Every day, I scan the mainstream press for my daily dose of financial and business news that defines the state of the economy. I see a lot of bad news, and some good news. Striking examples of each landed in my inbox today (Thursday, 10/6). The WSJ’s story could not have piled on more doom and gloom: “Worries Deepen that Globalization is Hitting the Skids” (italics mine).The article lays out multiple problems but not one possible solution.
From the Editor
A startup called Grow has been launched to target investments in socially responsible companies. One of a rapidly expanding category of fintech apps called “robo-investors” that make it easier for new investors to build portfolios, Grow points to investments in companies that have sustainable strategies and good governance.
The latest data on spending on CSR by companies in India show a substantial increase, according to the “India CSR Outlook Report.” Figures for 2015-16 total 92 percent of actual CSR spend to the prescribed CSR, compared to 79 percent in 2014-15. The report, an analysis of 250 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange, shows that most of the funding was directed to education, health-care, skill development and sanitation.
Palm oil is a very versatile material. In just a few years, it has become a key ingredient in many foods, cosmetics, soaps, and detergents, and is also developing into a stock for biofuel, reports Blue & Green Tomorrow. The stuff is so in demand that its production has, unfortunately, resulted in widespread deforestation and destruction of species habitat, especially in Southeast Asia where many palm plantations are located.
Do the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and its 169 targets seem vital to life in the future? Does the list of ideas and proposed actions also seem overwhelming? The answers are yes and yes. DNV GL, an international certification body and classification society, has assembled a detailed forecast that breaks down the SDG Big Picture into manageable pieces. Its key finding: good progress will be made in some (but not all) world regions, and progress will not be fast enough and will face unacceptable environmental costs.
What’s the deal with the US economy? Factually speaking, slow growth seems to be the new normal.
As more and more of the world’s population moves into urban areas, the sustainability of such rapidly growing human environments is becoming an increasingly significant issue. Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, has published a Sustainable Cities Index that ranks the performance of cities around the world. It explores three pillars of sustainability – social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (profit), using 32 indicators to arrive at a ranking for 100 of the world’s leading cities.
A new study shows that women workers ask for raises just as often as men, but that men were more likely to get a pay boost. Research found that men got a raise 20 percent of the time, compared with 16 percent for women. Can anyone spell “discrimination?" The study looked at 4,600 employees at 840 workplaces in Australia, so while extrapolated comparisons with US and UK practices aren’t exact, they’re close, reports the NY Times.
Unilever has launched an ad campaign to showcase the purpose behind its brands, reports Forbes. Its ‘So Long Old World’ video shows people who have benefited from the company's many initiatives. Commenting on Unilever's effort, Forbes notes: “CSR is no longer a part of what brands represent, but often the core of it . . . . These brands . . .
Some days, it seems that the mainstream business media headlines are all about scandals, fraud, hoaxes, and just plain bad corporate behavior. Much less often, there are stories about what companies do to recover from the financial, operational, and reputational damage caused by poor CR practices.
Scotland has been in the news for the past couple of years for one main topic: the question of independence from the UK. Almost lost in the hubbub have been the country’s pioneering efforts to harness its tides, some of the most powerful in Europe, to produce electricity from wave action.
As companies continue to advance their sustainability strategies and practices, the question of “to what standard” is becoming more urgent. The International Organization for Standardization is close to an answer. A new standard, ISO 20400, Sustainable Procurement - Guidance, provides a framework for organizations that integrate sustainability into their procurement process.
Starting up a new business is a daunting task, one that requires a big investment of resources, both financial and human, to pull off successfully. Mission-driven startups often assume that their core message “covers” the CSR component of a new business, and that the work staff can then focus on the basic nuts and bolts of organizing a new company. Not so, says Tiffany Apczynski, VP of Public Policy and Social Impact at Zendesk, in a blog on StartupSmart.
“More and more corporate leaders are . . . integrating societal needs into their corporate strategy, aligning their companies’ business missions with their impact on their communities and the environment.” That’s the thesis of Mark Kramer and Michael Porter, co-authors of an essay that describes Fortune’s just-published “Change the World” list.
It’s conventional wisdom that today’s employees favor working for companies that include CSR and philanthropy in their practices and strategies. This preference for a workplace that includes a triple bottom line focus of people, planet, and profit in its mission has been reported in many surveys. The latest evidence comes from Regus, a flexible workspace provider.
Economists, behavioral psychologists, change-makers—all have been fixated by the knotty question of how to change ordinary behavior by average people in daily life to make more progress on sustainability. While research shows that a majority of consumers in surveys choose the “right thing,” there’s a yawning gap between their conceptual choices and reported actual behavior. A blog by Dr.
The evolution of CSR in developed economies from philanthropic grants to programs more integrally tied to core strategies is impacting business in emerging economies. From cost cutting to reputation building, companies in developing markets are aligning sustainability activities with their missions and values. And they are doing so in distinctive ways.
There’s a new term for one of the most studied segments of US consumers: the “longevity market” describes the 75 million, over-50 baby boomers. Even bigger than the population size is the demographic’s annual spending: $7.6 trillion. These huge numbers, combined with the boomers’ changes in attitudes and lifestyles toward aging, are proving to be a magnet for entrepreneurs, VCs, and investors.
Food manufacturers and retailers are changing formulas and recipes in response to increasing consumer demand for healthier, more natural ingredients. From General Mills to Taco Bell, food makers are removing ingredients linked to obesity and diabetes, reports the Wall Street Journal. The latest player in the “clean label” movement is McDonald’s, which has announced the replacement of high fructose corn syrup with sugar in its sandwich buns.