company adopted several years ago. “There is shared value in being engaged before, during and after a humanitarian crisis,” Musser explained. With the support of the CEO and Vice Chairman, MasterCard’s International Development Team works to provide solutions based on the company’s analytics, technology and consulting tools to create systems and processes to advance financial inclusion. In providing these tools, from digital food vouchers to pre-paid cards, in response to social and humanitarian challenges, MasterCard sees strategic, long-term value – the intersection of doing good and doing well.

MasterCard has built a financial infrastructure that enables digital payments for millions of people to obtain essentials like food or money with organisations like the World Food Programme in Turkey, Lebanon and beyond. MasterCard views these efforts as a long-term business investment where the products and services offered to the humanitarian and development community create a foundation for future growth. MasterCard is creating a sustainable business that NGOs and governments can trust and build into their long-term practices.

One of the greatest benefits that MasterCard contributes to refugees and migrants through digital payments technology is the social integration it can help enable. With Mercy Corps in Serbia, pre-paid cards that refugees can use to buy food, healthcare or transportation look no different from other cards. By not differentiating them, you empower them. Removing the stigma has the potential to integrate refugees and migrants into our social fabric. At play is both a commitment to quality products and respect for people. By enabling vulnerable populations to build stronger communities and begin the path to financial inclusion, MasterCard is also creating potential users of its mainstream services in the future. In its international development work, MasterCard asks itself, “How do we meet the market’s needs while also aligning with our vision?”

What Should Business Do?

In addition to learning from the examples highlighted above, how else can business act? Here is a summary of how we believe companies should be thinking about migrants in Europe or elsewhere.

Act where it is material. Consider how the issue has become material for the fashion industry. Turkey currently hosts the most refugees in the region and is the third largest textile exporter to the EU. Combined with estimates of 250-400,000 Syrian refugees working illegally in Turkey, as reported by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, it should come as no surprise that global fashion retailers including H&M, Next, and Primark are identifying and reporting Syrian refugees working informally there. The protection of refugee and migrant workers, the majority and most vulnerable among them women and girls, is paramount. Companies should exert the full power of their supply chain policies and procedures, appetite to partner, and ability to influence government as needed to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and abuse – from trafficking to forced labour to child labour – in supply chains.

Use business’ voice and influence. Chobani’s owner, founder, chairman and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya has been an inspiration on this point and we hope more companies – especially large, global ones – will follow suit. Corporate forces have the ability through their voice, as well as their actions, to help recast the political and social debate. This could entail actual political and policy advocacy (e.g. advocating for migrants to have the right to work, which they lack in some countries) or apolitical communication of the company’s point of view and actions to the wider public to try to shift public opinion. Where are signals of an emergent chorus of voices to join that of Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Mercedes, who said, “Most refugees are young, well-educated and highly motivated – they are exactly the people we need…They could, like the guest workers from decades ago, help us preserve and improve our prosperity. For Germany cannot anymore fill the jobs available only with Germans.”

Hire refugees. Take the opportunity to bring needed competencies to labour markets. Migrant flows create opportunities for business and labour where there is not enough of it. They are, “similar to ourselves, they have aspirations for university, for careers; says Paul Donohoe of the International Rescue Committee. Corporate operations and their supply chains can benefit from corporate hiring commitments, and rewarding suppliers doing their bit to hire and support refugees. Chobani has hired as many refugees as it can in its yoghurt plants, currently 30% of the total workforce. IKEA is looking at internship possibilities and and Uniqlo’s parent company has committed to hire 100 refugees, a relatively small number, but a start.

Respond in ways aligned with your core business. Some sectors can obviously respond to the known needs of these situations – IKEA and home goods, for example, or Pearson’s partnership with Save the Children, Every Child Learning, to provide education. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has also drawn attention to the fact that refugees are amongst the four billion people without reliable internet access, promising to help the UN bring internet connectivity to refugee camps throughout the Middle East. While some criticise the effort for angling for new users, most agree that internet access will enable reconnection amongst the displaced, open opportunities for e-learning, and allow skills and capabilities to be shared with the rest of the world.

Think laterally. The solutions you can offer may be less obvious. Are there parts of the business or tools at your disposal that might be effectively adapted? Some will be surprised by MasterCard’s role in enabling the provision of aid. In another example, the pharmaceutical company Novartis, which had a traditional donations-based role in humanitarian crises, went beyond by unexpectedly partnering Novartis Access with the International Committee of the Red Cross to improve care and treatment for Syrian refugees populations in Lebanon who suffer from chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, which account for more than 50% of deaths in Lebanon annually. Novartis Access is its new social business making it affordable to treat chronic diseases in lower-income countries, initially only in Kenya and Ethiopia, through governments and NGOs for $1 per treatment per month. It was only launched last year, but the company thought laterally and flexibly about its utility in the refugee context. The partnership even has a longer-term objective to develop a broader blueprint for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up improvements for refugees with chronic diseases.

We know that responding in any one of these ways is not without challenge and may be subject to criticism. Chobani has not been immune, being attacked by anti-immigrant advocates in the US that the company is, “just looking for cheap refugee labour to make sure that [its] profit margin is good,” as reported by the Financial Times. But companies with a robust corporate responsibility/sustainability strategy and certain of their approach – the benefit to migrants and the strategic value to the company – can refute this. As Musser told me, “A company deriving value doesn’t detract from or diminish the impact of their actions.”

We see more and different actions – where it is material for business, where it is aligned with core activities, etc. – holding real potential to improve migrants’ lives. Not convinced that this makes sense for business? Then look around you and consider the moral case. Inequality, top of mind for many leaders today, is particularly stark when combined with the vulnerability of people on the move. I’m convinced that the solutions that will help migrants most will also help business. In the short-term and the long-term. As Alexander Betts, Refugee Scholar and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, so powerfully puts it: There’s nothing inevitable about refugees being a cost. They’re human beings with skills, talents, aspirations, with the ability to make contributions — if we let them.

*We use the terms “migrant,” “refugee” and “people on the move” to refer to the BBC’s definition of “migrant” as “all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.”

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Wed, 22 Jun 2016 10:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/the-business-response-to-displacement-migration http://www.sustainability.com//blog/the-business-response-to-displacement-migration
<![CDATA[Britain Must Remain In]]>

image © press association images

On Friday June 24th the result of the referendum will be known and the future direction of Britain will have been defined. And also on the 24th June we will wake up to a string of challenges: the need to address climate change and to implement the Paris agreement will still be there. Our air quality (still the cause of ill-health and early deaths) will still need improving. We will still need to ensure long-term sources of reliable, affordable, decarbonized energy to power our future. We will still need to reform corporate taxation. We will still need to meet rising demand for food as our population grows – which it will do whether we are in or out. And yes, with 65 million refugees on the move, we in Britain will still need to figure out how we respond to a global migration crisis that is likely to endure for many years to come. The list could go on…

I say “need to address” but that does not mean that these issues will be addressed. It is my firm view that there is far less chance that they can, or even will, be addressed in Britain if we are outside of the EU.

These are global systemic challenges present across each region, country, Europe and beyond. As such they can only be addressed systemically. Cities have shown the way in their leadership on climate but they can only go so far. Individual action by cities and nations cannot be sufficient. The EU (and its “red tape” for which is so maligned) has driven so many of the improvements we have seen in Britain in the past decades – whether these be improvements in water quality, fish stocks, and the protection of habitats. And the EU has probably done more through “red tape” to reduce our energy use and cut carbon than any other means.

No doubt, there is a progressive case for Brexit, in which Britain hunkers down and creates a highly localized, self-sufficient, sustainable economy. But there is 100% zero chance that this would be the real outcome of a vote to leave. Far more likely is an isolationist stance and the watering down of regulations that have helped improve quality of life in this country. The shifts we need demand supra-national cooperation and collaboration and that can only come from a strong Britain in Europe.

If we do choose to leave, there is every prospect that our exit will be the prelude to the unraveling of the EU and the post-WW2 consensus behind it. A consensus that, for all the EU’s faults, has resulted in the ending of dictatorships and enabled an unprecedented era of peace and stability. Of course, the EU is far from perfect. Europe’s politicians and bureaucrats are too remote from the people they were elected and appointed to serve. And the economics of the euro and the enforced austerity have been penalizing to many. But in the face of the challenges ahead, our role in Britain should be too lead its reform, not set off the starting gun for its unravelling. Britain on the fringe of a fracturing Europe represents pretty dismal prospect for securing a peace, security and prosperity in a low carbon world for the next generation.

