“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.
From the Editor
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.
Ray Dalio wants to see more “social impact investing.” Yes, that Ray Dalio, author of Principles: Life & Work, a best-selling business book that proselytizes for “radical transparency” as guidelines for his hard-charging, high-octane hedge fund firm. As the founder, chairman, and CIO of the $160 billion Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund, Dalio’s comments carry an equally outsized weight.
Investors are focusing on the healthcare sector, for a simple reason: “It's a high-growth sector that can deliver massive returns,” reports The Motley Fool, a financial investment advisory. But in a climate of radical disruption of traditional business models and ongoing uncertain policies going forward, making smart investment choices is a dicey job.
The trending topic of socially responsible investment has gotten yet another validating vote from an authoritative financial news source. In the first of a three-part series, The Economist’s “Sustainable Investment Joins the Mainstream” article focuses on the impact of the upcoming millennial generation on SRI.
Sustainability is being adopted by every sector of business. The wine industry is among the less obvious businesses to incorporate environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices. A combination of market forces—chiefly, rising consumer demand—and new requirements by buyers and sellers, from supermarkets to retail chains and restaurants are behind the shift, according to Sandra Taylor, author of The Business of Sustainable Wine.
Satya Nadella’s Hit Refresh is being touted as “Business Book of the Year,” and it’s easy to see why. The Microsoft CEO outlines an innovative and inspirational approach to leading a global corporation in the 21st century. “Anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning, and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company’s mission. Creating that kind of culture is my chief job as CEO.” Nadella outlines a three-point program that any company could follow with great benefit. “First, when we talk to customers, we need to listen.
The latest chapter in the unfolding Unilever saga has been published. An update in the Financial Times outlines CEO Paul Polman’s tale of pushback against a hostile takeover attempt by Kraft Heinz. It describes a classic struggle of long-term sustainability strategy vs. short-term focus on share price. Kraft Heinz, managed by 3G, a private equity firm, is known for severe cost cutting to produce immediate high returns.
Regular readers of Justmeans will recall several articles about how socially responsible investing is moving from its marginal niche into the wider universe of the investment sector. Increasingly, institutional investors, asset managers, and analysts are incorporating ESG factors into their decision-making. The US Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment estimates that now more than a fifth ($8.7trn) of the funds under professional management in America is screened on SRI criteria.
The tidal wave of predictions about next year’s trends has started landing in inboxes. One of the first to arrive so far is a list of top ten projections for healthcare in 2018 by Venrock Partners Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts. The same authors’ predictions for 2017 were on the money eight out of ten of times—a success ratio of 80%. So what’s on the VC’s radar for next year? AI makes a large impact, the ACA is repaired (“finally”), Medicare Advantage plans gain in popularity, and big pharma gets bigger.
Institutional investors are pioneering another pathway in the still evolving field of socially responsible investing. “The recent launch of indices and funds offering smart beta incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations indicates there is investor appetite out there. .
In the Quietly Making Progressive News department . . . our eminently sensible neighbors to the north are engaging in innovative research into sustainable agriculture.