Sustainability reporting—also known as corporate citizenship, CSR, ESG, or non-financial reporting—is widely considered a best practice of companies worldwide. The reporting process—and the resulting report—has become essential for strategic decision-making, enabling stronger long-term planning, stakeholder relations, and data-driven insights. With the growing popularity of disclosure, reports are becoming more sophisticated and useful for decision makers and leaders in the company, as well as for external audiences such as investors—who are using the information to make more accurate market evaluations.
The following is excerpted from a recent issue of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how you can connect with essential partners to make the most of the risks and opportunities present throughout your value chain, consider joining online either from September 18-November 10, 2017, or February 5-March 30, 2018 for our Integrating Corporate Citizenship Through Your Supply Chain course.
At EILEEN FISHER, the vision for fashion’s future is an industry where human rights and sustainability are not the effect of a particular initiative, but the measure of a business well run. To achieve this mission, the women’s clothing company has created an ambitious new model, entitled “Vision2020,” to guide the way in which their products are sourced and produced—and has ensured that its tenets are embraced at every level of its supply chain.
The following is excerpted from Issue 16 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how sustainability reporting can help inform and advance your efforts, joining us for our GRI and CDP courses. As a certified training partner for both GRI and CDP, we’ll help you understand and utilize two of the leading sustainability frameworks to drive both social and environmental progress—and business results.
In 2015, world leaders came together to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate, and the UN unveiled 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—complete with 169 targets—that aim to eradicate poverty and hunger, foster safe and inclusive societies, and halt global warming by 2030. Here, a group of top business and sustainability leaders discuss business practices that will assure progress toward these gamechanging sustainability targets.
Every year, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship gathers experts from around the world for our International Corporate Citizenship Conference. This 2.5 day event is packed full of inspiring speakers, networking opportunities, and hands-on workshops that offer the insight and guidance to help you tackle environmental, social, and governance issues. While attendees find value in all of the activities, many find the most in-depth, actionable discussion to take place during our 26 breakout sessions. In these sessions, a panel of distinguished CSR leaders dives into a specific topic—offering real world examples of successes and challenges and fielding questions from the audience. Because the Conference admits corporate citizenship practitioners only, attendees engage in honest dialogue and free discussion.
In January, policy makers, government agencies, and companies took advantage of the New Year spirit by recommitting to goals, setting targets, and measuring results in the environmental arena. Earlier this month, the Obama administration built on 2014’s advances in climate change policy—an effort the President reaffirmed during his 2015 State of the Union address— with a plan to limit methane emissions and the announcement of a federal “model rule” for states that don’t file carbon-cutting plans. In Canada, Ontario got closer to revealing its plan for carbon-pricing, and plans to unveil its strategy later this year.
Have you set your environmental footprint goals for 2015 and beyond? Setting emissions targets can be a daunting task, but it is also a very tangible way to demonstrate a strong commitment to corporate citizenship.
More than 4,500 companies begin the process of measuring, managing, and mitigating their contributions to climate change by completing the CDP Climate Change Questionnaire, which is a key standard for environmental emissions reporting.
The natural resources we so often take for granted are in fact critically important to the very existence of our ecosystems and our economy.
Take, for example, a family-owned barge company which has ferried goods up and down the Mississippi River for the last 60 years. Water and weather weigh heavily on whether the company opens its doors every day, so the increased frequency of major water events like flooding or droughts must become part of their risk mitigation strategy.
While I was on the road for Center business a couple of weeks ago, I caught BlackRock CEO Larry Fink on Squawk Box. Fink is bullish on U.S. equities. With $4.4 trillion under management, he is someone who a lot of investors listen to, whether they agree with him or not. The panel of Squawk Box interlocutors was discussing with Fink how our dovish Fed is dampening volatility (and trading volume) in the markets, reducing the opportunity to make quick money. Fink’s position in this conversation caught my attention. “Lack of volatility is not an investor problem,” he said, “It is a trader problem.” During the 20 minutes or so I watched, Fink talked about a longer-term perspective as being important to the future of our national and global economy—promoting longer-term corporate governance, public and private capital investments, and public policy. He and others have noted that many large corporations are sitting on a lot of cash that can be put to work to create more business value and more social good.
Sustainability reporting is here to stay. A full 95% of the Global 250 issue sustainability reports.
These are among the findings of the Value of Sustainability Reporting study from the Center for Corporate Citizenship and Ernst & Young LLP. Sustainability reporting provides results that:
- Increase the reputation of the company
- Increase employee loyalty and public company reputation
- Aid in refining corporate vision and strategy
- Provide transparency
- Stimulate dialogue with stakeholders
Based on these stated benefits, sustainability reporting has quickly become a best practice standard performed by many major companies worldwide. The Global Reporting Initiative, the world’s most widely accepted framework, announced the fourth generation (G4) guidelines of on May 24, 2013.
A group of studies examined in our recent Research Briefs show that stakeholder engagement delivers multiple benefits to business. Positive stakeholder engagements are shown to have a positive effect not only on those directly engaged but also on other groups of stakeholders who observe the engagement.
This research aligns with findings from prior studies, which suggest that expectations of firms among stakeholders in their home communities extend to their global operations. Regardless of the expectations of stakeholders abroad, stakeholders at home expect companies to treat all of their arenas of operation with consistent care – and they will punish companies who do not meet their expectations.