John Elkington Presents: “6 Ways For Business Leaders To Talk About Sustainability” in the Sustainability / Strategies Series From the Influential Harvard Business Review…

“The” voice of authority for many board members and C-suite executives is The Harvard Business Review.  Sustainability pioneer and influential thought leader John Elkington in the current “HBR” talks about the practice of “issues framing” at the highest levels of the corporation, and suggests (to leaders) that to change our usual way of perceiving, prioritizing and investing time/effort/money, that “re-framing” for social change is the wave of the future.

Note that social commentator and author George Lakoff (writing in “How to Think Like An Elephant”) suggested the theme of re-framing our reasoning and setting of priorities.  The HRB piece builds on that and takes us to the new frontier for corporate strategy-setting.

John Elkington writing in HBR sees six mainframes at work in the sustainable business space, each with strengths and limitations. These are:  (1) the Resources Frame; (2) the Time Frame; (3) the Value Frame; (4) the Design Frame; (5) the Abundance Frame; (6) the Moral Frame.

Each is described with current and historical examples, and the strengths and challenges posed as we consider the frame.  The “break” needed,  Elkington advises, is from set-in-your-ways thinking and planning and strategizing on critical issues — such as global warming — to new ways of Framing.  Greater understanding of the different mental and political “framing” currently in play is important in considering the shift.

And so, a first step is to consideration of resources and population growth and the pressure on available resources and the resilience of key eco-systems.  (The Resource Framing). Then from this to the Timing Frame.  Elkington’s suggestion is to shift from short-term to longer-term planning and strategizing and to focus on the Sustainable Development Goals with time their widely-adopted time horizon out to 2030.  And then on the other four Framings, which we recommend for your reading and thinking about.

HBR makes available reprints of this and other Elkington articles in the “Strategy & Execution” series. Check the titles in:https://hbr.org/search?term=john+elkington

As we noted up top, the HBR is really an influence in corporate boardrooms and C-Suite — think about the powerful impact of the “Shared Value” concept introduced by Professor Michael Porter in the HBR pages a few years ago.

John Elkington is Chair and “Chief Pollinator” at Volans.  He gave us such terms (now widely-used) as “Triple Bottom Line” and “People / Planet / Profits” in his earlier work. His current book is “The Breakthrough Challenge:  10 Ways to Connect Today’s Profits With Tomorrow’s Bottom Line.”

Top Stories This Week…

The 6 Ways Business Leaders Talk About Sustainability
(Wednesday – October 18, 2017)
Source: Harvard Business Review – Capitalists focus on the financial returns from capital invested, and most business leaders prioritize issues that are financially material. For anyone with a pension linked to market performance, that is a good thing. But this…

Morningstar Now Informs Investors About ESG/Sustainable Mutual Funds — And The Good News Is That ESG Funds’ AUM Continues to Grow

The authoritative voice for many investors on the always expanding mutual fund universe is the Chicago-based Morningstar organization.  The company tracks mutual fund’s in- and outflows, performance, focus and other aspects of [mutual fund] activities.

The firm began adding ESG analysis to its legendary and comprehensive analytical work last year.  About 200 mutual funds with ESG criteria were initially being monitored by Morningstar, with analysis provided by Sustainalytics. **

Now here’s an important update for you:  we are apparently on pace for a record year for ESG funds this year.  In 3Q 2017, the universe of ESG funds (equity and fixed-income) continued to grow; there were five new fund launches and net flow (funds in) that “…keep the group on track for record year of attracting new assets.”

Morningstar explains that “Sustainable Mutual Funds” experienced continued growth in assets and heavier inflow through 2016 and into 2017; Assets Under Management were about $60 billion through September.  New launches were by Brown Advisory, Essex, iShares and NuShares (four were bond funds and one, equity-focused).

Notes Morningstar:  Because many of these funds are “young,” with almost 100 lacking three-year track records, they remain small (below $50 million AUM). But the good news is that with continued new fund launches and flows in continuing, sustainable funds continue to gain traction in 3Q 2017, offering investors more choices who are focusing on ESG / sustainable portfolios.

The addition of ESG / Sustainable investing data and information to the influential Morningstar suite of services for investors was an important development, and a solid sign of ESG investing coming of age in the USA for the company’s customers.  Shortly after adding the ESG features, Morningstar made a strategic investment in Sustainalytics buying 40% of the firm earlier this year – another good sign for the sustainable investing community.

There’s good information for you in our Top Story.