We rarely if ever stray into politics on this blog. But this is too important not too. I cannot remember a vote in my lifetime that is as important as this one. I write from Abidjan where I am in conversation with people from around the world. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I meet sees danger ahead if Britain leaves. The world is watching and waiting, and in large part hoping. We must remain in the EU. The scale of the challenges ahead demand greater collaboration and the EU is the best instrument we have to meet them. I am firmly for “in” and I fervently hope we are still in come Friday.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Mon, 20 Jun 2016 17:18:49 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/britain-must-remain-in http://www.sustainability.com//blog/britain-must-remain-in
<![CDATA[What I Have Learnt: Inge Wallage]]>

Inge Wallage

This article was originally published in Radar 10: Being Human.

Part of being human is the ability to put ourselves in other people’s shoes or, better still, wear them. Inge Wallage, currently communications director at the International Water Association (IWA), is one of an increasing number of professionals who are blurring the lines between business, civil society, public sector and campaigning groups. Her career has spanned roles at Motorola, Statoil, Philips Electronics, Greenpeace and in communications consulting. This is what she has learnt.

What I’ve learned after seven years in civil society and a career in business is that solutions for the future will come about by unusual suspects coming together and sector boundaries blurring – we bring water professionals together across disciplines, across sectors and across the world.

Humans tend to believe in technocratic solutions but the reality is we need to come up with new ideas that might come through different roots such as philosophy. Even though IWA is a registered charity, it is starting to behave like an incubator and/or a social enterprise – you need to be agile to come up with water management solutions. We’re becoming more business process focused for good, not to make money.

My approach is to apply the three A’s to any programme: authenticity, audience and audacity. Another you could add is accountability, which is also crucial.

If you add Mother Earth and future generations into your target audiences it will really challenge your business plan. And, in order to be authentic and take these two audiences into account, and be accountable, we need to be audacious – set yourself a target you can’t meet very easily so you have to be innovative and find peers acting in a similar way to support you.

For authenticity, I always use the example of Unilever. Paul Polman acts from these three A’s. Hopefully being on the B Team also supports him to move ahead. I’ve also been really impressed with Nestlé, what they do in terms of alignment with the SDGs seems very solid and they give me the impression they truly want to contribute.

Most people think they have a societal responsibility. A recent discussion at the European Association of Communication Directors showed that when push comes to shove they are accountable to the people who pay their wage and short termism takes over from the long term. Unfortunately, behaviour doesn’t necessarily correlate with the way people think. None of this is easy and communication is key.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/what-i-have-learnt-inge-wallage http://www.sustainability.com//blog/what-i-have-learnt-inge-wallage
<![CDATA[The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Survey: Experts Share Views on Progress and Company Performance]]>

GlobeScan and SustainAbility have tracked expert opinions on sustainable development leadership for more than 20 years. Over these two decades, we have seen the sustainability agenda evolve and broaden, watched companies climb to the top of the corporate leadership list and then completely disappear from it, and witnessed many waves of optimism and pessimism as well as shifting expectations.

This edition of the Sustainability Leaders Survey is the first since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. In December 2015, the international community expressed unanimous commitment to tackling climate change and limiting global warming to below 2C. Governments, companies and other stakeholders polled for this year’s survey now operate in an environment profoundly different from previous years in terms of ambition, urgency and consensus about the direction of the sustainable development agenda.

Also new in 2016, GlobeScan and SustainAbility have joined forces with Sustainable Brands to conduct and publish the survey. This partnership has enabled us to expand the pool of surveyed experts, especially in Asia and Latin America, to achieve a more comprehensive international representation. This new collaboration will also open new opportunities to present the survey results to new audiences at Sustainable Brands conferences worldwide, including in San Diego and Copenhagen.

According to the 907 stakeholders in business, government, NGOs and academia across 84 countries polled for this year’s report, non-state actors continue to outperform all other institutions and especially national governments, which remain at the bottom of the list for their achievements. The contribution of NGOs since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio is viewed positively by 57% of polled experts, while national governments are regarded positively by only 6% of respondents.

Other key findings of the 2016 Sustainability Leaders report include:

  • Sustainability experts believe that national governments and the private sector equally share the responsibility for advancing sustainable development over the next two decades, with 34% of experts mentioning the two institutions as critical to progress.
  • Unilever continues to dominate global corporate rankings, further increasing the leadership margin and has been mentioned as a leader by 43% of polled experts. Patagonia, IKEA, Interface and Tesla were also among the most frequently mentioned companies.
  • Rankings of regional leaders are dominated by consumer-facing companies, with Unilever leading the list in Europe, Patagonia in North America, Woolworths in Africa and Natura in Latin America. In Asia, the Tata group of companies occupies the top position on the list.
  • Aligning sustainability strategy with internal culture and values is perceived to be the key driver of corporate leadership.
  • The most effective way for companies to make positive contributions towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is through pursuing partnerships and developing products and services, 44% of experts believe. The private sector should also apply SDGs as a lens in goal-setting and risk analysis processes.
  • WWF and Greenpeace continue to be seen as NGO leaders on sustainable development, with, respectively, 30% and 20% of expert votes. Meanwhile, Sweden (27%) and Germany (25%) have the best records among governments.
  • Experts are critical of industry efforts to transition to sustainable development, with the record of all sectors viewed primarily negatively. The forest products industry, biotechnology and ICT companies are considered to be managing the transition the best, while oil & gas and mining industries are viewed negatively by more than 75% of experts.

You can download the report here. For a deeper dive into the survey results and discussion with corporate representatives, join our webinar on June 30th, 8am PST.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 07 Jun 2016 08:08:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/the-2016-sustainability-leaders-survey-experts-share-views-on-progress-and-company-performance http://www.sustainability.com//blog/the-2016-sustainability-leaders-survey-experts-share-views-on-progress-and-company-performance
<![CDATA[Transforming Culture at Barclays, Enel and Campbell Soup]]>

Our recently released research, Sustainability Incorporated: Integrating Sustainability into Business, calls out the need for business to further embed sustainability into its core strategies. The report highlights five pathways that sustainability practitioners can leverage to more deeply integrate sustainability into their business: employing business model thinking; putting materiality to use; applying a sustainability lens to products and services; tapping into culture; and leveraging transparency. In the fifth of a five-part series, which was originally published on GreenBiz, we focus on leveraging transparency.

Forming a culture that enables an employee to understand what sustainability means for both the organization and his or her role within it is necessary in order to embed sustainability deeply. Yet culture is difficult to define and often described simply as “how we do things around here.” To fully integrate sustainability issues into the company’s decision-making, employees need a clear set of values and shared understanding. And the company’s leadership will be critical too when it comes to enhancing or diminishing a shared understanding of sustainability.

As many of us have experienced, culture can be resistant to change, even with the best strategy and leadership in place. As oft attributed to Peter Drucker, “culture eats strategy for lunch”. But whilst culture can be deep-rooted and slow to evolve, our research indicates that it is possible for corporate cultures to adapt. Moreover, given the
right conditions, progress can be made even within corporate cultures that do not have a deeply shared understanding of sustainability.

An important aspect of culture in the context of integrating sustainability is an openness to change and innovation. We explored the relationship between culture and innovation in our report Model Behavior II: Strategies to Rewire Business, highlighting four aspects of culture that enable innovation: supportive senior leadership, non-hierarchical structures, freedom to fail, and an ethos that encourages collaboration.

While the cultural characteristics we describe are ideal when pursuing integration, many sustainability practitioners within multinational companies can be risk-averse or lack these characteristics. And yet there are still examples where corporate cultures, risk-averse or not, have transformed to further embrace sustainability.

Barclays is an example of an organization that has worked to change its corporate culture by using a decision making tool, the Barclays Lens, which was developed in 2013 to incorporate social and environmental considerations into decisions. The Lens consists of five questions designed to help employees consider the broader impacts of their decisions on customers, clients and communities in the short- and long-term. By the end of 2015, Barclays had exceeded its initial target and trained over 10,000 of its employees globally to use the Lens, thus shifting the corporate culture to embrace sustainability at the core of its daily decision-making. According to Kate Millar, “The Barclays Lens is creating an opportunity for our senior leaders and decision makers to open up a new conversation about how we should be thinking about and factoring in the broader implications of our business into our decisions every day. It has also been enabling a conversation about the role of a bank in society, how do those responsibilities play out, and what are our responsibilities to move beyond regulatory requirements.”

Italian electricity and gas company, Enel, went through a similar cultural transition that enabled the business to deeply embed sustainability issues and values and better focus on innovation. The company began by identifying the long-term risks of dependence on a fossil fuel-based portfolio and made a strategic decision to shift its business to focus on renewables, the modernization of grids, operational efficiency and thermoelectric capacity. To support this shift in business focus, a cultural shift was also necessary. Enel replaced many of its board members, appointed new sustainability leadership, and mixed personnel from diverse parts of the business in a new sustainability team. This structural change helped move the company’s “business as usual” culture and approach to one that incorporated innovation and sustainability as core tenets of its strategy.

