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  • Fran 4:40 pm on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , sustainability reporting,   

    The road to 24/7 transparency 

    On November 9th Forbes announced that transparency will become the most important marketing tool in 2015. It’s a trend the sustainability reporting world has been encouraging for some time, with mixed results.

    Real progress was evident at the recent Ethical Corporation Reporting Summit last week where transparency was the leitmotif for the whole event. So much so that when it came to voting for the best submission in the CSR reporting X factor session, RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) romped home with the prize, trouncing Bloomberg and and British supermarket chain Tesco. RBS’ decisive win is largely down to its disarming mea culpa about past mistakes and honesty around future investigations, enforcements and litigation. As the audience voted and the judge made his pronouncement, a murmur of “how did they get that past the lawyers?” swept the room. RBS proved that with determination and top-level commitment you can, and that honesty is a winning strategy.

    Lisa Stewart picks up the X factor reporting award for RBS

    Lisa Stewart picks up the X factor reporting award for RBS

    But the transparency agenda is moving fast and in contrast to once-a-year disclosure typical of traditional sustainability reporting, demands for greater openness are constant. Indeed Forbes says “Next year the best brands won’t be those with the best stories, or sort of made up fictional stories, but those that will give an accurate and real-time picture of what they are doing in the interest of the consumer, at any given time.” And the same goes for the interests of other stakeholders according Oliver Hurrey, MD at the 2degrees network. Social media is set to play a central role, offering many channels for people to demand the truth and giving companies multi-stranded opportunities for innovative, engaging and honest corporate communications. Welcome to stakeholder dialogue, 21st century style.

    • Fran 6:10 pm on November 19, 2014 Permalink

      Serendipity! See also report from SustainAbility due out December 5th called See Change: How the Future of Transparency can Drive Performance and Value

  • april.streeter 8:17 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: sex, , sustainability reporting   

    The sustainability of sex 

    Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 14.36.32

    photo: Manuel W. CC license Generic 2.0

    The Sustainability of Sex

    Sometimes, the industries we least think about can make a big impact in making our world greener.

    Sex is one of those industries. Lest you are one of the people that would prefer not to think of sex as a business, stop reading now. Or perhaps first absorb the fact that the sex toy industry is now a $500 million per year business…in the U.S. alone.

    Or, wait. Possibly add the fact that strip clubs are also a big business, with over 4,000 clubs in the U.S. projected to bring $7.8 billion into the economy this year.As there’s not yet a McDonald’s of strip clubs, much of the money generated goes back into local economies.

    Lastly, Internet porn, no matter how much you might hate it, is truly one backbone of the cloud economy, comprising, by one estimate 12 percent (250 million unique pages) of all sites globally.

    These are all fascinating statistics, though in truth, because of its perceived seaminess, we don’t have that much market data about the different aspects of the legal business of sex. And we all know that what doesn’t get measured in sustainability doesn’t easily get moved or changed.

    The sex industry itself is changing, however, making it ripe for greening. Porn’s move online has caused downsizing, mergers, and acquisitions along with some welcome dematerialization as porn DVDs — and really packaged porn in general — have starkly diminished.

    Another not-to-be ignored trend in the business of sex is women becoming more active consumers. Kassia Wosick, a sociologist at New Mexico State University, cites both her research into the popularity of sex toy parties, and an increasing focus of manufacturers on finding new ways to sell to women customers, as indicators that there is latent demand and a new female market out there.

    While not trying to diminish the harm and exploitation women have endured in aspects of the sex industry of the past, perhaps it is time to clean up the sex industry’s image and its future. Wendy Strgar, a ‘loveologist’ and entrepreneur in Eugene, Oregon, has run her company, Good Clean Love, with a mission to make organic and non-harmful lubricants and oils as well as educate people about healthy sexuality.

    Strgar’s is a tiny, women-led business, but she’s poised to make a big impact. After getting top kudos in a University of Pennsylvania-led research study showing her lubricant was one of the safest on the market, Strgar decided to reformulate, with a goal of making a lubricant with a natural biocide that may help stop the transmission of HIV. That would represent a huge step forward in global social efforts to combat AIDS.

    Mainstream lubricant makers, Strgar said, are well aware that petrochemical ingredients such as methylpropylparaben in lubes are not healthy and in fact can be harmful. As just a few companies control 80% of the market, however, they haven’t yet felt pressured to find better formulas.

    If Wosick is right and women are going to increasingly be consumers of products and services that increase our pleasure with sex, we should also be willing to vote with our dollars to help green up this sometimes under-the-radar industry.

