The Enlightened Trend: Shared Value vs. Shareholder Value.

1 12 2011

93% of CEOs believe sustainability issues will be key to business success in the future.  The concept of creating shared value vs. shareholder value is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of many corporate boardrooms. This new report from FSG – the nonprofit consulting firm – gives best in class examples of social engagement strategies where corporate and social issues are aligned.

According to FSG, “the most advanced companies have begun to look at social engagement through a different lens entirely.  Rather than seeing business and society in opposition, they recognize the enormous potential of business to contribute to social progress.  At the same time, they understand that firms depend on healthy and well-functioning societies to thrive.  Such companies seek to create “shared value” – incorporating social issues into their core business strategies to benefit both society and their own long-term competitiveness.”

Says Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter, “What’s happening now is really a redefinition of the boundaries of capitalism.  Creating shared value is the next stage of evolution in the sophistication of the capitalist model.”

The report was sponsored by HP and features examples from global business leaders committed to creating shared value, including Alcoa, GE, Cisco, and Nestle among others.

You can download a pdf of the report here.

(Figure from FSG)


Consumer Environmental Behaviors Have Shifted For Good.

30 11 2011

In a recent survey revisiting consumer attitudes toward environmental issues vs. 20 years ago, GfK Roper and S.C. Johnson demonstrate how much progress has been made.


The research study reports that 73 percent say they know a lot or a fair amount about environmental issues and problems, up from 50 percent earlier. Compared to 20 years ago, twice as many Americans are taking proactive steps to help the environment. Today, 58 percent of Americans recycle, 29 percent buy green products regularly and 18 percent commute in an environmentally friendly manner.

And the impact can be dramatic.  According to Kelly M. Semrau, Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Communication and Sustainability at SC Johnson, “Simply recycling one aluminum soda can yields enough energy to power my laptop for five hours or light up my office for 20 hours using a 60-watt energy-saving light bulb. These individual steps are made possible because individuals have a desire to modify their behavior, but also because businesses and governments have taken a leadership role in facilitating these changes by providing the right tools, products and processes.”


Three-in-four respondents agree that “a manufacturer that reduces the environmental impact of its production process and products is making a smart business decision.” Those are much higher marks than Americans gave business in 1990. Individuals place themselves higher at 38 percent and rank businesses lower at 29 percent when asked who should take the lead in addressing environmental problems and issues.

Said Semrau, “We all have a role to play to protect our earth, and 75 percent of American consumers say they feel good when taking steps to help the environment. That’s huge. Through increased environmental knowledge and with the right products and tools, we can all appeal to that sentiment to make smarter choices for a greener lifestyle.”

Green shopping photo via Shutterstock.

GREENPEACE: HP Leads Greener Electronics Race. Research in Motion in the cellar.

17 11 2011

In releasing its latest guide to Greener Electronics, Greenpeace has ranked 15 leading technology companies and how they are performing on key measures around sustainability.  The guide is intended to help consumers make better informed decisions when purchasing technology products and help businesses evaluate the performance of their technology vendors in helping them achieve their own sustainability objectives.

Download the Greenpeace Guide here

The comprehensive analysis will help consumers understand the impact of specific products, as well as the sustainability performance of the overall corporation. New criteria added to this edition of the Guide are based on the creation of truly sustainable electronics industry, Greenpeace said, and include a holistic examination of key supply chain issues.

“Right now, HP takes the top spot because it is scoring strongly by measuring and reducing carbon emissions from its supply chain, reducing its own emissions and advocating for strong climate legislation. However all companies we included in the Guide have an opportunity to show more leadership in reducing their climate impact”, Tom Dowdall of Greenpeace said in a statement.

Blackberry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) is ranked for the first time and scored well on conflict minerals and sustainable paper policy. But the company ranked bottom of the table because it needs to improve reporting and disclosure of its environmental performance, Greenpeace said.  It is interesting to note that failure to communicate progress – the opposite of the idea of sustainable branding – was a key factor in RIM receiving such a low ranking.

Real World Green: Winning Retailers See Sustainability As Competitive Advantage

11 08 2009

IMG_1165“Make green an integral part of your brand promise, and don’t wait to be pushed into action by eco-savvy consumers.  The store is a great place to begin – there is something every retailer can do today to reduce the amount of energy used.  But there is not “magic bullet” tactic for buildng a “green brand.”

-Real World Green:  The Role of Environmental Savings in Retail

The Retail Industry Leaders Association just issued it 2009 Benchmark Report on environmental sustainability in retail—which demonstrates how quickly retailer attitudes toward green initiatives as both a business economic driver and brand reputation indictaor have moved in the past 12 months, despite the recession.

The survey of nearly 100 retailers across all retail categories and company sizes finds some significant new findings toward sustainability practices.  The analysis divides retailers into “winners” – those retailers who’s revenue performance is besting industry average and “laggards” – those that are obviously falling behind.

The results illuminate that the “winners” of the past year in retail are significant more enlightened and deeply committed to driving sustainability initiatives into their operations and appreciate the benefit it will provide for their brand.  Whether or not their current customers are demanding it.

Some of the interesting factoids from the research impressed us.

  • 55% of retail “winners” see environmentally sound practices as both a “ethical obligation” and “to be seen as an industry leader”.
  • 80% of retail “winners” say that their customers expecting them to act is a key influencer to pursue green initiatives
  • 71% of retailers agree that “marketing our brand as “ecologically-conscious will have a profound impact on our brand image”

To further demonstrate how sustainability is a key topic on the minds of executive leadership of these retail companies: 87% of respondents believe the CEO has the greatest future potential of influencing their company’s leadership on sustainability—followed by the VP Marketing at 64%.  This would support our belief that those executive positions most responsible for overall brand and company reputation and image are going to be driving strategic sustainability initiatives in the future.

Read the Report:  Real-World Green_ The Role of Environmental Savings in Retail