Building Success Into The Firm’s Sustainability Efforts – By Making Sustainability Everyone’s Responsibility
Lately, we’ve been participating in conferences where CEOs and other senior managers have been on the lectern describing their companies’ sustainability journeys – the why, how, challenges and positive outcomes.
One of the common threads that we hear in these presentations is the key role that employees play in making corporate “sustainability” or “responsibility” or “citizenship” programs more successful. There are typically key management metrics applied, ranging from the simple-to-the-sophisticated. Employee volunteer hours. Return on these efforts (equivalent to dollar amounts donated in some cases). Employee retention and customer loyalty rates. Investor response.
And for a few enterprises, the strategic approach of alignment of effort and incentive – building recognition and rewarding of the employee contributions to the positive outcomes (small today but appears to be a growing practice for savvy leaders).
Encouraging and organizing employee volunteering is often among the core activities when a company sets out on the sustainability journey – it’s a great internal morale builder and positive way to put the brand forward doing something that benefits society.
CB Bhattacharya writing in the Harvard Business Review shares his experiences gained in interviews with CEOs and C-suite execs, middle managers and “shop floor” workers in 25-plus companies to understand “why most companies fail to embed sustainability in their business models and what drives success among the handful that do.”
Hint: it is about creating and promoting “ownership” – successful companies create conditions for stakeholders to “own” sustainability.
Bhattacharya is H.J. Zoffer Chair of Sustainability and Ethics as the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. He’s developed a three-phase model to help companies understand how to move beyond rhetoric and take ownership of sustainability (walking-the-talk).These are incubation, launching and entrenching. These steps help to build a feeling of ownership (among employees) and “de-mystify” the internal stakeholders’ contributions to the overall corporate effort.
He offers examples citing such firms as BASF and its “Sustainability Solution Steering”; ING and the “sustainable transitions” and the application in real estate and clean technology; Old Mutual and workshops to show how employees are changing lives through their day jobs.
The advice shared from Unilever is not to create a “little department” for sustainability but to mainstream the efforts into all countries, brands, and divisions. Example: the Unilever R&D and marketing departments work to create and promote products that serve business and society.
Ringing in our ears as we write this: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s recent “CEO-to-CEO” letter calling on corporate leaders in which his company invests to ensure that the company fulfills a “social purpose!” Almost every one of the corporate honchos we’ve heard embeds the phrase in their story-telling now. That’s good news, we would say.
There’s very helpful advice for corporate leaders in the HBR article that is our Top Story, whether the enterprise is starting out on the journey, cautiously advancing one foot at a time, or well along in the journey and looking to stay way ahead of its peers. As CB Bhattacharya (who is writing a book on the subject) observes: “Establishing [employee] ownership prevents the feeling that that sustainability is someone else’s problem to manage.”
This Week's Top Story
How to Make Sustainability Every Employee’s Responsibility
And We Call Your Attention to...
"Does the RobecoSAM CSA Deliver Quantifiable Business Returns?" - Find Out April 6th in NYC at DJSI: How Insights Inspire Action
Sustainability: Progress Is Being Made
Sustainability for Improved Performance
It's time to rethink sustainability goals and targets
Sustainability Supports Business Success
Why Sustainability Efforts Are Good For Business
Beyond Carbon: Water Risks and Sustainable Investing
Sustainability, Change Leadership, and Collaboration: From The Why To The How
Our Focus This Week on A Range of ESG Topics & Issues – More Things to Think About…
Fracking Has Its Costs And Benefits -- The Trick Is Balancing Them
The IRS is on to Crypto
SEC Investigates Cryptocurrency Offerings
New Study Upends Conventional Thinking About What’s Driving Down Carbon Emissions
News for You From the Corporate Sector -Both Positive & Negative - Headlines
100 Most Overpaid CEOs Report from As You Sow Shows Fund Managers Reluctant to Vote Against Exorbitant CEO Pay Packages
First Corporate Sustainability Bond in Asia Issued by TLFF for a Natural Rubber Company in Indonesia
Crypto Startup Blockchain Partners With UN on Sustainability Goals
Remember the “Diesel Emissions Scandal? Still In The News:
Volkswagen Profit Jumps as Diesel Scandal Costs Fade
Report: Fiat Chrysler to end diesel production in passenger cars by 2022
And The Uproar About “Guns” and Who Invests in Gun Companies:
Guns and More Guns: Will Wall Street Ever Let Go of Firearms?
Warren Buffett: I don't think Berkshire should avoid doing business with people who own guns
Walmart, Dick’s expand corporate rift with gun lobby
And…Pollution Issues in the 21st Century:
Uber, Lyft worsen city traffic, studies show: report
British retailers linked to polluting supplier factories
News & Opinion: Asset Managers, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds
Use These 10 ESG Factors to Avoid Riskiest Investments in 2018
Source: Seeking Alpha - The term “complex investments” is used here to describe any departure ... the Connecticut Teachers’ Retirement Board seeks a return of 8.5%, and the Minnesota State Retirement System seeks 8.14%. The only system...
G&A's To The Point! is a businesss intelligence web-platform resource. This management briefing service offers timely insights and perspectives on Corporate Sustainability, Responsibility & Citizenship.Click here to request a trial subscription. Below are links to a sampling of three recent briefs:
G&A Institute Sustainability Update™
FLASH REPORT: 82% of the S&P 500 Companies Published Corporate Sustainability Reports in 2016
G&A Institute is the Data Partner for the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) in the USA, UK and Republic of Ireland. We identify, receive, collect, analyze, database, and communicate about every report issued in any of the 3 countries. Over the past 6+ years, G&A analyzed 6,000-plus sustainability reports in this pro bono role and databased 100+ important data points for each report. Find out more @ G&A's What's A Data Partner
Navigating the way to sustainability...
The Sustainability Highlights eNewsletter is prepared by Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. based on continuous monitoring of trends and developments in Sustainability and ESG. Governance & Accountability Instiute is the “Sustainability Headquarters™” for clients in the corporate, investment, public and social sectors. Based in New York, G&A is a for-profit consulting organization providing a range of value-added strategies, services and resources related to ESG & sustainability to clients in the corporate and capital markets communities.For G&A's full range of services, click on each of the links below: