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.
From the Editor
“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.
With the resignation of Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison, 23 female executives remain at the top of publicly traded companies on the S&P 500 index. At index 500 companies, 45 percent of employees are women, but just 37 percent of midlevel managers and 27 percent of senior managers are women, according to Catalyst, a consulting and research firm focused on women in leadership. On the plus side, Stacey Cunningham has been appointed President of the NY Stock Exchange, the first woman to hold that post.
Long-term investment strategy used to be the approach of a one financial superstar, Warren Buffet, and a few staid firms. No more. A new book, Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking is Your Best Short-Term Strategy, describes an increasing focus on taking the long-view among companies and investors alike.
In a surprising finding, researchers report that female and male chief executives of public companies are paid about the same. “Revisiting the Gender Gap in CEO Compensation” looked at compensation for corporate leaders at 2,282 companies from 1996 to 2014, and found no “significant difference.” The study’s authors suggest that the CEO pay gap may have closed up because chief executives of public companies are so prominent. “We think it is a visibility issue,” co-author Vishal K.
“A stalled revolution”—that’s what the Center for American Progress called women’s professional advancement in a 2017 report, “The Women’s Leadership Gap.” Whitney Wolfe Herd, cofounder and CEO of Bumble, calls up this conclusion as the jumping off point for her blog, “The Business Case (and Plan) for Gender Equality.” She recites the dismal stats (“women held only 18% of board seats
What does a startup need to know about CSR? How does including a “give back” element in its mission build brand trust, loyalty, and ultimately, sales? Can CSR be used authentically as a tool that drives scale? Charlie Wright, co-founder of Eventerprise, has some answers to those questions, based on a social project called “Africa’s Got Digital Talent” embedded in his business.
“Why don’t we get credit for all the good things we do?” asked a CEO of Mark Kramer. As a cofounder and a managing director of the social-impact consulting firm FSG and a lecturer at Harvard Business School, Kramer’s answer in the Harvard Business Review sounds authoritative: companies err in using a one-size-fits-all strategy in communications.
The many elements of a company’s supply chain make it a challenge to organize. Where to start, how to connect all the moving parts, and, in integrating sustainability, how to ensure best practices? DNV GL, a global quality assurance and risk management company, recently surveyed its customers in Europe, Asia, and the Americas on supply chain sustainability. The company identified 60 companies that it considers to be leaders.
Here’s some good news: awareness of climate change in business is high. A CDP – Climate Disclosure Standards Board report finds that eight in 10 companies include at least one board member who oversees climate-related risks.
It’s proxy season again, when shareholders in public companies can file resolutions on issues they would like considered at annual company meetings. A new report offers a look at 2017’s proxy efforts, and a preview of those to come in 2018. Proxy Preview 2018 gives an overview of the more than 400 shareholder resolutions that were filed last year; more than 80 were directed toward questions re. climate change and how companies planned to address it.
Of the many statements by companies and CEOs about their positions on gun control, the open letter by David Labistour, CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op, stands out for its clear expression of corporate social responsibility. “Demonstrating leadership and leveraging the power of community are among MEC’s core values.
A new disruptor is entering the healthcare sector. Apple is launching a network of medical clinics for its employees, the AC Wellness Network. Apple’s move follows the group initiative of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase to create a healthcare service for their collective one million employees.
The CEO of Merck, Kenneth C. Frazier, has spoken up about the statement he made last year when resigning from the President’s American Manufacturing Council.
Sustainalytics has released “10 for 2018,” a report that evaluates risks and opportunities in the coming year. On the upside, Sustainalytics finds that ESG-driven investing will continue to increase in 2018. Global responsible investing now totals $23 trillion, a rise of 25 percent since 2014, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance.
Despite recent policy decisions by the Trump Administration to phase out subsidies for clean power and to impose high tariffs on imported solar panels, Xcel Energy is betting on new—and big—power plants that use wind and solar for their energy sources. Xcel, Colorado’s largest utility, has millions of customers across eight Midwestern states, from Texas to Michigan, so any decision it makes will have a big impact on future energy strategy.
Just when you thought any new healthcare policy was destined to go nowhere, churned between rigid politics and traditional practices, there’s suddenly a breakthrough. The announcement by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase that they would form an independent healthcare company for their 1.2 million employees qualifies as a seriously out-of-the-box business model disruptor.