1.5 Percent of Corporate Profits Can Transform the Fight Against Climate Change

8 06 2023

Image credit: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

By Abha Malpani Naismith from Triple Pundit • Reposted: June 8, 2023

The current narrative on climate action puts the world in a bind. On one side, present-day action is considered inadequate to achieve the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius determined by the U.N. On the other side, there is increasing debate over whether that limit is even attainable.

This narrative is dubbed the “doom loop” in a recent report from the U.K.-based think tanks Chatham House and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). In the doom loop, the focus on crisis consequences and failure to reach targets takes away from the focus required to implement solutions.

In order to move forward, the narrative needs to quickly change to one that encourages action. TriplePundit spoke with Saskia Feast, managing director of global client solutions at Climate Impact Partners, about how collective private-sector action can help to catalyze that change — starting with Fortune Global 500 companies. 

We don’t need large investments to create change 

Fortune Global 500 companies made more than $2.2 trillion in annual profits over the last three years, according to a recent report by Climate Impact Partners. Investing only 1.5 percent of that — about $33.5 billion — to fund carbon reduction projects like forest conservation, reforestation and micro-renewables would be a massive step toward achieving the transformational change required to hit global climate action targets.

On average, each Global 500 company made $6.7 billion over the last year, according to the report. Committing 1.5 percent of those profits ($100 million) could cut 7.8 million tons of carbon emissions, plant 60,000 trees and protect 120,000 hectares of forest. If every company in the index did the same each year, it would amount to more than 2.6 billion tons in carbon reductions — even more than what scientists say is necessary to cap global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. 

To put this corporate expense into perspective, on average the world’s largest companies spend 12 percent of their annual profits on research and development, 27 percent on sales and administrative expenses, 8.7 percent on marketing and 8.2 percent on information technology, according to the report. 

Offsets or no offsets?

For more than 20 years, Climate Impact Partners has worked with businesses to support over 600 carbon removal and reduction projects in 56 countries. But its work faces criticism around carbon offsets. 

“There is a lot of criticism of the companies who are taking action around offsetting carbon emissions and this idea that it is greenwashing,” Feast said. “By not criticizing the companies that are not taking action, those companies are feeling safer.” 

Saskia Feast, the managing director of global client solutions at Climate Impact Partners.
Saskia Feast, managing director of global client solutions at Climate Impact Partners. Photo courtesy of Climate Impact Partners.

Inaction on climate change could cost the global economy $178 trillion over the next 50 years, or a 7.6 percent cut to global gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2070 alone, according to a recent report from the Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress. 

Carbon offsetting is a long-debated method for companies and other large emitters to get involved. Supporters claim it is effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while conserving natural resources in sectors like transportation, energy and agriculture.

Some critics dismiss the practice as a flawed system that has negligible impact on reducing emissions. They argue offsets are generated by projects that enable polluting industries to continue their harmful practices. 

When a company first starts its carbon-neutral journey, it might need to offset a higher proportion of emissions, Feast said. But putting a price on it forces emission reductions over time. 

“Once you start putting a price on carbon, you start measuring it and looking for strategic ways to reduce it,” she said. “That helps you drive the internal reduction strategy or the adoption of renewable energy within your organization. The role of the offsetting market is just to help transition us to the low-carbon economy.”

The number of companies using, or planning to use, an internal carbon price increased by 80 percent over just five years, according to a 2021 report by the environmental disclosure management nonprofit CDP. 

The return on sustainability investments

Today, financial success and sustainable practices are increasingly tied to each other. “The business of sustainability reporting has improved dramatically over the last 20 years,” Feast said. “What we’re seeing now is companies including those metrics in their annual reports, like a carbon footprint or water use risk. So, the metrics are merging, which is a great development in the market. We’re seeing sustainability leaders, who are our clients, now working directly with investor relations, their CFO and financial teams.” 

The business case is stronger than before as company sustainability measures impact reputation, market value, and overall ability to attract and retain employees. And now there are many carbon footprint and ESG measurement tools that enable business leaders to truly consider how their operations impact people and the planet. 

Smaller companies can fight climate change, too

Investing in carbon reduction and removal is for every company — small, medium or large. Smaller companies that want to act don’t need a grand plan, Feast said. They can start making decisions in incremental steps like measuring their footprint, supporting renewable energy, making climate-friendly products, and discussing the price of carbon on their business.  

“We want to encourage companies to take action,” she said.”Get out there, start taking your steps and maybe one day run a marathon.”

COP28 Global Stocktake: Tracking progress to 1.5 degrees Celsius

As the baton moves from climate technicians to politicians at the COP28 Global Stocktake, which is also commented on with skepticism, policies driving increased financing of climate action could make a significant impact.

Emerging markets and developing economies must collectively invest at least $1 trillion in energy infrastructure by 2030 and $3 trillion to $6 trillion per year across all sectors by 2050 to mitigate climate change by substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to the International Monetary Fund.

An additional $140 billion to $300 billion a year is needed by 2030 to adapt to the environmental consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels and intensifying droughts. This could skyrocket to between $520 billion and $1.75 trillion annually after 2050 depending on how effective climate mitigation measures are.

“One of the most important things is to move away from talking about climate financing — and actually doing the financing,” Feast said. “The more money we can put to finance these projects, the more we will be reducing emissions going forward.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/corporate-profits-climate-change/775241


How Brands Can Step Up to Better Support LGBTQ Employees

8 06 2023

Image credit: Jose Pablo Garcia/Unsplash

By Mary Mazzoni from Triple Pundit • Reposted: June 8, 2023

Pride Month is meant to be a joyful celebration of the LGBTQ community and a rallying cry for justice and inclusion. But this year’s celebrations are dampened by a disturbing rise in anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric across the United States. Considering a third of our lives are spent at work, employers have a significant role to play in creating safe and inclusive spaces for people in the community who feel increasingly under attack. 

The explosion of anti-LGBTQ legislation runs counter to public opinion 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is tracking 491 pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation making their way through statehouses across the country. The scope of these bills include weakening anti-discrimination laws, censoring discussion of LGBTQ issues and history in schools, restricting gender-affirming care for transgender people, and banning LGBTQ gatherings like drag shows.

As state lawmakers look to push this type of discriminatory legislation through, many have adopted increasingly extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Groups of their fans and followers have done the same, in person and online, including a coordinated campaign against brands promoting inclusion during Pride Month. 

The surge in discriminatory legislation and rhetoric could lead people to believe the public’s attitudes have shifted when it comes to welcoming and including people in the community. But data indicates that’s far from true.

Recent polling from GLAAD and the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that support for equal rights is increasing, not decreasing. In the GLAAD survey, 91 percent of non-LGBTQ Americans agreed that LGBTQ people “should have the freedom to live their life and not be discriminated against,” and 84 percent support equal rights for the community. Similarly, 8 in 10 respondents to the PRRI survey are in favor of laws that shield people in the community from discrimination. 

Support for equal rights for the LGBTQ community is at an all-time high GLAAD survey shows
(Source: GLAAD)

The discriminatory climate is taking a toll on LGBTQ people at work 

study released last week by Indeed sheds light on how discriminatory policies and rhetoric are affecting LGBTQ people in the workplace. The majority of LGBTQ respondents (60 percent) report experiencing discrimination at work, ranging from being passed over for promotions and raises to outright harassment and violence. More than a quarter of LGBTQ people, including over 30 percent of trans people, say they are not out at work. 

“This climate of fear and intimidation comes on the heels of hard-earned fights for employers to do better by LGTBQ+ communities,” journalist S. Mitra Kalita, CEO of URL Media, wrote on Charter this week. “That’s all at risk as literally hundreds of bills seek to obliterate the existence of our colleagues.”

She spoke with three LGBTQ and workplace experts about what brands can do to better support their employees. The results are insightful and well worth a read in full. “Work continues to be a major source of stress for LGBTQ+ professionals, especially with rising anti-LGBTQ+ legislation which has a direct impact on access to economic opportunity,” Andrew McCaskill, who works on LinkedIn’s communications team and authors The Black Guy in Marketing newsletter, told Kalita. 

So, what are other leaders saying about what brands can do to support employees better? 

How brands can step up to better support LGBTQ employees

Offer LGBTQ-specific benefits. Over half of LGBTQ employees want to see benefits that are specific to their community, but less than a quarter report having any in their current workplace, according to Indeed’s survey. Benefits employees are seeking include health insurance that covers LGBTQ-friendly providers and gender-affirming care, benefits that extend to domestic partners rather than solely spouses, mental health benefits, and paid caregiver leave. 

In many cases, these are benefits employers already offer, but they haven’t modified them to be inclusive of all their employees. In its guidance for LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) — which represents 325,000 HR professionals across 165 countries — recommends employers revisit their policies and practices to ensure they are equally available to all employees. 

Check your culture. Creating inclusive benefits packages and corporate policies is an important baseline, but “having a written policy isn’t enough,” SHRM’s guide reminds employers. “Even if an employee is in a workplace with internal policies that protect LGBTQ+ workers, a company’s culture may inhibit employees from bringing their whole selves to work.” 

LGBTQ-specific diversity training — another benefit highlighted by employees in Indeed’s survey — is a solid first step for educating your teams about how to avoid, spot, and stamp out microaggressions and discrimination against their colleagues. So is setting clear, values-based expectations for employees, such as respecting others. Even dress codes can set the tone for how people show up at work. “Make sure they are neutral without gender stereotypes,” SHRM recommends. “General Motors gained national attention when CEO Mary Barra replaced a 10-page dress code with two words: Dress appropriately.”

Lift up diverse leaders. “If employees are hearing from the same types of individuals, they’re seeing that a clear mark of success [to their employer] isn’t someone who looks or sounds like them,” Sabrina Kent of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce told the Story Exchange.

When recruiting, make it clear that your company is an equal opportunity employer, and ensure you interview and consider diverse candidates rather than quickly deciding on someone who looks and lives like you. Do the same when choosing who will head up projects, present during meetings and lead teams. The more you lift up leaders from all backgrounds, including LGBTQ people and those from other historically marginalized communities, the more your employees get the message that you want every one of them to succeed. 

Use your marketing to raise awareness. Your company’s voice matters in the fight for inclusion. In its recommendations for corporate allies, GLAAD calls on companies to use their marketing materials and social media to speak out against discriminatory legislation and support “Pride 365,” running inclusive campaigns throughout the year rather than solely during Pride Month. Even better, engage LGBTQ-owned media companies to help you get the message out. 

Flex your political muscles. “Extend support to the political fight,” GLAAD challenges business leaders. “True corporate allies do not donate to candidates or elected officials who introduce, vote yes, or otherwise support  anti-LGBTQ legislation or block passage of pro-LGBTQ legislation like the Equality Act.” 

Beyond revisiting your political donations, GLAAD called out Apple as an example of how companies can step into the role of political ally. “Amidst an unprecedented wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation in 2022, Apple utilized multiple offices to take action. Apple lobbied against these harmful bills, filled court briefs in cases involving LGBTQ people, and encouraged other large companies to take public stands against this legislation,” GLAAD observed. 

The bottom line

LGBTQ employees work day in and day out to make their companies successful, and with discrimination on the rise, employers have a responsibility to them.

Failing to live up to that responsibility tells employees — whether they’re part of the community or not — that your company ignores or tacitly approves of an increasingly hostile climate that threatens people’s well-being. Decision-makers at any company that claims to lead with values and purpose certainly wouldn’t want to send that message. And with leaders creating clear blueprints for inclusion, there’s really no excuse for companies not to do better. 

‘Secret Agents of Change’ to Take Over Cannes Lions to Root Out Greenwashing

7 06 2023

Photo: Creatives for Climate

Creatives for Climate’s ‘secret agents of change’ will be prowling the festival calling on individuals, agencies and brands to tackle greenwashing at the source. From Creatives for Climate • Reposted: June 7, 2029

At this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity (19th-23rd June), NGO Creatives for Climate will launch a new tool aimed at building a collective of change agents united in its mission to tackle greenwashing at the source.

Creatives for Climate ‘secret agents’ will be roaming the festival with the organization’s Greenwash Watch toolkit — interrupting the rosé-fueled conversations and business-as-usual meetings to firmly center the conversation on climate action within advertising.

The tool in question, the Greenwash Swatch, is based on a framework created by think tank Planet Tracker that identifies an increasingly complex greenwashing landscape — including new trends such as greencrowding, greenrinsing, and greenshifting.

Formatted into a handy paint swatch booklet that fits into handbags and pockets, the toolkit is designed to be a reference for attendees to identify examples of greenwashing at any moment — providing a simple and provocative way to fuel conversations about brand accountability. For the second year in a row, the #greenwashwatch will hijack conversation at Cannes Lions and online, and create a counternarrative from ordinary people back to brands — subverting power and driving conversation far and wide.

“Creativity for good means nothing if we do not rise as an industry to tackle creativity for bad,” says Creatives for Climate Initiator and Chairwoman Lucy von Sturmer. “Standing against greenwashing is standing against tactics of delay and increasingly illegal brand behavior. Unfortunately, as more agencies and brands jump on the ‘green wagon,’ we expect to see a tonne of criminal behavior on the Croisette this year.”

During the festival, to gather momentum and recruit more agents to join, Creatives for Climate is partnering with Clean Creatives to launch the Change Agent Happy Hour — Tuesday 20th June from 19:00-20:30 — where it will be issuing an additional 100 toolkits to attendees to inspire collective action within their professional organizations and across their broader networks.

Creatives for Climate has also partnered with the Clean Creatives Climate Summit at the Embassy of Dutch Creativity and will be hosting a panel titled “Tackling the climate crisis is tackling the talent crisis” on Tuesday 20th June. This panel will feature a broad range of actors from across the industry – brand representatives, agency leaders as well as grassroots activists and entrepreneurs on the ground, exploring questions such as:

  • Can solving the climate crisis solve the talent crisis?
  • Can upskilling for climate build better agencies and brands?

This year’s action at Cannes builds on the release of the Creatives for Climate’s landmark Greenwash Watch Course, launched at Cannes in 2022. The training is a cross-industry effort created in collaboration with industry experts such as professor Gill Wilson and Patagonia Head of Studio Alex Weller to rapidly scale the industry’s ability to challenge briefs, identify greenwashing and deliver projects with real impact.

The Greenwash Watch agents will reward those that use the Greenwash Swatch tool online during Cannes Lions week with free access to the Greenwash Watch training program. The aim is to bridge the gap between advertising and action — recruiting attendees and their businesses to become greenwashing ‘secret agents of change.’

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/secret-agents-change-cannes-lions-root-out-greenwashing

Viewing Sustainability as an Opportunity, Not a Problem

6 06 2023

Submitted photo

Check out the many ways that sustainability can introduce opportunities to your business. By Stephen P. Ashkin from cmmonline.com • Reposted: June 6, 2023

Salespeople are often taught to see a customer’s or prospect’s problem as an opportunity, because solving the problem can lead to business growth. The professional cleaning industry can apply a similar attitude when considering problems related to sustainability.

Industry problems can be overwhelming, especially when considering that the global cleaning industry is composed of thousands of companies, including service providers, in-house cleaning operations, manufacturers, and distributors; tens of thousands of buildings, offices, and warehouses; hundreds of thousands of cars, service vehicles, and delivery trucks; and more than 100 million workers worldwide. However, by embracing sustainable practices in their own operations, investing in new technologies, and engaging with customers and building occupants to promote a more sustainable future, all facets of the industry can take full advantage of the opportunities sustainability presents.

Reap the benefits of reduction and conservation

One of the biggest sustainability opportunities is the ability to reduce waste and conserve resources. The industry can significantly reduce its environmental impact in several ways, such as utilizing green cleaning products and energy efficient equipment, reducing water usage, cleaning with cold water, turning off lights when leaving a room, and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles. These practices not only help reduce the amount of waste generated and conserve resources, but also save money on energy and water.

Seize opportunities for education

The industry can seize opportunities to educate others on sustainability and engage with them regarding its importance. By sharing information about sustainable practices and highlighting their benefits, the industry can help raise awareness and promote change. The industry can also work with customers and stakeholders to identify new opportunities for improvement and develop innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.

Create a path for others to follow

Perhaps the best way to educate is to lead by example. By embracing sustainable practices and demonstrating a commitment to reduce its environmental footprint, the industry can inspire others to do the same. These commitments include tracking one’s own use of energy, fuels, and water. These actions not only inspire others, but have a significant impact on the environment and can help promote a more sustainable future for the planet.

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in green cleaning and sustainability. He can be reached at steve@ashkingroup.com.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://cmmonline.com/articles/viewing-sustainability-as-an-opportunity-not-a-problem

How Brands Can Sell to Environmentally Conscious Non-consumers

6 06 2023

Yevgeniia Vradii/Getty Images

By Leah Johns, Harry Morrison, Jenny Davis-Peccoud and Daniela Carbinato from the Harvard Business review • Reposted: June 6, 2023

In a world where climate change is increasingly apparent, we all encounter people who are changing their behavior to help protect the environment: People who cycle to work to avoid consuming fuel, carry their own cutlery to avoid using disposable plastic forks, or hang onto their recyclable waste, bypassing trash cans until they can find a proper place to recycle it.

These people have two things in common: On the one hand, they are concerned enough about the environment to change their everyday habits. On the other hand, on the surface this behavior change does not include buying products that are branded as environmentally friendly. Because their current route to sustainable living focuses on cutting down their consumption (of fuel, plastic, home energy, and the like), they are not making the connection between sustainability and the products they need to buy.

We call this group  “Conscious Nonconsumers,” and they now represent about 32% of all U.S. consumers, according to recent Bain research. They have become something of a holy grail for large brands searching for new sources of growth.

There’s no question that consumers are becoming more concerned about environmental issues, if only because they are hitting people at home. A recent Pew Research poll found that 71% of Americans have experienced an extreme weather event in their community within the past year. Coming face-to-face with climate change has now led 52% of Americans to say they are “extremely or very concerned” about the impact of climate change, according to Bain Consumer Lab’s study of nearly 4,000 U.S. consumers in 2022 and confirmed with a follow-up survey of 1,000 consumers in 2023.

This rising interest in environmental issues has paved the way for a potential $365 billion market for “Conscious Nonconsumers” (on top of the $278 billion market for “Conscious Consumers”), according to Bain research, if companies remove barriers that are inhibiting purchases. It’s a market that spans everything from products with reduced packaging to shampoo requiring less water.

Fully capturing this opportunity, however, will be a challenge for consumer goods companies because consumers’ growing concerns are not uniformly reflected in their purchasing behavior. There is an undeniable “say-do” gap between what consumers say they want and what they are actually putting in their baskets. Yet the rewards for narrowing this gap are huge. When consumers try and like a sustainable product, they are more likely to become vocal advocates. For example, 44% of those recommending environmental, social, and governance (ESG) products are superpromoters, meaning they recommend the product to more than 10 people, compared with just 22% of people who recommend for any other reason, based on our research.

To understand the landscape and biggest opportunities for consumer goods companies and retailers, Bain’s recent survey of U.S. consumers looked at such factors as their concern about climate change and the number of lifestyle changes made for sustainability reasons. Our research enabled us to identify five well-defined segments, all of which span age and income levels:

  • Climate change deniers: These consumers don’t believe that the climate is changing. As such, they do not engage with ESG and do not intend to. They make up about 4% of the U.S. consumers.
  • Consumers of habit: These consumers tend to simplify their lives by buying products they know and love. They are not actively concerned about climate change, so sustainability is not on their minds when shopping. They make up about 30% of the U.S. consumers.
  • Curious consumers: These consumers buy eco-friendly products due to a curiosity about these products, which are often branded as premium. They are not actively concerned about the environment, but they like to try new premium products. They make up about 11% of the U.S. consumers.
  • Conscious nonconsumers: These are people who are actively concerned about climate change and have several environmentally friendly lifestyle habits, but do not buy eco-friendly-branded products. They make up about 32% of the U.S. consumers — the largest group.
  • Conscious consumers: These consumers are actively concerned about the planet and consider a product’s environmental credentials when shopping, as they see this as a route to more sustainable living. They make up about 24% of the U.S. consumers.

It is the Conscious Nonconsumers — a large group that has flown under the radar of many consumer products companies and retailers — who offer a large, untapped opportunity. We focused much of our follow-up research on this segment, attempting to discover what’s keeping them from buying and what consumer goods companies and retailers can do to capture this market.

There is no single demographic profile of the Conscious Nonconsumer. They span ages as well as income and education levels. They’re as likely to live in urban areas as small towns. What most have in common is a desire to match their current lifestyle changes — lowering thermostats, cycling to work, and obsessively recycling, for example. We also see that while many Conscious Nonconsumers are opting out of trying to shop sustainably, they do have positive intentions. An impressive 71% of Conscious Nonconsumers say they would pay more for sustainable products, in theory, if there is a direct benefit, if it doesn’t compromise other factors, and if they believe it is really better for the planet, employees, or suppliers. Among our survey respondents, 44% of Conscious Nonconsumers aspire to increase spending on such brands in the next three years.

Barriers to buying

But since Conscious Nonconsumers are not currently buying sustainable products, as part of our study, we asked additional questions to understand the barriers.

The first barrier — and probably the one most difficult to overcome — is that these consumers are not actively thinking about sustainability when they are shopping. This barrier, reported by 34% of Conscious Nonconsumers, highlights how this segment thinks about sustainability. They focus on reducing their consumption of fuel, home energy, and the like, with less concern about the products they buy.

The second barrier is one faced by Conscious Nonconsumers who are thinking about sustainability when shopping: 37% percent say there are difficult trade-offs preventing them from making informed purchasing decisions. They have trouble understanding and comparing the carbon footprint of competing products, for example, and often start with only a vague understanding of what makes a product sustainable or not. We saw this knowledge gap come to life when we asked consumers across segments to determine which of two items had a lower carbon footprint. On average, 75% of respondents in all consumer categories did not know or were incorrect in their answer. For example, only 11% correctly answered that single-use plastic bags have a lower carbon footprint than single-use cotton bags. Only 22% correctly answered that inorganic vegetables have a lower carbon footprint than organic meat. This knowledge gap is a barrier to making the right choices in sustainable purchases.

The final barriers to purchasing are tangible. Price was cited as an obstacle to purchasing by 34% of Conscious Nonconsumers; those higher prices mean that consumers need to work harder to justify purchasing. Another issue: It often is harder to find sustainable products. For example, consumers may need to go to a specialized store or a different department within a regular supermarket to find a wider range of sustainable goods.

