February 23, 2018


ING Surveyed Corporate Finance Execs:
The Results are Encouraging, as the Respondents Commented on Positive Results of Corporate Sustainability

Take our Top Story today and get it in front of your firm’s finance leaders... 

So often we hear that “investors don’t ask” or “no one inside seems to care” or “our finance folks don’t believe in” when we talk with corporate connections about corporate sustainability at their firm.  And, inside the company, skepticism can typically be found in the finance offices.

We have some good news “findings” for you today from the ING folks to add to the growing number of research studies demonstrating the sustainability business case.  ING is a leading global financial institution (banking, financial service) of Dutch origin, with a strong European base, serving clients in 40+ countries; it is selected to be among the leaders in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index’s Bank Industry category.

The firm just issued a report -- “From Sustainability to Business Value – Finance as a Catalyst” -- based on survey results (analyzing the views of 200-plus US-based finance executives in financial services, manufacturing, tech, consumer goods, real estate, industrial engineering, telecom, media, agriculture, infrastructure, chemical, transport, and logistics).

The survey respondents included CFOs, financial controllers, finance directors and senior treasury professionals, with revenues in their firms of from $500MM to $20+ billion.  The survey was intended to help to improve understanding of how financing and lending can support the goal of building a low-carbon, sustainability society.

The findings are encouraging for the most part, and resonated with us.  In our discussion with many corporate managers, the conversation usually includes “encouraging greater Corporate Sustainability is important for me internally, especially with our tough-minded and often skeptical finance folks. So being able to make the strong business case is a critical task...”.

Here’s some help for you from ING: 
The important role played by corporate finance and the benefits that these professionals identified were described in these ways:

“Almost half of the firms responding said that sustainability concerns have some level of influence on their business’s growth strategy…and 40%+ of firms with a mature sustainability framework in place said revenue growth is a main driver for acting.”

Supporting that portion of the business case?

  • 87% of survey respondents in firms with sustainability frameworks (the “mature” firms) said they experienced better revenue,
  • and 65% improved their credit rating.

ING states that it believes that financial institutions have a duty to explore how their financing can help to support energy transition and combat climate change. CEO Ralph Hamer is a “champion”  in the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders.

An important takeway is the ING CEO’s perspective:

"We are witnessing an important shift in how companies in the United States view sustainability. Our research shows that it is no longer just about cutting costs or creating positive brand awareness ­— sustainability strategies are being deployed as true revenue drivers," said Gerald Walker, CEO, ING Americas. "The finance function holds the key to unlocking the business value of these strategies, and are crucial to pushing the sustainable agenda in the U.S. as the industry continues to mature."

There’s more for you in the Top Story, which also has a link to the ING Report.

This Week's Top Story

Research: U.S. Companies Implement Sustainability Strategies To Drive Revenues  
(Friday - February 16, 2018) Source: Chem Info News - ING's sustainability report, 'From Sustainability to Business Value — Finance as a Catalyst', published today, finds that revenue growth is the most important factor when deciding to implement sustainability strategies, as 39...


Sustainability: Progress Is Being Made
-- We See Forward Momentum!

4 sustainability opportunities in the banking sector
(Monday - February 12, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - It has been almost a decade since the financial crisis of 2008, and while the financial services sector has made progress, it is still in many ways working to earn back stakeholder trust. Sustainability efforts offer a major... 

'Learning to be sustainable is not something you're born with'
(Monday - February 12, 2018) Source: Iowa State Daily - Sustainable living is not exclusive to people who care solely about environmental issues, according to three Iowa State sustainability advocates. 

Understanding Sustainability Means Talking About Colonialism
(Monday - February 12, 2018) Source: The Cut - I am reminded how the mainstream Western perspective on sustainability is focused on one small part of the problem, while ignoring most of the larger important global issues. Yes, clothing production with a priority to limit...

Limited scope of corporate sustainability revealed
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Here's a simplified approach to sustainability goal-setting
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How to get your board to prize sustainability
(Wednesday - February 14, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - Big companies are under increasing pressure from investors to be environmentally responsible. But not all management teams and boards are up to speed on what their company can and should do to improve its footprint, even if... 

Shifting Attitudes Towards Sustainability Shaping More Than Just Supply Chains
(Thursday - February 15, 2018) Source: Sustainable Brands - Growing consumer demand for apparel and consumer products made in socially and environmentally responsible ways continues to drive companies away from a business-as-usual model. But corporate behavior isn’t the only thing being... 

Can general counsel influence boards to drive sustainability?
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UN committee approves space sustainability guidelines
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World Sailing becomes first federation to meet sustainability standard
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Study finds complicated efficacy of supply chain sustainability measures
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A sustainable workplace should be more than a pipedream 
(Friday - February 16, 2018) Source: Irish Times - Economic sustainability focuses not only on the profit-making aspects of organisations, but also considers whether employees are making enough money to survive and thrive. 


Our Focus This Week on A Range of ESG Topics & Issues – More Things to Think About…

Is ESG investing going mainstream?
(Monday - February 12, 2018) Source: Investment News - Despite advisers' misgivings, asset managers are coming around to the idea that a company's stance on environmental, social and governance issues is a good proxy for future success...

A Battleground for Investors Worried About Sexual Harassment
(Wednesday - February 14, 2018) Source: Institutional Investor - Buksbaum’s colleague Geoffrey Davis says he sees institutional investors — particularly government pension plans and foundations — increasingly seeking to invest based on their values. This has included environmental, social, and...

Threats of global warming real, shouldn’t be ignored  
(Wednesday - February 14, 2018) Source: Daily Chronicle - Scientific research published in the past year has revealed some relatively new and potentially harmful effects that may result from the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. An article in a recent issue of Science News raises...

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Early Bird Pricing Ends Today!

News for You From the Corporate Sector -Both Positive & Negative - Headlines 

Walmart and Amazon on scaling sustainability
(Tuesday - February 13, 2018) Source: GreenBiz - Walmart, Amazon and the U.S. Air Force are some of the organizations that are reaping the benefits of sustainable energy and operations while advancing a cleaner economy. 

Bridgestone aims for full sustainability by 2050
(Wednesday - February 14, 2018) Source: Mongabay - Bridgestone announced on Feb. 6 an overhauled sustainability policy for its suppliers, which pulls together the Japanese company’s stances on issues related to land use, including deforestation and human rights

Capping years of criticism, Purdue Pharma will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors
(Monday - February 12, 2018) Source: LA Times 

Unilever warns social media to clean up “toxic” content
(Tuesday - February 13, 2018) Source: Tech Crunch.

McDonald's Move To Make Happy Meals Healthier Is The Right Thing To Do
(Friday - February 16, 2018) Source: Forbes

News & Opinion: Asset Managers, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Pension Funds

Pension fund hits milestone: It's earning more money than it's paying out
(February 12, 2018) Associated Profiles : California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Source: Sacramento Bee - For the first time in years, CalPERS is stable enough that it no longer expects to run deficits into the middle of the century. Though still underfunded, the $345 billion pension fund has a better financial outlook because...

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