The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) results for 2008 are out, and although I’m not a huge fan of corporate sustainability beauty pageants, this one is probably the most credible measure of performance yet. That said, the DJSI is a far from perfect measure of corporate sustainability performance and contribution towards global sustainable development.
James Farrar focuses on the business balance between financial performance and social-environmental impact.
James has more than 15 years of experience working on corporate sustainability issues from both the corporate and NGO campaigning perspective.
It's fun to think of similes to categorise the headlong rush towards CO2 reductions or at least the pledges for such. I think of Vodafone's pledge of a 50% cut of the 2007 baseline by 2020 as a 'Big Adventure'.
Ground breaking stuff in HPs latest CSR report released last week - HP becomes the first in its sector to publish details of the major players in its supply chain. Now it seems the tech sector will follow the apparel industry on supplier transparency.
Once you penetrate some of the sustainability hype the key question at board level is this: what action are you actually prepared to take? For a problem like climate change, where there is no regulatory hurdle and action is voluntary though enlightened by self interest, what action is enough?
It's a conundrum every company faces when thinking about sustainability reporting - who reads this stuff anyway and do these reports actually assure anyone of anything? Sustainability reporting methodologies have grown up, for better or for worse, to ape financial reporting, replete with their own standards of assurance audit and verification.
No doubt the IBM top team will be passing around the Tylenol today in Armonk as they figure out what to do next after their temporary exclusion from further contracting with the US Federal government. Sadly it is not an April fool's joke - the US Attorney's office for the Eastern Division of Virginia has served subpoenas seeking documents and evidence relating to IBM's contracts with the US Environmental Protection Agency.
At the risk of endlessly re boiling the cabbage on the now infamous Sarah Lacy interview of Mark Zuckerberg at SXSW, it is worth highlighting some pretty important things he had to say on Facebook & corporate philanthropy before the reporter became the bigger part of the story.
A disturbing article this week in the FT reports how cassiterite sourced through the use of child and slave labour has made it into the supply chains of global electronic goods manufacturers. Cassiterite is a derivative of tin ore necessarily used in circuitry and its use has, ironically, enabled devices to become more eco friendly.
Quite honestly it is hard to take too, too seriously sustainability ratings such as the CRO 100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2008 but they are kind of fun to pull apart none the less. Predictably these rankings generate a fair degree of false humility from the ascendant and gnashing and wailing from the descendant.
PwC is to be congratulated at the very least for the aesthetics of their latest report: Going Green: Sustainable Growth Strategies. This is a truly handsome report with pretty brown coloured text interspersed with striking images of wind turbines, sail boats, happy children, adults playing in autumn foliage and even slightly more obscurely, a flamenco dancer.