These two examples illustrate that it is possible to leverage company culture towards sustainability. And where dramatic change is not possible, practitioners can still work within existing cultures to drive integration.
Sustainability practitioners in change-resistant organizations can identify aspects of business culture that align with sustainability issues as a means to start embedding sustainability into their corporate culture. For example, in a conservative engineering firm, a practitioner might leverage the high regard for quantitative assessments and apply tools such as life cycle assessments as a way to illustrate environmental risks or opportunities. Or in a company that values robust systems and processes, a practitioner could embed steps within existing methodologies to ensure sustainability issues are considered.

Other companies are able to accelerate sustainability as a result of acquisition or through small internal ‘skunkworks’ teams that operate outside the mainstream. For example, some of Campbell Soup Company’s recent efforts on nutrition were inspired by the acquisitions of other companies such as Plum Organics, an organic baby food company. This has helped inform Campbell’s efforts to take bolder, more innovative actions to foster a culture of sustainability and innovation and to pursue ambitious goals. The acquisition has also improved visibility into Campbell’s efforts in sustainability.
As a B Corp and Public Benefit Corporation, Plum Organics integrated sustainability into its core by prioritizing societal wellbeing along with financial wellbeing. The company was founded with the idea that business can be a source for positive change in the world and as a result, it has taken innovative approaches to its strategy and product offerings. Holding companies can leverage their most innovative brands to further embed sustainability into their own strategy and into their other brands.

As an example of a ‘skunkworks’ approach, Hong Kong-based CLP Group nurtures sustainable innovation through a three-part ‘Innovate, Incubate, Integrate’ model which enables the company to nurture and develop new initiatives and then successfully integrate the new capabilities and functions needed across the Group for a sustainable business over the long term. The model ensures new, more sustainable, models of working are protected before being mainstreamed into the business.

Culture shouldn’t be perceived only as an obstacle to sustainability. A number of social enterprises, B Corps, and large businesses, are demonstrating how culture can drive sustainability success for organisations and the employees within them. Practitioners are finding successful ways to work with existing corporate cultures as well as pave the way for new ones.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 31 May 2016 10:38:25 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/transforming-culture-at-barclays-enel-and-campbell-soup http://www.sustainability.com//blog/transforming-culture-at-barclays-enel-and-campbell-soup
<![CDATA[Giving Workers a Voice: Well-Being in Supply Chains]]>

Image via iStockPhoto

This article was originally published in Radar 10: Being Human.

Company approaches to supply chain well-being are increasingly centered on technologies and research that enable workers to express their concerns and give honest and open feedback of factory conditions.

Globalisation, one of the most preeminent trends of the past several decades, has profoundly influenced how people communicate, travel and consume and how companies do business. It has brought new jobs and plentiful economic opportunities to developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa and has enabled multinational companies to cut costs and offer lower prices. Outsourcing has also brought challenges and companies have struggled to gain full transparency of increasingly complex and geographically dispersed supply chains and to maintain fair working conditions in factories. As advancements in technologies open new opportunities, a growing number of companies are turning to direct employee engagement to gain better visibility and improve worker well-being in supply chains.

Defining Worker Well-being
Northern California-based non-profit organisation Good World Solutions helps companies gain better visibility into working conditions at their supply chain factories and improve worker lives with the help of its mobile phone survey tool, Laborlink. It recently launched China Factories Survey, a pioneering partnership with 10 leading brands to increase retention rates and improve working conditions in 70 factories.

Executive Director Heather Franzese says that Good World Solutions boiled down its definition of worker well-being to two key areas – safety and respect. Safe is the minimum standard that every company should provide and ensure. Respect encompasses such standards as no verbal abuse, harassment and realistic production targets, although these goals remain aspirational for many companies.

Global toy manufacturer Mattel, which employs more than 35,000 workers in its supply chain in 40 countries, primarily in China and the Asia-Pacific region, and is a participant in the China factories project, focuses on health and safety issues in its worker well-being programs. According to corporate responsibility manager Katrice McCorkle, the company recently revamped its labor conditions and human rights program and launched the Play With Care campaign in 2015, which encourages employees to take responsibility for their safety and the safety of their co-workers.

Safety, Overtime and Stress Are Top Concerns
Concerns of supply chain workers vary depending on factory and geography but often focus on safety, stress level, overtime and pay. Furthermore, they are highly dependent on gender.

According to Vodafone, managing health and safety continues to be the most common area identified for improvement in supplier factories by far, followed by working hours. Working hours is a common industry issue, says Vodafone. From the 157 workers it recently surveyed in one of its supplier factories, 45% said one to three days a week they worked more than 10 hours, while 27% worked overtime on four or more days. At the same time, 94% of workers said they wanted to work as many hours as possible or were willing to work overtime sometimes.

According to Franzese, when asked about their needs, workers in China often express a preference for more training, education and career advancement opportunities. In South Asia, women tend to request better childcare, while men express a preference for better transportation. In response to these concerns, many companies enhance internal communications with the aid of helpdesks and internal chat platforms. At one China-based footwear factory surveyed by Good World Solutions, workers wanted improvements of dormitories and the cafeteria food. When these needs were addressed, job satisfaction jumped by 24%.

For the China Factories Survey, which is the first collaborative initiative of its kind, Good World Solutions partnered with 10 major brands including Walmart, J.Crew, C&A and M&S. Michael Widman, Vice President of International Labor Standards at The Walt Disney Company, which extended financial support to the project and is also a participant, said that the initiative provides a scalable, innovative approach that gives voice to factory workers. The data collected from 37,000 workers in early 2016 (see box) represents the first stage of the project and will serve as a benchmark for companies as they make improvements and continue to track worker opinions on job satisfaction and worker-management communication.

Technology, Transparency Driving Change
One of the key factors driving greater transparency on working conditions is the advance of technologies and what they make possible – not only enabling the media and other stakeholders to have better visibility of supply chain conditions but also providing new tools to companies to drive positive change.

Franzese believes that in five to 10 years time, there will not be a successful apparel or electronics company that does not have direct worker engagement as a core part of their supply chain strategy.

Although not always the case, supply chain working conditions are also slowly becoming a competitive issue for some sectors. Companies such as Levi’s have positioned themselves as clear leaders, raising the bar for everyone. By partnering with vendors and stakeholders, Levi’s has been able to tailor its programs to meet the individual needs of each factory community with progress made on a rage of issues from women’s health to financial inclusion. Levi’s argues that investing in workers also makes business sense and its suppliers have seen a significant return — up to $3 for every $1 invested in the program.

Franzese says that the case for investing in worker well-being is particularly strong in countries like China, where turnover can be as high as 20% a month. It places a big cost and burden on factories to rehire and retrain the workforce.

Path Forward – In Search of Solutions
While progress has been made on improving supply chain conditions, many outstanding issues remain. The key challenge that many brands face is gaining better visibility of working conditions beyond directly operated and owned facilities. It is in those subcontractor factories and other formal and informal facilities further down the supply chain where most egregious violations, such as forced and child labor, occur. According to some estimates, China alone has more than 30 million informally employed homeworkers that often work long hours for little pay and have no protection of their rights, while another study from Stern Business School estimates that a third of all factories in Bangladesh are informal.

Given that the brands are often not the ones employing the workers, it is really important to ensure factory buy-in if the well-being programs are to succeed. If the factory does not take ownership of it, they will find a million ways to sabotage it, says Franzese. In contrast to audits, solutions like Laborlink provide tools to factories to directly engage with the workforce that are not meant to be going over their head or circumventing them.

According to Mattel’s McCorkle, scaling of worker safety and well-being programs across their entire operations is another key challenge facing companies given the sheer size of global supply chains and geographic dispersal of factories. Engaging stakeholders such as NGOs and local governments is key, says McCorkle, as no single company can meet this challenge alone. Moreover, directly engaging the workers is critical but so is securing buy-in and support from the brand’s senior leadership.

Franzese believes that the business community has come a long way on acceptance that workers deserve a seat at the table and their voice is important – not only in terms of improving their well-being but also for business outcomes. As this becomes more universally recognised, hopefully we will see larger numbers of companies directly engaging with workers and scaling solutions to improve their well-being.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 26 May 2016 02:17:41 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/giving-workers-a-voice-well-being-in-supply-chains http://www.sustainability.com//blog/giving-workers-a-voice-well-being-in-supply-chains
<![CDATA[Less Bias, More Bucks: Spotlight on Arabesque Partners]]>

This article was originally published in Radar 10: Being Human.

