What’s the deal with the US economy? Factually speaking, slow growth seems to be the new normal.
From the Editor
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.
Despite some spectacular bankruptcies, startup-challenged technologies, opposition by traditional utilities, and uncertain governmental policies, renewable energy continues on its upward trend. Consider these facts, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Global investment in renewables now beats that in fossil fuels two to one. Batteries to store power sourced from renewables are becoming cheaper, bigger in capacity, and more reliable. More EV models are being introduced by more automakers.
It looks to be a record year for green bonds. From January 1 through July of this year, issuance of the purpose-driven financial products totaled $44.2 billion, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative. The total for all of 2015 was $41.8 billion, Green bonds target qualified green building and sustainable design projects, and —here’s the bottom line attraction—are tax exempt.
For U.S. utilities, the present is becoming the future. In Illinois, electric power companies are shutting down coal and nuclear facilities that account for more than 10 percent of that state’s power-generating capacity. The drivers are cheap wind power and low-cost natural gas burning plants, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. In the Midwest, the average annual wholesale electricity price has fallen 43 percent since 2008, according to Bloomberg data.
Healthcare reform that controls costs remains elusive, despite the radical changes of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, health care costs rose 5.5% over 2014. That increase follows a rise of 5.3% recorded in 2014. Projections are that national health spending will grow by 5.8% each year on average over the next decade, reports Modern Healthcare.
Call it another example of the law of unintended consequences. The sustainability officer role is projected to diminish and spending on consulting by sustainability officers to shrink over the next five years, according to a study from Verdantix.