It’s become an all too familiar story—a passionate CEO declares sustainability a top priority and launches a comprehensive and well-resourced program, only to have it lose momentum and fall victim to other perceived priorities. To better understand the roadblocks that even well-intentioned sustainability efforts face and how leading companies overcome them, Bain & Company conducted a survey of more than 300 companies engaged in such transformations. Included in those interviews were the heads of sustainability at companies that have been recognized for their results. The resulting report, Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability, provides sobering statistics and a path forward.
Campus sustainability is no longer limited to recycling and lighting retrofits. Today, many colleges and universities are leading the way by designing whole-system approaches and innovative solutions to pressing sustainability issues. These cutting-edge innovations serve as powerful examples of what can be achieved on a larger scale.
Every year the World Economic Forum (WEF) releases its Annual Report—a document that provides a comprehensive, systems-oriented, future-looking strategic guide to help global leaders tackle the most current challenges facing our world today. This year the WEF asked 750 experts to identify the most acute global concerns and CNBC reported on the top five. Spoiler Alert: We have a lot to work on.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has progressed in the past decade from a nice addition to a strategic priority for many businesses. In 2017, there is the hope that companies go beyond maintaining commitments to sustainability to becoming pioneers of global progress. Forbes reached out to CSR experts, including experts at the Harvard Business Review (HBR), to find out how the new Trump administration will affect corporate sustainability, what trends will emerge in 2017, and how the sustainability industry will continue to evolve.
The strengthening scientific consensus on the causes of global warming, the accumulating negative impacts from an already changing climate in many regions, and the improved models to forecast dire climate change and sea-level rise in the not-so-distant future, have all contributed to the international community hitting a new high in its level of consensus in 2016. Where will the critical leadership come from?
The 2014 EU Directive requiring disclosure of non-financial information has gone into effect as of January 1, 2017. Applicable to public companies operating in the EU with more than 500 employees, the directive mandates disclosure of extensive non-financial information in companies’ annual reports.
Recently, a lot of attention has been paid to workforce health and wellness. More and more employers are creating initiatives aimed at improving employees’ health (think of smoking cessation programs, fitness promotion programs, and anti-obesity programs as examples). But one aspect of “wellness” is too often left out. Good mental health is fundamental to everyone’s overall health and wellness. But employees’ mental health illnesses or problems have simply not been arising on most organizations’ radar screens. And that’s a shame, because unaddressed mental health problems in today’s workplaces have large impacts on both the affected employees and their employers as well.
In October 2016, negotiators from 170 countries reached a landmark compromise in Kigali, Rwanda to counter climate change by cutting the international use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a powerful planet-warming chemical used in air conditioners and refrigerators.
Unlike the recent COP21 Paris agreement, which included voluntary pledges by majority of the countries in the world to cut carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the Kigali deal targets one specific thing – HFCs – and has deadlines to replace HFCs with more environmentally conscious alternatives. Though HFCs make up a small percentage of atmospheric greenhouse gases, they have 1,000 times the heat-trapping strength of carbon dioxide, making HFCs a supercharged greenhouse gas.
In just 15 years we will have a 40% deficit of global fresh water. Industrial demand for water is expected to increase 400% by 2050. This means that all industries need to be focused on how they can conserve water resources. The textile/apparel industry has significant water needs if it is to produce the 400 billion square meters of fabric used annually for clothing. Conservation and technology are helping to make production more sustainable.
Ensuring a sustainable future for business requires professionals who understand the risks, challenges, and rewards of integrating sustainability into business culture. There’s a demand for programs that can prepare tomorrow’s business leaders to take on the challenges and opportunities that sustainability presents. And schools are responding to that demand. Programs are proliferating, but which ones are the best?
A growing body of data documents an alarming decline in wildlife abundance around the globe. The measured decline in vertebrate abundance does not occur in a vacuum. Food webs and other myriad interactions that unite vertebrates to the unknown numbers of insects, fungi, and bacteria in any ecosystem suggest a decline in biodiversity across the spectrum of life on Earth. This is a business problem because the ecosystem services that the Earth provides humanity in general, and businesses specifically, are supported by an abundant, healthy, diverse base of life. A sustainability manager’s mandate is to help an employer thrive in a changing environment.
With sustainability programs becoming increasingly widespread, more and more customers, clients, and investors are basing their decisions about doing business with others on a company’s sustainability efforts. The best opportunity to communicate your company’s progress is through your website. Having a designated section can go a long way toward building your sustainable brand. Here are three quick tips to strengthen your public image surrounding sustainability.
Practicing ethics as legal compliance may bring a company to neutral – “doing no harm” – but it will do little to motivate or inspire exemplary behavior on the part of employees. As discussed in the last blog of this series, the traditional approach of ethics-as-compliance is insufficient to cultivating an ethical culture. Here are the reasons why.
When you hear the words “ethical culture,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe it’s your company’s Code of Conduct or a fellow employee who exemplifies honesty and integrity. If your negativity bias is strong, you might think instead of unscrupulous companies or individuals - the likes of Enron or Bernie Madoff. Even if you can’t quite put it into words, you know the look and feel of right and wrong action.
If you had to guess how many people in the U.S. attend a convention, tradeshow, or conference each year, what would you say? 15 million? 85 million? Would you believe around 205 million Americans attend such an event each year and this number excludes "business meetings" and "incentive events." Strategic, thoughtful events provide an extraordinary opportunity to make sustainable connections, reinforce branding, AND make the world a better place.
When it comes to a company’s environmental footprint, managing waste streams can seem like one of the larger headaches. Sure, there are bound to be “quick win” projects to eliminate inefficiencies around an office – like eliminating the cover sheet from print jobs, or replacing those Styrofoam water cups with reusable glasses. But when it comes to creating a comprehensive waste management plan, you need a baseline to work from, and that’s where the real fun begins.
Some heavy hitters in the corporate world have recently backed a new effort to provide guidance on today’s leading sustainability governance issues. The Commonsense Principles of Corporate Governance were developed by the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, General Motors, Verizon, BlackRock and Vanguard.
It’s that time of year again: conference season. If you’re attending a conference this year, you are among the 225 million people attending more than 1.8 million events in the U.S. Businesses spend about $565 billion on hosting, attending, and exhibiting at industry-related conferences. Promotional product giveaways cost businesses $20 billion a year. There are some businesses that are giving this more thought and greening the conference giveaway.