The ESG investing movement – which promotes the factoring in of relevant non-financial data into investment decisions – is gathering momentum, led by a small but growing number of asset managers. Arabesque Partners is one such company looking to lead the way to a sustainable economy through an innovative rules-based, technology-enabled approach to integrating ESG into investing.

Michael Harvey recently caught up with Andreas Feiner, Head of ESG Research and Advisory at Arabesque Partners, to talk about ESG investing, human values, bias and robots.

Arabesque Partners was born out of a client-driven initiative at Barclays that sought to find a way to combine ‘finance with a purpose’ into investment strategies without sacrificing returns or incurring higher risk. The result was the creation of the first ESG quantitative asset manager. Arabesque’s unique approach leverages ESG data, exploits behavioural biases and capitalises on technology to execute its strategies.

At Arabesque the investment process begins with the definition of an investment universe, made up of stocks that have passed through a combination of liquidity, forensic accounting, UNGC, ESG and balance sheet screens. Investors can choose from two investment strategies; one based on a subset of stocks from the investment universe selected by Arabesque’s rules-based fundamental analysis. The other is a subset of stocks from the investment universe, but this time selected by Arabesque’s quantitative stock selection and portfolio optimisation technology.

I was interested to find out more about the benefits of such an approach. According to Andreas, “The purpose of using ESG is to make money for the investor. We believe that a company that is good at the management of environmental, social and governance risks should be a better company to invest in and work for. This is our major thesis and we proved that on average our sustainability process brings a 1.5% additional return per annum.”

Arabesque places significant emphasis on technology to both conduct analysis and execute the investment strategy. Decisions to trade, and in which companies to trade in, are made by automated programs. Andreas sees the main benefit of this approach as the overcoming of human psychology. “If you look into behavioural psychology the one big enemy in finance and investing is emotion. You should have a strategy and a plan for what you do depending on the market environment. Most people have a strategy, but executing it is quite difficult. If you have a computer it helps you to keep the investing discipline. Technology is used as a tool to leverage our time and remove the emotional element, which to us is a good thing. Increasingly it less possible for humans to be involved in the analysis – just look at the amount of data points that are available – it’s too much for a human to digest and make the best possible decision for clients.”

Given the key role of technology in the company’s approach it may be tempting to think that the human element is stripped out of the process entirely, however the picture is more nuanced than that. According to Andreas, “The meaning of Arabesque is geometric art derived through mathematics and we are clear that a rules-based approach is at the foundation of everything we do. However, we also see the company as a sort of human arabesque. There are different people from different backgrounds and cultures and views coming together with the same goal to mainstream ESG. The element of being human in how we run the company is very important – we need that diversity and difference of thought and in many ways the application of technology can be seen as an expression of human values as well as a way to overcome human limitations. Companies are nothing more than amalgamations of people coming together with one goal to deliver goods or services, to make a living and to pay some dividends to the investor – it’s a selection of contracts that binds everything together. Although we use computers to leverage our time and execute our model we are very aware of the human element i our company.”

Much has been made of the growth and potential of ESG investing, with 86% of global stock exchanges now offering sustainable indices and 80% of studies showing that stock price performance is positively correlated with sustainability. Yet the proportion of total assets under management that is sustainably invested still remains in the minority. Andreas suggested that becoming mainstream is both, “the biggest challenge and opportunity,” and is upbeat about the prospects – “I believe we are at a tipping point.

Look at the growth in number of companies reporting against the GRI, the proliferation of sustainable stock exchanges, increasing attention from investors, new business models predicated on positive impacts and growing awareness in the general public.

These are all drops in the ocean but something is brewing – to my mind it is not a question of if you do it but rather when, how and with whom? Within the next 10 years the ESG or SRI topic will either vanish or be combined into the standard extra-financial dimension of analysis. It will be taught as a core part of fundamental analysis – even the CFA is incorporating it and they are not an agenda-setting body.”

Arabesque has a clear ambition to support this transition through innovating on approaches to integrating ESG investment into traditional financial analysis and increasing understanding of ESG products all the way to retail investors. This may seem like a daunting task given the scale of the challenge, but as Andreas puts it, “This will be a great journey and good fun!”

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Mon, 23 May 2016 02:14:22 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/less-bias-more-bucks-spotlight-on-arabesque-partners http://www.sustainability.com//blog/less-bias-more-bucks-spotlight-on-arabesque-partners
<![CDATA[Cultivating Purpose: Sustainability Innovation and Employee Engagement]]>

Fostering an environment where people can work with purpose by innovating for more sustainable outcomes can help inspire and retain employees. “There is an ugliness in being paid for work one does not like,” Anaïs Nin penned in 1941 in her diary. We may have to admit that the global workplace may indeed be in an ugly place.

Gallup suggests that globally only 13% of employees are engaged in their work and its State of the American Workplace survey shows that 70% of workers are not engaged. In fact, 15.7% are actively disengaged and doing more harm than good at their companies.

The majority of people are compelled to work not by passion but by practicality – by the necessity for food, shelter and security. But even today, when such practicalities are often within reach, employment tends to lack the trifecta of autonomy, mastery and purpose that psychologists and David Pink (author of Drive) believe marks meaningful work. This seems to especially be true among millennials, with only 28.9% engagement vs. their traditionalist (born 1922-1945) peers at 42.2%.

It appears millennials are particularly less likely than other generations to say they “have the opportunity to do what they do best” at work. Considering that more than 90% of millennials want to use their “skills for good” and the fact that the future of work lies in empowering millennial talent (they will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025), these numbers convey rather harrowing news.

Newer generations, however, are not so different from older ones, and after all, are common humans seeking meaning in daily work. Studies show that younger generations are especially keen to work for companies with solid ethical and environmental practices that can offer a sustainable work-life balance. Fostering an environment where employees can work with purpose by innovating for more sustainable outcomes may be key to cultivating the talent and engagement needed to not only get our planet on track to a low-carbon and more equitable future, but also dispel an unpleasant feeling of one’s labour being non-worthwhile.

Engagement Through Sustainability Innovation?
A 2014 survey by IBM found that almost half of genXers and millennials say they would leave their current job for another offering a more innovative environment. In SustainAbility’s Model Behavior II: Strategies to Rewire Business we identified three particular qualities that can improve and foster sustainability innovation, and thus employee engagement:

  1. Leadership from the top;
  2. Comfort with risk; and
  3. Cross-collaboration.

From research and interviews with over 16 innovation experts, these were seen as key aspects, but there are undoubtedly many others.

Leadership from the Top

Several studies have shown that belief in senior leadership is the strongest engagement driver. In an interview with HR specialist Megan Moran at Insperity, a provider of human resource and business performance solutions, she admitted that employee engagement takes time, but it is key to have leadership on board and on the same page. She mentioned, “However leadership views them, employees see that and will work off that energy.”

Leadership sets the tone and helps promote a culture of engagement and innovation. Gallup reiterates this point: employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged.

Comfort with Risks

A company culture that can allow employees to take risks and experiment is not only something that most employees crave, but it also can help contribute to outside-the- box inventions. This is particularly dominant in entrepreneurial culture where new events and organisations, such as Fuck-Up Nights and FailCon, provide a platform for honouring and learning from others’ failed risks. Even erasing the word ‘failure’ from business lexicon and seeing it simply as a ‘glitch’ or part of the process towards innovation and experimentation can make a difference.

The iconic, if not strictly sustainability-oriented, example is Apple, whose famous tagline ‘Think Different’ framed the launch of the industry-disrupting iPod. At Apple, staying within the norm meant losing out and what companies Sony and Microsoft felt in market share once the iPod began to take off. At the time when Apple released the iPod and its ‘Think Different’ campaign, however, the company only had 90 days of budget left and needed something big to help it survive. While Steve Jobs is well-remembered for his tendency for taking large, often stubborn, risks, this quality was also what propelled Apple into one of the most profitable and well-known tech companies in the world and kept its cult-like following of A-list employees in tow.

Working Together

In order to tackle many of the grand challenges presented by climate change, resource scarcity and global inequality, taking big risks is inevitable, as is learning from each other and working together. Collaboration, whether internally, externally, or both, is a key element in creating a constructive environment for engaged employees that are inspired to innovate. This can take the form of allowing employees time and resources to develop projects of their own, like at LinkedIn or 3M, to leverage their own capacity to stop and reframe important questions rather than make incremental improvements on what already exists.

Sometimes a specialised ‘skunk works’ approach to collaboration reaps more radical innovation, such as that done at Cree, a company that hand-picked an internal team to work in a secure and private location to create an advanced LED bulb. Two years and 20 million bulbs later, Cree is the best-selling LED light in the US.