  • andrea 4:12 am on June 21, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: B Corp, , B Team, Jochen Zeitz, John Elkington, market incentives, moral courage, Plan B, principled leadership, Richard Branson, subsidies, sustainability metrics, sustainability reporting, , vision   

    In search of a new normal: B Team kicks off Plan B 

    B is the new black. We’ve had B Lab and B Corp. And now, with fingers crossed that technology wouldn’t let them down, groups gathered last Friday at screens around the world to witness the London launch of “Plan B,” Sir Richard Branson’s effort to accelerate sustainability leadership in business. I was at one of the Sydney hubs hosted by Conscious Capitalism Australia.

    The B Team behind Plan B comprises 14 global leaders – among them Virgin founder Sir Richard, former Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz, Unilever’s Paul Polman, Mo Ibrahim, Ratan Tata, Mohammad Yunus, Shari Arison, Ariana Huffington and Strive Masiyiwa. Its mission is to deliver a Plan B that puts people and planet alongside profit. Its premise is that the current business model is broken, so new approaches are needed to transform business into a force for good. Rather than an end in itself, profit should be a spur for innovation that delivers social and environmental wellbeing.

    To drive this change, the B Team is outlining 10 key challenges or critical points for action around sustainability and mobilizing experts around the world to develop workable solutions. And at the launch, three of these grand global challenges were revealed:

    1. The bottom line
    Current corporate metrics aren’t cutting it sustainability-wise. In future we need new ways of assessing value, better tools for measuring and reporting and standardised methodologies that help business achieve true, lasting sustainability.

    2. Incentives
    Current policies and market incentives hinder long-term value creation. We need new dialogue around incentives that will promote sustainable business.

    3. Leadership
    Leadership needs to become aware, inclusive, responsible and founded on a strong moral compass. Four key values are central to this: being fair, honest, positive and creative.

    I’ve no doubts whatsoever that tackling these challenges is key to making business more sustainable. We’ve known for decades that short-termism, profit maximisation, externalities, perverse subsidies, corrupt or vested interests and moral bankruptcy undermine sustainability. So what magic, I wonder, can the B Team work that will really make the difference here?

    On the plus side, I think the winning combination of Richard Branson’s drive and chutzpah, the credibility and commitment of Jochen Zeitz, John Elkington’s vision, and the truly impressive line-up of leaders from (almost) around the world will go a long way towards ensuring the B Team has meaningful impact. On the downside, though, the depressing absence of any major government players or big financial houses in the mix gives a dismal sense of déjà-vu – when the need for tough decisions comes up against political expediency and yearly bonuses, how fair, honest, positive and creative will our financial and political leaders be in supporting courageous initiatives like Plan B?

  • Fran 3:06 pm on June 3, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , sustainability reporting,   

    It’s the materiality, stupid 

    The GRI launched the G4 reporting guidelines in style in Amsterdam in May. One Stone was there, and we can confirm that the keyword over the three day conference was ‘materiality’.


    Shorter and smarter
    Addressing the need for shorter, more relevant reports, the G4 Guidelines put materiality at the heart of disclosure. The G4 requires a robust materiality process to identify the Aspects (new GRI speak for ‘issues’) material to the company and its stakeholders. Those that are most material must be reported on. But crucially and radically, those Aspects deemed less material do not require disclosure under G4.

    Be honest: how did you do it?
    The quid pro quo for waving goodbye to huge reports is that all companies must be much more transparent about their materiality decision making process. In a major change since G3, any organisation wishing to report ‘in accordance’ with G4 must disclose the way they identify, validate and prioritise their material Aspects.

    What are Aspects?
    GRI provides a list of Aspects (issues) in established categories (Economic, Environmental and so on). There are 47 Aspects in total and many are familiar, but some, for instance those to do with suppliers, now pop up under several categories.

    Core v Comprehensive
    Having identified their material Aspects, organisations can be ‘in accordance’ with G4 by choosing either Core or Comprehensive reporting. Core reporting is a great entry point for SMEs, allowing them to report on only one indicator per material Aspect identified, whereas Comprehensive reporters must disclose information relevant to all the indicators relating to each of their material Aspects. Thankfully, the old A-C system that encouraged organisations to report rafts of superfluous data has gone.

    Boundaries and the value chain
    Recognising that an organisation’s biggest impacts are often in the value chain, they are required to identify where impacts occur for each material Aspect by describing whether their significance is internal to the organisational boundary or external (eg suppliers or other stakeholders), or both.

    Where’s the hitch?
    Clearly the quality of the report hinges on the robustness of the materiality process, and since this is primitive in many organisations, major questions remain about whether reports will really represent the organisation’s impacts and its sustainability context. It will be up to the organisations themselves, assurance providers and other stakeholders to scrutinise, critique and improve the materiality process. Fertile territory for rating agencies perhaps?

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