Sustainability

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Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility to a Cynical Public

Companies are increasingly engaging in CSR activities. But unless companies communicate their CSR achievements wisely to stakeholders, they fear being accused of greenwashing. A study of CSR communication practices in 251 European corporations yields seven guidelines for effective CSR communication. The authors conclude that many beliefs about the risks associated with CSR communication are exaggerated, and that companies that communicate honestly about their activities have little to fear.

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Video: Sustainability: The New Business Model Opportunities

Since 2010, MIT Sloan Management Review (MIT SMR) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have been charting how organizations are responding to sustainability as a source of competitive advantage. This year we found that nearly 50 percent of companies have changed their business model because of sustainability opportunities. In this presentation, David Kiron, executive editor at MIT SMR, and Eugene Goh, a principal with BCG, cover highlights of the report and discuss specific company examples.

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The Innovation Bottom Line

This is the fourth annual research report jointly produced by MIT SMR and BCG on the connection between sustainability and business. This year’s report focuses on who is profiting from their sustainability practices and why. Overall, respondents reporting profit from sustainability went up by 23% to 37 percent of the total. As we explore in detail, business-model innovation is the crux of sustainability profits for a majority of companies.

Tom Falk, chairman and CEO of Kimberly-Clark

“We Learned How to Listen Better”

As Kimberly-Clark began down the path toward sustainability, it was confronted with layers of miscommunication between itself and environmental activists–not to mention a lack of real understanding among many of its customers and suppliers. Tom Falk, chairman and CEO of K-C, says that all that began to change as the company got better at listening.

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Image courtesy of Greif.

The Benefits of Sustainability-Driven Innovation

Results from the fourth year of MIT SMR’s research collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group have found that managers who say sustainability has caused their organization to change its business model are also more likely to say that the organization’s sustainability activities have added to profits. Respondents to the survey who changed their business model also generated profits from their sustainability-related activities.

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What the Future May Bring

Many authors writing about the future dismiss contrary opinions, striving with provocative titles such as The End of History and the Last Man (by Francis Fukuyama) or The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (by Ray Kurzweil) to persuade readers that the future they envision is not only plausible but inevitable. Jorgen Randers foregoes this temptation in his new book, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012).

Image courtesy of AT&T.

Making Data Visible So You Can Act On It

At AT&T, John Schulz, a director of sustainability operations, had to make the company’s energy and water use data visible before the company could formulate a plan to reduce those numbers. The company’s definition has now broadened and evolved to include the social perspective on sustainability.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user suneko.

New Ways to Engage Employees, Suppliers and Competitors in CSR

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.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Sam Beebe, Ecotrust.

Why Boards Need to Change

Many companies have initiated sustainability and corporate social responsibility programs that represent good first steps toward improving the impact of their organizations on the environment and society. However, unless boards change, many of the initial sustainability efforts launched in corporations are likely to be temporary. For organizations to achieve sustainable effectiveness, they need a corporate board that is designed to lead in a sustainably effective way.

Image courtesy of Flickr user mmoosa.

Why Kraft Foods Cares About Fair Trade Chocolate

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.

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How an “Abundance Mentality” and a CEO’s Fierce Resolve Kickstarted CSR at Campbell Soup

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.”

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How Dell Turned Bamboo and Mushrooms Into Environmental-Friendly Packaging

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.

Image courtesy of Flickr user uggboy.
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Marks and Spencer’s Emerging Business Case for Sustainability

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.

Image courtesy of Novo Nordisk A/S.

How to Become a Sustainable Company

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.

Showing 41-60 of 178