Many companies, conversely, have experienced much higher levels of engagement and innovation when collaborating outside company walls. Unilever uses hack-a-thons to help drive new thinking, while Tesco has run a number of hack-a- thons including a 48-hour one with the aim of improving health for the long term as part of the company’s campaign on obesity. Meanwhile, companies like GE, GM, Siemens and Unilever are partaking in collaborative and open innovation efforts to help create the next generations of low-carbon technologies.

These efforts not only bring in new ideas, they bring in new people and new excitement within companies that, in turn, increases engagement. Companies that can foster a culture that encourages sustainability innovation are not only likely to lead with a competitive, disruptive edge, but also may be the most successful at retaining and inspiring their workers to feel they are fulfilling their potential through meaningful, beautiful work.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 17 May 2016 02:15:24 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/cultivating-purpose-sustainability-innovation-and-employee-engagement http://www.sustainability.com//blog/cultivating-purpose-sustainability-innovation-and-employee-engagement
<![CDATA[Calling All Sustainable Brands Alumni ]]>

Sustainable Brands San Diego 2016

I am delighted to present this blog post authored by KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder, Sustainable Brands Worldwide. While KoAnn has become a wonderful personal friend and colleague over the last decade, SustainAbility and Sustainable Brands are in the process of deepening our organizational relationship as well. First, in 2016 Sustainable Brands has joined SustainAbility and GlobeScan as a partner on our annual GSS Leaders Survey, the results of which will be presented on the main stage at SB San Diego this June. Second, I am now the Chair-elect of Sustainable Brands’ Advisory Board, a post I will assume fully in June, and in which I look forward to increasing collaboration between us still further while supporting the Sustainable Brands mission generally. Finally, because of our like-minded approach, this blog might be seen not only as a call to action for SB Alumni, but to SustainAbility’s network as well.

Dear Friends,

Ten years ago, GE had just launched Ecomagination, Walmart had stepped in to as a first responder to support those facing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and Al Gore had launched An Inconvenient Truth. These and many other signals portended the world we see today and were among the many signals that encouraged the launch of Sustainable Brands in 2006.

In 2007, 225 of you — courageous optimists from companies such as GE, Walmart, Aveda, HP, Kimberly-Clark and Clorox, as well as change agents from IDEO, Landor Associates, Fast Company, Wired and several others met in New Orleans for the first Sustainable Brands Conference. They came to discuss how and why brand leaders large and small are uniquely equipped to change the world and shape the future of business.

We’ve Come a Long Way Since Then!

Over the past decade, that small group of 225 has grown into by far the largest and most forward looking community of thought and practice leaders around the world who truly are shaping the future of commerce worldwide. This year we will host thousands of business leaders at 11 live events scattered across 6 continents to continue to challenge our 20th century ways of thinking about the role of business in society and the paths to profitable growth in the decades to come. Over 1 million readers visited www.SustainableBrands.com last year to learn of the stories of these change makers, 60+ brands are now part of our member Corporate Network focused on learning from each other how to successfully deliver innovation for sustainability at scale.

Throughout this past decade members of our community have re-imagined the ways we might deliver more meaningful value to all our stakeholders — not just our shareholders (though we continue to honor the critical role they play in driving global prosperity!) They (perhaps you!) have designed and tested successful new business models that reduce the need for virgin materials, and they have invented new ways to engage and encourage consumers to adopt healthier lifestyles. They have even proposed and begun to establish new measures of success that will enable our brands the opportunity to prosper by ensuring a pathway to a sustainably thriving future.

New Forms of Brand Value Are Being Designed and Delivered Daily

Together, members of the Sustainable Brands community are changing the world and enabling new brand value creation. These gains are being realized by both nimble, forward-looking established brands like GE and Toyota as well as disruptive start-ups like AirBnB and Chipotle. Together we have learned A LOT — and at the same time, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of the transformation we will see in consumer behavior, brand value creation and our global economic structures as a whole over the next decade.

Let’s Carry Forward the Imagination and Learning

This June, we hope to reunite all our live event alumni for our last gathering in San Diego to take stock of all that we’ve learned this past ten years, and to imagine how we want to proceed together over the next ten. Our team and esteemed advisory board are planning a very special celebration, chock-full of all the goodness you’ve come to expect from Sustainable Brands live events and we hope you’ll be there to join us. We won’t be able to accommodate everyone who wants to be part of this special anniversary so make plans now and save your seat before it’s too late.

In great anticipation of making history of the occasion, I look forward to seeing you all there!

KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz
Founder
Sustainable Brands Worldwide

Register today with code NWsaSB16sd for a 15% discount.

SustainAbility is a media partner for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Fri, 29 Apr 2016 02:58:32 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//blog/calling-all-sustainable-brands-alumni http://www.sustainability.com//blog/calling-all-sustainable-brands-alumni
<![CDATA[Watch Highlights from The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Webinar - Asia / Pacific]]>

GlobeScan, SustainAbility and Sustainable Brands were delighted to host a webinar on June 30th to discuss the results of the 2016 edition of the The Sustainability Leaders – A GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey.

The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Survey is the longest-running survey of its kind and has tracked expert opinions on sustainable development leadership for more than 20 years. In our latest survey, produced in partnership with Sustainable Brands, we analyze the viewpoints of over 900 sustainability experts to answer a number of pressing questions, including:

  • Which companies, NGOs and national governments do experts believe are leading the sustainability agenda? What key factors set them apart?
  • Which actors have made the most progress on sustainable development over the last two decades and which organizations face the highest expectations to advance the global agenda?
  • What are expert recommendations for companies on how to most effectively contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Our lively and insightful discussion was led by Wander Meijer (Asia Pacific Director, GlobeScan) and Mark Lee (executive Director, SustainAbility), and guests:

  • Alka Upadhyay, Assistant Vice President of the Tata Sustainability Group, India’s global conglomerate employing 650,000 people in businesses as diverse as Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Steel and Tata Consulting Systems.
  • Holy Ranaivozanany, Head of CSR at Huawei, one of China’s major technology companies and the largest telecom equipment manufacturer in the world.
  • Janice Lao, Sustainability Team Lead at MTR Corporation, rail and subway operator with operations in Hong Kong, London, Stockholm, Melbourne and Beijing.
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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 30 Jun 2016 16:41:28 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//news/watch-highlights-from-the-2016-sustainability-leaders-webinar-asia---pacific http://www.sustainability.com//news/watch-highlights-from-the-2016-sustainability-leaders-webinar-asia---pacific
<![CDATA[Watch Highlights from The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Webinar - Americas / Europe]]>

GlobeScan, SustainAbility and Sustainable Brands were delighted to host a webinar on June 29th to discuss the results of the 2016 edition of the The Sustainability Leaders – A GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey.

The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Survey is the longest-running survey of its kind and has tracked expert opinions on sustainable development leadership for more than 20 years. In our latest survey, produced in partnership with Sustainable Brands, we analyze the viewpoints of over 900 sustainability experts to answer a number of pressing questions, including:

  • Which companies, NGOs and national governments do experts believe are leading the sustainability agenda? What key factors set them apart?
  • Which actors have made the most progress on sustainable development over the last two decades and which organizations face the highest expectations to advance the global agenda?
  • What are expert recommendations for companies on how to most effectively contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Our lively and insightful discussion was led by Chris Coulter, CEO of GlobeScan, Mark Lee, Executive Director of SustainAbility, and special guest Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability at Interface, the world’s largest manufacturer of modular carpets for commercial and residential applications.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 30 Jun 2016 16:33:27 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//news/watch-highlights-from-the-2016-sustainability-leaders-webinar-americas---europe http://www.sustainability.com//news/watch-highlights-from-the-2016-sustainability-leaders-webinar-americas---europe
<![CDATA[The 2016 SustainAbility Leaders Webinar]]> GlobeScan, SustainAbility and Sustainable Brands are delighted to invite you to a webinar on June 29 (for Europe, Americas and Africa time zones) and June 30 (for Asia and Oceania time zones) to discuss the results of The 2016 Sustainability Leaders – A GlobeScan / SustainAbility Survey.

The Sustainability Leaders is the longest-running survey of its kind and has tracked expert opinions on sustainable development leadership for more than 20 years.

In our latest survey, produced in partnership with Sustainable Brands, we analyze the viewpoints of over 900 sustainability experts to answer a number of pressing questions, including:

  • Which companies, NGOs and national governments do experts believe are leading the sustainability agenda? What key factors set them apart?
  • Which actors have made the most progress on sustainable development over the last two decades and which organizations face the highest expectations to advance the global agenda?
  • What are expert recommendations for companies on how to most effectively contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Join us for a lively and insightful discussion led by Chris Coulter (CEO, GlobeScan), Mark Lee (Executive Director, SustainAbility), and Wander Meijer (Asia Pacific Director, GlobeScan) who will share insights, discuss survey findings with panelists and answer your questions.