How to reach Conscious Nonconsumers

Brands and retailers can acknowledge their own accountability in the say-do gap and take immediate action to remove barriers that consumers and shoppers face. In our 2022 survey, half of U.S. consumers believe brands and retailers are responsible for helping consumers shop sustainably — compared with 19% who feel it’s the government’s responsibility, for example. There are three basic actions for brands and retailers:

Simplify decision-making for consumers.

Brands can help boost awareness and close the knowledge gap by highlighting specific, measurable ESG features that educate consumers while guiding choice. Beauty company Natura clearly spells out the specific, positive effects of its fair-trade practices with communities in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. On its website, it reports: “By buying Natura EKOS products you are helping to improve the income of 2,000 families in these Brazilian farming communities — a total of almost 8,500 people. And it is also thanks to Natura EKOS products and the work of these communities that 1.8 million hectares of forest have been conserved for sustainable resource use and a better future for generations to come.” Natura EKOS product packaging uses clear terms (such as vegan, Amazon rainforest ingredients, fair trade, and rainforest conservation), and quantifies the products’ benefits, such as the fact that purchasing refillable products results in a 25% reduction in plastic for EKOS products. It consciously avoids confusing consumers with multiple ESG symbols.

For retailers, simplifying consumer decisions means making sustainable products part of consumers’ purchase journey. That could involve helping consumers easily identify sustainable products. For example, Walmart offers an online collection of products by companies the retailer classifies as “Sustainability Leaders” and uses a “Great for You” icon to help consumers identify healthier food options on the shelf. Retailers can also benefit by making sustainable products more available at the moment when consumers are making their purchasing decision by keeping them on the same shelf as everything else.

Integrate ESG into existing reasons to choose.

Consumers already balance competing priorities of quality, price, health, and convenience. Adding a new ESG dimension creates additional complexity that may force consumers not to choose sustainable options. The most effective companies weave ESG into those existing considerations. For example, insurgents have proven that ESG can make a product more convenient to purchase (via plastic-free automated subscriptions like Smol), more affordable (via durable, reusable products like UpCircle’s makeup removal cotton pads), and simpler (via multibenefit and multifunctional products like Care Natural Beauty). Incumbent brands must follow their lead. Retailers can accelerate sustainability adoption by reinforcing the positive side of the cost-benefit equation through incentives. Iceland, for example, offers “reverse” vending machines where PET bottles are returned in exchange for store credit.

Evolve existing brands.

Our research found that Conscious Nonconsumers are likely to value same-but-better versions of products they love as long as they do not come with a significantly higher price tag. There are two fundamental approaches brands take: innovating on packaging design and adapting product formats or ingredients. As an example of the former, consider Unilever’s TRESemmé brand, with shampoo bottles made of 100% recycled and recyclable plastic. For its part, retailer Sainsbury’s sells meat and chicken in trayless packaging and has eliminated single-use plastic across its own-brand dip pots. As an example of adapting ingredients, Mustela introduced plant-based baby towels as a plastic-free version of its original baby towel.

Converting Conscious Nonconsumers is a matter of providing viable and easy-to-find options — and making the value proposition clear. And with value-for-money a critical consideration for this segment, the brands and retailers that make the biggest inroads will be those that can also make their sustainable products affordable. For most companies, that requires balancing the delivery of sustainable products with cost savings. It’s a tricky balance, but one that will help companies achieve profitable growth by convincing consumers that, in addition to recycling, biking to work, and lowering the heat, they can change their buying habits, too.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://hbr.org/2023/06/how-brands-can-sell-to-environmentally-conscious-nonconsumers

5 ways to drive sustainability in procurement

5 06 2023

Reusable grocery bags for sale at Whole Foods. David McNew via Getty Images

The majority of a company’s emissions stems from their suppliers. Here’s how to work with them toward a greener future. By Praveen Kumar Soni from supplychaindive.com • Reposted: June 5, 2023

With sustainability priorities becoming one of the biggest components of a company’s reputation, they can often be the competitive edge needed to become the brand of the choice.

Procurement plays a pivotal role in ensuring sustainability goals become reality, especially since a business’ environmental footprint is largely tied to their suppliers. But cost pressures and other risks can make it difficult for many teams to know where to start.

Below are five key steps to drive sustainability:

1. Make sustainable procurement compulsory

For existing products, it may take time to switch to sustainable options based on feasibility and cost impact. However, wherever possible and for any new product, make it mandatory to go for green options. It’ll help to steadily progress forward on the sustainability journey.

When green materials are harder to find, seek out partnerships with companies that are working toward new solutions. For instance, L’Oréalrecently partnered with biotechnology platform Geno to develop sustainable alternatives to ingredients.

2. Develop supplier sustainability scorecard

Management visionary Peter Drucker once said: “What gets measured gets improved.”

Procurement folks should take this to heart in all matters, including sustainability. Develop a dashboard to measure Scope 1, 2 & 3 emissionsto inform future decisions.

Additionally, organizations can start recognizing and rewarding the suppliers on an annual basis for their sustainability efforts to keep them motivated.

3. Share experiences and learn from others

Sustainability is an evolving field and procurement may not have all the answers. Meaningful engagement with suppliers or other industry experts can help you to find a fix for your problem.

For instance, I once noticed that my carton supplier had switched from plastic shrink wraps to reusable belts for pallet storage. I shared this practice with our manufacturing teams and it helped us, too, cut down on plastic.

Being connected to external world, procurement people can bring in lot of value through learning and sharing.

4. Invest in technology

Technology can help fine tune the processes and help make decisions around sustainability.

For instance, the use of digital twin technology in our manufacturing setup helped us to optimize the consumption of energy and water, leading to positive impact in sustainability KPIs.

Similarly, AI has the ability to assess millions of data sources and come up with the recommendations for sustainability alternatives. Procurement should invest in technology to get the benefit at scale.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.supplychaindive.com/news/5-ways-to-drive-sustainability-in-procurement/651357/

Companies to pay billions in “forever chemical” water pollution settlements

5 06 2023

A 3M manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, in 2018. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

By Jacob Knutson from axis.com • Reposted: June 5, 2023

Major chemical producers have agreed to pay billions of dollars to settle claims from U.S. water providers over toxic “forever chemicals” pollution.

Why it matters: The settlements are a significant step forward in the effort to reduce potentially dangerous chemicals in water systems across the country.

Driving the news: Chemours, DuPont and Corteva said Friday they reached a $1.19 billion settlement with water providers around the country.

  • The water providers had alleged that the companies were responsible for environmental pollution from firefighting foams they manufactured that contained PFAS.
  • Though the companies denied the allegations, the settlement would resolve hundreds of lawsuits against them that were consolidated in the federal district court for South Carolina, which must finalize the settlement for it to take effect.

What they’re saying: John O’Connell, the board president of the National Rural Water Association, said in a statement that the settlement “is the beginning of helping our utility members in the fight against PFAS.”

  • The group works with 50 state associations representing more than 31,000 water and wastewater utility systems, and helped filed a lawsuit on behalf of its members.

Yes, but: Not included in the settlements are systems operated by states and the U.S. government, some smaller drinking water systems, and systems in the lower Cape Fear River Basin of North Carolina, which has been plagued by high levels of PFAS.

How it works: The durable synthetic chemicals, which resist degradation by repelling oil and water and withstanding high temperatures, have been used in hundreds of nonstickwater- and oil-repellent, and fire-resistant products.

  • If the chemicals enter the environment through production or waste streams, they can resist breaking down for hundreds of years while contaminating water sources and bioaccumulating in fishwildlifelivestock, and people.
  • Research has shown that reducing levels of PFAS in drinking water or switching to other water distributors will likely require municipalities to invest millions of dollars into new infrastructure and incur ongoing maintenance costs.
  • For example, officials in Cape Fear allocated $46 million and a recurring annual operating cost of $2.9 million to upgrade a treatment plant designed to filter PFAS from drinking water.

Meanwhile, 3M — a major PFAS producer — has also reached a tentative settlement worth at least $10 billion with water providers, Bloomberg reported Friday.

  • News of a potential settlement came just days before the company’s first federal trial over PFAS pollution claims.
  • Facing extensive PFAS litigation — including a lawsuit from the Dutch government — 3M announced in December 2022 that it would stop manufacturing and using the chemicals by the end of 2025

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.axios.com/2023/06/02/pfas-chemicals-companies-billions-settlement-water

Americans Are Ready to Change Their Behavior for the Sake of Sustainability: Are Brands Willing to Help?

2 06 2023

Image credit: Bluewater Sweden/Unsplash

By Mary Mazzoni from Triple Pundit • Reposted: June 2, 2023

We hear it time and time again: People aren’t ready, willing or interested in changing their lifestyles for the sake of sustainability. They’re too busy, too broke or too ambivalent to think about how their choices impact the world around them. And until they change their tune, there’s nothing brands can do about it — except sell them more stuff. 

This prevailing narrative has been around for decades, but data continues to show that it isn’t representative of how people really feel. The public is increasingly aware of the environmental and social challenges we face — from climate change to wealth inequality — and they want to be part of the solution. 

Over half of Americans say they’ve already made lifestyle changes like shopping secondhand, purchasing products in reusable or refillable packaging, and buying less overall in order to reduce their impact on people and the planet, according to a December survey conducted by TriplePundit and our parent company, 3BL Media, in partnership with the research technology firm Glow. 

Let’s break down what U.S. consumers are really saying about sustainability, how it factors into their own lives, and how brands can respond differently than they have in the past. 

what people view as the most pressing challenges facing society - survey findings
Americans rank climate change and economic inequality among the top three challenges facing society today, only behind their anxiety about keeping food on the table. Download the report to learn more.

People are willing to change their behavior for the sake of sustainability 

Shopping secondhand. Purchasing products made from, or packaged in, recycled materials. Choosing items in reusable or refillable containers. Shopping in the grocery bulk aisle to avoid packaging altogether. Some would have us believe these lifestyle shifts are too expensive or too cumbersome for Americans. But more than 60 percent of respondents to our survey said they’re already making these changes or intend to do so within the next six months. 

Of course the say/do gap — which refers to the difference between what people say in surveys and what they actually do in their daly lives — is always a factor. Even so, the interest in these lifestyle changes is significant and runs counter to preconceived notions that consumers don’t really want — or aren’t really ready — to change their lifestyles for sustainability reasons. 

People even expressed interest in behaviors that are commonplace in other countries but often dismissed as something that could “never work” in the U.S. For example, over half of respondents said they would be willing to take packaging like bottles back to a store for wash and refill.

people are willing to change their behaviors for sustainability - survey findings
More than 60 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to adopt lifestyle changes like shopping secondhand, opting for the bulk aisle, or choosing items in reusable or refillable packaging. Download the report to learn more

Our findings support existing research on general readiness for behavior change: In another 2022 survey, for example, half of responding U.S. adults said they’re willing to accept 95 percent of the changes needed to avert the climate crisis and restore ecosystems. The survey also revealed the extent of climate anxiety among the public, with 1 out of 4 respondents worried they may have to give up long-term goals like starting a family. 

When it comes to packaging in particular, our findings indicate that 75 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to choose reusable alternatives — echoing 2022 polling from Trivium Packaging which found the same. The trade publication Packaging World recently declared reusable and refillable packaging to be a “global opportunity,” with sales forecast to grow by 4.9 percent annually to $53.4 billion by 2027.

75 percent of people have purchased a product in refillable packaging or would be willing to do so - sustainability survey findings
Download the report to learn more

How brands can respond to shifting consumer preferences

Many advocates point to the calls for consumer behavior change as merely a delay tactic from large companies: If the narrative keeps people focused on their own behaviors — analyzing everything from cup preferences to clothing choice — they won’t have energy left to push for a shift in corporate practices or government regulations.

In the past, this may have been true, with consumers and brands pitted against each other in a cyclical blame-game while the poor get poorer and global temperatures rise. But findings like these indicate we’ve reached a critical moment when ideologies can align, and brands can show up as partners for consumers looking to play a role in the future they want to see. 

Leveraging our nearly two decades of experience in communicating about sustainability, TriplePundit and 3BL Media’s Consumer Insights and Sustainability Benchmark report includes key action items for businesses looking to respond to consumer sentiment in a positive way. 

“Understanding people’s uncertainties and anxieties about the future, and what they want to see from business, gives companies the opportunity to communicate and present themselves as part of the solution that consumers are looking for,” the report reads. “The next piece of the puzzle is to figure out how businesses can tailor their communications to appeal to consumer interests and bring them on board their journey to a more sustainable world.” 

In particular, we highlight how brands can adopt a more meaningful role of partner and educator — rather than simply another purveyor of goods and services. “Since consumers want to be part of the solution, help them do that by sharing actionable information,” the report reads. “It may be as simple as telling them how to make your product last longer or how to lower their personal carbon footprint with a checklist on your website. You can celebrate your company’s successes by applauding theirs.”

For more insight on how brands can — and should — respond to shifting consumer attitudes about sustainability, check out prior reporting on TriplePundit or download the report here

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/consumer-behaviors-sustainability/775591

How to close the corporate accountability gap on sustainability

2 06 2023

A fire burns in a in Porto Velho, Brazil, 09 September 2019. Photo Credit: FERNANDO BIZERRA JR [Fernando Bizerra Jr (EPA-EFE)]

If businesses are to take corporate sustainability seriously, they will need to add relevant sustainability expertise to their boards, argue Nicolas Sauviat and Sanjini Jain. By Nicolas Sauviat and Sanjini Jain from euractiv.com • Reposted: June 2, 2023

On 1 June, the European Parliament is due to take a plenary vote on a Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), legislation which aims to foster sustainable and responsible corporate behaviour throughout global value chains. If it’s formally adopted, it will require companies to identify – and, where necessary, prevent, end or mitigate – the adverse impacts of their activities on human rights, in terms of issues like child labour and worker exploitation, as well as the environment, for problems like pollution and biodiversity loss.

The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was heralded internationally as the ‘Paris moment’ for nature to lead the world towards a more harmonious relationship between nature, people and the economy.  If we have any hope of living up to this moment and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – the blueprint for how we achieve a better, fairer and greener world in the short time left – the private sector must take responsibility for its actions.

One key issue in this vote up for debate is whether now is the time to challenge boardroom’s traditional focus on generating wealth for its shareholders, and to reorientate their focus to provide value for all its stakeholders.

With scientists projecting that the crucial 1.5°C global average temperature threshold will be temporarily breached in just five years, we are running out of time to change direction. But do boards have the needed skills and expertise are required to meet this challenge, and should legislation be used to accelerate their action?

This could be a crucial moment to close the corporate accountability gap on sustainability. As things stand, business action remains largely voluntary. And yet, we cannot keep this planet viable for life without the private sector.

At the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA), we assess corporate progress against the SDGs. From our experience we know that company boards are key to action on sustainability. Only by ensuring that they have the right knowledge and expertise can the accountability gap be closed, and progress made.

As things stand, most big companies have set sustainability targets. Many have pledged to a net-zero carbon objective. However, very few actually provide the necessary details on how they will go about accomplishing these ambitions. The data reported by businesses often lacks substance. Knowingly or not, many companies oversell their sustainability credentials.

A major reason for this is a skill and knowledge gap, especially within companies’ top executive forces. This impacts the boardroom’s understanding and subsequent ability to address Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risks. Indeed, a recent survey by the professional services experts at PwC found that only 27% of boards fully understand ESG risks.

Our own research delivered even worse findings. Assessing corporate progress on protecting the natural world, WBA’s Nature Benchmark examined the governance structures of 400 of the world’s largest companies. It looked into whether they have accountability systems in place for achieving their sustainable development goals – including governance bodies with the right expertise to understand the material pressures on nature created by their business activities.

While nearly 70% of companies assigned responsibility for their sustainability strategy to their board, just 2% of boards possessed the relevant sustainability expertise. This stark discrepancy highlights the fact that boards are accepting their sustainability responsibility without a clear understanding of what it actually entails.

Boards must rapidly adapt to their new sustainability role, lest they become an obstacle to their companies’ futures. In this context, we desperately need corporate board members with CVs beyond banking and accounting. Specialist scientific committees can also help provide boards with credible information.

Businesses should ensure that boards have the expertise to tackle their most relevant sustainability topics. This could be done by demonstrating that they have undertaken training by a certified organisation. Alternatively, they could have board members with previous experience in specialist organisations, like consulting firms or NGOs, or have authored academic studies.

As we hurtle towards irreversible environmental tipping points, we hope that European legislators pass the CSDDD with a legal mandate for boards to have a duty to oversee and sign off on their due diligence policies. This mandate should be accompanied by further guidance to ensure boards demonstrate relevant ESG expertise. That’s how to close the corporate accountability gap on sustainability and drive action.

Now is the time for boardrooms to shift from their traditional focus on generating wealth for their shareholders towards generating value for all stakeholders. After all, no company will profit from an uninhabitable planet.

Nicolas Sauviat and Sanjini Jain are researchers at the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA).

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/opinion/how-to-close-the-corporate-accountability-gap-on-sustainability/

B Corp: Are they really the gold standard of sustainability?

1 06 2023

Graphic: Seismic Change

B Corp certification has become the gold standard of sustainability – we explore whether it’s a valuable credential or a glorified greenwashing tool. By Lucy Buchholz from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: June 1, 2023

Sustainability has become a somewhat murky term. With businesses fighting it out to be the biggest, the richest and, nowadays, of course, the greenest, it can be hard to know which ones should actually be trusted. 

Luckily, the business world has B Corp certifications, which puts businesses to the test to ensure their credentials have been earned honestly, rather than being artificially dyed green. 

What is a B Corp?

B Corporations, informally known as B Corps, are businesses or organisations that have voluntarily met the highest standards for social and environmental performance; in other words, they’re doing everything they possibly can to create a better future for people and the planet. 

To more accurately define them, B Lab – the nonprofit behind B Corps – explains: “Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive, sustainable economy.”

So, in other words, B Corp Certification is for businesses what Fair Trade is for products and goods. 

What to expect from the process

It’s not easy to become a B Corp. 

Certification is holistic, meaning it’s not exclusively focused on a single social or environmental issue, so businesses have to achieve rigorous standards that require engagement from every aspect of a company. And these standards don’t just relate to the businesses themselves, but to every company or organisation affiliated within the value and supply chain

Yvonne Filler, Marketing Manager at Good Innovation – a certified B Corp – shares that B Corp certification is a way to hold businesses accountable for their actions and statements. As a Social Impact Innovation Consultancy, Good Innovation finds creative, cutting-edge solutions to the world’s most difficult social problems by helping organisations that want to make a difference do it smarter, faster and, crucially, with greater impact.

“Becoming a B Corp is a fairly long process, with around 150 questions requiring lots of data – but it wouldn’t be a quality standard without it,” Yvonne shares. “You need a certain score to pass and be certified. Your score will then be published on the B Corp website, but there’s no ranking system.”

To become a certified B Corp, businesses must abide by stringent requirements, including completing a comprehensive assessment, which then must be verified by founding company B Lab. Any controversial operations must be disclosed to B Lab, and businesses must commit to the transparent public disclosure of their performance.

“It’s easier to apply for B Corp certification when your company is smaller or just starting out, because you can see all the areas upon which you need to focus,” says Heidi Schoeneck, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Grounded. “This is largely because it can be costly and time consuming to ensure all ground is covered correctly.”

Yvonne supports this idea, stating that larger businesses will be required to provide more data. “For us, the process is really beneficial. It’s required us to hold ourselves accountable for our actions,” Yvonne adds.

Is B Corp right for your business?

Those considering applying for B Corp certification will most likely have sustainability and environmental impact at the forefront of their business model. But how can a business owner or CEO be sure that it’s the right step for them?

“Applying for B Corp certification can be costly and time consuming,” Laura Harnett, founder of sustainable cleaning tool brand Seep, explains. “But for business owners contemplating whether or not to make the commitment, I would urge them to consider why they want to achieve it and what they want to gain. Fundamentally, are you a business for good? Can your business improve the current situation with the climate or social inequality, for example? 

“If you believe that your business does play these roles, the B Corp certification is a really great structure to guide you through that process. As a founder or CEO, you may not have the time to come up with your own framework, but with B Corp, it’s already been done for you and it’s constantly evolving to keep you on top of the game.” 

“We thought we were a shoo-in to become a B Corp because we had built our whole business around sustainability,” Heidi says. “But once you get into the criteria, you see how much more can be done. It’s something you have to check in with every few months to make sure you’re on top of everything.”

Abiding by sustainability rules has become akin to a box-ticking exercise for many companies. As consumers have become increasingly concerned about the impact their purchases have on the environment – with 75% of US consumers reporting it’s a priority for them – more businesses are pledging eco-friendly standards, only to fall spectacularly short. In fact, 42% of companies have been said to exaggerate sustainability claims, according to research from The European Commission.

B Corps are, therefore, an avenue that businesses can venture down to prove they’re living up to their claims. But the crucial question surrounds whether B Corp really is the gold standard it’s claimed to be?

“As so many companies greenwash, it can be hard to know which ones are genuinely prioritising positive change,” Laura says. “B Corp certifications hold companies and founders to a standard that they need to adhere to across five key areas: environment, governance, people, communities, and customers. I’ve found that, as a business owner, B Corp has made me think more deeply about the decisions I am making and the impact Seep is having on society.” 

Reaching B Corp status will therefore help to eradicate greenwashing, with Heidi stating there’s “no room for it” in the B Corp community. She continues to state that, although the certifications have sparked debate as to whether the growing number of companies achieving the status weakens its validity, Heidi believes that more companies should strive to reach the criteria. 

“There has been some talk about whether the number of businesses joining the B Corp community dilutes the message; I think the more the merrier. It’s a great achievement to meet the 80-point benchmark, and we need more businesses to commit to making an impact.”

Good Innovation’s Yvonne supports this idea, suggesting that this is often where B Corps are “misunderstood”. “Some people might say the number of companies becoming a B Corp is weakening its impact,” Yvonne explains, “but if you look at it in terms of what it was set up to do, then more certified members can only be a good thing.”

For companies that go above and beyond, B Corp awards the ‘Best for the World B Corp’ status to the top 5% of B Corps. Seep was one business that achieved this status last year for their environmental impact. 

