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A new corporate structure requires companies to look beyond the interests of shareholders and to consider the effect of decisions on employees, the environment and the surrounding community.
Timberland LLC, a global boot and outdoor apparel manufacturer, goes beyond simply telling the world about its sustainability work. According to Betsy Blaisdell, the company’s senior manager of environmental stewardship, it has creative new ways to involve employees and to partner with suppliers — and competitors. In this interview, Blaisdell talks about the environment “nutrition label” it’s developed for its footwear, and its partnership with 60 plus apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers and NGOs (from Adidas to Patagonia to DuPont to the World Resources Institute) to develop an environmental index called the Higg Index.
Supply chain and freight transportation activities have a significant global footprint, and that footprint is only getting bigger. By 2020, over 90 million tons of freight a day is expected to move throughout the U.S., up 70 percent from 2002, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). In its 2012 report “Smart Moves,” the nonprofit published a collection of innovative strategies to reduce emissions and costs. Many companies will want to follow their “Five Rules for a Carbon-efficient Supply Chain.”
Now available in the MIT SMR archive: video of last spring’s chat about sustainable product lifecycles with Wood Turner of Stonyfield Farm and Peter Graf of SAP, moderated by Jason Jay of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
As vice president for sustainability at Kraft Foods, Chris McGrath has been pivotal at guiding the company’s sustainability efforts. With its global reach and massive market shares, the company is setting new standards on how to source through sustainable agriculture and keep packaging out of landfills.
It seems pretty obvious that droughts and hot weather hurt agricultural output and growth, but MIT professor of economics Benjamin Olken asserts that even localized hot spells can significantly damage long-term economic growth in developing countries. In a recent paper published in the American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, Olken and his colleagues found that every 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature in a poor country reduces economic growth by around 1.3 percentage points, and that higher temperatures also may reduce the rate of growth.
In his tenure as president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, Doug Conant first helped steer the company to financial stability, and then set the stage for aggressive sustainability goals. The notion of corporate social responsibility and sustainability has been part of the fabric of the Campbell Soup Company since its inception. By 2006, Conant was ready to kick it up a notch. As president and CEO (he retired last fall), Conant led the company in exploring “how we could bring what I call our DNA, our natural inclination to corporate social responsibility, to a new level.”
Mike Roberts, the former president and chief operating officer of McDonald’s, is now heading up Lyfe Kitchen, an organic, healthy restaurant that plans to expand to hundreds of locations throughout the U.S.
At Dell, the sustainability team, working with suppliers and recyclers, has developed new compostable packaging materials made from bamboo and mushrooms. As John Pflueger, Principal Environmental Strategist, says, “It’s absolutely amazing.” Long a “pain point” for customers, the new lighter and compostable packaging is a big step forward, improving many sustainability metrics.
Marks and Spencer’s business case for sustainability is built around its five year old Plan Plan A, a commitment to tangible steps to make the company more sustainable. T-shirts for associates featured the slogan, “There is no Plan B.” Plan A includes 180 commitments. All to be achieved by 2015. Their ultimate goal is to become the world’s most sustainable major retailer.
If political and ideological boundaries really are “invisible fences in the mind,” as MIT Sloan professor John Sterman puts it, then what kind of image of how the world works will best serve us as we think about issues of economic growth? These are some of the questions that MIT Sloan’s Jason Jay raised in a thought-provoking presentation at the Dynamics of Globalization Executive Education program held at MIT on June 13-14.
Non-profits have the infrastructure and know-how to tackle the global malnutrition crisis, says Paul Murphy, CEO of Valid Nutrition. What they need now are for-profits with vision to be encouraged to help them.
Trends suggest that the public is no longer satisfied with corporations that focus solely on short-term profits. A recent study comparing companies that adopted environmental and social policies with companies that didn’t supports this view.
However, few companies are born with a commitment to sustainability. To develop one, companies need leadership commitment, an ability to engage with multiple stakeholders along the value chain, employee engagement and disciplined mechanisms for execution.
Last month we conducted a brief poll to help us think about some of the questions we are considering for this year's sustainability research, both the survey and interviews. The polls closed last week, and we've got some charts depicting reader responses below.
Peggy Ward, director of the Enterprise Sustainability Strategy Team at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, says that having strong support from the company’s Chairman & CEO, his global strategic leadership team, four business units and an external sustainability advisory board have been crucial to building and meeting aggressive sustainability metrics.
MIT SMR’s new Sustainability Study Interactive Exploration tool lets users explores the major trends in sustainability commitment and profitability with interactive charts. Users also can create customized views of the data that can be saved and shared.
Just because you can’t measure an action doesn’t mean it’s not creating strategic value, says Suzanne Fallender, director of CSR Strategy and Communications for Intel. Her job, though, is to measure wherever she can and make the best case possible for incorporating sustainability efforts into every facet of the company.
We are conducting a quick poll to get a sense of how you, our readers, are thinking about sustainability. Your answers will help inform the design of the next sustainability and innovation survey we’re planning in collaboration with knowledge partner The Boston Consulting Group, due out this June.
New research shows that young people from the U.S. and Canada to Germany and South Korea are driving less, biking more and using public transportation in significantly higher numbers.
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