We hope you can join us! For you convenience, we are offering this webinar in two different time zones. Please register your place today via the links below:

June 29 at 8am San Francisco / 11am New York / 4pm London
(for Europe, Americas and Africa time zones

June 30 at 7:30am Mumbai / 10am Hong Kong / 12pm Sydney
(for Asia and Oceania time zones)

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 09 Jun 2016 15:47:56 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//news/the-2016-sustain-ability-leaders-webinar http://www.sustainability.com//news/the-2016-sustain-ability-leaders-webinar
<![CDATA[Volans partners with UN Global Compact to launch the Breakthrough Innovation Platform]]>

Introduction to the Breakthrough Innovation Platform

SustainAbility’s sister company, Volans, today announces a strategic partnership with the UN Global Compact to create the Breakthrough Innovation Platform, targeted for launch in September 2016.

The aim of the platform is to bridge between the linear world of incumbent companies and the increasingly exponential worlds of the insurgent innovators and entrepreneurs now driving an A-to-Z of disruptive businesses creating new, different forms of faster and better value.

By engaging companies, exponential thinkers and practitioners,  the platform will explore and showcase new ideas and emerging practice around:

1. The Exponential Looking Glass

Whether from Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tokyo or Johannesburg, the Breakthrough Innovation Platform will spotlight some of the most innovative people on the planet and share their thinking around exponential technology, organizations, change – and their take on how to facilitate both radical and sustaining innovation.

2. Disruptive Technologies for Sustainability

The constant buzz around technology innovations and the next big thing can make it challenging to identify the ones truly transforming our world and our businesses. The Platform will identify and analyze the upsides and downsides of technologies that have the potential to disrupt industries and, in the process, create opportunities for sustainable performance. These include technologies ranging from big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things through to driverless vehicles, 3D printing and synthetic biology.

3. Tomorrow’s Business Models

Business model innovation is on the Board and C-suite agendas like never before. Bridging between corporate incumbents and the wave of market insurgents, the Platform will explore and outline promising and potentially more sustainable business models made possible by breakthrough innovation and digitalization. This will include a close look at platform and network models, the shift from products to services and on-demand offerings, and other models emerging from circular, collaboration and sharing economies.

“Change is coming at business at an accelerating rate signalling an era of profound disruption,” says Lise Kingo, the Global Compact’s new Executive Director. “Our 8,300 corporate members include pioneers in corporate social responsibility, shared value and supply chain management, but the launch in 2015 the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the COP21 climate agreement signalled a new era of opportunity—where companies must shift from considering the business case for action to evolving the business models which will be at the heart of tomorrow’s economy.”

In the eight years since Volans was setup by SustainAbility founder John Elkington, the focus has been on innovators and entrepreneurs seeking to disrupt old ways of thinking and create new forms of value. So we are delighted to now help usher in what we call the Breakthrough Decade that will see a range of disruptions accelerating, but that also signal a new era of opportunity for developing and deploying innovative business models that will be at the heart of tomorrow’s economy.

“Whether in Silicon Valley, Berlin, Tokyo or Johannesburg, we are engaging and learning from some of the most innovative people on the planet,” explains John Elkington, co-founder and Chairman of Volans.

Find out more about the Breakthrough Innovation Platform on the Volans or UNGC websites.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 31 May 2016 16:13:07 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//news/volans-partners-with-un-global-compact-to-launch-the-breakthrough-innovation-platform http://www.sustainability.com//news/volans-partners-with-un-global-compact-to-launch-the-breakthrough-innovation-platform
<![CDATA[Mark Lee to Present at Sustainable Brands '16 San Diego]]> Mark Lee will be participating on a panel entitled “The Science, ROI and Macro Consumer Landscape of Purpose through the Lens of the Latest Research Data” at Sustainable Brands ’16 in San Diego on June 7, 2016 from 9:15 am – 9:45 am.

This session will unveil a unique compilation of new research data that helps explain why purpose will keep trending as a key business driver in the foreseeable future. Representing new research partnerships that Sustainable Brands has established with EY, GlobeScan and SustainAbility, speakers will share hot-off-the-press research insights on the current landscape of consumer attitudes and behavior around purpose, prevailing perceptions of key influencers and leaders in the space, as well as the business case for purpose-driven brand strategy and innovation.

Mark will be joined on the panel by:

  • Chris Coulter, Co-CEO, GlobeScan
  • Brendan LeBlanc, Partner, Climate Change & Sustainability Services, Ernst & Young
  • KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, Founder & CEO, Sustainable Brands

Join nearly 2,000 global business leaders in over 80 sessions, workshops, plenaries, evening events, and co-create sessions for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego from June 6-9, 2016 to share ideas and discover how to mobilize your brand to succeed in the new economy. Global brand leaders like Unilever, CSV Health, HP and Target are succeeding by Activating Purpose with sustainability-led innovation to create and scale positive impact. Over the years they have moved beyond the concept of purpose driven brand leadership to actually developing real tools, techniques, methods and models for activating purpose. It’s time to motivate others to follow.

Register today with code NWsaSB16sd for a 15% discount.

SustainAbility is a media partner for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 21 Apr 2016 02:46:11 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//news/mark-lee-to-present-at-sustainable-brands-16-san-diego http://www.sustainability.com//news/mark-lee-to-present-at-sustainable-brands-16-san-diego
<![CDATA[Derek Bothereau to Present at Sustainable Brands '16 San Diego]]> Derek Bothereau will be participating on a panel entitled “Supply Chain Leadership: New Case Studies in Helping Suppliers Innovate for Sustainability” at Sustainable Brands ’16 in San Diego on June 7, 2016 from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm.

This session will walk attendees through exemplary case studies in supply chain leadership, sharing a variety of cutting-edge strategies for engaging and collaborating with suppliers to help them deepen purpose-driven innovation. Find out how to create new forms of shared value that suppliers can benefit from, while also earning the appreciation, trust and loyalty of other stakeholders in the process.

Derek will be joined on the panel by:

  • Mary Wroten, Senior Manager of Supply Chain Sustainability, Ford
  • Kim Marotta, Director of Sustainability, MillerCoors
  • Whitney Mayer, Manager, Social Innovation, The Hershey Company

Join nearly 2,000 global business leaders in over 80 sessions, workshops, plenaries, evening events, and co-create sessions for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego from June 6-9, 2016 to share ideas and discover how to mobilize your brand to succeed in the new economy. Global brand leaders like Unilever, CSV Health, HP and Target are succeeding by Activating Purpose with sustainability-led innovation to create and scale positive impact. Over the years they have moved beyond the concept of purpose driven brand leadership to actually developing real tools, techniques, methods and models for activating purpose. It’s time to motivate others to follow.

Register today with code NWsaSB16sd for a 15% discount.

SustainAbility is a media partner for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 21 Apr 2016 00:23:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//news/derek-bothereau-to-present-at-sustainable-brands-16-san-diego http://www.sustainability.com//news/derek-bothereau-to-present-at-sustainable-brands-16-san-diego
<![CDATA[SustainAbility is a Media Partner for Sustainable Brands '16 San Diego]]> As the demand for new products, services and business models that deliver purpose and profit continues to soar, brand leaders who are tapping into this shift are thriving in the face of uncertainty. But who are the brands that are succeeding? What will it take for them to consistently outperform within changing 21st century market dynamics? How are they activating systemic-wide change for a sustainable future?

Join nearly 2,000 global business leaders in over 80 sessions, workshops, plenaries, evening events, and co-create sessions for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego from June 6-9, 2016 to share ideas and discover how to mobilize your brand to succeed in the new economy. Global brand leaders like Unilever, CSV Health, HP and Target are succeeding by Activating Purpose with sustainability-led innovation to create and scale positive impact. Over the years they have moved beyond the concept of purpose driven brand leadership to actually developing real tools, techniques, methods and models for activating purpose. It’s time to motivate others to follow.

Find detail-rich case studies, practical know-how and specific implementation tips to accelerate your business success. Plus, more importantly, find the partners and solutions providers who can help you along the way. Sustainable Brands is home to the global community of courageous optimists who are reshaping the future of commerce worldwide.

Register today with code NWsaSB16sd for a 15% discount.

SustainAbility is a media partner for Sustainable Brands ’16 San Diego.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 15 Mar 2016 00:35:12 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//news/sustain-ability-is-a-media-partner-for-sustainable-brands-16-san-diego http://www.sustainability.com//news/sustain-ability-is-a-media-partner-for-sustainable-brands-16-san-diego
<![CDATA[Rob Cameron to Speak at GRI]]> The focus of GRI’s upcoming fifth annual global conference, Empowering Sustainable Decisions, is to accelerate progress on sustainability reporting by delivering innovative sustainability content and by building capability. From May 18-20, join up to 1,500 sustainability leaders from around the globe in Amsterdam to exchange leading-edge knowledge on best practices, innovations and trends that are empowering sustainable decisions and changing the world.

