New innovations in the grocery sector are re-shaping the food shopping experience. The initial revolution, pioneered by Whole Foods, has hit a profit wall: the industry leader has recorded three quarters of sales declines, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. One issue is increased competition. The smaller stores, lower prices, and frequent introduction of new products by Trader Joe’s and Aldi are challenging the Whole Foods model to evolve.
From the Editor
Add a new acronym to your glossary: EaaS. That’s “energy-as-a-service,” an innovation driven by radical change in the energy industry. Today’s energy landscape is fast-moving, increasingly more complex, and isn’t governed by a consistent set of commonly accepted rules. Issues of climate change, new technology, increasing regulations, and cost concerns are adding to the need for big change.
An explosive growth in socially responsible investment is driving requests from investors, financial advisors, and asset managers for more and better environmental, social and governance data for use in their investment decision-making. ESG data in the asset management industry has grown by 45% over the last four years, affecting $59 trillion of assets under management.
I often write about the Big Issues in this space: climate change, national health and energy policies, socially responsible investment, and so on. But every now and then, I’m reminded that it's the less grandiose, less visible work going on that is driving progress, too. That was my thought when I read about Gridpoint’s award for building energy management solutions.
Green bonds—bonds with a socially responsible investment aspect baked into their definition—are on an explosive growth curve. Global green bond issuance so far this year totals $21.7 billion, up 78% from the $12.1 billion issued last year in the same time period, reports Business Insider.
“We believe capitalism can and should be a force for good,” says Business Insider, introducing its first list of leaders who embody that spirit. The Business Insider 100: the Creators ranks those leaders creating “value” for shareholders, employees, consumers, and society.
In the third year since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies are struggling to create new business models to support a radically changed market. The Geisinger Health Plan, one of the country’s top-rated health care organizations, is a case in point, reports the New York Times. Praised as providing “high-quality care at costs well below average,” the 100 year-old company has embraced the “pay for performance” strategy of the ACA.
Financial advisors who provide options for socially responsible investing are increasingly the choice of clients, according to a survey by TIAA Global Asset Management. The poll of 1,100 US investors found that 74 percent would prefer to work with a financial advisor who can provide both good returns and social impact.
While mainstream media headlines about energy seem preoccupied with the price of oil, interrupted Canadian oil sands production, falling oil output in Iraq, and so on, the unexciting but significant energy storage industry continues to quietly grow. In Q1 2016, the US deployed 18.3 megawatts of energy storage, according to GTM Research and ESA, reports Greentech Media.
At a time of unprecedented upheaval in the political area, it’s hardly surprising that a parallel mood is evident in the CSR field. Multiple models that offer radical, disruptive strategies to make more positive change more quickly are competing to be the dominant idea of next generation CSR.
Is Starbucks’ issuance of a $500 million corporate bond to support programs for coffee farmers the start of a new investment trend? Given the enthusiastic response, the answer is probably “yes.” Starbucks has indicated the issue was “significantly oversubscribed,” and that it “attracted interest from a diverse group of socially conscious investors outside of its normal investor base,” reports Fortune.
Sorry to mention yet another poll, but this one is about future healthcare policy, not the presidential election. A new survey by Modern Healthcare finds that two-thirds of healthcare CEOs oppose the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Almost the same number—62%—said they supported scrapping the private insurance market to make way for a Medicare-for-all system.
Americans spend an estimated $40 billion annually on foods labeled “all natural.” But consumers have also filed more than a hundred class action lawsuits accusing companies of misleading labeling by using the words on products that contain synthetic, artificial, and genetically engineered ingredients, reports The New York Times. As a result, federal judges have asked the Food and Drug Administration to define what the term means.
Nike has weighed in on how to make progress toward environmental and social goals with a bold statement. “Less bad is not good enough,” said Hannah Jones, Chief Sustainability Officer and VP Innovation Accelerator. Jones was speaking at the fourth Copenhagen Fashion Summit, along with the likes of H&M and Patagonia.
Michael Lewis, Explainer-in Chief-of the financial World in his Liar’s Poker, The Big Short, and Flash Boys, has done it again. In a few hundred words, Lewis concisely describes “a simple plan to save the world” as outlined by Mervyn King in his book, The End of Alchemy.
It’s good news for the CSR and sustainability world that former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg only momentarily distracted himself with the idea of running for president. Last week, Bloomberg LP launched an index that scores financial-services companies on how well they treat women, and whether they are promoting gender equality.
It’s that time of year again, when shareholders’ meetings are filling up corporate calendars. High on the varied agendas is the common topic of executive compensation, an ongoing issue that is still stirring up a ruckus among stakeholders (stockholders plus activists, organizations, and individuals with an interest in a company).
Bills that give businesses the right to deny service to LGBT customers on religious grounds are earning unprecedented pushback from business. Protesting companies include many familiar brand names—Salesforce, PayPal, Eli Lilly, Disney, MGM Resorts, Apple, Facebook, Bank of America, Microsoft, Starbucks, and dozens of other national corporations—along with thousands of small companies. And companies are increasingly working together, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Managing the ever-rising cost of health spending was one of the goals of the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals and doctors are to be rewarded based on lower costs and better outcomes for patients. The ACA’s reforms have taken place through Medicare, but the commercial market response has been left to providers and insurers.
There’s a lesson to be learned from the near simultaneous bankruptcies of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector producer of coal, and of SunEdison, the renewable energy company once-valued at $10 billion. You might think Peabody’s failure makes sense, given the declining coal industry. And you might think that SunEdison’s failure does not make sense, given the investor, regulatory, and public support for renewable energy. But these two very dissimilar companies shared a common problem: the lack of a sustainable business model.