“As a founder, you can easily beat yourself up thinking you’re not doing enough,” Laura says. “Although there’s a lot of discussion around B Corps, I truly believe that it is the most robust system to demonstrate that a company is sustainable.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/esg/b-corp-are-they-really-the-gold-standard-of-sustainability

From metrics to messaging: How ESG factors can boost your brand’s PR efforts

1 06 2023

By Katherine McInnes via Meltwater • Reposted; June 1, 2023

Sustainability, social impact and ethical business practices – this is an era where responsible brand representation dominates the conversation in the corporate terrain. With ethical consumers on one side and purpose-driven investors on another, organisations find themselves in a heightened realm of accountability like never before. But, how do organisations effectively communicate their environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) efforts to the world?

ESG is increasingly becoming a critical aspect of business strategy and reputation management. The convergence of PR and ESG offers organisations the opportunity to shape their reputation and secure a competitive edge, while also navigating the evolving expectations of stakeholders. According to a study by PwC, almost half of investors surveyed expressed willingness to divest from companies that aren’t taking sufficient action on ESG issues. This underscores the importance of understanding and tracking ESG initiatives, and integrating ESG concerns into PR strategies. Identifying key ESG metrics for your brand is the first step toward unlocking what lies at the intersection of responsible communication, sustainable practices and measurable impact.

Why should brands care about ESG?

In today’s business landscape, it is indispensable that brands pay close attention to ESG. These three critical components are significantly important for companies seeking to build a sustainable and successful brand. Each component is uniquely important for brands to take into their business considerations.

Firstly, the environmental component of ESG allows brands to showcase their commitment to sustainability and reduce their negative impact on the environment and helps brands differentiate themselves from each other and attract a growing market segment that prioritises sustainability. By actively addressing issues like climate change, waste management, and energy efficiency, companies can improve their reputation and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers and investors. Brands have different metrics at their disposal to measure the social aspect, such as tracking industry keywords and monitoring ESG developments in their industry to stay informed and establish thought leadership.

Incorporating ESG considerations into PR strategies is indispensable in the
process of establishing a brand as responsible, credible and trustworthy.

Secondly, the social component of ESG allows brands to emphasise their dedication to social responsibility and ethical practices. By focusing on aspects such as diversity and equality, fair labour practices, and data protection, companies can foster a positive image and attract socially conscious consumers and investors.

Today’s consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, are especially aware of their consumption patterns. In fact, they actively seek out brands that align with their values, thus demonstrating a genuine commitment to social responsibility can create a competitive advantage and foster long-term customer loyalty. A metric to measure this component is by monitoring consumer sentiments. Tracking customer sentiment allows brands to communicate ESG initiatives effectively, identify negative sentiment, and rectify concerns promptly, as timely responses shape positive public perception and maintain appeal to investors, stakeholders, and customers.

Thirdly, the governance component of ESG is crucial for brands as it demonstrates a commitment to ethical decision-making and transparency. By addressing issues like board composition, political contributions, stakeholder-focused business operations, and lobbying efforts, companies can build trust and credibility with stakeholders. Strong governance practices not only helps mitigate risks and potential legal or reputational issues, but also safeguards a company’s long-term success. Especially, investors prioritise companies with reliable governance structures as they signify stability, accountability, and responsible management.

Examples of potential metrics to use for measuring brand’s activity include looking at share of voice (SOV). By monitoring SOV, brands can compare PR efforts with ESG competitors, assess visibility against industry peers, and prioritise ESG initiatives based on stakeholder perception and expectations. Another avenue is by tracking brand and CEO mentions, staying on top of the discussion and addressing negative feedback promptly for improvement. Responsiveness fosters trust and loyalty, while positive mentions reinforce brand reputation.

Ultimately, integrating ESG considerations into brand strategies is paramount in today’s business landscape. By prioritising environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and ethical governance structures, brands can bolster their reputation, attract socially conscious consumers and investors, differentiate themselves from competitors, and mitigate risks. Nowadays, ESG is no longer merely a passing trend; it is a fundamental aspect of building a sustainable and successful brand in the modern business landscape. The metrics introduced above are possible measurement tools to analyse a brands performance in terms of ESG. These metrics are not mutually exclusive and can be used across all three components.

Broad vision, tailored approach

While it’s important to be mindful of the bigger picture, it’s equally important to tailor your approach to ESG according to the regional nuances applicable to your organisation. For instance, in the wake of new laws surrounding GDPR, third-party cookies and heightened awareness of data privacy, companies operating in Americas and European regions should be diligent about demonstrating their compliance and dedication to safeguarding customer’s privacy.

Another example of how ESG can inform PR strategies would be to look at how, in Asian countries, particularly China, pollution has emerged as a matter of concern both locally and globally. With this in consideration, enterprising businesses wanting to expand to Western markets could mindfully leverage their PR endeavours to demonstrate their commitment to minimising air pollution. This is a great way of showcasing prudence and conscious effort, which in turn helps gain respect from consumers and investors alike.

In closing, the importance of holistically understanding ESG and identifying the right metrics cannot be emphasised enough. Incorporating ESG considerations into PR strategies is indispensable in the process of establishing a brand as responsible, credible and trustworthy. Not only does this approach appeal to socially conscious consumers and investors who prioritise sustainability, ethical practices and social impact but a strong ESG proposition also enables organisations to tap new markets and expand in existing markets.

Read more about ESG measurement and how Meltwater can help your organisation with earning consumer trust through ESG PR in our Guide To Modern PR.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/422/238857.html

Circular Platforms: Unlocking Sustainability And Material Security

31 05 2023

Photo: Getty Images

By Peter Evans, Chief Strategy Officer, McFadyen Digital; Co-Chair, MIT Platform Strategy Summit and Faculty, Fast Future Executive via Forbes • Reposted: May 31, 2023

The world is grappling with a sustainability crisis, but the emerging circular economy shows promise as a solution. Circular platforms, which combine digital marketplaces with circular models of production and consumption, can play a vital role in increasing the reuse, repair and recycling of valuable resources.

To date, platform marketplaces have largely supported linear consumption, with products and packaging becoming waste after use. Through the examples below, I hope to show how businesses can use circular platforms in consumer and B2B markets to help reduce waste, improve material security and drive innovation.

Consumer-Oriented Circular Platforms

There are several circular platforms emerging that are facilitating the sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling in consumer markets. The following are some lessons I think we can learn from them.

Building Community

One benefit of using a circular platform is the ability to build community. As an example, Poshmark, a popular online marketplace that connects users to buy and sell things like used clothing and beauty products, has a social media-like interface that helps foster a sense of community among its users. Including a community aspect in your platform can enhance the overall user experience, increase user loyalty and boost the visibility of users’ listings. Look for ways that users can connect with each other, share inspiration and receive feedback.

Giving Assurance

Platforms can also help provide quality assurance. Backmarket is an online marketplace for refurbished electronics that ensures the quality of products sold through its marketplace through rigorous testing and certification processes. This gives buyers confidence in the reliability and performance of refurbished electronics, overcoming concerns associated with second-hand purchases.

Providing Affordability

Too Good To Go offers a platform to purchase surplus food from local restaurants and grocery stores, reducing food waste and enhancing affordability. Any way that you can find to increase accessibility to sustainable options is a smart move in this economy.

Enabling B2B Transactions For The Circular Economy

Circular platforms also facilitate circular transactions between businesses. Like their consumer-facing counterparts, platforms in the B2B marketplace can showcase benefits.

Obtaining Data

One main thing you can take advantage of with platforms is the ability to gather otherwise hard-to-obtain data. For example, Scrap Monster connects buyers and sellers in the scrap metal trading industry and is able to provide unique data for scrap metal pricing that cannot be found elsewhere.

Enhance Discovery

Often the “waste” from one industry can be a valuable input into another industry. Platforms can provide discovery engines that help procurement teams in one industry find useful used materials from another industry. Rheaply, which enables buying and selling of construction waste, recently expanded to play this discovery role when it acquired Materials Marketplace and its network of 2,600 partners.

Allow Cross-Broder Transactions

Rebound Plastic Exchange is a trading platform for recycled plastic and is just one example of how you can significantly reduce friction associated with cross-border transactions. To illustrate, Rebound Plastic Exchange provides standardized processes and procedures for listing, communication, pricing and compliance with complex international rules governing the moment of waste materials. When it comes to complex processes like this, customers appreciate a platform that can streamline and simplify.

The Overall Power of Platforms

One of the strengths of platform business models is their ability to scale rapidly. As they facilitate user interactions, they can quickly grow to reach a large audience, creating a positive feedback loop where more users attract more users, leading to exponential growth.

You can also use platforms to leverage discovery engines to reach a wider audience. Discovery engines help users find new content and products, which can attract more visitors to the platform. Using data and algorithms can personalize recommendations to individual users based on their interests and behavior.

Circular platforms, specifically, can aid in responding to the growth of extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws. These laws assign responsibility for managing a product’s end-of-life environmental impacts to manufacturers or brand owners, reducing the burden on taxpayers. By joining a marketplace, industries can improve recycling rates, reduce resource consumption and prevent pollution.

Emerging Opportunities

In addition to participating in existing circular marketplaces, I see new emerging opportunities to establish circular markets. One area is around battery recycling. The shift to electric vehicles is creating significant demand for the materials for EV battery production. Ideally, circular platforms can orchestrate the collection and recycling of batteries, thereby reducing the pressure to expand mining capacity.

Another example involves recycling plastics used in the construction of new cars. BMW is already using recycled fishing nets to make headliners and floor mats for a few of their other models. Imagine if a marketplace was established in which all car manufacturers participated in a used plastics exchange. Given the size of the automotive sector, such a marketplace would create significant demand for waste plastics that are increasingly choking landfills and the world’s oceans.


Creating and growing circular marketplaces is not without challenges. Like traditional platforms, circular platforms also must overcome the classic “chicken and egg” dilemma of attracting enough supply and demand to secure sufficient transactions.

Circular marketplaces often meet resistance as they can require changes to traditional procurement and supply chain management. Companies may need to rework business processes and align incentives with various stakeholders to create a closed-loop system.

Other barriers to acknowledge include the need for trust to ensure the quality and reliability of recycled materials. This requires things like testing and digital twin technology to capture, store and update critical information. Like other marketplaces, circular platforms must also ensure timely delivery, manage inventory and handle returns and refunds, which can all be complex, time-consuming and resource intensive.

Circular platforms offer a promising path toward a sustainable future by enhancing material security, reducing waste and driving innovation. While the transition to a fully circular economy may take time, I believe significant progress can be made by adopting circular platforms. These platforms can help incentivize companies to design products that are more durable, repairable and recyclable. By shifting from a linear “take-make-dispose” economy to circular models of production and consumption, we can pave the way for a more sustainable world.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2023/05/30/circular-platforms-unlocking-sustainability-and-material-security/?sh=6fbd4c766d01

Responsible Marketing: Good for Business, Good for Society

31 05 2023

Photo: Investomedia

By CMSWIRE STUDIO • Reposted: May 31, 2023

What does it really mean to be a responsible marketer, and why is it important? 

When you think about responsible marketing, concepts like corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainability, cause-related marketing, inclusive marketing and many others might come to mind. But what does it really mean to be a responsible marketer, and why is it important? 

We sat down with Lisa Loftis, Principal Product Marketing Manager at SAS, and presenter at Simpler Media Group’s CMSWire Connect conference, to learn more. 

“I’m very proud to work for SAS because of what they’re doing in responsible marketing,” said Loftis. “For example, through our Data for Good program, we’ve committed to using data and analytics to solve humanitarian issues around poverty, health, human rights, education and the environment. We make our software available through a crowdsourcing app to help do this. Not only do we focus on how you can use AI to improve business, but also how you can use it to improve society.”

SAS is an analytics and marketing software and solutions provider based in Cary, NC, and a sponsor of the CMSWire Connect conference, held May 10-12, 2023. During the conference, Loftis presented the session, “CDP – Mr. Irrelevant or the G.O.A.T.” and hosted a roundtable discussion on responsible marketing. Here, she shares with us some of her insights around responsible marketing, including what it means, the benefits for both companies and society, and tips for implementing these practices in your own organization. 

What Is Responsible Marketing?

CMSWire: From using AI responsibly to engaging in sustainable business practices, responsible marketing covers a lot of ground. What does responsible marketing mean to you?

Lisa Loftis: At SAS, we have a framework to talk about responsible marketing. Because it means a lot of things, we break it up into two categories. The first is responsible use of customer data and technology, which includes legal and ethical compliance, balancing personalization and privacy, and protecting vulnerable audiences. The second is the responsible use of resources such as optimizing marketing assets, measuring marketing value, and promoting corporate social responsibility. So, it’s a broad definition.

CMSWire: How is responsible marketing related to sustainable marketing and corporate social responsibility?

Loftis: There are two aspects to think about here. The first is using marketing’s platform to communicate that a brand’s business model is focused on acting responsibly to society. This includes economic responsibility (using funds and budgets responsibly, which is a big issue today), social responsibility (DEI: diversity, equity and inclusion) and environmental responsibility (the sustainability component). When communicated effectively, these help you develop a positive brand image, among other things.

The other important aspect is safeguarding vulnerable audiences and ensuring that your AI models are free from bias. For SAS, this is one of the most important tenets of responsible marketing. This ensures you have policies, criteria and governance in place across marketing activities to protect those with vulnerabilities based on age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, or some other characteristic. It could mean avoiding engagement with them — such as not marketing cigarettes or vapes to children — or making sure that marketing doesn’t incorporate bias that excludes audiences. For example, some social media platforms are under regulatory fire for using analytics and AI to build advertising audiences for jobs that leave out certain groups of people.

Why and How to Practice Responsible Marketing

CMSWire: What are the biggest benefits organizations realize from practicing responsible marketing?

Loftis: In addition to pure brand image, you can create competitive differentiation through data, with the right balance of privacy and personalization. In a world where customers can switch allegiances and loyalties very easily, communicating that customer data is used in a transparent manner creates trust and loyalty, which is a long-term benefit. According to a study we did with the CEO Council — Cracking Tomorrow’s CX Code — about 80% of consumers surveyed said they would provide personal data to a brand if they felt like they were getting something of value in return — even though most of them felt like they didn’t have control over their data. So, that exchange is critical, especially considering the deprecation of third-party data and the need to focus on first-party data. And it’s a huge differentiator. On the other side, if you’re optimizing your marketing resources, you can make better, more agile business decisions that help you speed time to market.

CMSWire: What are some of the major challenges for organizations that want to engage in responsible marketing practices, and how can these be overcome?

Loftis: I think the biggest challenge is prioritizing what they need to focus on. This means identifying what responsible marketing means to the organization first. It’s an organizational transformation that requires not only marketing, but legal, product development and human resources. You need an end-to-end corporate look at roles and responsibilities to do this.

Top Tips to Get Started

CMSWire: With increasing expectations around the impact organizations can have on society and the environment—as well as pending regulations—can businesses be successful if they don’t practice responsible marketing? 

Loftis: Personally, I think that responsible marketing practices are going to become table stakes — if they’re not already — for three reasons. First, optimizing resources, providing value and empowering people is really Business School 101. We’ve labeled it responsible marketing, and it is, but that’s what they teach you in terms of how to run a company effectively and efficiently. Next, are privacy practices and transparency—these are non-negotiable. Finally, sustainability and DEI are no-brainers, if for no other reason that our employees and colleagues are human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

CMSWire: What are your top recommendations for organizations looking to adopt responsible marketing practices?

Loftis: This is a hard question to answer because things are moving so quickly. The more widely technology gets rolled out and the faster it gets rolled out, the more important it is to have that governance framework in place that we talked about earlier. This will help you better anticipate any issues that might come up and deal with them appropriately. On the other hand, if technology is rolled out and governed in the right way, there’s potential to do tremendous good. We’re already seeing this in programs like Data for Good, and with marketing organizations using technology like generative AI to promote creativity, expand their horizons and bring in additional points of view. 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.cmswire.com/digital-marketing/lisa-loftis-responsible-marketing-good-for-business-good-for-society/

The 3 Business Pillars to Creating an Inclusive, Sustainable Future

30 05 2023


GoDaddy is charting a course for an improved company, community, and future. Here’s how you can, too. From GoDaddy • Reposted: May 30, 2023

Originally published on Entrepreneur. BY ENTREPRENEUR PARTNER STUDIO STAFF

These days, business leaders are thinking about a lot more than generating revenue. They gauge success not only by profits but also by the culture within their business and its impact on the community.

This is where topics like inclusivity and sustainability take precedence. For many companies, inclusivity is about ensuring opportunity and empowerment are accessible to all employees. Meanwhile, sustainability efforts help ensure that what enables everyone to live well and succeed lasts for the long haul.

“Inclusivity and sustainability must be prioritized together when we want to create and sustain change for our employees, customers, and communities,” explains Kristy Lilas, Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at GoDaddy, the company that helps entrepreneurs thrive.

GoDaddy recently released its 2022 Sustainability Report, highlighting the progress the company made toward inclusivity, sustainability, and much more.

“Organizations have a responsibility to make their employees feel empowered and supported, which is not only paramount to creating an inclusive culture, but also a necessary ingredient to drive innovation and develop the best products and services for customers,” Lilas says. “For these reasons, at GoDaddy, we prioritize inclusivity and sustainability together as they are both at the core of our mission to make opportunity more inclusive for all, no matter a person’s identity, background or circumstance.”

Here are the three business pillars GoDaddy identified as most critical to creating an inclusive, sustainable future—and tips for how you can do the same at your organization or business.

1. Customers

GoDaddy aims to do more than just offer domain registry, website hosting, and commerce solutions. It positions itself as a company that “empowers entrepreneurs everywhere, making opportunity more inclusive for all.” In its 2022 Sustainability Report, GoDaddy says it believes that “inclusive entrepreneurship helps fuel local economies globally, increases generational wealth, decreases wealth gaps, and ultimately improves lives.”

Prioritizing inclusive entrepreneurship for GoDaddy means providing equitable resources that support and empower everyone, including entrepreneurs in and from underserved communities. Through its social impact program, Empower by GoDaddy, the company offers in-person and virtual educational workshops, technology tools, mentorship opportunities, and peer networks to thousands of small- and micro-business owners across the U.S., Europe, and Canada. In 2022, GoDaddy provided more than 9,700 learning engagements for entrepreneurs around the world through Empower by GoDaddy.

What you can do: Kami Hoskins, Director of Legal Operations and Training and Head of Corporate Sustainability & Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) at GoDaddy, recommends that businesses engage customers directly to find out what they need to succeed and offer meaningful solutions. For instance, GoDaddy launched Venture Forward, a multi-year research initiative that quantifies the impact of more than 20 million online U.S. microbusinesses on their local economies. Venture Forward research indicates that for every one microbusiness per 100 people in a community, two new jobs are created (not including the business owner). Further, for every additional microbusiness founded, the median household income in the immediate area rises $195 over a one-year period. GoDaddy uses insights like these to better serve its customers, including Empower by GoDaddy participants.

“When designing and building your offerings, it is particularly important to engage customers who are underserved and underrepresented,” Hoskins says. “Otherwise, they may not be adequately supported, and you may miss valuable opportunities.”

2. Employees

“Authentically serving a diverse customer base starts with cultivating a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce,” GoDaddy says in its 2022 Sustainability Report. To do this, the company says it made a deliberate effort to recognize and reduce unconscious bias in its recruitment and employee practices and systems, including performance reviews and promotions.

Last year, GoDaddy said it achieved gender pay parity (global) for the eighth year in a row and ethnicity (in the U.S.) pay parity for the sixth year in a row. These findings were also included in the release of GoDaddy’s 2022 Diversity and Pay Parity Annual Report.

GoDaddy additionally says that its employee resource groups (ERGs) play a critical part in fostering its culture of inclusivity. These are employee-led groups formed around common missions, identities, affinities, or interests. ERGs provide a space for employees to develop relationships, support professional development, engage in corporate projects and programs, learn from each other, and participate in fun activities, the company says.

What you can do: To get a fresh perspective and truly understand where your business can improve workplace culture, Lilas recommends partnering with and learning from a research-driven third party.

Through a partnership with Stanford University’s VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab, GoDaddy learned in detail how traditional performance evaluations “often contain biases that hold women to a higher behavioral standard than men,” Lilas says. “This led to us creating processes to remove ambiguity from both recruitment practices and performance reviews and ensuring that we assess both the work that people complete and how they complete it in alignment with our inclusive values. It also includes focusing on action and outcomes as opposed to style and personality, ensuring consistency in feedback, and requiring equal evaluation time.”

3. Operations

How can we ensure the longevity of our business in the face of dynamic and shifting forces like climate change and social change?

That’s the question GoDaddy’s leadership team asks itself when setting its operational objectives and standards. The company takes a multi-pronged approach to accomplish goals related to corporate governance, social impact, and the environment.

“We know that global organizations like GoDaddy have a responsibility to protect the environment for future generations,” Hoskins says. “For this reason, we’re proud to have reduced GoDaddy’s scope 1 and 2 emissions by 35% from a 2019 baseline. To achieve this result, we focused on decreasing the impact of our data center operations, as well as our workspaces, on the environment.”

In 2022, the company also reduced its active global real estate footprint by approximately 105,000 square feet, thanks in part to a hybrid work model with reduced office requirements, according to the report.

What you can do: To achieve big environmental, social, and corporate goals, leadership needs a clear strategy, focused intention, and a plan for prioritization, Hoskins says. “This requires dialog and education among stakeholders across diverse aspects of the business,” she says.

“I like to think that everyday consumers want to do business with companies they believe in and that are making a positive impact on the world,” Hoskins adds. “We hope that part of the reason why our customers continue to come back to us and build businesses with us is because of our relentless commitment to sustainability and inclusivity.”

Click here to learn more about GoDaddy and here to download GoDaddy’s 2022 Sustainability Report.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/775171-3-business-pillars-creating-inclusive-sustainable-future

Purpose-Driven Partnerships Helping Brands Ratchet Up Promises, Create Shared Value

30 05 2023


Panels and workshops at Brand-Led Culture Change explored how brands are forging creative partnerships to increase their positive impacts on a number of fronts. BY DEMITRI FIERRO JEREMY OSBORN AND CHRISTIAN YONKERS FROM SUSTAINABLEBRANDS.COM • REPOSTED: MAY 30, 2023

The ‘a-ha’ moments continued this week at Brand-Led Culture Change — where we heard how more brands, NGOs, retailers and more are nudging more sustainable purchasing decisions, measuring the efficacy of social-impact programs and pursuing partnerships that create shared value for both brands and communities.