SustainAbility will be there as well! Our Executive Director, Rob Cameron, will be speaking on May 18 in a session entitled Reporting Trends of the Future, and Denise Delaney will be attending.

See the full schedule and register today!

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Wed, 02 Mar 2016 02:37:45 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//news/rob-cameron-to-speak-at-gri http://www.sustainability.com//news/rob-cameron-to-speak-at-gri
<![CDATA[The Power of Storytelling]]> SustainAbility Director Zoë Arden was a Master’s student at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership from 2012–2014. In her blog, The Power of Storytelling for Business Engagement on Sustainability on the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership blog she explains how the Master’s programme helped her embrace her communications credentials and appreciate the power of storytelling.

Zoë goes on to say, “It started to dawn on me that communications wasn’t something I could leave behind if I was to be successful as a sustainability practitioner. I started to notice that often sustainability folk were some of the worst at ‘winning friends and influencing people’. They were too often stuck in the data and the complexity and incapable of enrolling others. The reality is that trying to advance sustainability in organisations is a tough job.”

For more, read the full article.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 01 Mar 2016 19:15:59 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//news/the-power-of-storytelling http://www.sustainability.com//news/the-power-of-storytelling
<![CDATA[Watch a Video Recording of our Webinar on Global Sustainabilty Trends for 2016]]>

This webinar explores the key findings of our research into the global sustainability trends that will shape the economic, political, and social landscape and business agenda in 2016.

2015 brought profound wins for sustainable development including the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. As we settle into 2016, what will these wins mean for business? What key issues shaping the sustainability agenda this year should leaders have on their radar?

Watch a presentation of SustainAbility’s current thinking and insights from interviews with leading sustainability professionals, plus a lively discussion between SustainAbility’s Executive Director Mark Lee and panelists:

  • Benjamin Packard, Managing Director, Corporate Engagement, The Nature Conservancy
  • Elisa Tonda, Head of Responsible Industry and Value Chain Unit, UNEP
  • Susanne Stormer, Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, Novo Nordisk

During the webinar we addressed the following questions:

  • What will be the major opportunities for corporate leadership on sustainability in 2016 and how should companies act on them?
  • How will the corporate sustainability agenda be influenced by growing global economic and political instability?
  • What will be the implications of a changing energy landscape, growing water insecurity, and rising standards for transparency and reporting?

Alternatively you can download the slides from the presentation below.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Wed, 24 Feb 2016 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//news/watch-a-video-recording-of-our-webinar-on-global-sustainabilty-trends-for-2016 http://www.sustainability.com//news/watch-a-video-recording-of-our-webinar-on-global-sustainabilty-trends-for-2016
<![CDATA[The 2016 SustainAbility Leaders]]>

For SustainAbility and GlobeScan’s annual Sustainability Leaders Survey, we asked over 900 expert stakeholders representing business, government, NGOs and academia across 84 countries to evaluate the progress that institutions have made since the 1992 Earth Summit and reflect on their expectations for the next 20 years.

We also analyze expert views on which companies are considered to be leading on integrating sustainability into their business model as well as which NGOs and national governments are making the biggest contribution to advance the sustainable development agenda. In addition, we asked expert opinion on the best pathways for business to act on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Survey was conducted and produced in partnership with Sustainable Brands.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Tue, 07 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//library/the-2016-sustain-ability-leaders http://www.sustainability.com//library/the-2016-sustain-ability-leaders
<![CDATA[Radar: Issue 10]]>

Is being human the next frontier in the battle for a sustainable world? This is a question posed in our latest issue of Radar that starts to explore how we can create an economy that nurtures and protects the human qualities that are increasingly important to connect and sustain us.

Contents include:

Sustainability’s New Frontier: Being Human
The global economy is on a collision course with some of our most essential human qualities. Is it a problem, and how do we get from a sense of unease to thinking about a practical response?

The 24th Largest Country in the World: The Business Response to Displacement & Migration
The business and moral case for caring about and acting on the ‘crisis’ of refugees and migrants in Europe is here and now, and has been for some time. What is business doing and what should business be doing?

Less Bias, More Bucks: Spotlight on Arabesque Partners
How Arabesque Partners is looking to lead the way to a sustainable economy through a rules-based, technology-enabled approach to integrating ESG into investing.

This is What I Have Learnt: Inge Wallage
Inge Wallage, communications director at the IWA is one of an increasing number of professionals who are blurring the lines between business, civil society, public sector and campaigning groups.

Cultivating Purpose: Sustainability Innovation and Employee Engagement
Fostering an environment where people can work with purpose by innovating for more sustainable outcomes can help inspire and retain employees.

Giving Workers a Voice: Well-Being in Supply Chains
How company approaches to supply chain well-being are increasingly centered on technologies and research that enable workers to express their concerns and give honest and open feedback of factory conditions

Individuals in Business: Radar Roundtable
We recently hosted a roundtable to discuss with some of our network the Radar theme ‘Being Human’ and better understand what it means to be human in an increasingly technological and systemised world.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 28 Apr 2016 10:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//library/radar-issue-10 http://www.sustainability.com//library/radar-issue-10
<![CDATA[Orchestrating Change]]>

“Collaborations have played a key part in bringing us to where we are now—i.e., on the cusp of much more transformative change. But how, and to what extent, can they help achieve the full and final transformation that’s needed?”

In the wake of the SDGs and COP21, there is more need than ever for cross-sector collaboration to drive progress on sustainability, but there are also real questions about how far and how fast it can take us, and how much of it any given organization can effectively sustain.

Our latest report, Orchestrating Change, grapples with these questions and offers a vision for a new generation of multi-stakeholder collaboration, with the aim of helping companies and other organizations better plan for and cope with the increasing demands of collaboration, and bring sustainability much more rapidly to scale.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:31:45 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//library/orchestrating-change http://www.sustainability.com//library/orchestrating-change
<![CDATA[Radar: Issue 09]]>

Has this been written by a human or an algorithm? For now, a human, but as we know, content is already being created (and published) robotically. One example of how our world is being redefined by rapid advances in technology.

Technology can be a major driver of change, increasingly central to tackling many of our biggest challenges. Whilst we should be cautious about much of the hype, there are definitely benefits. In this edition of Radar we explore some examples. For increased transparency of supply chains, LaborVoices uses mobile phones to understand what is actually going on in factories (Meet Our Network: Sean Ansett). For better business models, connectivity and digitisation can foster innovation (Using Digitisation to Enable Business Model Innovation for Sustainability).

However, as well as bringing benefits, the growth of the tech sector creates sustainability tensions (Tech Companies & the War for Talent). Digital divides frequently widen before they close; Huawei, the digital giant, is working to ensure that the benefits of technology reach the many, not just the few (The Value of Connectivity: Huawei and Digital Enablement). For technology to serve us well, it is important that we question which advances are truly beneficial (If Tech is the Answer, What is the Question?).

Many technology companies are playing an active role in the corporate sustainability movement and it is good to see many on the list of leaders in the GlobeScan / SustainAbility Climate Survey (Beginning the Long Journey to Climate Stabilisation). We hope you enjoy the latest edition of Radar. Feel free to tweet us @SustAbility with your comments and feedback.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Wed, 27 Jan 2016 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//library/radar-issue-09 http://www.sustainability.com//library/radar-issue-09
<![CDATA[Sustainability Incorporated]]>

Many companies claim that sustainability is embedded in their DNA or sits at the heart of their business. The reality is that very few corporations have fully integrated or embedded sustainability into their business models. The need for integrated sustainability is urgent; in order to address today’s pressing global issues such as resource scarcity, climate change and inequality, the private sector must integrate environmental and social considerations into every business decision. Embedding sustainability into business not only helps secure a sustainable future, but it also benefits companies, enabling them to prepare for future risks, act on opportunities and create more value for the business and its stakeholders.

