KPMG Study Finds Businesses See Real Benefits from Sustainability Strategies

I recently speculated that the era of Jack Welch is over and, for long enough, have been “banging on” about Sustainability being a win/win/win (People – Planet – Profit) strategy. If you were expecting a different message you will be disappointed. I would reiterate:

Sustainability, like Complexity management, isn’t just “good for business” it’s good for everyone.

Companies with aspirations to participate in supply chains with some of the biggest brands on the planet will already have an understanding of what is required…and the long term benefits. We should all hope that the message cascades AND that the smartest organisations invest in building-in business robustness and resilience for the uncertain times ahead.

Here is even more proof of a sound business strategy: Read more of this post

The case for (CSR) Sustainability

I wholeheartedly believe that business cannot talk seriously about the future, “sustainable competitive advantage” and “sustainable profits” with out embracing sustainability. Any “Business Leader” worthy of the title must realise that “business” does not exist in a vacuum but is reliant upon every other domain within our global ecosystem! Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto

I would recommend anyone with an interest in embedding sustainability into their business to read Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability. He is, after all, the man who was “vilified” by the green lobby for working with Wal-Mart but, low-and-behold, a few years down the line, here in this article about CSR and sustainability we have the CEO – of a firm with a once dubious reputation in this field – extolling the virtues of just such an approach. They would not be doing so unless it showed on their bottom-line!!!


Sustainability, like Complexity management, isn’t just “good for business” it’s good for everyone.


This extract from 2Sustain, a great blog on the subject matter:      


Again and again, I’ve seen how sound CSR policy translates into solid business success, and that’s precisely why the title of Aneel Karnani’s recent Wall Street Journal article, The Case Against Corporate Social Responsibility, caught my eye.


In sum, Karnani’s basic premise is that CSR efforts are either irrelevant or ineffective. “The idea that companies have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so is fundamentally flawed,” he writes . . .


. . . and I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I whole-heartedly disagree.


The concept of CSR isn’t flawed. What’s flawed is the mind-set that adheres blindly to the tired, old mantra that claims “the business of business is doing business.”

Sure, businesses want to make profits. But ultimately, the ability to make profits is affected by social and environmental issues. Scarce natural resources drive up prices. Poverty and poor education impact the workforce. The list goes on and on, and any company with ambition must realize that they have no choice but to engage –not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because in the end, a commitment to CSR helps mitigate risks and ultimately, benefits the bottom line.


McKinsey & Company deep dives into these issues in the report, Shaping the Future: Solving Social Problems through Business Strategy. Sub-titled, “Pathways to sustainable value creation in 2020,” this paper encourages a shift in mind-set, a new approach that enables companies to create value while simultaneously addressing social problems.


As Mike Duke, CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., explains in the report, “More will be expected from market leaders and globally successful companies, and those companies who are most involved will be most successful, creating an upward spiral.”


Bill Weldon, from Johnson & Johnson, agrees. “We all have to contribute to sustainable solutions over time –not any one group can do it alone,” he says. “You cannot assume that everyone else will address the problem and that you do not have to engage. If we do not align ourselves and work in a collective way on these social issues, everybody will be worse off.”


So, despite Karnani’s outdated and hollow insistence that CSR is ineffective and irrelevant, I’m going to side with business leaders like Duke and Weldon and continue to make the Case for Corporate Social Responsibility. In our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, there really is no other way to achieve long-term business success.

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Financial Sector: Stop selling [and start listening]…for success

I understand why there is a fear of transparency BUT if you have heard the name Warren Buffett you may already be aware of this, abridged, little “gem” from is considerable stock of ready wisdom in quip form:

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”

The cost of social media is paid in a currency called transparency. But it is a price worth paying. Forming the basis for a strategy that can deliver, secure and sustain a strategy with competitive advantage through differentiated products and services.

How else is a financial institution ever going to cultivate 2 million “fans”?

Banking and financial

JPMorgan Chase went from an unpopulated community with little to no member activity to very active (more than 2 million fans) by using a tight focus, such as using the community to determine where to “invest” its charitable donations. The communities that do well tend to focus on a very specific segment, such as small businesses or support CSR initiatives.

Customers WILL pay more to socially responsible companies

Apparently even when the CSR message is poorly delivered people will pay more for goods (and services) that are not solely about feeding greed and profit. On the contrary put something “back in.”

We know that there’s growing –and well-warranted –skepticism among consumers regarding greenwashing, but what about public perception on the flip-side? Are companies getting the recognition they deserve for genuine achievement in environmental stewardship, human rights, philanthropy, and the like?

According to the results of a study released last month, the answer to that question is, unfortunately, no.

The research-based consultancy Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, brand consulting firm Landor Associates, and strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller polled 1,001 American consumers to test their perceptions of 69 different brands, 23 of which were also ranked in the Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2009 (CRO 100).
The researchers found no correlation between performance on key metrics and consumer perceptions. For example, only 30% of consumers surveyed considered Gap, Inc. to be a socially responsible company, yet it ranked 61st on the CRO 100.

“There is a definite disconnect between companies’ corporate social responsibility initiatives and the public’s perception and awareness of them,” says Scott Siff, Executive Vice President of Penn, Schoen & Berland. “Companies are not successfully delivering messages to consumers about their efforts in this area, despite the fact that many consumers say they would rather make purchases from socially responsible companies.”

Siff’s comments are backed-up by data from the survey. A full 75% of those polled indicated a willingness to pay more for products from companies they know to be socially responsible. More than half said they can pay at least 6% more on a $100 purchase to patronize such companies.

But, even so, few survey respondents could identify a responsible company. Only 13% mentioned the top-scoring company (Bristol Myers-Squibb). No company stood out as a leader in social responsibility.

Clearly, organizations need to better communicate their CSR achievements with consumers –and, based on these survey results, companies that are successful in doing are likely to be rewarded with market share.

How much more appealing to a customer then to know that, by their intellectual input and participation, they could bring genuine savings, benefits and opportunities to their business.In addition, by protecting, their business, by means of insurance products and a range of related support services, they have the ability to share in the profits they generate.

I am very interested to talk to potential investors, partners, participants and other genuinely interested parties. There may be scope to participate in shaping and executing a new business model. However, sorry to say that, for a variety of legitimate business reasons my/our preference (for Phase 1) is to work with Scottish firms unless there is a really strong case for consideration!

David G Wilson
M: 07919917150