Environmental sustainability is a critical business issue for companies across the globe. The world’s population is growing, nonrenewable resources are being depleted, and 2014 was the warmest year on record. All of this is expected to be accompanied by increasingly severe energy and environmental problems that could potentially threaten supply chains, production processes, and operations. Moreover, as businesses are often seen as some of the greatest contributors to pollution, waste, and environmental problems, they are increasingly pressured to not just reduce waste or use less energy, but to develop sustainable practices and policies that will preserve and even improve the environments around them.
Today, investors use social and environmental performance KPIs as a proxy for assessing the quality of management and—increasingly—to measure risk. Now, the conversation is no longer about whether a company should report, but rather what they should consider when they do. How can companies gain the greatest possible value from their reporting efforts? Where should companies set performance goals? How and what should they measure? What frameworks should they use? How will report readers use the information?
Over the past year, the debate about what actions should be taken to halt climate change has continued in earnest. Involvement from experts, religious leaders, companies, activists, and consumers has reached a fever pitch, and governments have responded. The United States and China reached a historic agreement to curb emissions and promote renewable energy, which has led to advancements such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, and the world’s largest cap and trade program. The United Nations is ramping up for COP21—the 21st Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—and has included climate change in its new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were accepted in late September by all 193 member states.
Climate change is again trending as a topic within corporate citizenship and the larger business community. The release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si” (Be Praised), which highlights the impact developed economies are having on our planet and our responsibilities to act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, and the upcoming COP21—the 21st Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—are creating a buzz.
Once the province of a few unusually green or community-oriented companies, sustainability reporting is now a best practice employed by companies worldwide. A full 95 percent of the Global 250 issue sustainability reports, and by doing so gain a competitive edge in every aspect of the triple bottom line.
According to the Value of Sustainability Reporting study—a joint survey conducted by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and EY—sustainability reporting offers a number of benefits. The majority of respondents believe that reporting improves reputation; while nearly 40 percent find it to increase employee loyalty.
The following member spotlight is excerpted from the most recent issue of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can focus resources and attention on the issues most important to your company’s stakeholders and business context, consider joining us in Providence, RI on April 5 for our CDP Reporting: Disclosing Environmental Impacts course.
Today, consumers are likely to hold firms responsible for the impacts of their products, regardless of where within the value chain the impact occurs. That’s why many companies are taking steps now to ensure that their corporate citizenship objectives are shared by their suppliers and business partners.
Trillions of dollars are invested in sustainability. But trillions are not. What gives?
This year's International Corporate Citizenship Conference demonstrated that good progress has been made for the sustainability investment case, but also that much has not changed in the past decade. Michael Dell, CEO of recently de-listed Dell, described that going private to attract business investors with a longer-term mindset was a strategic, sustainable investment decision.
First, the good news: Today’s corporate citizenship reports are more engaging, relevant, and are communicating the positive environmental, social, governance, and business value that companies are creating. A corporate citizenship report was once a nice to have; now approximately 93 percent of the Global 250 issue them.
The following is excerpted from the most recent issue of The Corporate Citizen, the Center’s biannual magazine.
Setting audacious long-term goals and working toward them is the central challenge of every business. One of the challenges for high-performing companies is creating evolutionary goals that are based on a vision for a sustainable future.
Addressing Boston College’s CEO Club in May 2014, Mark Parker, president and chief executive officer of NIKE, Inc., shared the company’s evolutionary process: “We wanted a mission statement and a set of values and guiding principles that were really true to the spirit of the company—that were forward-looking, aspirational, and something that employees would actually reference and use in their work.”