Sustainable Brands - A Recap

October 7, 2013

Last week, I traveled to the Sustainable Brands conference on the campus of the University of Penn to present with Bridgestone Americas on "The Three Waves of Sustainability Reporting" and the Sustainability Reporting Hub that I have helped Bridgestone develop. 

The following are a few key takeaways from our presentation and audience Q&A:

* Reporting Waves - Most companies have progressed through the "three waves" of sustainability reporting: posting information/data to company websites, adhering to various reporting programs, and now pushing and pulling sustainability information across the value chain (most commonly through Sustainability Surveys).

* Common Issue - Sustainability Surveys are a major burden and issue to many companies. The number of surveys and variety of requests coming in are now inundating folks. A solution is needed, which is where the Hub comes in.

* No one reporting initiative (e.g. GRI), index (e.g. DJSI), or ranking (e.g. Newsweek) contains the full spectrum of metrics needed to fulfill the three waves of reporting. The Hub contains the metrics of twelve leading initiatives, indices, and rankings

* Next Step - The key now is find a way to link companies into a shared Hub to maximize efficiency, i.e. so that every company doesn’t have to create its own Hub.


The following are a few key takeaways from thought leaders presenting at Sustainable Brands:

* Tangible Value - a common pushback on sustainability is the lack of clarity on ROI or the tangible value, especially around social metrics.  SAP presented that you can quantify social metrics. For example, sustainability programs are often tied to employee retention -- SAP calculated that 1% employee turnover at SAP costs them 32M Euro.

* The Sustainability Leadership Report - BrandLogic presented summary points from their recent Report which surveyed three “highly attentive audiences”: Investors, Recent Graduates, and Supply Chain Presidents.  They found that social metrics were two times more important than environmental metrics to these key stakeholders. Their Report summarizes 100 corporations on two axes (Reality, Perception) and four resulting quadrants (Leaders, Challengers, Promoters, Laggards). To find out what company results, click here.

* The Sustainable Company - a “gold standard” for defining a sustainable company is still missing. Bob Willard presented his take on what that standard would be from an environmental standpoint:

- GHG Emissions: None (or better)
- Energy: 100% Renewable
- Water Used: Fair share or net zero
- Materials: 100% recycled/renewable
- Waste: Net zero (or better)
- Land/water pollution: Zero
- Air pollution: Zero
- Land use: Restorative

Sustainable Brands conferences continue to grow in their importance of bringing leading organizations together for moving sustainability forward and further.  Click here to find a list of upcoming Sustainable Brands events.



 

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