In Sustainability Incorporated we highlight five pathways that sustainability practitioners can simultaneously leverage to further integrate sustainability into their businesses. We also present case studies of leadership within those five pathways, a discussion of the role of leadership, and learnings from South Africa and key Asian markets. While the five pathways are not the only ways to embed sustainability, they have proven useful for numerous companies and also align in practical ways with many of the existing responsibilities of practitioners. We encourage practitioners to explore our findings, follow these pathways and continue their work integrating sustainability into business and into the broader global systems at play. The five pathways detailed in the report are:

  • Employing business model thinking: Build an understanding of how the business creates value by creating a visual map of the business model
  • Putting materiality to use: Focus and act upon key issues in ways directly tied to core business activity
  • Applying a sustainability lens to products and services: Add a sustainability lens at decision-making points in product and service design life cycles
  • Tapping into culture: Understand aspects of the company’s culture that can drive sustainability outcomes
  • Leveraging transparency: Use transparency—and integrated reporting specifically—to drive and reflect integrated thinking

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 10 Dec 2015 01:00:00 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//library/sustainability-incorporated http://www.sustainability.com//library/sustainability-incorporated
<![CDATA[Leadership on Climate Change: COP21 & Beyond]]>

In December 2015, the governments of more than 190 nations will convene at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris to negotiate a new international agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

We asked global experts representing business, government, NGOs and academia to share their expectations for the COP21 meeting and provide insights about the role of various actors and climate strategies post-2015. While the overwhelming majority believe COP21 will produce a new international agreement, fewer than one- third are confident that it will have binding powers. These results reflect measured expectations for the meeting, likely a result of past disappointments, but also an overall poor track record of most institutions on climate change, which respondents noted in the survey.

624 qualified sustainability experts completed the online questionnaire from September 15th to October 10th, 2015 and respondents were drawn from: corporate, government, non-governmental, academic/research, service/media, and other organizations.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 12 Nov 2015 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.sustainability.com//library/leadership-on-climate-change-cop21-beyond http://www.sustainability.com//library/leadership-on-climate-change-cop21-beyond
<![CDATA[Radar: Issue 08]]>

This latest issue of Radar explores the expectation that corporate sustainability goals need to be based less on what a company thinks it can achieve and more on scientifically robust benchmarks, limits and thresholds. As Andrew Winston (Meet Our Network) succinctly puts it, companies need to move “from a bottom-up, internal perspective on goal-setting to an externally driven agenda.” An increasing number of companies are beginning to set goals based on external benchmarks and AstraZeneca discusses its approach (AstraZeneca: Setting Science-Based and Fair Share Goals).

It is, of course, no coincidence that we are focusing on goals. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will put the spotlight firmly on the big environmental and social issues that need to be addressed in order to transition to a more sustainable economy. Some companies are already thinking about how the SDGs will impact how they go about business in the future (Sustainable Development Goals: What to Expect from Business).

In particular, we are pleased to shine a spotlight on the B Corp movement – and its ambitious goal ‘to redefine success in business’ (Redefining the Purpose of Business: B Corp UK). SustainAbility is proud to be a certified B Corp, it is great to see the global growth of this movement and support the launch of B Corp in the UK.

As always, we welcome your feedback – find us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 24 Sep 2015 12:40:33 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//library/radar-issue-08 http://www.sustainability.com//library/radar-issue-08
<![CDATA[Model Behavior II]]>

Many of the companies that are flourishing financially today are inherently unsustainable. Despite laudable efforts to make their processes or products more sustainable, no amount of renewable energy sourcing or green product engineering, for example, can change that.

When an inherently unsustainable company experiences continued commercial success, thinking about a different, more sustainable model may seem unlikely or unrealistic. However, dwindling security of supply, rising commodity prices, changing consumer demographics and increasing competitive pressure make it prescient to consider business models that will be less volatile, less resource-intensive and more responsive to the user of the future.

A year after SustainAbility published its most popular report, Model Behavior: 20 Business Model Innovations for Sustainability, we are pleased to share our latest research on this topic. Model Behavior II: Strategies to Rewire Business offers guidance to large companies and innovators within those organizations to harness the power of business model innovation that creates a more sustainable future.

Through extensive research and interviews, Model Behavior II outlines:

  • Key forces influencing the need for and emergence of business model innovation for sustainability
  • The pivotal role of company culture to foster innovation
  • Distinct actions that internal innovators can undertake to drive sustainable business model innovation
  • Case studies of large, multinational companies that demonstrate how ambitious sustainability innovators have developed new business models with more sustainable outcomes:

    - Fibria, the Brazilian pulp producer, changed its executive team’s mindset about how to use their forest assets, and is diversifying to become a sustainable land and forest steward

    - Novelis, the rolled aluminum company owned by Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, is shifting to a closed loop manufacturing model using 80% recycled aluminum

    - Starbucks has pursued green building at scale which has remarkably translated into new value creation for customers, suppliers, employees and peer retailers

    - Syngenta, the Swiss agribusiness, is transitioning to a farmer-focused model that creates an alternative marketplace for farmers to gain more financial value for their harvest

Although some may argue that business model innovation is unlikely to arise from Fortune 500 companies, SustainAbility’s report demonstrates that large companies can in fact undertake transformative shifts to their business models that will set them on a more sustainable path. Model Behavior II provides internal innovators, like chief sustainability officers and their team members, with perspective on how to approach business model innovation for sustainability and gives them the tools to drive that change.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//library/model-behavior-ii http://www.sustainability.com//library/model-behavior-ii
<![CDATA[The 2015 Sustainability Leaders]]>

More than two decades ago, government leaders, scientists, NGOs and other change makers gathered in Rio de Janeiro for a historic summit that would set the direction of sustainable development (SD) for years to come. Since the Earth Summit, progress on climate change and sustainability has been uneven, and, many will argue, disappointing. As the date of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris approaches, the global community is facing another seminal year, building hopes that the December summit will mark the beginning of a new chapter with ambitious goals and more decisive action.

For this survey, we asked expert stakeholders representing business, government, NGOs and academia across 82 countries to evaluate the progress that various institutions have made since 1992 and reflect on their expectations for the next 20 years. We were not surprised to see in the results the continuation of remarkable achievement by non-state actors, including especially NGOs, which remain in a league of their own. We were also unsurprised by the extremely poor performance of national governments, according to expert stakeholders.

What did surprise us was that stakeholders’ expectations for leadership are gradually becoming more balanced across a range of actors. No doubt, this shift is a result of frustration with the poor long-term achievement by state actors. But it is also a reflection of an increasingly complex global landscape with a multitude of actors expected to collaborate on solutions to systemic challenges. In this context, the perceived improvement in the performance of the United Nations is encouraging, and this leadership will be put to the test later this year when decision-makers gather in Paris.

As usual, in this survey we asked stakeholders about who they consider to be the corporate leaders in the area of sustainability. Consistent with the past four years, Unilever’s global reputation among corporations is judged by experts to be unparalleled, with the leadership gap this year widening even further. This is a remarkable achievement by the company, especially since past leaders have tended to falter or be supplanted by others within a few years of claiming the top of the ranking.

This year we also asked about which NGO and national leaders are standing out from the pack, and why. Among NGOs, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace emerge as global top-performers and their perceived ability to engage a range of stakeholders once again underscores the critical importance of collaboration for SD progress.

When it comes to national governments, Germany and Nordic countries are believed to outperform other countries on the global stage, but Costa Rica and China are also emerging as strong challengers to European dominance in the SD sphere.

Regardless of whether talking about corporations, NGOs or governments, survey respondents were clear: values are paramount to leadership. Without vision and commitment, progress will remain out of reach. We hope that this report will inspire new thinking, bold action and fresh collective effort.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 28 May 2015 12:30:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//library/the-2015-sustainability-leaders http://www.sustainability.com//library/the-2015-sustainability-leaders
<![CDATA[Citystates II]]>

Daunting challenges – from climate change to food and water security, from nutrition and public health to inequality and social exclusion – confront global cities today. But an exciting range of solutions – from distributed power generation and multi-modal transportation networks to compact development, urban farming and smart cities – is emerging also. Bringing these and other innovations to scale will be crucial for ensuring both the future of individual cities and broader sustainable development.

Getting there will require engaged effort by city governments, the private sector, NGOs, community organizations, universities and citizens. Leaders in these groups are already collaborating with one another in key cities around the world. However, given the pace and scale of change required, what is happening so far is only the beginning.

SustainAbility is focused on the role of the private sector in sustainable development. We believe that aligning the sustainability efforts of global companies and cities might bring unique benefits for both. For cities: the chance to extend their reach through a cadre of highly focused, influential partners capable of innovating and mobilizing others. For companies: opportunities to deepen relationships with customers and stakeholders, to experiment with radically new products, services and business models, and to extend and enhance their positive environmental and social impacts.

This second report in our Citystates series explores the opportunity side of this agenda, focusing especially on the case for more companies to take a bolder leadership stance, and providing insight and tools to further accelerate activity in this arena.

We thank our sponsors and partners, colleagues and other advisors, and especially the many experts who generously shared their time and insight to shape our thinking. And, as ever, we welcome your feedback and further thoughts.

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info@sustainability.com (Sustainability) Thu, 21 May 2015 14:00:00 +0100 http://www.sustainability.com//library/citystates-ii http://www.sustainability.com//library/citystates-ii