Corporate responsibility trends and leadership in 2012

Following on from my last post on random global trends that matter for sustainable business, here are some corporate responsibility-specific ones:

CR trends in 2012:

Integrated reporting: Combining financial and non-financial/sustainability information: Will it take hold and make a difference? Not clear as yet. Some leading companies ARE pushing CR data via the CFO to drive integration.

John Ruggie’s work: Ruggie’s Framework for Business and Human Rights now provides a genuinely workable framework for companies, governments and others on human rights as a management discipline

New standards and more in-depth Guidelines are being developed and used by companies: ISO 26,000, IFC Performance Standards, OECD Guidelines, Global Reporting Initiative etc

Investor coalitions are increasingly demanding data on water alongside carbon. (CDP / CERES)

In 2011 the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development released biz standards to measure, report & manage carbon emissions in supply chains and throughout product life cycles through Greenhouse Gas Protocol

Ethical Corporation research shows large companies pushing transparency and data requirements into Tier One suppliers: Energy, Carbon, Water top areas of interest, alongside supply chain audit fraud and resilience.

Ethical Corporation Research shows progressive companies are prioritising the following areas:

– Energy and resource efficiency
– Supply chain resilience
– Data gathering and collation in the business and down the supply chain
– Re-assuring and enthusing employees and customers
– Being more and more transparent with investors, stakeholders and governments.
– Constantly re-iterating the business case and selling internally
– Natural capital, biodiversity, habitat offsetting, even species trading, are all coming up the agenda slowly, but will accelerate as knowledge grows…Look at how work on climate change accelerated…

The leading companies are making a serious contribution to areas of public debate: Climate change, animal welfare, water use, supply chain standards etc etc, in a few different ways:

1) Engaging sustainability experts on key areas of debate to learn and share (PepsiCo Roundtables)

2) Engaging young people / the next and new generations on sustainability (Unilever and One Young World)

3) Working with media and membership organisations to promote innovative ideas (Accenture, Ethical Corporation)

4) Supporting progressive plans and ideas from Government and contributing to them (Davos)

5) Working on public campaigns to drive behaviour change and encourage consumer efficiency (M&S, Unilever, Anglian Water)

The leading companies in a recent experts survey were:

Marks & Spencer
Novo Nordisk

What have they all got in common?

Buy in, a plan, and resources. That obviously matters. Many other factors are in play, but those three matter most.

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