When Merck executive Kenneth Frazier resigned from a White House advisory council as “CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience,” President Trump derided him as a “ripoff” drug company executive. (This is the same executive whom Mr. Trump praised as a “great, great business leader” three weeks ago.) Frazier, one of only four African-American CEOs of a Fortune 500 company, made the move in response to the president’s three-day delay in calling out the white supremacist/nationalist organizations at the center of violence in Charlottesville, VA.
From the Editor
“Companies are entering into public conversations about topics they shied away from in past,” says Lee Ann Kahlor, associate director of the Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations at the University of Texas, Austin.
If you’re wondering about business leadership re. climate change in a time of retrograde Trump administration environmental policies, consider these numbers. Over 900 companies and investors have signed a commitment in support of the Paris Climate Accord. Over 100 companies have signed up to RE100 to commit to 100% renewable energy. And almost 300 companies have committed so science-based climate action.
Are you working at a rapidly growing startup? Does your work schedule become more and more hectic despite putting in longer days? Do you lose sight of your company’s original mission as you sink deeper into the details of expanding operations? Have you suddenly discovered that it’s been months since the last retreat to discuss strategy with your colleagues? Not to worry—“organizational culture is strategy,” writes Russ Stoddard in a Sustainable Brands blog.
All the ruckus about “repeal and replace” re. the Affordable Care Act dances around a basic, fundamental issue that even the ACA hasn’t addressed effectively: the growing cost of health insurance and medical costs. Rapidly rising health premiums and out-of-pocket costs wiped out most of the real income gains for a media family from 1999 to 2011, according to Health Affairs. In the last ten years, average premiums for a family health plan have increased 31%, to $18,000 annually, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Could renewables be the Majors’ next big thing?” That’s the provocative question raised in a white paper by Wood MacKenzie, a research and consultancy group, promoted through its subsidiary, Greentech Media. A few years back, the major oil and gas companies had small but active units dedicated to renewable energy sources. When oil reached $100 a barrel, these exploratory departments went quiet. Now, as the rapid growth of wind and solar power radically reshapes energy markets, Big Oil is getting back into the renewables game.
Add this term to your socially responsible investing vocabulary: “social bonds.” These are financial products aimed at addressing social issues such as access to education, crime, homelessness, and helping underserved communities and disadvantaged children. This market is small—just $3.5 billion of social bonds were issued in Q2 of this year—but the market is booming, according to the Financial Times.
China has gotten bad press for the high pollution levels in its major cities, but here’s some good news: of the 103 new electric car models projected to be launched globally by 2020, Chinese automakers are on track to produce 49—nearly half, according to Reuters.
Whether you actually see it in action or not, big data is transforming the healthcare industry. It now organizes, analyzes, and shapes stakeholder requirements and market competitiveness, manages risk, and enhances performance by organizations and providers. One area in which it is becoming more visible is in personalized medicine, according to Hidden Brains. Patient data—from genetic blueprints to lifestyle information—can be collected and integrated to develop individualized care.
A new economic assessment adds up the potential costs of climate change—and the numbers are hefty.
Companies are being asked by investors to meet carbon emissions reduction targets agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. A group organized by the G20 countries, the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures, has proposed a voluntary framework for companies to disclose financial risk related to climate change.
It’s “Energy Week,” during which President Trump plans to promote US policy energy at events that focus on local and state energy issues. His stance is, of course, built on American production of oil and natural gas, and withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change agreement. But pushback has already kicked off the week. Leaders of more than 250 cities at the US Conference of Mayors have unanimously committed to renewable sources as the sole urban power within the next 20 years.
I recently caught up with some long-delayed reading this week. Among the backlog, one report especially stood out (thank you cleantechnica.com for bringing it to my attention).
In the latest example of companies joining together for political action, a coalition has been formed to “upgrade” government. DisruptDC, a non-partisan alliance, has released an open letter from 30 business leaders, “Upgrading American Government: It’s Not Rocket Science,” that presents their vision of “better” government. It links better government to a more competitive, innovative business climate.
More than 150 corporate executives have joined in a new initiative, C.E.O. Action for Diversity and Inclusion. The group commits companies to encourage their employees to openly discuss race and gender in the workplace.
Here at the editorial hub of global news about all things CSR and sustainability, I see many notices for many conferences. Some are general (on CSR and sustainability), some are specific (renewable energy, etc.). Some are focused on The Big Ideas (innovation, leadership), some on products (digital health tech). I often check websites for conference wrap ups that capture the incredible amount of knowledge that gets exchanged. But I know I’ve missed the comments that take place in informal conversations.
From where I sit at the nexus of a daily flood of news about all things CSR and sustainability, it’s plain to see to that innovation is the dominant idea in business today. What still surprises me is the many forms that it takes. A technological breakthrough that harnesses wave power—check. “Clean” meat—check. A watch brand that donates its profits for school uniforms for children in Africa—check. Renewable energy, food, and charity—these are only three of the many sectors of business and CSR/sustainability activity that are being creatively disrupted by innovation.
The pushback against the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement continues, with thousands of US businesses, states, and cities saying they will maintain their standards in accord with the Paris deal despite the shift in national policy. Meanwhile, there are other, quieter places to look for signs of progress in addressing climate change. For example, housing accounts for 14% of global greenhouse emissions.
President Trump's withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement on the grounds that it is bad for the country’s economy rejected arguments by business leaders that withdrawal would have a negative effect on business. Executives from many corporations said that withdrawal would cost the US economy in future jobs in clean energy and in investment in new technology. Elon Musk of Tesla and Robert Iger of Disney so disagreed with the “bad for business” rationale that they announced their own withdrawal from the president’s business advisory council.
Reportedly, we'll find out soon if the US remains in the Paris Agreement on climate change. If business really matters to the Trump Administration, you'd think that the message from major companies to keep the US in the Agreement "for the good of the U.S. economy" would make "remain" the obvious choice.