How Walmart collaborates for sustainable innovation

Image credit: Walmart

Another Monday morning workshop kicked off with moderator Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of Futerra, asking attendees to reflect on which sustainable behavior they can begin implementing into their daily lives. Addressed as ‘eco sins’ stakeholders can confront to live more sustainably, the room went around and shared key examples from SB’s 9 Sustainable Behaviors that resonate across many stakeholders — including preventing food waste, switching to more renewable energy, and purchasing sustainably made consumer goods. Attendees quickly realized that while we all wish to live up to our values and stay committed to them, outside factors can often get in the way of this commitment — hence, the pesky intention-action gap when it comes to adoption of more sustainable behaviors.

The session then proceeded with insights from professionals across Walmart’s Marketing and Sustainability departments — Christopher Kreutzner (Senior Counsel of Sustainability & ESG), Marco Reyes (Senior Director of Sustainability), and Courtney Killingsworth(Marketing Planning & Strategy, Brand & Reputation). The three panelists shared how they work together across departments to ensure that business goals can be met while prioritizing people and planet.

For example, Reyes uses his subject matter expertise to identify where Walmart can make an impact and scale that impact across the value chain. Killingsworth uses her influence to advocate for the voice of the customer; and Kreutzner ensures that Walmart mitigates risk while being able to achieve its sustainability targets. More and more consumers report wanting to make sustainable choices in their purchasing habits, and Walmart can show them where to start. Recently, Walmart launched its Built for Better initiative — a collaboration across functional teams that allows customers to add three criteria to their purchase decisions: For you, For communities, For the planet.

The panelists highlighted the cost of inaction and how crucial it is to understand different perspectives to create buy-in amidst competing priorities. Reyes admitted that nobody has all the answers, for the solution is not binary; he pointed out that friction between goals is good as it sharpens each other with the right set of values. He went on to say we are all making each other sharper towards a common goal.

Workshop attendees then engaged in a speed round of making a pitch on sustainable behavior — encompassing the behavior itself, three barriers that may be in the way, and three benefits that will overcome these barriers. Pitches included examples from solar energyand sustainable packaging to prompting more thoughtful consumption by embedding nature images inside snack wrappers.

The session concluded with all three panelists highlighting the importance of everyone in an organization being able to be part of solutions. The Walmart team said the retailer aims to include everyone in the conversation, from all lived experiences; and through their collaboration on sustainability goals, hopes to become an example of how to effectively do so.

Elevating the ‘S’ in ESG: Building culture, measuring impact and how to get things done

Image credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh

Today’s brands are expected to be authentic and transparent, and must find ways to manifest these as KPIs to achieve business goals. A Monday afternoon panel discussed the challenges in successfully executing against social social-impact goals and highlighted what brands can do now to build internal buy-in, shape more impactful social initiatives, and measure the value for the company and external stakeholders.

Michelle Waring, Steward for Sustainability and Everyday Good at Tom’s of Maine, said the company approaches ‘S’ by grounding it in transparency and commitment. The company has recently looked at its role as a heritage environmental brand that was founded as a business for good. 50 years later, the space has changed: Now, putting people at the center is key to an effective sustainability strategy, and is necessary to transition environmentalism away from a predominantly white-centric pursuit to one that engages the most vulnerable and efficacious stakeholders — such as BIPOC communities, frontline and fenceline communities, etc.

Kevin Wilhelm of Point B pointed out that the sentiment behind movements such as Black Lives MatterMe Too, etc have always existed; but recent highly publicized events have spurred brands to make grandiose statements. Three years later, though, most brands haven’t followed through — and consumers have noticed. They are demanding follow-through, and transformative brands are serving it up by evolving traditional “S” approaches (philanthropic initiatives, etc) to tying social-impact outcomes to the success of the brand.

Spoiler alert: This is good for business, because consumers reward companies that walk their talk on these issues.

“As you start expanding and adding in other social components and bringing in environmental components and climate justice, all of a sudden you’ll have new opportunities and new solutions,” Wilhelm said. “So, we can flip it from ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do that’ to ‘look at this amazing opportunity.’”

Empower Co as taken a whole new approach to climate action by rewarding women for their contributions. In trying to solve the climate crisis, “what I find is that one of the most important cogs in the wheel is the ‘S’ part, the social impact part — particularly, that of women,” said Rachel Vestergaard, CEO and founder of Empower Co — whose W+ Standard is the first globally recognized framework and metric for measuring and monetizing women’s empowerment.

Empower Co looks at empowerment as an ecosystem: Women are empowered when they have the tools, resources, access and agency to make their own choices. This ecosystem invites corporations, governments and investors to support womens’ work and recognize its value. And that value, said Vestergaard, will pay its own way.

“What you’ll notice here is that there’s no philanthropy. We don’t need donations; we need you to value the contributions of women” and understand the myriad positive ripple effects that result from working to level the playing field for women around the world.

The panelists agreed that finding tangible ways to value the contributions of all that fall under “S” will pay for itself in both the short and near term.

Shaping responsible consumption in a shifting landscape

Image credit: Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Today’s savvier consumers expect transparency from brands. At the same time, brands are balancing complex global supply chains, where clarity on the origins and footprint of raw materials can become clouded. On Tuesday morning, Herbal Essences shared how is is evolving decades of hair care leadership amidst shifting consumer and business landscapes. Joining the session was Herbal Essences’ partner, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens — a global plant-science institution committed to protecting biodiversity.

As consumer expectations have evolved, their tolerance for tradeoffs has decreased — ex: they increasingly have high expectations for clean, responsible ingredients.

“As we evolve, the importance of ingredients will continue to be front and center,” said John Scarchilli, Director of Brand and Scientific Communications at Procter & Gamble, parent company of Herbal Essences.

Kew has been working for 20 years to develop quality plant essences and verify their origin and that the material will support its intended use. They also ensure they’re responsibly derived — that transparency and chain of custody are maintained from plant to bottle.

As more and more key plant ingredients become threatened, ensuring these essential inputs continue to thrive becomes a central business model.

“In the effort to do that, we’re increasing the use of biodiversity,” explained Monique Simmonds OBE, BSc, PhD, Deputy Director of Science at Kew. “If we can have a greater diversity of plants being used in products like Herbal Essences, that can support the local communities that are looking after those [plants and habitat].”

This in turn prevents biodiverse lands from being deforested to make way for ranching or farming while still providing a source of income for people stewarding the land. Simmonds foresees an increase in diversification of plants used in consumer products — and with it, deeper partnerships with governments, growers and other partners to help protect biodiversity.

“Ingredients are going to continue to be front and center,” Scarchilli said. “Where they’re from, what they’re for, and how they’re sourced responsibly is moving to protect biodiversity all over the world.”

And no one brand or company can achieve this alone — which is where partnerships such as Herbal Essences-Kew’s come in.

“These programs work because they create value for all partners,” Scarchilli said. “Investing back into those communities helps to sustain the supply.”

Co-creating the journey to net-positive printing

Image credit: Perfect Daily Grind

In another Tuesday morning session, Jose Gorbea — Global Head of Brands and Sustainability Innovation at HP Graphic Arts — detailed HP’s partnerships with German label-maker LABEL!STEN and climate-action platform One Tribe to advance digital printing practices that not only reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional printing but also create shared value.

For HP’s part, Gorbea described how the company is now using water-based inks that contain no hazardous air pollutants and meet stringent requirements for human health and the environment, and how the company’s corrugated packaging has now achieved Ecologo Certification.

LABEL!STEN CEO Frank Plechschmidt explained how personalization of product packaging — such as printing the faces of a brand’s supply-chain partners (for example, the farmers who grow your coffee) directly onto packaging — helps customers make an emotional connection to the people producing their product, while seeing how their purchasing choices can have a direct positive impact on the lives of farmers in the supply chain. Plechschmidt detailed a collaboration with HP in which they digitally printed coffee farmers’ faces on packaging for an Australian brand with local suppliers — the products with people’s pictures far outsold other versions of the packaging.

One Tribe CEO Ric Porteus then explained how his company of “nature fanatics” is building a set of tools and restoration projects that allow companies including HP, and their employees, to take direct action to help regenerate ecosystems. Their projects are created through partnerships with local indigenous tribes throughout the world and are typically focused on helping companies offset their Scope 3 emissions while restoring critical biodiversity.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/collaboration-cocreation/purpose-driven-partnerships-helping-brands-ratchet-up-promises-create-shared-value

The Carrot or the Stick: Which Inspires Business to Be More Sustainable?

30 05 2023

Image credit: THIS IS ZUN/Pexels

By Riya Anne Polcastro from Triple Pundit • Reposted: May 30, 2023

Corporations are more likely to embrace sustainability when it benefits the bottom line. That isn’t surprising considering they are ultimately in business to make a profit. For many, purpose may very well come in second — if at all. Still, there’s more than one way to encourage businesses to do better by people and the planet.

TriplePundit spoke with Dr. Steven Cohen, a professor of public affairs at Columbia University and author of the new book “Environmentally Sustainable Growth,” about how the profit motive can catalyze the desired effect where shame and guilt have failed.

Incentivizing sustainability can be easier than it sounds

The best way to make corporations behave is by creating an environment in which doing so will help them make more money, Cohen argues. “In some cases, you don’t have to do anything other than educate people and say, you know, this will be a profitable item,” he told TriplePundit. 

Cohen advocates for a carrot instead of a stick approach. He’s hopeful that making good behavior profitable will hasten more wide-sweeping changes at the business level than punishing or charging companies for the negative impacts they have. And he’s not alone in that opinion. 

“Sustainability is on the cusp of an evolutionary leap,” Georgia Makridou of the ESCP (École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris) Business School wrote in an impact paper on the challenges confronting sustainable energy companies and their resulting tactics. “Sustainable companies are becoming the new norm as those that have a well-rounded approach to sustainability can see wide-ranging growth opportunities.”

That’s because many business leaders now see that sustainable practices can actually lower their operating costs in the long run — and that naturally leads to increased profits, Cohen explained. Additionally, doing the right thing resonates with consumers — especially those in younger generations — and promotes brand loyalty over time.

Further, employees want to work for companies that align with their values. “If I’m in a business that requires talented engineers, talented designers and and so forth, to attract those people, I have to be a company they want to work for,” Cohen said. “That’s also incentivizing companies to start behaving this way: If you want to attract the best brains out there, then companies are under internal pressure to behave and to start focusing on their energy use and their waste and pollution.”

Environmentally Sustainable Growth - book cover - book on corporate sustainability
Dr. Steven Cohen unpacks practical steps to push sustainable business forward in his new book “Environmentally Sustainable Growth: A Pragmatic Approach,” out this month from Columbia University Press. Image provided.

Major companies reap cost savings through sustainability, while creating measurable impact that matters

Cohen gave examples of major multinational companies that moved toward sustainable practices because they foresaw a financial benefit. For example, “Walmart discovered they have a lot of flat roofs,” he said. All that space adds up vast solar energy potential — and Walmart and its big-box competitor, Target, are on the job.

Together, they’re the top two business installers of onsite solar. “In their case, you don’t have to do anything. They just had to internally figure out this was going to help them make money,” Cohen said. If fully harnessed, Walmart’s available roof space at stores across the country could produce enough solar energy to power more than 842,000 homes, according to the nonprofit Environment America. 

This month Walmart also teased new plans to roll out electric vehicle charging stations at thousands of stores across the U.S. The move will help bring in shoppers, while making EV charging more accessible to millions of people in towns large and small. 

One of the country’s top agricultural producers, Land O’Lakes, also cut its footprint through cost reduction measures. The company uses satellite telemetry, artificial intelligence, and robotics to ensure it doesn’t waste inputs like water, pesticides and fertilizer — using only what’s needed and none of what’s not. “They’ve now created a much more efficient form of agriculture, which also just so happens to cost less and pollute less,” Cohen said. 

Apple’s engagement in sustainability came out of a need to satisfy its customer base. “[Young people] started to make the demand that Apple reduce the pollution [associated with] their products, and Apple has done that dramatically over the last 10 years,” Cohen said. He cited the company’s buyback program and the fact that it hired a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator to manage its environmental endeavors as examples. “It’s not required by the government, but in order to meet their market, they have to do that,” he said. 

Incentives and regulations work. Shame and guilt doesn’t, this expert says.

That’s not to say there isn’t room for regulations — there still needs to be rules of the road. The key is a good balance between government regulations and the incentives provided by an improved profit margin, Cohen said.

“What doesn’t work is trying to shame people, to shame companies,” he argued. “People want to live their lives, and companies want to make money. I think that green principles are most effective when they line up with the self interest of people and of corporations. And when that happens, you see a lot of activity.”

As for how to shift from a scapegoating and punishment approach to one that focuses on financial rewards: “Instead of thinking about the company as an enemy, you think about the company as a partner,” Cohen said. “And the only way they’re going to be a partner is if they see they’re gonna make money out of it.” 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/corporate-sustainability-carrot-stick/775116

The journey from harvest to table: Cutting out food waste

29 05 2023

Photo: Getty Images

Jean Pierre Azañedo, CEO and co-founder of CoreZero, share the importance of achieving a sustainable food value chain. By Jean Pierre Azañedo from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: May 29, 2023

The journey from farm to table is characterised by loss and waste – from overproduction to accidental damage and unmet quality standards – these are just some of the “opportunities” for waste that are encountered amid the farm-to-table process. In fact, almost 40% of the food in the United States is wasted. 

Not only does food waste cause greenhouse gas emissions and environmental damage, but it also exacerbates food insecurity in many communities. Like a vicious cycle, food waste accounts for 10% of total global emissions, yet, at the same time, the climate crisis is one of the main factors exacerbating food insecurity.

Since methane, a greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide over twenty years, is released into the atmosphere when food ends up in landfills, it’s safe to say that minimising food loss across the supply chain should be treated as a priority, not as an option. 

Food waste across the supply chain

Besides the release of greenhouse gasses, when food goes to waste, so do all the resources that were utilised for its production, processing, transportation, preparation, and storage. Food waste in the United States, for example, results in the loss of water and energy equivalent to building more than 50 million homes

Consequently, it’s important to not only acknowledge the environmental effects of food waste but also to assess where food is specifically wasted and lost in the supply chain. 

For starters, while discussions about food waste usually refer to the household and retail sections, more than 15% of food is dissipated before leaving the farm. As an example, due to price volatility, farmers may not end up moving products into the market since the food prices may be lower than the costs of processing and shipping. From damaged crops due to environmental and biological factors to products that do not meet cosmetic market standards, these are a few of the reasons that lead to food loss and waste during the production stage.

Then, in the handling and storage stage, food waste and loss can occur due to numerous different factors, but it mainly boils down to improper handling and storage. In the case of vegetables, loss predominantly happens because of spillage and degradation during loading and unloading and improper transportation and storage. Then, when it comes to meat products, loss often occurs due to condemnation in the slaughterhouse while, for fish, spillage takes place during the icing, storing, and packing processes. Despite high-income countries having adequate storage facilities in the supply chain, food loss still happens during the storage stage due to technical malfunctions, overstocking, or inadequate temperature.

While some inevitable losses happen during the processing and packaging stage such as the loss of milk during the processing of yoghurt, most of the losses in this stage of the supply chain occur due to technical problems. Similarly, packaging materials can contribute to food loss if they are not designed to preserve the freshness of the products. 

Subsequently, in the transportation and distribution stage, food is lost, as the name implies, amid its transportation. In developing countries, for example, products may not meet cosmetic standards since they acquire bumps and bruises along the journey. Then, if food is delivered after its prime freshness window, it gets rejected in most cases. In Japan, for example, “the rule of one-third” entails that food and beverages must be delivered within one-third of their shelf life.

Finally, in the consumption stage, food is either wasted or lost in households or other food service establishments. In truth, the largest amount of food waste occurs in households, with 76 billion pounds of food being wasted annually per person in the United States. Moreover, the food wasted at this stage also has the largest resource footprint in the supply chain because of the resources utilised for its transportation, storage, and cooking.

A sustainable food value chain

While acknowledging the effects of food waste as well as its causes is crucial, in order to move forward, innovation is necessary. In fact, according to ReFED’s 2030 roadmap, the United States could reduce food waste by 45mn tonnes a year, cut GHG emissions by 75 million metric tons, and save food equivalent to four billion meals for those in need with the right policy changes and investments.

Since food waste has both societal and environmental effects, a sustainable food value chain should produce and distribute food in a way that is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Essentially, this means that the food chain should function in such a way that it has minimal impact on the environment while ensuring that people have access to nutritious food and supporting the livelihoods of farmers and other food system employees. 

A sustainable food value chain presupposes that all resources are used efficiently and sustainably and that waste is minimised. For instance, the food that is wasted during the production stage could be used to produce biogas or fertiliser through anaerobic digestion. Similarly, the ‘ugly’ food that doesn’t meet cosmetic standards could be kept out of landfills by being upcycled. That being said, for this transition to be resilient and sustainable, change needs to happen across the entire food chain.

For instance, in the production stage, food loss could be minimised through precision agriculture and improved agricultural practices such as crop rotation. However, precision agriculture technology will only work with education regarding sustainable agricultural practices and technologies. Alternatively, ‘waste’ can be repurposed by identifying alternative markets that might be interested in ‘imperfect’ products. Similarly, since the vegetables and fruits that do not meet cosmetic standards are still nutritious, they could be donated to food-insecure communities. 

On the other side of the food chain, awareness is key to reducing food waste at the consumption stage. The problem of food waste boils down, especially in developed countries, to cultural expectations and preconceptions regarding food and its transition to ‘waste’. From shopping locally and more responsibly to using leftovers and composting food scraps, these are just a few examples of how food waste can be reduced at the household level. 

Food waste minimisation: a necessity

From consumers composting food scraps and restaurants collaborating with food banks to edible by-products being developed into ingredients and local food distribution being promoted, a sustainable food value chain is achievable through collaboration.

However, food waste and loss need to be halved per person for the 2030 SDGs to be met, hence these tweaks in the food supply chain need to be treated as priorities instead of options. Since the effects of food waste are visible not only from an environmental perspective but also from an economic and societal one, an equitable and sustainable food system should result in improved food security and economic savings in addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing biodiversity.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/articles/the-journey-from-harvest-to-table-cutting-out-food-waste

Sustainability remains a key driver for consumers

29 05 2023

Over three-quarters of consumers responding to The Packer’s 2023 Sustainability Insights survey considered sustainability a priority when making purchasing decisions. Photo: billtster, Adobe Stock; Design: Wayne Hardy

By Kristin Leigh Lore from thepacker.com • Reposted: May 29, 2023

While over three-quarters of consumers consider sustainability a priority when making purchasing decisions, what the term sustainability signifies to a particular shopper — from food waste to carbon emissions — depends on many factors, such as age, according to The Packer’s 2023 Sustainability Insights survey.

Added to this, what consumers mean when they use the term sustainability varies widely. Top themes remain consistent from 2022’s survey responses and evoke words associated with the environment, recycling and long-lasting traits.

Despite multiple meanings, in 2023 consumers indicated they are shifting sustainable priorities down a notch, according to survey responses.

Consumers in the 2023 survey viewed sustainability as less important in shaping their buying decisions, compared with 2022. This year’s survey revealed a 9-percentage-point decrease in consumers reporting that sustainability was a “primary priority,” and responses that said sustainability was “not a priority” rose 4 percentage points compared with 2022 responses.   

And while climate change is still rated as important overall by consumers, when asked how important addressing climate change is to their overall sustainability priorities, consumers reporting that it is “extremely important” fell by 12 percentage points.

The link between climate change and sustainability remains a close bond, however. Consumers that place a high value in sustainability are more likely to rate climate change as a key concern.


Given the choice between farmers, policymakers, food retailers and consumers, 60% of consumers surveyed still believe that they drive demand for sustainably produced goods, up 8 percentage points from 2022.

Climate change remains the No. 1 reason consumers seek out sustainable products, but responses indicating this is a top motivation dropped from 35% in 2022 to 30% in the 2023 survey.

Other reasons consumers cited as driving purchase decisions of sustainable goods included:

  • Reducing carbon footprint.
  • Reducing food waste.
  • Improving human health.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.thepacker.com/news/sustainability/sustainability-remains-key-driver-consumers

50% of American companies exaggerate sustainability efforts

29 05 2023

Photo: CNBC/Getty Images

Google Cloud & Harris Poll shared that 59% of executives overstate how they approach sustainable messaging. Here’s how companies can improve their efforts. By Lucy Buchholz from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: May 29, 2023

Sustainability has become a popular topic as you hear climate change news daily. Ocean temperatures are rising, leading to melting glaciers and migrating ocean species. Storms have become more volatile, increasing the number of floods and torrential storms worldwide. 

Research shows climate change has strengthened hurricanes and raised storm surges due to rising sea levels. In late 2022, you could see the planet’s wrath through Hurricane Ian. The Category 5 storm devastated the Southeast, especially Florida.

Tom Knutson, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), says rising sea levels exacerbate flooding from hurricanes. The problem will only worsen as rainfall rates rise this century. 

Many have experienced the devastating effects, leading to a push for more sustainability efforts. You may have found ways to lower your carbon footprint by reducing your carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. What about the rest of the country?

Talking about sustainability efforts is easy — following through with actions is a different story. Many Americans say they incorporate sustainable practices only to impress their friends. Reality shows another picture.

A March 2023 survey finds 53% of Americans exaggerate their sustainable practices. The same poll reveals 54% will revert to unsustainable actions if they’re alone. 

Jessica Hann, senior vice president of Avocado Green’s brand marketing and sustainability, says: “When it comes to sustainability, it matters less what people think and more that we all just do the best we can.”

The detrimental impact of greenwashing

Organisations that greenwash mislead customers about the environmental impact of their products and services. They may also use climate-friendly initiatives for PR to cover their environmental malpractice.  

A 2023 survey finds more than half of companies admit to greenwashing. Google Cloud and Harris Poll asked executives how they approach sustainability messaging – 59% said they overstate or inaccurately represent sustainable practices. 

For the planet’s sake, greenwashing needs to come to an end. Better knowledge and improved technology allow you to be friends with the environment instead of an enemy. These four strategies demonstrate how employers can help themselves and their employees improve their sustainability efforts:

1. Apply for sustainability certifications

A terrific way to prove your sustainability initiatives is to achieve certification. For example, you can receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation if your building complies with the requirements. Getting LEED requires passing an examination with the United States Green Building Council.  

