ESG in 2021: The State of Play

February 25, 2021 by  
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ESG in 2021: The State of Play Date/Time: March 18, 2021 (1-2PM ET / 10-11AM PT) The world of environmental, social and governance metrics and ratings has entered a new and dynamic phase. Suddenly, nearly every publicly held company — and many privately held firms — are examining their policies and programs through the lens of investors’ rising interest in ESG metrics. For their part, investors are learning that corporate environmental and social activities are no longer a nice-to-do activity — they are core to well-managed and profitable companies. As a result, ESG has moved from the margins to the mainstream. What are the implications for today’s sustainability and finance professionals? How can they serve the interests of investor relations departments, risk professionals and other internal stakeholders who have become part of the ESG ecosystem inside companies?  In this one-hour webcast, you’ll hear the state of play from two industry insiders. Among the things you’ll learn: What are the key ESG metrics investors are examining? What are the opportunities for sustainability professionals to play a leadership role in their company’s ESG strategy? How will the Biden administration affect the trajectory of ESG transparency and disclosure? What are the rising ESG issues that investors are considering in assessing companies? Moderator: Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Speakers: Thomas Kamei, Executive Director, Investment Management, Morgan Stanley Tessie Petion, Head, ESG Engagement, Amazon If you can’t tune in live, please register and we will email you a link to access the archived webcast footage and resources, available to you on-demand after the webcast. taylor flores Thu, 02/25/2021 – 11:53 Joel Makower Chairman & Executive Editor GreenBiz Group @makower Thomas Kamei Executive Director, Investment Management Morgan Stanley Tessie Petion Head, ESG Engagement Amazon gbz_webcast_date Thu, 03/18/2021 – 10:00 – Thu, 03/18/2021 – 11:00

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ESG in 2021: The State of Play

Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals

February 16, 2021 by  
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Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals Joel Makower Tue, 02/16/2021 – 02:11 Last week, during GreenBiz 21, Jarami Bond — a new colleague but an old friend — announced the launch of a new nonprofit “that exists solely to nurture and empower BIPOC professionals to accelerate a just transition to a clean economy,” as he described it. It was a moment of deep pride for all of us. The nonprofit, spun out of the for-profit GreenBiz Group as an independent entity, was born of our longstanding efforts to counter the overwhelming whiteness of the sustainable business profession — and sustainability overall — but was energized by the events of last summer, as the topic of racial justice burst from the margins to the mainstream across the United States and beyond. GreenBiz.org is the response to a range of confounding challenges so many of us have voiced in both public and private settings. Among them: Why aren’t there more Black, Indigenous and people of color — BIPOC, in today’s argot — working in sustainability? Speaking on behalf of the predominantly white corporate sustainability movement, how can we, individually and collectively, better engage, serve and learn from communities of color, the tens of millions of our fellow humans who may not look like us? Where are the opportunities to lift BIPOC voices, to elevate and amplify the ideas and proven solutions from communities outside our sphere? Perhaps we need to create a bigger sphere. I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities. I’ll let Bond describe the purpose of this new organization, pulling from his moving and passionate presentation at GreenBiz 21. (You can watch his entire 10-minute talk here . Click on the Tuesday keynote, starting at 41:00 on the video.) Bond began by sharing his own story, as his childhood love for the environment turned into a career path, starting at Interface, the iconic flooring company. Along the way, he said: I recognized that something huge was missing, something that I felt was integral to our field accomplishing the big, bold goals it was chasing after. And that missing link was people that looked like me, Black- and Brown-melanated souls. Throughout his time in both college and Corporate America, Bond said, “I grew used to being the only Black person in my class or on my team — the face of the race, navigating microaggressions and flagrant assumptions, wrestling with double consciousness, challenging those who wanted me to conform to majority culture, and trying to posture myself constantly to defy the stereotypes, even challenging those who tried to suppress my blackness to make themselves more comfortable, or make a caricature of it for their own entertainment.” Jarami Bond speaking to the GreenBiz 21 audience. Amid his personal struggles, Bond saw an opportunity to align his profession with his passion: I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities, with the stakeholders at the front of the march advocating for equity and justice. We need all hands on deck. In parallel, as my colleagues and I at GreenBiz Group began to sketch out the vision for a new nonprofit, I knew exactly who to enlist to help. As a strategic adviser to GreenBiz.org, Bond is leading the efforts to stand up this organization and to articulate its purpose, as he did so eloquently last week: We envision a vibrant ecosystem of individuals, organizations and communities working symbiotically to transform our field culturally and dismantle environmental injustice. We will convene companies, nonprofits, activists and community stakeholders to bolster the resilience of disadvantaged and marginalized communities. We will foster belonging and support the career development of BIPOC sustainability professionals. We will help fund BIPOC social entrepreneurs spearheading startups and small businesses focused on innovating toward a clean economy through an intersectional lens. We will support creators of color telling stories about the emerging clean economy through that same intersectional lens. We will also create spaces for BIPOC sustainability professionals to build community fostering deeper connection and support. He concluded, as he began, on a personal note: “I am over-the-moon excited because I’ve been working to create what I and so many in our space have been dreaming of for so long. … I truly believe that our field will be different because this nonprofit exists.” We are over-the-moon excited, too — about the potential for this new organization to open the sustainability tent far wider than before to include voices and faces not traditionally heard and seen within the mainstream business community. And to — finally — harness a far broader swath of knowledge, wisdom and experience about what it means to live in a sustainable world. And how we can all get there together. Much more to come as GreenBiz.org takes wing. For now, we welcome interested parties: funders; strategic partners; and professionals excited about the new entity’s vision and goals. Sign up for updates here , or email Bond directly: jarami@greenbiz.org . I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote I believe that in light of the empathy that exists at the core of our work, we as sustainability professionals must continue to be linked arm-in-arm with BIPOC communities. Topics Social Justice State of the Profession Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Introducing GreenBiz.org, a new nonprofit for BIPOC professionals

