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Chief Sustainability Officers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Chief Sustainability Officers: Who Are They and What Do They Do? (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

While a number of studies document that organizations go through numerous stages as they increase their commitment to sustainability over time, we know little about the role of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in this process. Using survey and interview data we analyze how a CSO’s authority and responsibilities differ across organizations that are in different stages of sustainability commitment. We document increasing organizational authority of the CSO as organizations increase their commitment to sustainability moving from the Compliance to the Efficiency and then to the Innovation stage. However, we also document a decentralization of decision rights from the CSO to different functions, largely driven by sustainability strategies becoming more idiosyncratic at the Innovation stage. The study concludes with a discussion of practices that CSOs argue to accelerate the commitment of organizations to sustainability.

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McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity — Issue 2, Summer 2014

August 14, 2014 Comments off

McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity — Issue 2, Summer 2014
Source: McKinsey & Company

Articles in this issue

McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity—Introduction
In this second issue of McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity, we seek to establish the value of sustainability and to demonstrate how these opportunities can (and are) being captured in a range of industries.

Profits with purpose: How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line
Becoming a sustainability leader requires big changes, but the effort is worth it—in both environmental and economic terms.

The human factor: Amassing troops for the ’resource revolution‘
Companies on the front lines of the resource revolution need to implement creative talent-management strategies.

Riding the resource wave: How extractive companies can succeed in the new resource era
With economic and social expectations rising in resource-rich countries, extractive companies must rethink how they do business.

Brave new world: Myths and realities of clean technologies
Don’t be fooled by high-profile setbacks. The cleantech sector is gaining steam—with less and less regulatory assistance.

Unconventional wisdom: Fracturing enters a new era
Faced with change on a scale not seen in decades, companies must alter their business plans to accommodate unconventionals or else risk irrelevance.

The disruptive potential of solar power
As costs fall, the importance of solar power to senior executives is rising.

Bioenergy in Europe: A new beginning—or the end of the road?
Bioenergy faces challenges in Europe, but there is reason to believe it can make a comeback.

CEOs and Consumers Disconnected on Sustainable Products and Services, Says Accenture, Havas Media report

July 16, 2014 Comments off

CEOs and Consumers Disconnected on Sustainable Products and Services, Says Accenture, Havas Media report
Source: Accenture

Only a third of consumers regularly consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions, according to a global study by Accenture (ACN: NYSE) and Havas Media RE:PURPOSE, which reveals the reasons for the disconnect between business and consumer expectations of sustainable products and services.

The report, “From Marketing to Mattering”, is based on a survey of 30,000 consumers in 20 countries. The study was commissioned in response and as a companion to the UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, published in 2013, in which two thirds of CEOs admitted that business is not doing enough to address sustainability challenges, similar to the 73 percent of consumers in the latest research that say businesses are failing to take care of the planet and society.

The two studies reveal that, although CEOs see engagement with consumers as the most important single factor motivating them to accelerate progress on sustainability, they are often out of step with what motivates consumers to buy sustainable products and services. 81 percent of CEOs believe that their company’s reputation for sustainability is important to consumers, but the new research shows that less than one-quarter (23 percent) of consumers report that they regularly seek information on the sustainability performance of the brands whose products they purchase.

As result of the disconnect on the importance of a company’s sustainable reputation, only 32 percent of consumers say they ‘often’ or ‘always’ consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views

July 4, 2014 Comments off

Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views
Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers

What do investors think about sustainability issues? Do these issues factor into investment strategies and practices? Will they in the future?

Four in five investors responding to our survey said they considered these concepts in one or more investment contexts in the past year. And about 85% expect to consider them three years from now. But investors are not happy with corporate reporting about sustainability—they’re still not getting the information they’re looking for. Investors want to be a part of the sustainability dialogue. And they want direct engagement with the companies in which they invest.

The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance

May 7, 2014 Comments off

The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance
Source: Social Science Research Network

We investigate the effect of a corporate culture of sustainability on multiple facets of corporate behavior and performance outcomes. Using a matched sample of 180 companies, we find that corporations that voluntarily adopted environmental and social policies many years ago – termed as High Sustainability companies – exhibit fundamentally different characteristics from a matched sample of firms that adopted almost none of these policies – termed as Low Sustainability companies. In particular, we find that the boards of directors of these companies are more likely to be responsible for sustainability and top executive incentives are more likely to be a function of sustainability metrics. Moreover, they are more likely to have organized procedures for stakeholder engagement, to be more long-term oriented, and to exhibit more measurement and disclosure of nonfinancial information. Finally, we provide evidence that High Sustainability companies significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance. The outperformance is stronger in sectors where the customers are individual consumers instead of companies, companies compete on the basis of brands and reputations, and products significantly depend upon extracting large amounts of natural resources.

NOAA — Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries
Source: NOAA

The 2013 Annual Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries highlights the continued progress that collectively, NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, and our stakeholders have made to end overfishing and rebuild stocks. Released in conjunction with Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2012, Status of U.S. Fisheries 2013 documents additional progress towards long-term economic sustainability of our nation’s fish stocks. This progress demonstrates the strength of the U.S. science-based management model under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and management Act (MSA) and the importance of ending overfishing as the key to addressing past overfishing problems.

Corporate and Integrated Reporting: A Functional Perspective

April 25, 2014 Comments off

Corporate and Integrated Reporting: A Functional Perspective
Source: Social Science Research Network

In this paper, we present the two primary functions of corporate reporting (information and transformation) and why currently isolated financial and sustainability reporting are not likely to perform effectively those functions. We describe the concept of integrated reporting and why integrated reporting could be a superior mechanism to perform these functions. Moreover, we discuss, through a series of case studies, what constitutes an effective integrated report (Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company) and the role of regulation in integrated reporting (Anglo-American).

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