LEED is one of the most popular accreditation programs, but many others exist. For example, there’s the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI). This program tracks organisations in the agricultural industry and scores sustainability efforts by awarding bronze, silver or gold status. Achieving SAI’s gold equivalence means your organization has high marks in biodiversity, soil management and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

2. Introduce renewable energy

Buildings have significantly contributed to current climate issues. Data from the International Energy Agency reveals they are responsible for approximately 35% of global energy use. These structures require burning fossil fuels, using steel and cement in construction, and generating electricity and heat. The current blueprint for energy use is less sustainable as demand grows with the world’s population. 

One way to reduce your employees’ carbon footprint in the office is to introduce renewable energy. The easiest way to do that is with solar panels. These systems harness the sun’s power and convert it into electricity for your building. You’ll create energy instead of relying on the electrical grid. 

Now is an excellent time to buy a solar panel for residential and commercial purposes. The federal government extended the solar tax credit through 2033. Purchasing solar panels allows you to get a 30% rebate on the panels, labour costs and various equipment required for installation.  

3. Rethink the supply chain

Today’s businesses must be conscious of their environmental impact. It matters for their carbon footprint and environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores. Your ESG rating is vital because it demonstrates your social responsibility to investors and consumers. 

One way to improve your ESG scores is to rethink your supply chain and make it more efficient. 

For example, consider your suppliers. Are they domestic or international? International partners may have low costs, but the environmental impact is more significant due to the higher demand for fossil fuels. 

You can shorten the supply chain by partnering with domestic companies – preferably in your state. These businesses shorten your lead times and reduce your business’s environmental impact. 

4. Conserve water

Water is critical in industries like agriculture, construction, fashion and more. Even if you don’t work directly with it, you still need it for bathrooms and water fountains inside the office. The world’s freshwater supply has increasingly become concerning. Cities and states in the Southwest often implement water limits to conserve the resource in the summer. 

Your office can become more sustainable by increasing water efficiency. Use low-flow faucets and toilets to minimize use and only consume what’s needed. These systems reduce water usage and lower the money spent on this utility. Nowadays, you can utilize smart technology to monitor use and see where to improve. 

Help employees help the planet

Sustainability has become a vital topic of discussion lately. The conversation is necessary as the world faces the wrath of climate change. Most people agree it’s a problem but don’t always take the required actions. 

Employees spend a large part of their day in the office, so you should help your colleagues reduce their carbon footprint at work. Incorporate renewable energy and obtain sustainability certifications. These actions demonstrate care for the environment and inspire employees to do more at home. 

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/articles/50-of-american-companies-exaggerate-sustainability-efforts

Measuring & Improving Brand Portfolio Sustainability to Meet the Demands of a Changing Market

26 05 2023

From Sustainable Brands • Reposted: May 26, 2023

The complex issues facing business and society demand complex and collaborative solutions; disconnected, myopic management techniques are no longer effective.

Brands are adapting to a rapidly changing market in which customer demand for sustainable products and services continues to grow. In order to remain competitive, they must prioritize innovation while simultaneously juggling the multitude of tasks required to make it happen. Companies of all sizes are finding new ways to stay relevant in this ever-evolving landscape, and working hard to innovate and create sustainable solutions that will remain attractive to customers in the near and long term. It can be a difficult balancing act, but one that more and more companies are successfully managing.

Sustainable Brands (SBSocio-Cultural Trends Research™ reveals that 70 percent of US consumers are looking for companies to provide sustainable products or services that will help them to live more sustainable lifestyles. Further, 78 percent say they will support companies that act sustainably by purchasing its products or services; and 73 percent report that, all else being equal, they would switch brands if a competitor offered a more sustainable version of the same product. The market is rewarding businesses that are acting on social and environmental challenges while simultaneously building brand trust in the process. It is imperative for today’s leading brands to implement industry tools that allow them to seamlessly embed sustainability across its organization.

As a health and wellness company, The Clorox Company recognizes the potential of its diverse portfolio of brands to touch people’s lives throughout every part of their day. Through its Sustainability Center, the company launched its 2030 strategy with the ambition to have every brand within its portfolio play a part in creating a more inclusive and sustainable world. To achieve these goals, Clorox needed to find a way to align its brand teams across the enterprise and engage consumers in storytelling strategies that would unlock higher brand performance and value.

To establish its baseline and create a common language, the company applied the SB Brand Transformation Roadmap® (SB Roadmap) at the brand level across the enterprise. The self-assessment revealed best practices and gaps across the SB Five Pillars of Brand Sustainability™ while also offering tangible targets to prioritize on its journey to becoming a sustainable enterprise. This tool allowed each of the brands to benchmark its current operational progress and then determine the actions each brand needed to take to advance its individual aspirations. Clorox says giving the technical teams the ability to own their individual Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) process was a huge win for garnering buy-in across the teams.

The process revealed that the Governance pillar was something that needed to be centrally managed, where subject-matter experts have the ability to standardize their overarching enterprise goals and business practices. The SB Roadmap process also motivated Clorox to identify specific emotional, functional and societal values to prioritize in its product development and marketing communications to take its brand influence with consumers and other stakeholders to the next level and beyond — including representation in public-policy positions and driving systemic change throughout the industry.

Implementing the SB Roadmap across the enterprise enabled The Clorox Company to:

  • Create cross-functional alignment on individual brand baselines and aspirations within the SB Roadmap framework
  • Streamline its process on how to benchmark and achieve its sustainability goals
  • Elevate the role and priority of sustainability messaging through both responsible ingredient sourcing and sustainable packaging choices
  • Receive increased earned media coverage for individual brands

“What we love about the SB Brand Transformation Roadmap® is it’s a self-assessment tool that helps a leadership team in our business units understand where the brand is on the journey and break down the steps to get from here to where they aspire to be.”

— Eric Schwartz, Chief Marketing Officer, The Clorox Company

Clorox’s central team has hosted 13 internal workshops to introduce the SB Roadmap into its business processes and to embed it into its annual strategic sustainability planning for every business unit across the portfolio. Through this transformative process, Clorox has fostered a culture of sustainability across its enterprise — allowing the teams to take a whole-systems approach to product design and innovation with an understanding of how they each contribute to the larger mission of the company.

In order to thrive in an increasingly challenged world, brands must quickly adjust their strategies away from the traditional ‘business as usual’ approach. Complex issues demand complex and collaborative solutions; disconnected, myopic management techniques are no longer effective.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/product-service-design-innovation/measuring-improving-brand-portfolio-sustainability-demands-changing-market

Donating Goods: A Sustainable, Socially Responsible Solution to Excess Inventory

26 05 2023

By Romaine Seguin from Chain Store Age • Reposted: March 26, 2023

The retail industry is facing an excess inventory crisis. Whether it’s inflation, supply chain issues, or higher-than-anticipated returns, retailers are in a precarious position when it comes to a glut of merchandise that cannot be sold. 

A 2022 report from AD Global Supply Chain Research estimates as much as 8% of stock, worth an astounding $163 billion, goes to waste every year. Not only is this bad for business, but it also creates an enormous environmental impact from the stock that gets discarded.

For retailers, the growing issue of product waste cannot be ignored. According to McKinsey, companies that are sustainability leaders consistently outperform the market in both the medium and long term. As a result, many retailers are putting greater focus on their ESG goals and becoming more thoughtful and strategic about product waste. What we’re seeing as a result is the opportunity to help people in need while solving a massive business challenge. 

While excess inventory is a complex issue, there is a turnkey solution for retailers to transform the fate of these goods into a cost-effective, efficient and sustainable way to help people in need. With an in-kind donation program, companies can ensure that they are making the best use of inventory that cannot be sold for a variety of reasons (customer returns, out-of-season items, dead stock, etc.).  

Whether it’s clothing, housewares, toiletries, school supplies, and even furniture and appliances, donating these goods to nonprofit organizations that serve those who are economically disadvantaged has a substantial impact on both the environment and the people who receive the items—a win/win/win all around.

To help solve their inventory problems, more than 400 of the world’s best-known companies (Amazon, Walmart, Gap Inc., and many more) work with Good360 for a turnkey solution from a single partner. Good360 distributes this donated product through our network of 100,000-plus pre-qualified and vetted nonprofit partners that serve a variety of causes, including homelessness, foster families, veterans’ services, natural disaster recovery and many more. 

Good360’s stringent vetting process helps protect the brands we work with by ensuring that the donated items don’t end up on the secondary market.  Once the product is sent to the nonprofits, it is then distributed within the communities they serve.  For the donors, Good360 manages all the logistics and finds the appropriate nonprofit that has indicated a need for the items. 

Once the nonprofit distributes the donated goods, we report back on the impact the donation has made so donors know exactly where it went and who it helped.  So, whether it’s toys for a holiday drive, mattresses for a homeless shelter, or even automotive supplies for a nonprofit technical school in an underserved community, every donation has a unique and impactful story behind it, and we make sure that story is told.

To accommodate a wide range of both donor company and nonprofit needs, Good360 has developed a number of product philanthropy solutions. For example, Good360 matches individual store or distribution center locations with nearby nonprofits to help drive local impact with donated goods and build bonds with the community. 

Additionally, Good360 brings large donations into our own distribution centers for sorting and reconfiguration in order to best meet nonprofit needs– from a single carton of personal hygiene items to full semi-truckloads of mattresses.

By making product donation placement and distribution seamless for donors, Good360 helps retailers, brands, and manufacturers solve the business challenges around unsellable inventory, demonstrate their leadership in responsible and sustainable business practices, and increase their social impact.

In many cases, donating product is a more economical decision than disposing of the goods. There may also be enhanced tax benefits, and we encourage companies to explore these options with their tax experts.

The bottom line: Retailers should consider donating excess inventory to help individuals facing challenging life circumstances get the goods they need. This way not only are they generating hope, but the products are given a new life, reducing waste, and helping build resilient communities for the future.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://chainstoreage.com/donating-goods-sustainable-socially-responsible-solution-excess-inventory

Tracking Chain of Custody is Now Essential for Brands and Retailers

25 05 2023

Credit: Getty Images by Busakorn Pongparnit

By Eric Linxwiler from mytotalretail.com • Reposted: May 25, 2023

The days when brands and retailers could turn a blind eye to where their products come from are over. Amid heightened awareness of social and environmental abuses throughout the supply chain, governments around the world are moving quickly to hold businesses accountable for the actions of their suppliers.

New supply chain due diligence laws are passing by the month across the globe, and the United States’ Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) is one of the strictest. Enacted last summer, the law forbids the importation of any goods produced or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang region of China on the presumption that were made with forced labor. It’s not sufficient for businesses to simply stop importing from Xinjiang, since U.S. Customs is authorized to stop shipments from any country of origin. Indeed, initial enforcement statistics for the UFLPA show that the majority of the 3,588 shipments detained during the first nine months of the law have originated from countries other than China.

The law’s scope covers all sectors and industries. When the law first went into effect, Customs singled out cotton, tomatoes and polysilicon as high priority commodities, but the agency has stressed that its enforcement priorities will evolve in response to changing data and intelligence about which products are most at risk. The agency has already started scrutinizing additional categories, including aluminum, steel, PVC and auto parts. Detainments under the law are likely to increase going forward, as Customs hires new agents and Congress continues to call for much tougher enforcement of the law.

To comply with the UFLPA and avoid potentially long and costly shipping detainments, brands and retailers need to implement two tactics in tandem: prevention and documentation. Retailers can drastically reduce the risk of forced labor in their supply chain by more closely vetting and monitoring their suppliers and strategically cutting high-risk vendors from their supplier base through supply chain mapping. This creates visibility into a company’s supplier base, allowing it to document all factories and suppliers involved in the transformation of raw materials into finished goods. Amid the growing complexity of the supply chain, this transparency is critically necessary for brands to make the most responsible procurement decisions.

Supply chain mapping alone isn’t enough to ensure compliance with the UFLPA, however. Retailers must also implement a system for tracking and documenting the complete chain of custody for all material components of every product they source. These records are key for rebutting the UFLPA’s presumption of forced labor.

In newly expanded guidance that Customs shared this past winter, the agency writes that importers must be able to provide documentation detailing “the order, purchase, manufacture and transportation of inputs throughout their supply chain.” Examples of that include records substantiating the parties involved in the sourcing and manufacturing of goods; documentation of the payments for and transportation of raw materials (including invoices, contracts, purchase orders, and other proofs of payment); and transaction and supply chain records (including packing lists, bills of lading, and manifests).

This poses a challenge for brands and retailers since most lack the proper systems to document the full provenance of their products and centralize supplier information, especially beyond the first and second tier. Even for businesses with vast supplier networks, however, the process can be made manageable by a multi-enterprise supply chain platform, which can help them easily collect and organize the documentation they need to adhere to the UFLPA and other global ESG regulations.

Eliminating Forced Labor, Preventing Detainments

In response to demand from our customers, TradeBeyond recently introduced a chain of custody tracking system as part of our platform’s order management module. It introduces a failproof process for tracking chain of custody and linking relevant documentation to purchase orders, including invoices, declarations and bills of lading, while creating safeguards to prevent orders with unfulfilled requirements from being shipped.

Our system lets retailers clearly define all their chain of custody requirements for each order to their suppliers, including optional and mandatory documentation. Vendors can then easily see a buyer’s requirements and attach all documentation. The system streamlines traceability processes for retailers while serving as a crucial safeguard by ensuring that all required documentation is centralized so it cannot get misplaced in lost emails with critical attachments.

In addition to introducing crucial visibility by centralizing documents in a readily accessible location, the system automatically flags any problems with chain of custody so merchandisers can correct them before shipments hit the water. As an additional safety measure, smart notifications alert retailers about orders that have unmet requirements. Visual dashboards conveniently show users at a glance how many orders have outstanding chain of custody issues, and whether key documentation has been requested, submitted, approved or rejected.

This technology will increasingly become standard as businesses continue to adjust to the UFLPA’s new normal, especially as reports mount about long and extremely costly detainment delays under the law. Of all the shipments detained so far under the UFLPA, more than half are still awaiting a decision from Customs, according to the agency’s latest data. Companies in violation of the law could face fines of up to $250,000, on top of the costs of wasted merchandise and missed retail windows.

Having an advanced platform to obtain, track and organize critical chain of custody documentation can help companies avoid these long detainments and, more importantly, it can prevent them from sourcing from high-risk suppliers in the first place. This is the kind of due diligence that’s necessary for businesses to permanently eliminate forced labor from their supply chains.

Eric Linxwiler is senior vice president of TradeBeyond, a company that connects retail supply chain operations from product development to delivery.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/tracking-chain-of-custody-is-now-essential-for-brands-and-retailers/

Anti-ESG Rhetoric in US Unaligned with Public’s Views on Business Imperative for Action

24 05 2023


Two-thirds of US adults surveyed want companies to continue environmental, social, governance action; more than half have positive view of the term. From Sustainable Brands • Reposted: May 24, 2023

New research released today from the Allison+Partners/Headstand Purpose Center of Excellence reveals more than half of US adults surveyed (56 percent) have positive views of the term “ESG” (environmental, social, governance); and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) want companies to continue their environmental, social and governance action. This mandate rings especially true for US Millennials, among whom 71 percent have positive viewpoints on ESG and 75 percent want companies to continue making progress.

Reconciling ESG: Rhetoric vs. Reality examines US sentiment toward ESG as the term and its application continue to come under fire. The study confirms that US consumers overwhelmingly want companies to continue working to create positive impacts around environmental, social and governance topics; and found that companies that authentically do so can expect myriad business and brand benefits.

Allison+Partners surveyed 1,001 US consumers aged 18 or older in April 2023. Further proving the consumer mandate, when respondents were asked if companies should continue progress against environmental, social and governance initiatives — and whether they wanted to hear what companies were doing in these areas — they were resolved in their response: An overwhelming majority of those surveyed want companies to communicate their action related to the environment (86 percent), society (85 percent) and governance (87 percent).

“In the many years I have been leading research and reporting on environmental, social and governance topics, the mandate from US stakeholders to address these areas has only grown,” says Whitney Dailey, EVP and co-lead of the Purpose Center of Excellence at Allison+Partners, who unveiled the research on Monday at Sustainable Brands®‘ Brand-Led Culture Change event. “While some may want to continue the debate to advance certain agendas, it’s clear that consumers want to continue seeing authentic action to protect their planet and communities.”

An Reconciling ESG: Rhetoric vs. Reality has emerged in response to what political conservatives perceive as anti-business and anti-growth ideas, as well as ‘woke’ policies and ideas that they find troubling from a societal standpoint; but the Biden Administration is taking a longer-term view in these areas and has vetoed proposed ‘anti-ESG’ legislation.

“The term ‘ESG’ has been intentionally conflated in certain conversations with all brand action related to minimizing negative impacts on society and the planet,” said Aaron Pickering, EVP and co-lead of the Purpose Center of Excellence at Headstand. “ESG has traditionally been used as a framework for investors to understand the financial risks associated with action or inaction on material business issues. The term was never intended to be a catch-all for corporate action and therefore, we need to do a better job as communicators.”

Despite respondents’ positive sentiment and conviction around ESG, the research points to continued confusion around the use and definition itself (which is also true of critics): Only 13 percent of respondents felt “extremely confident” they could define the term. Yet, confusing acronyms aside — when asked the specific issues they wanted to address, they prioritized the following top three issues: clean and safe drinking water (61 percent), reducing pollution/creating clean air (54 percent) and addressing human rights (52 percent).

Among US adults who believe companies should address these issues, when asked how important they think it is for companies to act in certain areas, they were near-unanimous:

  • 99 percent — Clean and safe drinking water
  • 98 percent — Reducing pollution/creating clean air
  • 98 percent — Supporting communities
  • 98 percent — Human rights
  • 98 percent — Running an ethical company
  • 97 percent — Anti-corruption

Further, many respondents believe companies should be steadfast in their commitments, even in the face of potential backlash (which companies including Bud Light and Disney are currently experiencing): More than half (53 percent) of US adults said they would stop buying from a brand if it stopped ESG action due to political pressure.

Clear and compelling communications even more critical in the face of greenwashing

The public mandate for companies to continue addressing these areas aligns with consumer considerations and shopping behaviors, as well. Around environment, 58 percent of US adults say they are more concerned about company’s environmental impact than they were in the past; and only a quarter (24 percent) said they do not actively look for information on a company’s sustainability initiatives when making a purchase.

Companies should be aware that this growing segment of US consumers is also increasingly skeptical of unsubstantiated environmental claims. In fact, only a quarter (25 percent) of respondents say they have not spotted greenwashing in their everyday shopping; and even more US consumers are likely to say the influx of greenwashing has made them question environmental claims (56 percent).

“The rise in greenwashing and confusion around terms and messages means thatcompanies must be more specific and exacting in their communications,” Pickering says. “Companies should tailor messages about their environmental and social impact efforts to individual stakeholder audiences — and when possible, talk about what has been changed in the short term as opposed to your plans far into the future.”

Understanding brand benefits and pitfalls

Strong ESG communications continue to be paramount — and the benefits (and pitfalls of not pursuing it) are clear: Two-thirds (66 percent) of US consumers feel better about companies that are addressing social and environmental issues; while on the flipside, nearly half (46 percent) said if they learned of a company addressing sustainability topics but not talking about it publicly, they would question that company’s authenticity.

“Smart communications around how environmental, social and governance topics help enhance the bottom line while benefiting stakeholders is how companies will ultimately win the anti-ESG debate,” Dailey asserts. “There is absolute certainty about growing stakeholder demands and the fact companies must continue protecting, rather than harming, people and the planet. We recommend avoiding distractions and staying laser-focused on the critical role companies play in building a sustainable future.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/anti-esg-rhetoric-publics-views-business-imperative-action

Sustainability is moving up the agenda for business schools.

23 05 2023

Educators are looking at ways to tackle the ambiguity that exists around definitions and measurement. By Aruni Sunil from Sifted.com * Reposted: May 23, 2023

Researching and teaching sustainability is high on business schools’ strategic agendas. At the same time, startups are struggling with measurement, reporting, definitions, action and strategy — and the path to net zero.

We looked into how sustainability is currently taught at business schools, how it’s changing and what it should grow into so that Europe’s startups can achieve their sustainability goals.

Founders want more

For Laurence Lehmann-Ortega, professor of strategy and business policy at HEC Paris, companies struggle to measure environmental and social aspects because there’s a lack of standardisation. 

“In finance, we’ve been building the standards for the past 70 years or so,” she says. “So there are no clear standards to measure ESG and I’m not sure we’ll get to very clear standards in the near future — the only common metric we’ve got now is measuring carbon emissions.”

It can be reductionist to measure just carbon emissions — metrics should be more industry and product-specific. For example, if your product is going to have a big impact on biodiversity because it’s in the agricultural space, it’s crucial to think about biodiversity first instead of carbon and the associated human rights challenges around agricultural commodities.

The only common metric we’ve got now is measuring carbon emissions That’s where business schools could come in. 

For Prateek Mahalwar, founder of Bioweg — a startup producing bio-based ingredients to replace microplastics in personal care and food products — sustainability should be taught at business schools with one part focusing on what sustainability means in the broadest sense, and the second part focusing on quantification. 

He says that discussing case studies tackling different aspects of sustainability such as energy or the use of raw materials is key for students to understand how sustainability works in the real world of business. It’s especially important to understand how startups can adhere to the new laws and regulations around sustainability such as the plastic packaging regulation, he adds.

Bioweg had MBA students working with its team through the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), a programme at HEC Paris that allows management students to work directly with companies, helping them develop financial models, evaluate potential markets and fine-tune their strategies.

“It’s a win-win — for the startup as well as for the student, not only in terms of exchanging knowledge or doing something practical, but also from the angle that there is a possibility for startup founders to hire them or get into the ESOP pool,” Mahalwar says.

A to ESG 

As well as experiential learning through programmes like CDL, HEC Paris teaches sustainability as part of its strategy and entrepreneurship programmes.

Lehmann-Ortega says that there are two ways that sustainability is taught as part of strategy in theory. The first is how a business can adapt and rethink their business model to be more sustainable, and the second is advanced strategy which is about being “more proactive and coming up with a new business model”.

She says that there’s also differences in how different subjects address the topic of sustainability. “For an accounting professor, it’s about how carbon emissions can be measured and measuring the environmental and social impact of the organisation; for finance professors, it’s about how to finance it; and for marketing, it’s about how to educate your customer to think about it.”

Other business schools are also encouraging students to take part in environmentally and socially relevant initiatives. 

For example, during the first year of their MBA at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) in South Africa, students are required to work with local non-profit organisations on community projects that tackle social problems.