GRI and SASB are collaborating. Is that good news for companies?

July 13, 2020 by  
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GRI and SASB are collaborating. Is that good news for companies? Joel Makower Sun, 07/12/2020 – 17:56 For years, corporate reporters — those inside companies responsible for creating sustainability reports and reporting environmental, social and governance data to various other organizations — have been frustrated by what many refer to as an alphabet soup of standards and frameworks: CDP, GRI, IIRC, PRI, SASB, TCFD, UNGC and more. And while they grumbled at how those various organizations’ requests weren’t harmonized, they dutifully complied with their requests and mandates. Finally, help may be on the way. Today, two of those organizations — GRI, formerly the Global Reporting Initiative, and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, better known as SASB — are announcing a collaborative effort to help ease that confusion and, not insignificantly, position their standards as the most consequential. “Our basic SASB 101 pitch that we give to everyone we speak to talks about SASB and GRI as being complementary, but we never could break through into the public sphere with that message,” SASB CEO Janine Guillot told me. “It was always this conflict narrative, which was extremely frustrating.” The “conflict narrative” wasn’t without foundation. For years, the two organizations competed for attention and dominance among corporate reporters, NGOs and the mainstream investor community. Sometimes it got contentious. For example, at a sustainability reporting conference in Singapore last fall, the CEOs of GRI and SASB “traded barbs over whose was the superior standard,” according to one report  — a “showdown,” as sustainability reporting expert Elaine Cohen called it. For years, the two organizations competed for attention and dominance. Sometimes it got contentious. At the event, SASB’s then-CEO Madelyn Antoncic called GRI too difficult for investors to understand and for companies to compare their performance with peers. GRI CEO Tim Mohin pointed out that its standard is used by 75 percent of the world’s largest companies. “With those numbers, I don’t see how what SASB is saying can be true,” he said. But that was so last year. SASB has a new CEO — Guillot — who joined SASB five years ago after a decade on the investing side with Barclays and CalPERS, and who came to her CEO job with a strong working relationship with Mohin. Now, the two are in lockstep — baby steps for now — to help the customers of sustainability data “understand the similarities and differences in the information created from these standards,” according to a joint briefing document. The time may be ripe for such a collaboration, for several reasons. One is the growing focus on sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics by the mainstream investment community, creating a greater need for a set of dominant standards to emerge. If there was any question about this trend, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink cast away all doubts in his annual shareholder letter , which referenced SASB and TCFD, the reporting framework created by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. Such harmonized metrics are needed even within companies, where sustainability departments are communicating with far more stakeholders. “You’ve got a much broader base of people who are interested in talking about these topics, coming from a much broader array of disciplines,” said Mohin, including “an investor relations person, a corporate secretary, a general counsel, a financial controller, a marketing communications person and an HR person. All of a sudden, you’ve got to bring together these multidisciplinary teams within both companies and investors. And that goes all the way up to the board, since boards of directors are now interested in these topics.” Of course, outside the corporation is another small army of interested groups — customers, employees, regulators, etc. — seeking easily understood and comparable data about companies’ sustainability performance. And then there’s COVID. “If the COVID-19 pandemic has showed us anything, it’s that nonfinancial disclosure is very meaningful from a global financial standpoint, and that the concept of what is financially material and what is considered not financially material is a very dynamic thing,” Mohin explained. “We went from the issues that are important in a pandemic being sort of down the list to being front and center overnight. And now we have the issues of racial justice and inequality front and center. We’ve seen how the events of the world can change that definition for a company very, very quickly, which I think is one of the very important messages here of why GRI and SASB need to work together.” The pandemic has put into sharper focus a number of aspects of corporate performance, including business contributions to biodiversity loss and the resulting increased potential for disease outbreaks; and the need for more resilient supply chains, especially for essential goods such as food and medicine, as Guillot pointed out recently on GreenBiz . Harmony and collaboration For now, the two organizations’ work together will focus on going into the marketplace with harmonized, complementary messages. One goal, Mohin said, is to “understand how the different standards are used by companies. And then take the next step, which is to show in practice companies that are using both standards.” Another goal is to “demonstrate with real live companies who are reporting to both sets of standards how the companies are doing it, why they’re doing it and what kind of information each provides for stakeholders,” Guillot said. She also suggested the possibility of doing some “mock disclosures,” pulling together best practices from across multiple companies. For now, the two organizations’ work together will focus on going into the marketplace with harmonized, complementary messages. Beyond that is a world of other collaboration possibilities, about which neither Mohin nor Guillot would speculate. Can the GRI-SASB hookup change the game? Mike Wallace thinks so. Wallace — who ran GRI’s North America operation from 2009 to 2014, and who remains laser focused on reporting standards and ESG ratings methodologies in his role as a partner at the consultancy ERM — believes that greater collaboration could especially help those just beginning the reporting “journey.” “It is a confusing space for new entrants when one considers the various options, requests and suggestions for how to address the growing demand for ESG information,” he told me, citing “at least a half-dozen disclosure options.” “We are regularly integrating a range of the frameworks, guidelines and standards together for clients,” Wallace added. “For those companies that are just getting started, the GRI and SASB collaboration will be greatly appreciated.” True, we’ve seen this movie before. The two organizations have long discussed the opportunities for collaboration. Two years ago, we reported on a Bloomberg-funded effort to bring the GRI and SASB standards “in line with each other wherever possible.” And then there’s the proposed reporting framework announced in January at the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos. Created by WEF’s International Business Council in collaboration with the Big Four accounting firms and endorsed by the CEOs of 140 large companies, it recommends a set of core metrics and disclosures “to be reflected in the mainstream annual reports of companies on a consistent basis across industry sectors and countries.” But it doesn’t exactly see doing away with SASB, GRI and their kin. As reported by the Financial Times, the WEF framework “takes inspiration from existing disclosure frameworks such as SASB, the Global Reporting Initiative and the TCFD and will also include the EU’s new taxonomy that defines green instruments.” Confusing? It seems harmonization and simplification of corporate sustainability reporting may still be a ways off. Still, the SASB-GRI announcement is promising. Both organizations believe that transparency — and particularly performance metrics and comparable information — lead to improved societal outcomes. Said SASB’s Guillot: “If financial and nonfinancial stakeholders have access to information and can compare company performance on issues, then our theory of change is that companies will compete to improve performance and that at the end of the day leads to improved sustainability outcomes.” Which is, after all, the point. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote For years, the two organizations competed for attention and dominance. Sometimes it got contentious. For now, the two organizations’ work together will focus on going into the marketplace with harmonized, complementary messages. Topics Reporting Finance & Investing ESG Transparency Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz Group

