A new survey finds that the social stances a company takes now influence buying decisions more than price. Seventy-one percent think it’s important for businesses to take a stance on social movements, such as gender equity, gun control, the environment, immigration, and human rights.
From the Editor
Federal and New Jersey state legislators are looking to promote diversity in corporate boards with new initiatives and proposed bills. Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), the first woman and first African-American to chair the House Financial Services Committee, is planning to push for more women and minorities in the top ranks of corporate America.
Using numbers to set targets and measure achievement is the generally accepted practice in many areas of business. But does setting numerical quotas to improve gender diversity on corporate boards serve that purpose? Not necessarily, argues Kiersten Barnet, in a Fast Company article, “Why Quotas Alone Won’t Make Boards (or Companies) More Diverse.” Barnet is steering committee chair of the U.S. 30% Club, a group of business leaders committed to better gender balance through voluntary actions.
There is some good news to note about the auto industry behind the recent headlines about layoffs and tariff wars. Ford has completed a“saliency assessment,” a review that identifies the most important human rights issues relevant to the company. The assessment was conducted in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.The automaker says it will now develop an action plan to address these issues, through a specific filter of the link between environmental issues and the human rights issues that emerged from the review.
What’s in a brand name these days?
The Brands Taking Stands movement is not limited to action in the U.S. by American-based companies. Businesses in the U.K. now find themselves pushing back against government policies on Brexit that they think damaging to their bottom lines and to society in general. A public letter signed by 70 leading corporate executives has called for a “people’s vote” on any final Brexit deal.
This year’s version of the Future Investment Initiative, sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia and referred to as "Davos in the Desert," might have to be re-branded as “Davos Deserted.” A significant number of the same top executives, corporations, media companies, and influential speakers who attended last year have cancelled their RSVPs for a return visit. A “Who’s Who” in global business and media are staying home as questions persist about the assassination of a dissident Saudi journalist in that country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
A new report from UBS surveys 5,300 investors with at least $1 million in investable assets across 10 markets to evaluate attitudes towards sustainable investing. Among the key findings: 81% align spending decisions with values; 51% of U.S.
The question of leadership threads through business practices as never before.
Behind the unending stream of headlines about executive malfeasance, there’s a lot of thought and action going on in progressive quarters about how to improve leadership training so that business can perform better. Writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Andrew J. Hoffman offers insights into how management schooling for MBAs must change.
As income inequality continues to grow as a major social, political, and economic topic, the Economic Policy Institute has added fuel to the fire with its latest report on the pay of chief executives at the top 350 American companies. EPI finds that on average, the top executives earned 312 times more than workers in 2017. The heads of the largest companies received an average pay rise of 17.6%, taking home an average of $18.9 million in compensation.
A company’s ethical achievements are increased eleven-fold when employees are encouraged to base their decisions on the values and standards of the business. That’s the key finding of a new survey by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative, an alliance of organizations committed to business best practice. The ethics group lists the benefits of company programs that go beyond bare minimum standards of responsible conduct in the second installment of its Global Business Ethics Survey.
“Political polarization, voter tribalism and recent, fervent social movements like #grabyourwallet, #MeToo, and #TimesUp have changed the face of brand engagement and consumer loyalty in virtually every brand sector this year.” So writes Robert Passikoff, the founder and president of Brand Keys, in a MediaPost.com op-ed.
Workers are getting increased scrutiny from an unexpected quarter: investors. A group of international investors managing more than $12 trillion has written to 500 of the world’s top companies, calling for more information about the treatment of their employees, reports Reuters.
Brands that have been strongly supportive of LGBTQ+ rights during Pride Month (June) are making commitments for year-round initiatives. And some of them are not the usual suspects. For example, the online gaming community, not known for its inclusivity, now includes ongoing efforts by Twitch, Amazon’s gaming platform.
Here’s some numbers to think about: the 54 percent of the world population currently living in urban areas will rise to 66 percent by 2050, according to the UN. By 2030, the UN predicts a global shortfall in the global water supply of 40 percent. Problem: how is safe water to be made available in this massively built up urban environment? In response, “waterpreneurs” from over 25 countries have signed up for the Imagine H2O Urban Water Scarcity Challenge, an initiative that offers up to $1 million in awards and follow-up investment for solutions.
Unilever, home of over 400 brands and one of the world’s largest advertisers ($7 billion annually), has called a halt to its use of influencer marketers who buy followers.
The falling costs of wind and solar power are driving unprecedented interest from investors. The numbers tell the story: the International Energy Agency reports that in 2016, $297 billion was invested in renewable energy, more than twice the $143 billion backing new coal, gas, fuel oil, and nuclear power plants.
“You didn’t learn this in business school,” writes Daryl Brewster, CEO of CECP: The CEO Force for Good. Brewster explains that “few of today’s CEOs earned their job because they were socially responsible and spoke out on hot topics. Yet key stakeholders increasingly want to know where companies and CEOs stand on critical social issues.
Activists can build the social support necessary for products to flourish—that’s the thesis of an article from the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute/Business for Sustainability. “When groups choose to back a new product or service, it is generally because they view it as alleviating a social and/or environmental problem, writes Joceylyn Leitzinger. “For many established companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, activist-supported industries and markets offer attractive investment opportunities.