Did Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, invent a radical business model last week by announcing that he would cut his own million-dollar paycheck to help finance a minimum annual wage of $70,000 for his 120 employees? Price insisted that the move was simply good business practice, citing studies showing worker satisfaction peaking at that annual income level. Other studies show correlations with workplace happiness and productivity, as well as lower turnover rates and overall better company performance.
From the Editor
American health care providers are increasingly turning to technology to reduce costs and deliver better care. So says a new report from inMedica that projects patients using telehealth services will grow six times by 2017.
The major job qualification voted for by corporate recruiters in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek poll was communication skills. It was named number one by 68% of 1,320 recruiters who were asked to name the job skill they value most. Communications skills ranked first in each of the three fields into which most business schools send their graduates: financial services, consulting, and technology.
These are challenging times for large food and beverage companies. Changing consumer trends toward healthier foods, rising commodity prices, and fluctuating currencies are driving these global corporations to adopt new strategies.
The basic rules of the global investment game just changed. China has organized a new Beijing-led development bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, in a direct challenge to the U.S.-dominated International Money Fund and the World Bank, reports the Financial Times. More than 50 countries have joined, including the U.K., France, Germany, the UAE, Russia, South Korea, Australia, and Israel.
The world’s largest pension fund, Japan’s $1.1 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund, has decided to consider corporate governance factors as well as investor returns in its stock investment decision-making.
Last year, Burlington became the first U.S. city to use 100% renewable energy. That radical plan might be expected in ultra-green, classically liberal Vermont. But now comes news from The Guardian that a similar size Texas town has chosen the same energy future. Georgetown, population 47,000, is noted for its historic Victorian buildings, the oldest university in the state (Southwestern University, founded 1840), and a high percentage (one-third) of retirees.
The headline in the Energy and Environment story is a three-point grabber: “Half-Trillion-Dollar Green Bond Market, Led by China, Looks for a Regulator.” That “half-trillion dollar market” is the total of all such outstanding debt securities. The Chinese market totals $164 billion, the largest share of any single nation. And what financial entity these days is asking to be regulated?
Bank of America has become the latest corporation to adopt “proxy access” as a governance reform. BofA joins Citi Group and GE in permitting shareholders to nominate directors, a practice traditionally reserved for company-supported nominees.
Target is the latest consumer company to raise the base pay for its workers to $9 an hour, starting next month, reports The Wall Street Journal. The news comes after similar moves by competitors WalMart and TJX Cos, owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods. Between them, these three corporations employ 1.8 million workers. As of now, 29 states and Washington D.C. have set minimum wages above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour.
Since the 2008 economic meltdown, we’ve gotten used to the litany of settlements between the Securities and Exchange Commission and companies accused of misconduct, in which many millions of dollars are paid out in fines without any admission of wrongdoing by the alleged offenders. In 2013, the SEC announced that it would start demanding an admission of culpability, especially in cases where the misconduct was intentional or if a defendant obstructed an investigation. The goal was to add accountability to the process.
More Canadian investors are discovering RI. A recent report by the Responsible Investment Association found that more than $1 trillion worth of Canadian assets were being managed with responsible investing strategies by the end of 2013. That’s a 68 percent increase from 2011’s total of $600 billion. An increasing inflow of dollars from pension funds was cited as a main driver; RI pension fund assets are up 70% over the last two years.
The European Union has announced a new strategy for energy efficiency: a proposal for a unified energy market throughout the group’s 28 countries. The E.U. now imports 55 percent of its energy, spending more than €1 billion a day on fossil fuel imports. Theoretically, a single purchaser of gas on behalf of all E.U. members could command a better price—E.U. companies now pay three times the rate paid by American ones. However, two E.U.
The Wall Street Journal has just noticed a workplace trend that has been reported on for some time: young professionals are increasingly demanding a higher purpose in their day-to-day work. Surveys over the last few years have concluded that a large majority of millennials want to make a difference as well as make a living.
European pension funds have led the way in socially responsible investing since the 1990s. Today, they still lead. Of the $13.6 trillion of professionally managed assets in the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance that included ESG issues when investing in 2012, Europe had the majority share, $8.7 trillion. (The U.S.
“In many ways, corporate sustainability simply means corporate excellence.” So concludes N. Craig Smith in a recent blog. His thesis is built on a governance corollary: company boards have a crucial role to play in activating corporate responsibility throughout an organization. Today’s boards now make many decisions that are “sustainable,” from mitigating risk to ensuring profitability through new opportunities.
A different vocabulary is cropping up more often in the annual reports I’ve been reading recently, whether labeled “CSR Report” or just "Annual Report.” Words that used to be thought of as the lexicon of idealistic activists are showing up with more frequency in summaries by major corporations of operations and strategies: “stakeholders,” “stewardship,” “wellness” (for employees), “natural resources,” “responsible operations,” “community and employee engagement,” and “gender and ethnic diversity.” Other terms are coming from trends now, well, trending in the latest business strategy and mo
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is committing $280 million to its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The initiative pays up to 25 percent of costs and up to 75 percent in loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements in rural areas nationwide. Systems projects use commercially available technology from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal, and renewable biomass.