Our first blog, How Sustainability Can Save Business, reframes the common purpose of traditional Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practitioners -- that of "saving the environment." Our premise: Given the social and economic frameworks and institutions of our society, more can be accomplished (and faster) by viewing sustainability as an economic opportunity relevant to business, compared to viewing it as an environmental initiative in isolation of business. Therefore the goal of "saving the environment" may be more appropriately framed as "saving business." Our perspective is pragmatic; that the worthy purpose of "saving the environment" is destined to be ineffectual, and at best immaterial, if environmental initiatives are pursued in isolation of the economic engines and structures of our society -- that is, capitalism, business, government and the active participation of other organizations and individuals within this framework. It is within this framework that companies are applying a central guiding principle to their business sustainability strategies -- "derive economic benefits from improved environmental and social outcomes." Why? Because it delivers results. We do not argue the desired outcome of healthy people and a healthy planet, and an economic framework that includes a broader social purpose. Indeed, we align on these values. After all, Jim was leader of the Green Party of Canada and Tyler used to earn his living as a conservation … [Read more...] about How Much Can Business Influence the Environment?
Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Operating Officers (COOs) are increasingly accountable for sustainability. A study by Deloitte -- Sustainability: CFOs are coming to the table -- found their accountability for sustainability had jumped sharply during the last year. In 2012, 26 per cent of CFOs were responsible to the board for their firm's sustainability strategy, up from 17 per cent in 2011. Similarly, for COOs it was 10 per cent in 2012, up from 3 per cent in 2011. Further, 53 per cent of CFOs said their involvement had increased in the last year, with 61 per cent noting they expected it to increase over the next two years. The increasing relevance of business sustainability to financial performance and shareholder value was also highlighted in a recent study by the Chartered Accountants of Canada (CAC) -- Sustainability: Environmental and Social Issues Briefing, which noted that "key environmental issues, stakeholder trust and relationships and an evolving environmental and social legal and regulatory landscape are interconnected and impact strategy for competitiveness, risk and resilience." The report draws attention to the many environmental and social issues of relevance to directors in discharging their oversight responsibilities, including strategy, risk and risk oversight, financial performance, external reporting, and the reliability of reported information. When Canadian Tire began reporting its environmental footprint and the … [Read more...] about Why CFO’s Need to Care About Sustainability Now
"Culture eats strategy for breakfast, every day." This was Tyler's response to a question during a panel session at a recent conference. The panel was discussing the challenges faced by professional managers in their efforts to implement sustainability into business. The other challenge under discussion was about finding the appropriate balance between sharing insights and strategy with others, versus holding some things back for the competitive reasons. Tyler's comment was relevant to both. His point: having a strategy is one thing, but being able to implement it is entirely another. After all, the value of a strategy is not what is written on the whiteboard or the back of napkin, it is the value unleashed by engaging the minds and hearts of motivated employees and suppliers. The key to unlocking this value is to understand and harness the corporate culture, work within its bounds and value system, while making room for new ideas. Enterprise Risk Management colleagues refer to the ability to implement a strategy (or not) as "execution risk." Tyler has been fortunate to have had the experience of developing and implementing business sustainability strategies over the past decade in three different, very large corporations: a $14 billion company, a $400 billion company and Canadian Tire, a $12 billion company. In every instance he had to tailor his approach to the culture's unique value system and the process by which ideas are accepted into the … [Read more...] about Why Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast
Using sustainability as strategy can drive change within a company's supply chain by engaging suppliers and service providers with the resulting savings running into the millions of dollars a year. A case in point: one of Canadian Tire's most popular products is a six-foot folding utility table, selling many tens-of-thousands a year. The company collaborated with its supplier on product redesign and packaging to use less raw materials to make and package the product. Now, the tables use 11 per cent less plastic in their construction and occupy 15 per cent less volume for shipping. The annual savings for Canadian Tire: more than $375,000 a year as a result of reduced material, packaging and shipping costs. Employee Engagement Sustainability as strategy can also engage employees. In 2010, Canadian Tire's Senior Vice President of Merchandizing invited all the company's buyers to the conference centre for an afternoon departmental meeting. Employees thought it was to discuss organizational restructuring. Before the start of the meeting, the conference centre was very quiet. The goal, it turned out, was to engage buyers in a creative way -- to shake things up -- to facilitate some disruptive innovation on something that should have been a core element of their business activities, but at the time wasn't. Corporate thinking is often to execute on a perfect plan -- in this case, we wanted to take buyers out of their usual, comfortable environment and see … [Read more...] about A Little Less Cardboard Can Save You Millions