A shift in mindset

Fabien Koutchekian was part of the CDL programme and is the cofounder of Genomines, a biotech that enhances the natural ability of plants to absorb metals. For him, teaching sustainability is primarily about tackling misinformation in the sector and for entrepreneurs to be more involved in the space of regulations and policy making. 

“There’s this mentality now that we are doomed and nothing will save us from what the previous generation has done to the environment. But I don’t believe this — we have to fight, we have to create startups, create innovation and change the regulatory environment, to spur innovation and research in the field,” he says.

For Lehmann-Ortega, sustainability is here to stay in business schools. 

“We don’t need standalone courses about sustainability — this doesn’t make any sense anymore. Every single course should have it — it’s about how you adapt the curriculum to the current shift that’s going on in the world,” she says.

“This reminds me of what happened 10 to 15 years ago with the shift to digital. We all had to integrate classes about digital marketing and so on, and now you can’t teach marketing anymore without digital.”

Mahalwar agrees, adding that sustainability isn’t dismissed as a passing fad anymore — it’s part of the core business in both startups and corporates. “Companies are paying attention to whole supply chains and committing at every level to look into carbon emissions, ESG goals and so on. 

“This creates a need for future hires to have knowledge in that area, and not only people who go into businesses with impact at their core, but also in other areas such as finance, strategy, product and procurement.”

At any given time, there are about a million green startups exploring new energy solutions. As of 2023, there are also at least 13k large and medium-sized companies in Europe transitioning towards more sustainable operations. 

This has to come from students, because they are the future of politics, the future of innovation and the future leaders

“There hasn’t been a single moment in the history of mankind where there were so many brains solving the same issue at the same time. It needs to keep going and we need to put in the work to find solutions,” says Koutchekian.

“More capital is needed and politicians have to create policies that stimulate the economy along with taxing polluting activity and so on — and this has to come from students, because they are the future of politics, the future of innovation and the future leaders.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sifted.eu/articles/sustainability-business-schools-brnd

Sustainability and Employee Wellness: The Hidden Connection

23 05 2023

By Corporate Wellness Magazine * Reposted: May 23, 2023

In recent years, sustainability has become a hot topic in the corporate world, as businesses recognize the importance of minimizing their environmental impact. However, there is a hidden connection between sustainability and employee wellness that often goes unnoticed. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can positively influence the physical and mental well-being of their employees. In this article, we will delve into the various ways in which sustainability and employee wellness intersect, emphasizing the benefits that arise from aligning these two vital aspects of corporate culture.

Creating a Healthier Work Environment:

Sustainable initiatives such as improving indoor air quality, optimizing lighting, and implementing ergonomic workstations contribute to a healthier work environment. Studies have shown that these factors directly impact employee well-being, leading to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and reduced absenteeism. When employees are provided with clean air, adequate lighting, and ergonomic workstations, they experience fewer health issues such as eye strain, respiratory problems, and musculoskeletal disorders. By prioritizing sustainability, organizations demonstrate their commitment to providing a conducive workplace that enhances both physical and mental health.

Encouraging Active Transportation:

Promoting sustainable commuting options such as walking, cycling, or carpooling not only reduces carbon emissions but also encourages employees to engage in regular physical activity. Active transportation is known to improve cardiovascular health, lower stress levels, and boost overall fitness. By integrating sustainable transportation programs, companies can facilitate employee wellness while reducing their environmental footprint. Implementing bike-friendly facilities, offering incentives for carpooling, or providing shower facilities for employees who walk or cycle to work can contribute to a healthier workforce.

Access to Nature:

Sustainable workplaces often incorporate elements of nature, such as green spaces, rooftop gardens, or indoor plants. These features not only enhance aesthetics but also provide numerous mental health benefits. Exposure to nature has been linked to reduced stress, improved mood, increased creativity, and enhanced cognitive function. By incorporating sustainable design elements that bring nature into the workplace, organizations can create a more calming and nurturing environment for their employees. Additionally, employees can be encouraged to take breaks in outdoor areas or engage in nature-inspired activities to further promote their well-being.

Stress Reduction and Mindfulness:

Sustainability efforts often align with practices that promote stress reduction and mindfulness. Initiatives such as encouraging breaks, providing meditation spaces, or offering wellness programs help employees manage stress and improve mental well-being. The corporate world is often fast-paced and demanding, leading to high levels of stress and burnout. Sustainable companies understand the importance of addressing the holistic needs of their workforce, recognizing that employee wellness is key to long-term success. By incorporating mindfulness practices, such as meditation or yoga sessions, into the workday, companies can provide employees with tools to reduce stress, improve focus, and enhance overall well-being.

Engaging employees in sustainability initiatives can foster a sense of purpose and pride within the organization. When employees feel that their work contributes to a greater cause, it boosts their overall job satisfaction and motivation. Sustainability projects provide employees with an opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment and society, creating a sense of fulfillment beyond their everyday tasks. By involving employees in sustainability projects, companies can enhance their well-being by nurturing a sense of community, empowerment, and fulfillment.

Collaboration and Team Building:

Sustainability often requires cross-departmental collaboration and teamwork. Initiatives such as waste reduction, recycling programs, or energy-saving campaigns encourage employees to work together towards a common goal. These collaborative efforts not only promote a positive work culture but also strengthen team dynamics and relationships. Through sustainability practices, companies can create a supportive and cohesive work environment, fostering employee wellness through meaningful connections. When employees come together to achieve sustainability goals, they build trust, communication, and a shared sense of purpose. Team members learn to rely on each other’s strengths, fostering a collaborative spirit that extends beyond sustainability initiatives and positively impacts overall productivity.

Employee Recognition and Rewards:

Sustainable practices provide an opportunity for organizations to recognize and reward employees who actively contribute to sustainability efforts. By acknowledging their efforts, companies reinforce the value of employee engagement and foster a culture of appreciation. Recognizing employees’ contributions to sustainability not only boosts morale but also reinforces the connection between individual well-being and the organization’s mission. It encourages employees to continue their sustainable efforts, ultimately enhancing their overall wellness.

Educational and Skill Development Opportunities:

Incorporating sustainability into the workplace often requires learning new skills and staying updated on industry best practices. By offering educational opportunities and skill development programs related to sustainability, companies empower employees to enhance their professional growth and well-being. These programs can include workshops, webinars, or certifications that provide employees with the knowledge and tools to actively contribute to sustainability initiatives. Investing in employee development not only benefits the individual but also strengthens the organization as a whole.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Employee Pride:

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives often intersect with sustainability practices. When companies engage in socially responsible activities, such as community service or charitable partnerships, it fosters a sense of pride among employees. Employees who are proud of their organization’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility experience higher job satisfaction and overall well-being. By aligning sustainability with CSR efforts, companies create a positive impact on both the environment and their workforce.

Work-Life Balance and Flexibility:

Sustainability initiatives can also contribute to improving work-life balance and flexibility for employees. Implementing measures like flexible work hours, remote work options, or compressed work weeks reduces commuting time and allows employees to better manage their personal responsibilities. This flexibility enables employees to achieve a healthier work-life balance, resulting in reduced stress levels and improved overall well-being.

Wellness Challenges and Competitions:

Sustainability and employee wellness can be further integrated through wellness challenges and competitions that focus on sustainable practices. For example, companies can organize competitions to encourage employees to reduce waste, conserve energy, or adopt sustainable lifestyle habits. These challenges not only promote sustainability but also foster a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition among employees. The combination of wellness and sustainability goals enhances employee engagement, boosts morale, and promotes a culture of well-being.

The hidden connection between sustainability and employee wellness is a powerful force that can transform the workplace and the lives of individuals. By adopting sustainable practices, organizations create healthier work environments, encourage physical activity, provide access to nature, reduce stress, and foster a sense of purpose and pride among employees. The positive impacts ripple beyond the workplace, contributing to the overall well-being of employees and society as a whole.

To further explore the importance of mental health in the workplace, we invite you to submit your inquiries through our contact form at https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/contact-mental-health. Our team of experts is here to provide valuable insights and support. Together, let us embrace sustainability and employee wellness for a brighter, healthier future.

‍To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/sustainability-and-employee-wellness-the-hidden-connection

By the Community, For the Community: New Startup Accelerator Backs Locally-Led Climate Solutions

20 05 2023

Young people rally in front of the California statehouse in support of climate justice at a Fridays for Future demonstration on April 21, 2023. Image: Lynn Friedman/Flickr

By Mary Mazzzoni from triplepundit.com • Reposted: May 20, 2023

Investing in viable solutions to social and environmental problems can turn a profit — and the most lucrative ideas may not come from where you’d expect. That’s the philosophy behind Village Capital. The nonprofit launched in 2009 under the tagline “democratizing entrepreneurship.” Though it’s based in Washington, D.C., its founding mission centers on identifying and supporting innovators outside the big coastal cities that receive the lion’s share of venture funding. 

Over the past 14 years, Village Capital has supported nearly 1,000 such startups through 45 U.S.-based accelerator programs — which provide funding and mentoring to entrepreneurs with smart ideas to solve big problems. 

One of its most recent accelerators squares in on the crucial issue of climate justice, with a call for innovators on the front lines of climate change to submit locally-driven solutions for backing from Village Capital. 

What is climate justice? 

For the uninitiated, climate justice refers to the imbalanced nature of the real-world impacts caused by climate change: Those who fare the worst amidst natural disasters and sea-level rise tend to be poor and underserved, and as such have contributed least to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. For context, a billionaire will produce a million times moregreenhouse gas emissions in their lifetime than the average person, according to research from Oxfam. 

The related cause of environmental justice refers not only to the impacts of climate change, but also the sources of climate-inducing pollution — and where they’re located. In the U.S. in particular, years of segregation has created a situation in which communities of color are far more likely to be in the direct vicinity of polluting sites like oil refineries and chemical plants. A bombshell 2021 study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that people of color are exposed to far higher levels of air pollution during their lifetimes than white people, regardless of income level. 

Again, people living in communities that have faced chronic disinvestment for decades are more likely to be poor, and as such consume far fewer of the goods and services that these polluting industries provide. Yet they’re still saddled with the impact, whether that’s long-term air pollution exposure that can lead to preventable illness, or catastrophic events like leaks and explosions

Impacted communities have sounded the alarm about environmental and climate justice for decades, but the issues are only more recently gaining attention on the global stage. A global loss and damage fund to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change was finally pushed across the finish line at the COP27 climate talks in 2022, although it will be years before it’s up and running. U.S. President Joe Biden has also made justice a central pillar of his climate plan, with billions in new investments going toward efforts to reduce emissions and pollution in underserved communities. 

Still, government investments have by no means reached the scale of the challenge — making private-sector interventions like Village Capital’s accelerator essential to creating the widespread changes needed to cut the problem down to size. 

young demonstrator shows her support for climate justice
A young demonstrator shows her support for climate justice. Image: Oxfam International/Flickr

Inside Village Capital’s climate justice accelerator 

Announced last month, Village Capital’s accelerator is seeking early-stage startups that support immigrants, refugees and communities of color on the front lines of climate change in the U.S. In partnership with the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, Village Capital will provide grants and coaching to 10 to 12 startups with promising solutions that help their communities prepare for and adapt to climate impacts. The accelerator is fairly industry-agnostic, with startups across the climate tech, financial tech and property tech spaces encouraged to apply. 

“We are looking for impact-driven startups that are solving critical challenges for people and communities who are disproportionately impacted by climate change,” Elizabeth Nguyen, economic opportunity practice lead for Village Capital, told TriplePundit. “We’ve been very intentional about identifying the solution types, which thematically fall into: disaster preparedness, public action and civic response, resilient housing and cities, and overall support for immigrants and refugees. Each one of these solution types prioritizes supporting people and communities and enables them the ability to respond to the impact of climate change.” 

Along with grant funding, the selected entrepreneurs will receive invaluable training on how to further scale their businesses and attract investors, including help with a development plan to chart the course for growth. Through Village Capital’s unique peer-selected investment model, the cohort of entrepreneurs will decide which two climate justice solutions will be eligible to receive an additional $100,000 in investments from WES Mariam Assefa, Nguyen said. 

“This investment, especially at an early stage, has the potential to change the trajectory of a company, considering many immigrant and refugee founders often don’t have strong social networks or support systems that founders who may have been born in the U.S. have,” she explained. “We also can’t stress enough how important social capital, mentorship, and connections are to early-stage companies. Village Capital provides not just training and financial support, but introductions to relevant mentors who are in the refugee and immigrant space and climate tech space. Our support enables our founders to walk away with tangible ways to speak to investors.” 

Championing locally-driven solutions to climate challenges

Importantly, Village Capital aims to support locally-led solutions driven by the people and organizations that experience climate impacts in their communities firsthand. 

“We’ve seen time and again that top-down solutions will not be sustainable or effective because they don’t have a full understanding of the needs in a community,” Nguyen said. “Locally-led startups also ensure that the solutions elevate the communities collectively so they are not left behind in the wave of innovation, a challenge that has unfortunately already been reflected in the history of climate tech solutions.” 

The company’s accelerator model is proven to work, with over 150 accelerators supporting more than 1,400 startups globally. Entrepreneurs graduating from Village Capital accelerators raised three times more capital and earned 2.3 times more revenue compared to a control group, according to an impact study commissioned by the company. 

The company’s separate venture capital fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in over 100 peer-selected startups from across these accelerators — again, with a focus on founders who are often overlooked. Nearly half (46 percent) of startups in the fund are led by women, and 30 percent are led by people of color. A stunning 80 percent are based in states outside New York, California and Massachusetts, which together receive about half of all global VC funding, according to Village Capital

“By catalyzing locally-led startups and strengthening the ecosystem for these entrepreneurs to succeed, we can create the biggest and most sustainable impact, one that improves and increases services and resources for the communities who need it the most,” Nguyen said.  

Applications for the accelerator close on May 25, 2023. Full details and eligibility criteria can be found here.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/startup-accelerator-climate-justice/774526

2023 Halo Awards Honor Top Corporate Social Impact Initiatives

19 05 2023

Graphic: Engage for Good

Winning Companies And Nonprofits Recognized At The 2023 Engage For Good Conference In Atlanta, GA. FromEngage for Good • Reposted: May 19, 2023

Campaigns that raised millions for Ukraine relief, inspired young people to learn about conflict mitigation and moved employees to cycle across the country for cancer research – all while building stronger businesses – were among the initiatives honored at the 21st annual Halo Awards.

Eighteen category-specific winners were selected out of more than 140 entries by Engage for Good at its annual conference in Atlanta, GA.

In addition, ESPN and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America each received a Golden Halo Award, Engage for Good’s highest honor, for their long records of achievement at the intersection of profit and purpose.

Case studies of each winning campaign and profiles of the Golden Halo Award winners can be found at http://engageforgood.com/halo-awards.

“This year’s winners reflect the tremendous diversity of causes and strategies that companies embrace to sustainably build a better world,” said Engage for Good President David Hessekiel. “It’s an honor to recognize programs that fight disease and hunger, support education and mental health, offer aid to those in Ukraine and so much more.”

A collaboration between Dunkin’ and the Dunkin’ Joy In Childhood Foundation, dubbed “2022 Iced Coffee Day,” was recognized as the “Best Of The Best,” an award presented by social impact agency For Momentum. In 2022, Dunkin’ franchisees united for a nationwide one-day charitable event, whereby one dollar from each iced coffee sold at participating outlets was given to the foundation. The initiative increased restaurant traffic and raised  $1.8 million, 100% of which was given to hospitals near Dunkin’ restaurants.

“I’m honored to present this year’s prestigious ‘Best Of The Best’ Halo Award to Dunkin’ and the Dunkin’ Joy In Childhood Foundation. This award shines a spotlight on their ‘2022 Iced Coffee Day’ campaign, where best-in-class strategy, franchisee participation and execution allowed them to raise $1.8 million for children’s hospitals nationwide in one day. They should feel incredibly proud of this special recognition. On behalf of For Momentum, I want to extend a heartfelt congratulations to the Dunkin’ team – we are thrilled to support your partnership success,” said Mollye Rhea, President and Founder of social impact agency For Momentum.

Please join us in congratulating this year’s Halo Award-winning campaigns:

Best Consumer-Activated Corporate Donation Initiative
Gold: 2022 Iced Coffee Day – Dunkin’ & Dunkin’ Joy In Childhood Foundation
Silver: Bringing Communities Together In Nature – Sun Outdoors & National Park Foundation

Best Consumer Donation Initiative
Gold: PetSmart + PetSmart Charities 10 Millionth Adoption Supported By Pet Parents – PetSmart & PetSmart Charities
Silver: JOANN and Susan G. Komen Integrated Partnership To Drive Point-Of-Sale Donations – JOANN & Susan G. Komen

Best Education Initiative
Gold: Subaru Loves Learning – Subaru Of America, Inc. & AdoptAClassroom.org
Silver: MLK Scholars Program – John Hancock

Best Emergency/Crisis Initiative
Gold: Stand With Ukraine All-for-Charity Initiative – Humble Bundle, Razom For Ukraine, International Rescue Committee, International Medical Corps & Direct Relief
Silver: PayPal’s Response To The Humanitarian Crisis In Ukraine – PayPal & Multiple Nonprofits

Best Employee Engagement Initiative
Gold: Employee Empowerment Thru Volunteering – FedEx & Operation Warm
Silver: Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer – Bristol Myers Squibb & the V Foundation for Cancer Research

Best Health Initiative
Gold: Bloom: Growing Kids’ Mental Well-Being – Nationwide Foundation, Nationwide Children’s Hospital & On Our Sleeves
Silver: iHeart National Recovery Month – iHeartMedia & The Voices Project

Best JEDI Initiative
Gold: Leveling The Playing Field – U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association & Kiva
Silver: Nespresso x Ali Forney Center – Nespresso USA & The Ali Forney Center

Best Social Impact Video
Gold: Teen Tech Center “Mentor Moments” – Best Buy & The Best Buy Foundation
Silver: Peace Builders – Microsoft, Minecraft Education, Games For Change & The Nobel Peace Center

Best Social Service Initiative
Gold: ​​Meals With Meaning – HelloFresh & Partners
Silver: Lowe’s Hometowns – Lowe’s & Points of Light

Best Of The Best
2022 Iced Coffee Day – Dunkin’ & Dunkin’ Joy In Childhood Foundation

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/774326-2023-halo-awards-honor-top-corporate-social-impact-initiatives

Nurturing Mental Health in a Climate-Changing World:Another Critical Challenge to Face Together

19 05 2023

Graphic: The Toronto Star

As with other forms of anxiety, climate anxiety must be navigated with great care; and it is essential that the younger generation have allies around them when facing such an enormous challenge as climate change. By Michael Sameul, MBE from Sustainable Brands • Reposted: May 19, 2023

This week we are marking Mental-Health Awareness Week, the theme of which is anxiety — which has become prevalent across society, particularly for young people.

Some have described the UK as an “anxious nation.” Studies suggest that more than 8 million people in the UK are experiencing anxiety at any given time. It affects many children and young people. The last few years have seen anxiety and other mental-health conditions escalate in children and young people. Whereas one in eight children suffered from a mental-health illness pre-pandemic, this has now increased to one in six.

One of the growing elements of anxiety is climate anxiety. This amounts to distress about climate change, its impacts on the landscape and human existence, and what might happen if action is not taken in time to avert disaster. It can manifest as chronic fear of environmental collapse and intrusive thoughts about the long-term future of humanity.

The ONS has reported that, behind the cost-of-living crisis, climate change is the second biggest concern facing adults in the UK — with 74 percent feeling worried about climate change to some extent.

It is important, however, to understand that there are essential differences between worrying about climate change and having climate anxiety. Worry is often a motivator: If you are worried about something, it can prompt you to take action to try and resolve it. Anxiety is more extreme, overwhelming and, at times, debilitating. Its effects range from a racing heart and shortness of breath to being unable to maintain social relationships or function in your daily life at work or school.

Climate anxiety affects people of all ages and walks of life, but its impacts are not even. It is felt most acutely by those living on the frontline of climate-related disasters and those who feel they have the most to lose in the event of long-term environmental catastrophe. As such, in the UK, climate anxiety disproportionately affects children and young people who are worried about the state of the world they will inherit.

Recent research has revealed that climate change is causing widespread, deeply felt anxiety among young people in the UK. More than 50 percent of 16- to 25-year-olds interviewed by the University of Bath reported that they felt anxious, powerless and guilty about climate change. Similarly, the youth non-profit organisation Force of Nature found that more than 70 percent of young people feel hopeless in the face of the climate crisis and as many as 56 percent think that humanity is doomed.

As Chair of the Anna Freud Centre, a children’s mental-health charity, I have witnessed the extent to which the climate crisis impacts young people’s mental health. As with other forms of anxiety, climate anxiety must be navigated with great care; and it is essential that the younger generation have allies around them when facing such an enormous challenge as climate change.

The Princess of Wales, our Centre’s Royal Patron, has highlighted that mental health in the early years is a crucial determinant of life prospects. So, now more than ever, it is important to ensure that children and the people that care for them don’t try to take on these challenges in isolation. The first step in helping children and young people cope with climate anxiety is being open and available to talk about their concerns with them. Climate change is a very real and pressing issue; so, it can be counterproductive to try and minimise a young person’s fears about it as this may lead them to internalise their anxieties. Instead, talking about the issue with them in an age-appropriate way and validating their feelings is crucial.

Only 26 percent of the young people surveyed by Force for Nature felt that they knew how to contribute to solving the climate crisis; and the sense of helplessness that may be felt by the remaining 74 percent can be very dangerous. Therefore, it is important to encourage young people to try and find manageable solutions and productive ways of addressing their emotions. Rather than always offering reassurance, try responding to their questions with another question. For example, ‘I know you are worried about plastic pollution; so, what can we do to minimise our own plastic use?’ This can help break what may seem like a larger problem down into smaller, more manageable pieces that have more easily identifiable solutions.

Ultimately, climate change and its impacts can feel overwhelming for anyone; so, it is essential that no one tries to bear this burden alone. By demonstrating that you understand a young person’s concerns and are available to discuss them, you can help them alleviate their worries and find out what their personal contribution looks like.

Ongoing issues such as the impacts of the cost-of-living crisis and war in Ukraine already provide plenty of daily anxiety. But as our newsfeeds are increasingly inundated with stories about environmental and climate-related disasters, the lesser-known climate anxiety should be openly discussed and addressed.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/nurturing-mental-health-climate-changing-world-critical-challenge-together

Why ESG Still Matters During Economic Downturns

18 05 2023

mage credit: Miltiadis Fragkidis/Unsplash

By Mary Riddle from Triple Pundit • Reposted: May 18, 2023

The global economic turndown is top-of-mind for business leaders. In the U.S., 59 percent of CEOs anticipate needing to pause or scale back their environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts as a result, according to a recent survey by KPMG.