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GRI and SASB are collaborating. Is that good news for companies?

Signs of progress for green chemistry

March 4, 2020 by  
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Three advances are bringing the concept into the mainstream: better communications, policy support and meaningful collaboration.

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Signs of progress for green chemistry

Have biomaterials reached a tipping point?

August 31, 2016 by  
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Biomaterials have come a long way. With companies such as Walmart and Dupont already embracing them, the technology may be about to hit the mainstream.

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Have biomaterials reached a tipping point?

Accountants guilty of ignoring material ‘natural capital’ risks

November 12, 2012 by  
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Major new report confirms growing numbers of firms accept seriousness of natural capital risks, but reporting on environmental impacts remains patchy.

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Accountants guilty of ignoring material ‘natural capital’ risks

At Hilton, U.S. Navy, recycling goes to the mattresses

November 12, 2012 by  
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The U.S. Navy and Hilton Hotels have begun their own programs to recycle the tens of thousands of mattresses they use each year; a further sign of how sustainability has entered the mainstream.

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At Hilton, U.S. Navy, recycling goes to the mattresses

Striking a delicate balance: Economic growth and sustainability

September 7, 2012 by  
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A growing number of companies are incorporating sustainability programs into their development planning — and bringing the concept of environmentally sustainable business growth into the mainstream.

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Striking a delicate balance: Economic growth and sustainability

11 Steps to Mainstream Your Green Products

January 31, 2012 by  
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Who is really committed to buying green, what are their motivations, and how can we reach them? OgilvyEarth has figured it out, and presented their findings from a new report, presented at the Greeniz Forum in New York City.

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11 Steps to Mainstream Your Green Products

"Stop the Environment": Let’s Kill it Before it Kills Us… (NSFW Reno 911/Ed Asner Video)

August 15, 2011 by  
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Screengrab: Funny or Die Earlier today, Mat reported on how dismal the mainstream media’s coverage of this year’s extreme weather has been: Major news outlets, those perceived both to be left and right leaning, fail more often than not to discuss any possible links with climate change. Instead, they’re content to harp on how we’re being relentlessly hammered by mother nature: crippling heat wa… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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"Stop the Environment": Let’s Kill it Before it Kills Us… (NSFW Reno 911/Ed Asner Video)

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