Sustainability

The Environmental Benefits of Digital Design

Executives are reimagining the value of nonfinancial assets for their own companies, the broader industry, and the environment by making product development more design- and information-intensive. The result: new digitally enhanced offerings that are reducing material use, lowering energy demands, and increasing revenues.

Building Effective Corporate Engagement on LGBTQ Rights

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The corporate sector is becoming increasingly outspoken on LGBTQ rights. As more companies publicize their efforts, pressure is building on others to state their positions as well. Companies that approach LGBTQ issues thoughtfully with policies, culture, and activism can reduce some of the economic risks involved — while affecting public opinion.

A Manifesto for the Middle

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The left-right political divide is strangling democracies. In many countries, the left has moved even further to the left and demonized the institution of business, while the right has moved further to the right and embraced a narrow view of business. We need a manifesto to create a middle — both a political and an economic one.

Should Businesses Stop Flying to Fight Climate Change?

It’s known as flight shaming: Everyone from Prince Harry to CEOs heading to Davos are being asked how they can care about carbon emissions and still climb aboard an aircraft. So should we all stop flying? The answer is a definitive “maybe”: There are good reasons to keep flying, especially in the service of tackling climate change, and for deeper reasons like connecting humankind when we need global cooperation.

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How Will U.S. Companies Respond to Regulation Rollbacks?

This month’s MIT SMR Strategy Forum poll looks at the recent rollbacks from the Trump administration on a wide variety of U.S. regulations pertaining to water, air, land, and public health. We ask our panel of experts to weigh in on whether corporations will decide to adhere to rules that closely resemble original standards, or if they will embrace deregulation.

Can We End the Crisis of Agency?

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In the past half-decade, we’ve undergone a sea change in our thinking about the future. Whether it’s our feelings about our rapidly deteriorating planetary environment or the equally disconcerting rapidity of technological advances, the general sentiment is one of heightened anxiety — and powerlessness. Is there anything we can do? The short answer: Yes.

Yes, I’m Feeling Bad About Climate Change. Let’s Discuss.

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How do we talk about the state of our planet when the news is so scary? And how do we have those discussions with the people we love, when our instincts are to protect them from nightmares? It helps to break the conversation into three distinct questions: What do we really know about climate change? Why am I worried and feel it’s so serious? And how do I — and all of us — cope with that knowledge and move forward?

What Does an AI Ethicist Do?

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Microsoft has been active in advocating for an ethical perspective on artificial intelligence, and in 2018 it appointed its first general manager for AI policy and ethics. Tim O’Brien, who had been with the company for 15 years, says his activities as “AI ethics advocate” include extending the community of people who are focused on the ethics topic, meeting with Microsoft customers, and leading a research effort to develop a global perspective on tech ethics.

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AI Can Help Us Live More Deliberately

AI spares us from many mundane, time-consuming, nerve-wracking annoyances. The problem is, such annoyances play a key adaptive function by helping us learn to adjust our conduct in relation to the world around us. But AI designers can tackle that problem through system enhancements. By incorporating cognitive speed bumps, they can prompt users to engage in reflective thought rather than “outsourcing” cognitive, emotional, and ethical labor to software.

The World in 2030: Nine Megatrends to Watch

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Nine fast-moving megatrends are shaping where our world will be in 11 years. From demographics to urbanization to the big one — climate change — and more, the directions we’re heading and choices we make in the next decade will have enormous impacts on our careers, businesses, and lives.

Talking About Sustainability Can Drive Sales: Lessons From a Casino Giant

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Do consumers care enough about companies’ environmental and social practices to give them more business? Caesars Entertainment tested the question at one of its hotels, where one group of customers was told about its green efforts and the other group was told nothing. The casino company got encouraging results: The group who got the message spent 1.5% more. That group also recommended the hotel more enthusiastically.

Digitizing Products for Sustainability’s Sake

Digitization opens opportunities for the world’s sustainability challenges, but it also transforms industries, holding out the possibility of dramatically improving their social and environmental performance. To capitalize on this development, an emerging area of opportunity is the digitization of physical products and production.

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Every Leader’s Guide to the Ethics of AI

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As artificial intelligence-enabled products and services enter our everyday lives, there’s a big gap between how AI can be used and how it should be used. A 2018 Deloitte survey of AI-aware executives found that 32% ranked ethical issues as one of the top three risks of AI, but most companies don’t yet have specific approaches to grapple with the challenges. Here, we list the seven actions that leaders of AI-oriented companies — regardless of their industry — should consider taking.

Driving Sustainability-Oriented Innovation

Faced with mounting challenges and pressure from governments, nongovernmental organizations, investors, and employees to be more aware of the environmental and social impacts of business activities, many companies are attempting to tap into the creativity and entrepreneurial potential of their employees, encouraging them to develop new products, services, or business models that create value for both the company and society.

Amazon Raised Its Minimum Wage — Will Its Rivals Do the Same?

Each month, the MIT SMR Strategy Forum poses a single question to our panel of experts in the fields of business, economics, and management. This month’s question asks our panel whether Amazon, by raising the minimum wage for its U.S. workers to $15 per hour, will influence other companies to do the same.

Critical Questions Live: Is It Up to Business to Save the Planet?

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In this video, Andrew Winston, sustainability expert and author, and MIT professor Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, debate the role of for-profit businesses in supporting — and investing in — sustainability goals. The session was moderated by Paul Michelman, editor in chief of MIT Sloan Management Review.

Finding Good News for Human Rights After Khashoggi

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The room to maneuver on business and human rights has significantly expanded with the exposure of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal death. Companies must take advantage of this moment to prioritize human rights. Now is the time for business leaders and company boards to get on the right side of history — or risk becoming complicit.

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