However, walking away from ESG right now could be disastrous for business, argues Geetanjli Dhanjal, senior director of business transformation for the consulting firm Yantra.

Scaling back environmental commitments would not only be detrimental to the planet, but it could also hurt the bottom line. “Companies should be committed to ESG and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) now more than ever,” Dhanjal told TriplePundit. Pausing these programs to bolster the budget could backfire by eroding consumer perceptions and damaging trust among employees, she warned. 

Case in point: The retail sector proves ESG still matters 

While certain sectors are more vulnerable to recession than others, retail is one of the highest-risk industries during economic downturns. Still, Dhanjal noted that many of her clients in retail, fashion and apparel are not turning away from ESG to save money. Rather, they are doubling down on their initiatives, from sourcing sustainable materials to ensuring fair pay for workers in their supply chains.

“These clients know that when in an economic downturn, one doesn’t just stop investing in ESG,” Dhanjal said. “ESG is a long-term strategy and roadmap. During economic downturns, businesses can invest in low-cost sustainability initiatives in order to maintain brand value and give back to the community.”

Further, many sustainability programs come with a cost savings. “When we enable green shipping methods, we reduce our costs, reduce our carbon footprint, and the customer benefits by paying less for shipping,” Dhanjal noted as an example. 

Investor trust is in jeopardy: Stronger ESG programs and reporting can help 

While robust ESG programs can help grow consumer affinity and employee engagement, businesses now face a new problem: waning investor trust.

In KPMG’s survey, 3 out of 4 institutional investors said they do not trust companies to meet their ESG and DEI commitments. Dhanjal believes their concerns are valid: Indeed, many companies are not meeting their commitments. But the trust gap also presents investment and growth opportunities for companies that are serious about implementing ESG, she said.

“There are many reasons for distrust,” Dhanjal told us. “There are no consistent reporting frameworks. Enterprises may have more standardized reporting methods than small businesses, but they need to report transparently with the proof that they’re doing what they’re saying.”

Businesses and international agencies have also recognized the need for companies to demonstrate proof of their progress through standardized frameworks for sustainability reporting. At the COP26 climate talks in 2021, the United Nations and participating governments established the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) in order to create a standard, global framework. 

An evolving regulatory landscape calls for more ESG investment, not less

Dhanjal sees more changes on the horizon for corporate ESG programs. Regulatory changes will make compliance more challenging for companies that do not proactively measure, monitor and report on their sustainability efforts. Time is critical.

“Companies must invest in the tools they can use and the systems to provide them with the data they need to create their long-term strategy,” Dhanjal said. “Companies also need the right consultants and partners to guide their programs and initiatives. Your specific company doesn’t need to be experts in ESG, but you can invest in the consultants and tools to guide you.” 

Investment in tools to measure sustainability data is increasingly critical for companies that hope to to stay ahead of ESG regulations. The United States and European Union are moving toward making sustainability reporting mandatory for large businesses. That includes climate risk reporting in the near term, with mandatory disclosure of nature-related risk not far off. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in particular is expected to release its long-awaited climate reporting rules this fall. But many businesses are not waiting for the final verdict. In fact, 70 percent of business leaders said they’ve already begun to disclose their climate-related data in alignment with expected changes from the SEC, according to 2023 polling from PwC and Workiva. Still, 85 percent of those respondents worry their teams don’t have the right technology to accurately track and report their sustainability data.

Keeping up with the times requires consistent investment, and pulling back could mean falling behind. “It is not easy to implement systems, transform supply chains and invest in proper tools,” Dhanjal said. “Things are changing rapidly while everyone is learning about sustainability at the same time, and that can be a challenge. Making sure we have appropriate tools and clear guidelines is a major challenge for ESG, but this is also our work [as ESG professionals]: to educate.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2023/esg-still-matters-recession/774346

Only 8% of firms have ‘essential tools’ needed for net zero

18 05 2023

Image: Sustainability Magazine/Getty

Low uptake of digital technology for net zero reporting is putting companies at risk of significant consequences, a new study from Verdantix finds. By Lucy Buchholz from Sustainability Magazine • Reposted: May 18, 2023

A recent Verdantix report warns that companies face significant risks due to the limited adoption of digital technologies for net-zero applications. The survey of 350 net-zero leaders reveals that only 8% of firms believe they possess the necessary software tools to achieve net-zero goals effectively.

The inaugural Verdantix Global Corporate Survey 2023: Net Zero Budgets, Priorities and Tech Preferences report highlights that in-house digital capabilities are not enough to deliver net zero. The report identifies a lack of climate change expertise at the board level as the biggest obstacle to net-zero strategies. 

This lack of expertise is particularly worrying for US firms, as the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule may demand clarity as to whether any board members possess expertise in climate change.

The increase in reporting 

Over one-third of the world’s largest listed firms are now publicising net zero targets, a significant increase up from just one-fifth in December 2020. With incoming regulations set to impact economies globally, tens of thousands of firms are at risk of severe consequences, including legal penalties, reputational damage, financial risks, investor pressure, and employee dissatisfaction, if they fail to accurately report ESG and climate information. 

In light of this, it is imperative for companies to promptly embrace digital technologies in order to provide accurate and high-calibre carbon data. This step is crucial to address the increasing demand for regulated climate disclosures and the amplified stakeholder pressure for transparency and performance.

“The low market penetration of net zero reporting tools highlights the urgent need for companies to adopt digital technologies to deliver reliable and high-quality carbon data,” said Ryan Skinner, Research Director at Verdantix. “With regulated climate disclosures and increasing stakeholder pressure for transparency and performance, it’s critical that firms prioritise decarbonisation and invest in net zero reporting tools. 

“We anticipate a significant increase in spending on net zero digital tools over the next few years as companies seek to avoid penalties and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. However, achieving success in decarbonisation will require consistent collaboration with other departments to drive change at the operational level.”

Climate change budgets are set to increase

According to Verdantix’s projections, the expenditure on carbon management software is projected to reach US1.4bn by 2027. The survey reveals that budgets for net zero and climate change initiatives are expected to experience substantial growth in 2023, with most companies anticipating double-digit spending increases. However, effectively achieving net zero goals will necessitate ongoing collaboration with other departments to drive decarbonization efforts at the operational level.

The Verdantix Net Zero Global Corporate Survey provides insights into the budgets, priorities, and technology preferences of net zero leaders across industries and geographies. Read the full report here Global Corporate Survey 2023: Net Zero Budgets, Priorities and Tech Preferences.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainabilitymag.com/articles/only-8-of-firms-have-essential-tools-needed-for-net-zero

The Greenwash Era Is Over, But Are Our Communicators Ready to Step Up?

18 05 2023

Image: Sustainable Brands

As advertising regulators, consumer watchdogs and even governments take a tougher stance, the risks of getting it wrong grow significantly; and the pressure is on communicators to up their game and back up their claims. By Tom Idle from sustainable brands.com • Reposted: May 18, 2023

It’s officially, and legally, getting harder for brands to greenwash. In Europe, the EU Parliament has just voted to ramp up regulation to deter companies from making ‘carbon-neutral’ claims that can so easily mislead consumers into believing the products they are buying are good for the environment. Proposed new anti-greenwashing rules – said to represent a “significant victory for consumers and the environment” – were voted by an overwhelming majority of 544 votes in favour, 18 against and 17 abstentions.

This paves the way for EU nations to adopt their own laws that will ban dubious claims and “strengthen the fight against greenwashing by banning practices that mislead consumers on the actual sustainability of products,” as put by EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. The move will effectively ban the use of generic ‘green’ marketing claims such as ‘environmentally friendly,’ ‘natural,’ ‘biodegradable’ and ‘eco,’ if they are not supported by evidence. Brands won’t be able to suggest a whole product or service is ‘sustainable’ when only a part of it is, either. And only official sustainability certification schemes will be recognised when it comes to marketing claims.

Where carbon offsetting is used, companies will no longer be able to make ‘net-zero’ or ‘carbon-neutral’ claims, which have long been criticised by campaign groups for seriously misleading consumers. In fact, banning the use of offsets as the basis for carbon-neutral claims is already happening. In the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority has spent the last six months reviewing the landscape and is about to commence stricter enforcement procedures. Brands are set to be banned from declaring their products or services are carbon neutral using offsets, unless they can prove they are actually working. This has coincided with a renewed focus on the true impact of offsets. In January, a Guardianinvestigation found that 90 percent of the rainforest project-derived offsets generated byVerra, one of the world’s biggest offset certifiers, were “worthless.” Verra strongly disputed the findings, but it got the world talking — not only about the value of offsetting, but the validity of making carbon-neutral claims more generally.

Greenwash clampdowns are also underway in the UK investment scene. The fact that so-called ‘sustainable’ pension funds are still entrenched in oil and gas firm funding has prompted the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority to publish anti-greenwashing rulesdesigned to clean up the labelling of investment funds.


Sustainability stakes are high; so are stakeholder distrust and scrutiny. So, how can your brand win the trust, loyalty, and advocacy of conscious consumers while protecting your reputation from greenwashing? Join us as Simon Mainwaring outlines 6 critical steps to avoiding greenwashing, building brand love and enabling consumers to live the sustainable lifestyles they seek at Brand-Led Culture Change – May 22-24 in Minneapolis.

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In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has updated its Green Guides for the first time in more than a decade, with a similar goal – to make it harder for companies to fall into the trap of making overblown sustainability claims about the products and materials they use.

Obviously, it will take time to completely stem the tide of greenwash; but incoming regulation and improved standards are having the desired impact, as evidenced by recent action taken to halt greenwash from the likes of airlines including Etihad andLufthansa. Yet, in the race to win more savvy consumers and meet increasingly ambitious sustainability goals, avoiding greenwash remains a challenge. Even companies forced to row back on their ambitions face huge scrutiny. Just look at the backlash footwear business Crocs received this week having announced plans to push back its net-zero target from 2030 to 2040 after recording a 45.5 percent increase in absolute emissions year-on-year after acquiring another company. The new goal might be “more credible and realistic;” but consumers expect more transparent and sophisticated communications from brands.

And that is proving to be a real struggle. New research suggests that while marketing professionals acknowledge the need to be braver when it comes to sustainability communications to avoid greenwashing, more than a third of them lack the capacity or knowledge to do so. At a time when more brands claim to have a sustainability-related story worth sharing (41 percent versus 25 percent in 2021), the survey suggests the situation is getting worse; capability gaps were cited by 35 percent of respondents, versus 20 percent in 2021. This is especially a concern given that more brands have sustainability as a KPI in their marketing functions – up from 26 percent in 2021 to 43 percent today: “It’s remarkable that even though 94 percent of marketers are willing to be brave to drive transformative change, organizations still behave in the same way,” says Ozlem Senturk, a senior partner with Kantar, which was behind the research.

This research echoes the key findings of a recent Chartered Institute of Marketing survey, which showed half of companies were reluctant to work on sustainability campaigns for fear of getting tripped up and accused of greenwash.

As with many sustainability challenges, solving the greenwash problem can benefit from a collaborative response. That’s certainly the view of the team behind Creatives for Climate— which has just launched a new platform designed to help communicators ‘reskill’ for sustainability communicationsThe website features a training program called Greenwash Watch — which provides a useful analysis of anti-greenwashing regulation and rulings and provides a framework from which to craft credible strategies that do not mislead consumers.

As advertising regulators enforce tougher sanctions, consumer watchdogs get more savvy and even governments double-down on their efforts, the era of unsubstantiated green claims from corporates is over. But as the risks of getting it wrong grow significantly, the pressure is on communicators to up their game and be sure to back up their claims.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/marketing-and-comms/greenwash-era-over-can-communicators-step-up

Why sustainability improves recruitment, retention

17 05 2023

Many workers consider environmental sustainability practices when deciding whether to stay, or accept a job with, a company. Image: ADP

Publicizing sustainability efforts can help a company with employee recruitment. Learn how sustainability is also affecting retention, as well as some best practices for HR leaders. By David Beck via tech target.com • Reposted: May 17, 2023

As the talent marketplace remains competitive, a company’s stance on social issues, such as the environment and climate change, can help attract talent or potentially drive it away. HR leaders must encourage companies to publicize their environmental, social and governance practices so they can hire the candidates they want and keep them as employees.

Over 70% of workers and those looking for work are drawn to environmentally sustainable employers, according to the 2021 study “Sustainability at a turning point” by the IBM Institute for Business Value. In addition, more than two-thirds of respondents said they are more likely to seek out and take jobs with environmentally and socially responsible organizations, and almost half surveyed would take a lower salary to do so, according to the IBM study. A company’s sustainability record can make a major difference in its talent search and employee retention.

Here’s more about environmental, social and governance initiatives, as well as some steps HR leaders can take to get the word out about their organization’s ESG efforts.

What is sustainability?

For the most part, when job candidates inquire about a company’s environmental sustainability record, they are referring to the organization’s environmentally related business practices, such as carbon footprint and energy use. Social issues, like diversity, equity and inclusion programs and labor practices, are also part of ESG.

Companies are facing more pressure from the government and from consumers to make their business practices more sustainable. Customers have increasingly expressed interest in supporting companies with what they view as positive ESG practices, with 55% of respondents saying company sustainability is “very or extremely important” when they’re making purchasing decisions, according to the IBM study.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a rule last year that would require public companies to share climate risk and greenhouse gas emissions, among other information, though the rule may be delayed until later this year.

Why companies should care about sustainability

Many company executives believe their recruitment will be positively affected by increased ESG reporting.

Fifty-two percent of respondents ranked talent attraction and retention as one of the most likely beneficial outcomes of enhanced ESG reporting, according to a 2022 Deloitte study, “Sustainability action report: Survey findings on ESG disclosure and preparedness.”

In addition, a positive sustainability record can potentially help with the perennial challenge of employee retention as well. ESG high performers also have high employee satisfaction, according to the 2023 study “Do ESG Efforts Create Value?” by Bain & Company and EcoVadis.

How HR can use sustainability to improve recruitment, retention

Job applicants may not be aware of a company’s ESG efforts, so HR leaders must take the lead in communicating them to the public.

HR staff can develop blog posts for the company website about the organization’s sustainability efforts. HR staff can also create initiatives within the company, like sponsoring a community composting program, and publicize those initiatives so potential job applicants will be aware of them.

If company leaders are weighing whether to take on sustainability initiatives, HR leaders can share the talent-related benefits of adapting an ESG-driven corporate culture.

HR leaders should also make sure company leaders are aware that partners’ sustainability practices are an emerging area of contention. Job candidates may object if the company works with vendors or other partners who are seen as negatively affecting the environment.

However, HR executives must also remain alert to the danger of greenwashing. Greenwashing is information that provides a misleading impression that a company’s processes, policies or investments are environmentally sound.

A company’s attempts to attract recruits can backfire if the public believes the company is practicing greenwashing. HR leaders must make sure HR staff or others working on recruitment efforts aren’t exaggerating the company’s sustainability practices in an attempt to win over job candidates.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.techtarget.com/searchhrsoftware/tip/Why-sustainability-improves-recruitment-retention

Driving Growth Through Sustainability: Three Solutions For Brands

17 05 2023

Photo: Getty

UN SDG Pioneer for Circular Economy and CEO of GUAVA Amenities – driving circular innovations & partnerships in Sustainable Guest Amenities. By Gabriel Tan, Forbes Councils Member, Forbes Business Development Council from Forbes.com • Reposted: May 17, 2023

Today, we are living in a peculiar time with growing uncertainties such as high inflation and high interest rates. As a result, many global brands have scaled back their operations and reduced headcounts to brace themselves for further shocks down the road.

While all seems doom and gloom, sustainability remains a bright spot on the horizon. More businesses are looking to drive growth through sustainability. This means not only focusing on top-line growth but also bottom-line growth, while also augmenting social capital by driving positive impact that benefits communities and the environment.

Over the course of my company’s work with several of the world’s largest hospitality chains, airlines and cruise liners in the area of sustainable guest amenities, we help brands reach new consumers in the hospitality and travel industry. As recipient of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Pioneer for Circular Economy, I know first-hand the impact sustainability can have on business.

Below are three practical ways brands can aim to improve their overall business value, performance and positive impact.

The global intangible asset value grew from $61 trillion in 2019 to $74 trillion in 2021. According to research from McKinsey & Co, businesses in the top quartile for growth invest 2.6 times more into intangible assets than “low-growers.”

With more and more companies realizing that a portion of their value can be derived from intangibles, many are pouring in resources to strategically grow their intangibles—with sustainability being an area of focus. According to a 2022 study by NielsenIQ, 78% of consumers say “a sustainable lifestyle is important to them.” Brands that invest in sustainability can attract more customers and, in my experience, typically charge a higher price for their products.

In October 2022, LVMH announced an energy efficiency framework in partnership with shopping mall owner, Hang Lung Properties, which is expected to reduce the retailer’s energy footprint. From my perspective, I expect more value would eventually be derived from growth in their intangible value rather than actual energy cost savings.

Brands interested in positioning themselves as sustainable need to come out with more interesting stories in today’s competitive market. Simply changing your packaging and reducing energy costs is no longer sufficient to convince consumers of your sustainability edge. Impact has become a more objective yardstick to evaluate whether or not your brand is truly sustainable, and this is closely intertwined with scale to derive the actual impact of a brand in the world.

Create A Superior Business Model With Circular Design

According to the United Nations, the circular economy is a “new and inclusive economic paradigm that aims to minimize pollution and waste, extend product lifecycles and enable broad sharing of physical and natural assets.”

Given the increasing cost pressures experienced by businesses today, this new paradigm allows brands to generate value with minimal resources and correspondingly lesser impact on the environment. Recently, H&M, a large fashion retailer, pledged to be climate positive by 2040 through a textile reuse model, promoting circular design.

Circular design can be a profitable venture when brands are able and willing to make the adjustments necessary to change the status quo. Embracing a new circularity paradigm requires a holistic end-to-end understanding from the get-go. This includes product design, which minimizes the use of materials and takes into consideration the advantages of the different types of materials, a packaging approach that delivers the appropriate outcome without over-packaging, as well as a supply chain strategy that balances business performance and environmental impact.

Reach New Consumers With Sustainable Business Models

Thirdly, sustainability can also open up new business opportunities for consumer brands. Sustainability is not just about reducing carbon emissions and waste; it also involves creating innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Sustainable practices can lead to the development of new products, services and markets.

To reach new consumers with sustainable business models, brands can aim to position sustainability at their core. Consumer brands not only have the power to uniquely differentiate themselves in today’s crowded marketplace but also create an enduring competitive advantage that could lead to even greater possibilities and enhanced brand value.

If needed, consider looking for credible partners as a way to leverage each others’ strengths to drive sustainability initiatives. Ideally, a partnership should only require minimal investment, without the need for brands to reinvent the wheel. Look for a complementary partner with a successful track record; repeat customers, deep capabilities and a rich ecosystem can each be powerful multipliers for creating exponential outcomes.

By embracing sustainability, consumer brands can increase their brand’s intangible value, create superior circular design and open up new opportunities with new business models. With intangible value becoming a differentiator, your biggest gain could be from your sustainability initiatives—provided they are done authentically and with the right priorities.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2023/05/16/driving-growth-through-sustainability-three-solutions-for-brands/?sh=410f0b38258e

ESG investment funds unlikely to comply with sustainable investing rules

16 05 2023

A lack of standardised regulatory regimes for non-financial disclosures and the naming of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds across the US, UK and Europe will mean that a lot of self-proclaimed “sustainable” funds will be unable to comply with proposed legislation. From edie.net • Reposted: May 16, 2023

Analysis of more than 18,000 investment funds across Europe has found that less than 4% would be able to comply with naming laws for ESG funds across key markets.

The research, from technology platform Clarity AI, found that many would have to rename their ESG funds if they wanted to sell across the UK, US and Europe, all of which have different definitions and naming laws for non-financial disclosures and sustainability funds.

“When looking at funds with all three investment fund regimes – the US’, UK’s, and EU’s – we found that over 95% of funds with the word ‘sustainable’, or similar term, would require renaming or restructuring in order to be sold across all three markets,” Clarity AI’s head of product research and innovation Patricia Pina.

“This is not only an added cost in terms of compliance, but also underscores how different actors – in this case regulators – are interpreting the meaning of core concepts like ESG and sustainability.”

In November 2022 the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) ran a consultation to place minimum thresholds on Article 8 – which is for “light green” funds that use ESG-related terms in their names. ESMA proposed that these funds would need to ensure that 100% of the assets in each portfolio adhered to minimum safeguard thresholds that were aligned with the Paris Agreement.

It also suggested that 80% of the assets it invests in are used to meet the ESG-related characteristics that it promotes. Additionally, 50% of the assets would need to be defined as sustainable under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR).

Clarity AI’s research found that only 20% of Article 8 funds using the term “sustainable” had current plans to comply with the recommendations of the consultation. The research suggests that the recommendations from the consultation would not closely align with investing proposals in the UK or US.

ESG down the agenda

Earlier this year, separate research found that investing in sustainable assets is less important to them now than it was in 2019.

The poll was conducted by British law firm Michelmores, covering 1,500 people in the UK with a minimum of £25,000 of investable assets each. 23% of respondents said they found investing in sustainable assets less important than they did in 2019, with the cost-of-living crisis cited as the key reason for this decrease in importance.

Research from EY found that the total amount of assets under management covered by specific ESG funds reached $2.7trn in 2021, marking a 53% year-on-year increase. But as the movement’s support grows, the perception that ESG is ineffective is also becoming more widespread.

EY acknowledges that many companies, ratings agencies and investors are using different definitions of ESG and different methodologies to assess performance across each of the three pillars. Some of these methodologies are based on historic data, some on future predictions. Some assign more importance to issues that are less material to a particular sector or project than those which materiality assessments have proven to be key. Some assign more weight to the ‘E’ and/or the ‘S’ than the ‘G’.

These discrepancies have led to rating agencies assigning scores that have caused controversy. Many of these controversies are now making mainstream news. For example, MSCI and Sustainalytics both provided high ratings to care home operator Opera Group, which this year was accused of mistreating residents and faced insider trading allegations. To give another example, in 2020, fast fashion retailer Boohoo was revealed to have the backing of 20 ESG-focused funds, despite persistent and credible allegations of supply chain workers being paid illegally low wages.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.edie.net/esg-investment-funds-unlikely-to-comply-with-sustainable-investing-rules/

Top three tips to avoid greenwashing

16 05 2023

Both greenwashing and greenhushing are problematic because they make it more difficult for consumers to find the kinds of products they are seeking. Credit: NRF

Retailers are responding to the growing demand for sustainable products, but the lack of a standard definition of sustainability is proving challenging. By Isatou Ndure via just-style.com • Reposted: May 16, 2023

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing sustainable products and retailers are making efforts to meet this demand but the biggest challenge faced by both is the lack of a standard definition of what makes a product sustainable.

Consumers may have different criteria for determining sustainability, such as comparing products to traditional alternatives, evaluating full life-cycle assessments, or expecting perfection in sustainability profiles. Furthermore, different companies use various messaging to communicate their sustainability efforts, leading to confusion.

The greenwashing problem

And retailers are keen to clamp down on precisely what sustainability entails particularly as globally, legislation tightens up to prevent the misleading of consumers via green marketing. However, some companies choose to remain silent on sustainable progress known as “green muting” or “greenhushing.” This practice can also make it challenging for consumers to find sustainable products.

Best practices for sustainability messaging

The NRF has shared some tips based on US Trade Commission guidance, aimed at marketing more sustainable products:

Avoid making vague statements about a product’s sustainability 

It is recommended to make specific and accurate claims that provide clear explanations of the factors that make the product sustainable. An accurate claim that a product contains 10% recycled content, for example, is useful information for consumers seeking to buy more sustainable products. Consumers can determine whether the claim meets their own personal sustainability criteria.

Provide proof

When making environmental claims, make proof available to consumers. Such proof can include independent, third-party certifications, descriptions of audit protocols, copies of audit reports or other information available online or through a QR code. Some companies choose to share additional context to help consumers make even more informed choices:

  • Clothing company, Patagonia acknowledges that sustainability is a journey and that no product is perfectly sustainable — Patagonia explains how it is seeking to improve the environmental and social performance of its operations.
  • Other retailers include efforts to reduce their contributions to climate change by eliminating their carbon emissions, helping consumers understand the carbon footprint of retail products and transitioning toward a “circular economy” by making resale retail easier and more prevalent.

Find the right approach
As consumers continue to prioritise sustainability in their purchasing decisions, it is essential for retailers to communicate their sustainability efforts transparently and accurately, providing the necessary information for consumers to make informed choices.

If the FTC or EU inappropriately limits the ways companies talk about sustainability or discourages them from talking about it at all, it will make the consumer-driven transition to a more sustainable economy even more difficult. The best way to avoid greenwashing and greenhushing is to encourage accurate, specific and flexible sustainability messaging approaches.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.just-style.com/news/top-three-tips-to-avoid-greenwashing/

Greenwashing era is over, say ad agencies, as regulators get tough

16 05 2023

Is it over for greenwashing? Photograph: Andre M Chang/Zuma Press/PA Image

Insiders welcome stricter rules in the UK and EU over the use of terms such as ‘carbon neutral’ in adverts, and claims concerned with offsetting. By Ellen Ormesher and Patrick Greenfield via The Guardian • Reposted: May 16, 2023

Across the advertising industry, agencies are wrestling with their role in greenwashing scandals and their support for clients driving the climate and nature crises.

Companies are to face stricter rules from regulators in London and Brussels over what they can tell consumers about their role in the climate crisis and the loss of nature. Terms such as “carbon neutral”, “nature positive” and those concerned with offsetting are to undergo greater scrutiny by organisations such as the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK. In order to take meaningful action, agencies must also reconsider their relationships with major polluters, industry insiders have said.

“The era of unspecific claims such as ‘environmentally friendly’ is over,” said Jonny White, senior business director at AMV BBDO, which works with companies including Diageo, Unilever and Bupa. “Misleading environmental claims are under the microscope from advertising regulators, consumer watchdogs and even governments. The risks of getting it wrong are huge, with brands being shamed publicly when they are guilty of misleading the public,” he said.

Creative members of advertising agencies are having to work closely with their legal teams when advising clients on their climate claims, insiders have said, with an increased risk of fines and advert bans in some countries.

In the UK, the Ad Net Zero programme was launched in 2020 in a bid to reduce the carbon impact of the advertising industry’s operations to net zero by 2030, but many agencies are developing in-house teams for sustainability-focused campaigns.

“In many client organisations, there is still a big gap between the marketing and sustainability teams. They have different, often competing objectives, and are accountable in very different ways,” said Ben Essen, global chief strategy officer at the global marketing agency Iris Worldwide, which works with firms such as Adidas, Starbucks and Samsung, and is also doing the campaign for Cop26.

Essen said there is an “inherent tension” between the need to engage audiences through “often hyperbolic stories” and the need for sustainability teams to deal in the substance.

On Thursday, the European parliament voted to ban claims of carbon neutrality that are based on offsetting. The EU environment commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said firms would face greater scrutiny about their claims with offsets, but stopped short of supporting a ban, given their potential to fund climate crisis mitigation.


“Climate-related claims have been shown to be particularly prone to being unclear and ambiguous, misleading the consumer. Claims like ‘climate neutral’, ‘carbon neutral’, ‘100% CO2 compensated’ and ‘net zero’ are very often based on offsetting. We need to set things straight for consumers and give them full information,” he said.

Blake Harrop, president of Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, which works with Airbnb, Meta and Nike, said that the greenwashing clampdown in the EU and UK would provide competitive opportunities for companies that had genuine environmental credentials. “For good brands with good intentions and responsible messaging, I expect there will be little change. But for companies that have oversimplified and overstated their sustainability claims, then life is about to get complicated,” he said.

“It’s an interesting time to work in the legal department of an advertising agency. We need to pay a lot of attention to the opportunities and risks generated by AI, government policies regarding media platforms like TikTok around the world, and of course greenwashing laws.

“If all brands can claim they’re green, then you remove the incentive to win consumers based on superior commitments to the environment. This will hopefully make being an environmentally responsible brand even better for business,” he said.

Within the advertising industry there is ongoing friction regarding agencies continuing to work with fossil fuel companies. Clean Creatives, an organisation based in the US, publishes an annual “F-list” of agencies that work with some of the world’s biggest polluters. It also runs the Clean Creatives pledge, for agencies that want to swear off working with fossil fuel clients in the future. To date, more than 500 agencies have signed up.

However, Ad Net Zero has previously declared it does not stand behind that campaign, with its chair, Seb Munden, saying: “We cannot leave huge swathes of the industry behind.”

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/15/greenwashing-era-is-over-say-ad-agencies-as-regulators-get-tough

Surviving the real-world challenges of sustainability communications

15 05 2023

Image: Green Buzz

By Joel Makower, Co-founder & Chairman, Green Buzz, Reposted • May 15, 2023

Corporate communications on sustainability issues have long been a sore spot, as I’ve written about multiple times. The questions are fundamental: Talk or not talk about your company’s commitments and achievements? Speak out in an era of political pushback on environmental, social and governance issues or keep a low profile? Be accused of greenwashing or greenhushing?

That was the basis of our daylong GreenBiz Comms Summit back in February, which brought together communications, sustainability and legal professionals from inside large companies for a candid conversation about the challenges companies face when they communicate, internally or externally, about sustainability matters. Nearly 200 professionals participated in hands-on exercises, where small groups were asked to concoct messaging for several hypothetical companies, both B-to-B and B-to-C. It was, by all accounts, an engaging event.

We recently published a summary of what took place there, which I’m pleased to share, in particular the on-stage conversations as opposed to the more candid table-level work. The event was conducted under the Chatham House rule, meaning that no participants can be identified without permission.

Getting internal alignment

One session built on a column I wrote last August, about the “Bermuda Triangle” of sustainability messaging: communications, sustainability and corporate counsel. Individually, each has a slightly different interest when creating press releases and media pitches. In concert, they often undermine a company’s messaging. Among the suggestions from a panel of experts:

Bring the players together early and often. Imagine reaching the end of a cross-functional, collaborative working group with external stakeholder input — and legal wants to frame the message differently, a sustainability expert says the language is imprecise, and comms is at a loss for how to tell acompelling story. That confounding situation can be prevented by inviting key internal stakeholders to the table much earlier than may seem necessary for the project. Try day one.

Integrate the expertise from each department and speak their language. Understand the subject matter and pain points of other stakeholders, and be hyper-transparent. Long before soliciting sign-off from a subject matter expert, check and double-check the accuracy of a communication. Have resources and questions ready on an ongoing basis; don’t just spring a problem on someone during a meeting.

Have playbooks, guides and protocols ready. To disseminate an effective message, have all of your analysis and facts in order and be able to stand behind them in case there is a challenge. Prepare messaging playbooks, guides and protocols for your teammates to help them understand the whole picture involved in a messaging challenge.

Avoiding greenwash

The practice of making exaggerated or unverifiable claims about environmental benefits is widely frowned upon, butwithout a single definition for greenwashing, companies all too easily make missteps. Some takeaways:

Greenwashing charges are up. Although it’s probably impossible to quantify how much greenwashing exists, regulatory challenges related to it have risen over the past several years. These include actions by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. state attorneys general, private litigation and challenges by the Better Business Bureau.

Greenwashing is in the eye of the accuser. The FTC considers greenwashing through the eyes of the “reasonable consumer,” which leaves lots of room for interpretation. Accusations of greenwashing tend to focus on one of two things: either the types of words or even the colors used to describe a product or brand, such as lawsuits charging that Keurig falsely called its coffee pods recyclable, or the tactics used to achieve a goal, such asBloombergcalling out companies for using renewable energy credits toward their net-zero targets. Watchdog groups may target an industry leader, for example, that fumbles in efforts to decarbonize its supply chain, yet they leave alone competitors who haven’t even announced a similar initiative.

Greenwashing is ‘more sloppy than sinister’. Cases of a nefarious business setting out to mislead the public are relatively few and far between. More often, greenwashing charges tend to target companies fumbling their way through their sustainability communications. Maybe someone without the right expertise led a public relations or ad campaign or a communication gap arose from failing to speak to the right stakeholders or providing inadequate (or inaccurate) proof points.

Dealing with haters and critics

Of course, even the best-laid communications plan can attract criticism — sometimes more than if a company had said nothing at all. “The rise of anti-ESG rhetoric” was a top concern among Comms Summit attendees, according to a pre-event survey.

Adversaries who slur business leadership as “woke” for addressing the world’s urgent social and environmental challenges are true “haters,” but not every critic is a hater. Here are the three types of pushback and what to learn from them:

Haters. Haters are diametrically opposed to your existence. For instance, they may hate you as a corporation because they believe capitalism shouldn’t exist. In general, don’t listen to haters — although sometimes they offer important information about what you’re getting wrong.

Critics. Critics want you to be your best self, even if there’s no business case now for what they demand that you do. They won’t stop until you do what they say, but they tend to be right over time. Greenpeace, for example, has “been right” years ahead of the curve about climate change, biodiversity and plastics. Instead, consider critics your early warning system of what will go mainstream next.

Critical friends. Critical friends push you to do better, telling you what you’re doing isn’t good enough, calling you out on greenwash or on not reaching targets or claims. But don’t confuse critical friends for haters.

That’s a taste. There’s more insight and inspiration in this free, downloadable report. Feel free to share it with your internal and external comms partners.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGsmXDbGHvznvXqZrFKqtNShwpk

‘Sustainable’ pension funds accused of greenwashing over billions held in oil and gas firms

15 05 2023

A refinery in the US owned by ExxonMobil, one of the companies invested in by supposedly ‘green’ funds. Photograph: Barry Lewis/In Pictures/Getty Images

Warning comes as UK watchdog set to tighten rules for asset managers given short-term targets. By Bewtasy Reed, Editor from the Guardian.com • Reposted: May 15, 2023

People investing their pensions in funds that claim green credentials are being warned they may actually be backing the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

Carbon Tracker Initiative said that asset managers have invested $376bn (£295bn) in oil and gas companies, despite publicly pledging to back efforts to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C. The environmental thinktank based in London and New York found that more than 160 funds with a green label held $4.6bn in 15 companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies.

It also found that 25 members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative had invested in those companies and some had increased their holdings in 2022. NZAM said its international initiative started two years ago and investors needed time to change their strategies.

The warning comes as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority prepares to publish anti-greenwashing rules that are intended to clean up how investment funds are labelled.

Just under 50% of all UK employees now pay into employer schemes or private pensions where they can make a choice about how their money is invested – a huge rise since 2012 when employers became legally obliged to automatically enrol workers in a workplace scheme. Most people with a private pension or a stocks and shares ISA make a choice as to how their money is invested and many emphasise sustainability.

The financial industry has reacted by creating funds badged as sustainable, climate, carbon, transition or ESG – short for environmental, social and governance.

“What we found is that these funds, despite their names, can often include sometimes large positions in fossil fuel companies,” said Maeve O’Connor, one of the report’s authors, and an analyst at the Carbon Tracker Initiative. “For retail investors that could be seen to be misleading. If I’m investing in a green fund, do I want my investment to be going to ExxonMobil? Probably not.”

According to the report, BlackRock’s ACS Climate Transition World Equity Fund says it invests in companies “well-positioned to maximise the opportunities and minimise the potential risks associated with a transition to a low-carbon economy” – but it has $219m in 10 of the 15 leading oil and gas companies.

O’Connor said asset managers were usually given performance targets over short periods, which might influence their thinking. She said: “They could be assessed over two to five years and that timescale doesn’t really fit with the realities of the energy transition.”

Coalitions such as UK Divest and Share Action campaign for pension funds to be invested sustainably. Robert Noyes, an energy economist at Platform London, part of UK Divest, said that with about £2tn invested in pensions, it was the largest source of investment in the UK and people should ask their pension providers for information.

“People should ask three questions,” he said. “Does it invest in the problem, like a company that spends money on fossil fuels? Does it invest in things that drive changes in the real economy that lead environmental programmes? So, for example, it’s hard to see how investing in Microsoft is driving a change towards net zero.

“And thirdly, is it vocal about the need for political action?”

A spokesperson for NZAM said that while its partners “share Carbon Tracker’s perspective that the oil and gas industry must very rapidly decarbonise to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, the Net Zero Asset Managers’ commitment statement does not require signatories to choose equity holdings to meet a particular climate target”. It added: “Passive investors cannot divest from the oil and gas sector without significantly changing their investment strategy.”

NZAM expected those funds with passive portfolios to engage in dialogue with companies, proxy voting and policy advocacy to align their holdings with the 1.5C commitment. Asset managers depended on governments to follow through their own commitments under the Paris agreement, the spokesperson added.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/may/14/sustainable-pension-funds-accused-of-greenwashing-over-billions-held-in-oil-and-gas-firms

Why 2023 Is (Finally) The Year of the Sustainability Pivot

15 05 2023

Image: Sustainable Brands

Four key trends are converging this year to create a permanent shift toward sustainability across industries — with implications for tech innovation, the planet and companies that have yet to start their sustainability transformation. By Jeff Herbert from Sustainablebrands.com • Reposted: May 15, 2023

Despite economic uncertainty, tech industry woes and a tightening VC market, money and talent are flowing into climate technology development at an unprecedented pace. This is accelerating progress and offering hope for meeting global decarbonization targets to mitigate temperature rise. We’re also seeing renewable energy solidifying its status as the “world’s cheapest source of energy.”‌

Why is all of this happening now, after many years of underinvestment in and debate about climate mitigation? Four key trends are converging this year to create a permanent shift toward sustainability across industries — with implications for tech innovation, the planet and companies that have yet to start their sustainability transformation.

4 trends driving the sustainability pivot

Workers seeking work with purpose

The first trend is a desire to make a positive impact and find meaningful work. The pandemic gave many of us more time to consider what we’re doing with our lives and with our technology. During the Great Reshuffling, as many as 90 percent of people in the labor market “changed roles in some way” in response to the pandemic. Gallup data confirms that workplace engagement plummeted and stress surged during 2021 — with most workers saying “they don’t find their work meaningful, don’t think their lives are going well or don’t feel hopeful about their future.”

Now, as the pandemic shifts from an acute crisis to a chronic issue, people are seeking work they feel has demonstrable value in the world.

Broader acceptance and understanding of climate change

Another trend is widespread awareness of climate impacts. With more time during the pandemic to ponder our life paths, a lot of us also had the opportunity to pay closer attention to the effects of the ongoing climate crisis — many of which we’re experiencing firsthand. For example, the wildfire proliferation in the western USdecimated many lives and properties; it also made the COVID situation worse for people living in areas polluted with smoke. Elsewhere, hurricanes are becoming more powerful and causing more damagethrough storm surges and flooding when they reach land.

What used to feel like an academic debate in the public sphere about climate change is now a conversation about what we’re going through today — and what we can urgently do to stop or slow the processes that are driving climate change. Consumers are reacting with more conscious purchasing behaviors, a willingness to pay a premium for more sustainable products, and votes for political candidates who promise to pursue climate solutions. Companies are responding, with increasingly bold climate commitments (including those from Microsoft and Google) and more Chief Sustainability Officers being hired in 2021than the prior five years combined.

The Inflation Reduction Act

The desire for meaningful work and the growing concern over climate change are intersecting with a third trend: A massive investment by the US in climate technologies through the Inflation Reduction Act. The tens of billions in federal loans offered through various IRA programs are projected to result in hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of investment by the private sector.

In particular, the IRA has accelerated the rate of investment in and development of carbon-capture and -removal technologies. For example, tech giants Google, FacebookStripe andShopify recently partnered to form Frontier — a $925M fund for carbon removal.

Tech layoffs

The fourth trend fueling this year’s sustainability pivot is the reversal of the big tech hiring boom. Instead of drawing in most of the talent, now the traditional tech sector is undergoing rounds of layoffs and hiring freezes. Over 130,000 workers in US-based tech companies have been laid off in mass job cuts so far in 2023 — giving emerging climate tech innovators access to the kinds of engineering and project management talent that were “once thought un-poachable” from tech giants such as Twitter and Meta.

An urgent need for more climate tech deployment

This pivot is resulting in new and expanded use cases for a variety of climate-mitigation technologies. For example, carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) tech prevents carbon from escaping industrial processes into the atmosphere, transforms it, and sequesters or eliminates it. CCUS has applications across energy-intensive domains including utilities, manufacturing, food production and food-waste management. Additionally, an increasing number of companies are pursuing direct air capture (DAC) and the associated carbon-credit market through a wide range of processes — from scaling natural carbon sinks such as kelp to chemical processes to scrubbing carbon straight from the air. Other technologies can help companies improve their operational efficiency and reduce their energy usage to reduce their carbon footprint; still others are behind new forms of renewable energy production and storage, as well as the growing electrification of vehicles ranging from bikes to 18-wheelers.

Climate tech innovations are happening at legacy companies such as fossil fuel producers, as well as at small startups. That’s crucial, because the International Energy Agency estimates that in order to reach net-zero carbon emissions globally by 2050, we need to be capturing 1,286 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030. Currently, we’re capturing about 45 metric tonnes per year.

Beyond carbon-capture initiatives for industry, the sustainability pivot also hinges on another goal: reducing the carbon footprint of basically every product and process. There are opportunities for companies to reduce the impact of existing products by creating circular pathways such as resalerefurbishment and recycling. Products in development must also be made as sustainable as possible, considering everything from their raw materials and manufacturing to transport, use and end of life. These improvements not only address consumer preferences for sustainable products, they create other kinds of business value. For example, Forrester lists enhanced innovation, employee retention, regulatory compliance and revenue growth among the benefits of optimizing for sustainability.

Pivoting toward a sustainable future

As exciting as these developments in the climate tech space are, the pivotal changes we’re seeing this year are just the beginning of a longer-term sustainability transformation. By 2045, annual investment into CCUS technology is projected to exceed $150 billion — and that’s just one domain within the array of climate technologies now on the market and in development. For employees, investors, business and governments, this shift to a focus on sustainability offers meaning, purpose, the potential for value creation and a healthier planet; this year’s trends are bringing together the awareness, talent and capital to make it happen. As a result, there’s never been a better time for organizations to lean into their sustainability goals and accelerate their progress toward them.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://sustainablebrands.com/read/defining-the-next-economy/2023-finally-year-sustainability-pivot

The target audience for sustainability ads is exactly who you think

12 05 2023

By Jordan Wollman via Politico • Reposted; May 12, 2023

SURVEY SAYS — The data is pretty clear-cut on who brands should target for sustainability-related marketing campaigns: It’s younger urban women.

A new predictive model from BlueLabs Analytics shared first with POLITICO scores American adults on their likelihood of making purchasing choices based on sustainability.

Perhaps the topline takeaway isn’t too surprising. But BlueLabs, a Washington-based data science service, found some other interesting data points that could be useful for brands looking to figure out who might be persuadable.

For one, the gaps based on gender, age and location were stark. Women were 19 percent more likely than men to say they’d made purchases based on sustainability, people aged 18 to 29 were 23 percent more likely to be sustainability consumers and people living in urban areas were 25 percent more likely.

White people were the racial demographic least likely to be sustainability consumers, with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders the most likely.

A chart showing gender disparities.

A “sustainability consumer” is described as someone who responded to BlueLabs’ February survey of 1,800 American adults and said that in the last two weeks they had purchased a product or service because it was the environmentally friendly choice. BlueLabs then applied a model based on the survey to the country’s nearly 200 million adults to identify those most likely to make purchasing decisions on that basis.

The model showed that people in communities of color were more eager to make purchasing decisions based on sustainability compared with white people, said Meagan Knowlton, director of sustainability practice at BlueLabs. Knowlton clarified that the model doesn’t address whether a person actually made the environmentally friendly choice, but rather focuses on the individual’s perception of whether they actively made a sustainable purchase.

“It was the communities of color that were really exciting to us,” Knowlton said. “We think that this is an area that brands should really move forward exploring when designing or advertising products.”

The model identified 38 million Americans who rank within the top 20 percent of sustainability consumer scores — and in general, they’re more easily reached by digital and social media than cable TV or radio. Of those, 77 percent are women, with 37 percent being single women. About one-fifth are people aged 50 to 64.

BlueLabs conducted the research and compiled the report, and no brands paid for it, Knowlton said.

To see the original post, follow this link: https://www.politico.com/newsletters/the-long-game/2023/05/11/the-target-audience-for-sustainability-ads-is-exactly-who-you-think-00096406