There’s more news about sustainable investing here in this week’s Highlights — read on!

Keep watch: We will soon be sharing news about our new “To the Point” corporate management briefing service.  This new platform on launch will have lots of good, timely, actionable information about ESG players that influence the capital markets — and public company access and cost of capital.  For advance information, send an email to:  info@ga-institute.com

**Footnote:  Morningstar defines the ESG universe as fund that incorporate ESG criteria into their investment process (or) pursue a sustainability-related theme (or) seek measurable sustainability impact along with financial return.

Top Stories This Week…

Sustainable Funds Universe Continues to Expand
(Thursday – October 12, 2017)
Source: Morningstar – The universe of sustainable funds in the United States continued to grow in the third quarter, with five new fund launches and positive estimated net flows that keep the group on track for a record year of attracting new assets.

LESS THAN 10 DAYS LEFT! REGISTER & RESERVE YOUR SEAT AT DEMYSTIFYING THE CSA & DJSI

LESS THAN 2 WEEKS LEFT!
REGISTER & RESERVE YOUR SEAT AT DEMYSTIFYING THE CSA & DJSI
Focus on Assessment Questions for Human Rights, Human Capital & Supply Chain

A Practitioner Workshop on Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Presented By Governance & Accountability Institute
in collaboration with RobecoSAM

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). In this session but, special focus will be on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital.

A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion.

Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA. Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results & learnings.
  • Effective approaches in assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors / fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

AGENDA

WELCOME OF THE DAY 
* Hank Boerner, Co-Founder & Chairman, Governance & Accountability Institute
* Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute
* Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM

WORKSHOP 1: HUMAN RIGHTS
with Top Scoring Corporate Representative:
Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi

* Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
* Moderator: Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute

WORKSHOP 2: HUMAN CAPITAL
with Top Scoring Corporate Representative:
Tina M. Berg, Sustainability Specialist, 3M Corporate Social Responsibility 

* Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
* Moderator:
 Hank Boerner, Co-Founder & Chairman, Governance & Accountability Institute

Networking Lunch

WORKSHOP 3: SUPPLY CHAIN
with Top Scoring Corporate Representative:
Jocelyn Cascio, Supply Chain Sustainability Senior Manager at Intel Corporation 

* Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
* Moderator: Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute & Board Member of Global Sourcing Council (GSC)

WORKSHOP 4: ESG DATA FROM AN INVESTOR PERSPECTIVE
with Hideki Suzuki, Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP

DJSI 2018 OUTLOOK & CLOSING REMARKS 
* Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
* Hank Boerner, Co-Founder & Chairman, Governance & Accountability Institute
* Louis Coppola, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President, Governance & Accountability Institute

DETAILS
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
8:45 am – 4:00 pm
Baruch College/ CUNY
, Newman Vertical Campus
55 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

For information and to register click here.
Registrations will be open until October 22nd, 2017.

For questions, contact Louis D. Coppola, Executive Vice President & Co-Founder, Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc. at Tel 646.430.8230 ext 14 or email lcoppola@ga-institute.com.

SEC Proposes Important Amendments to Corporate Disclosure & Reporting – Changes Are in the Wind — But Corporate ESG Disclosure Is Not Addressed in the SEC Proposals …

October 12 2017 – by Hank Boerner – Chair, G&A Institute

On October 11, 2017 important news was coming from the Securities Exchange Commission (in Washington DC) for corporate leaders and investment professionals: a comprehensive package of proposed changes (amendments) to existing rules for corporate disclosure and reporting was released for public examination and comment.

There are more than 250 pages of proposed changes and adjustments released for your reading (the document will be published now in the Federal Register for broad communication to stakeholders).

You’ll remember the April 2016 activities as SEC released a 200-plus page Concept Release that addressed a range of issues that could result in revamping the overarching parts of Regulation S-K and parts of Regulation Fair Disclosure (“Reg FD“) and other corporate disclosures required by Federal statutes.

We told you about this in our post of May 13, 2016.
Link: http://ga-institute.com/Sustainability-Update//tag/sec-concept-release/

We said then: Maybe…U.S. Companies will be required…or strongly advised…to disclose ESG Data and related business information…

There were great hopes raised when the Commission in circulating the Concept Release document devoted more than a dozen pages to discussion about ESG, sustainable investing, the possibility of “guidance” or perhaps amending rules to meet investors’ expectations that public companies would begin, expand, improve on, ESG disclosure.

Numerous investor interests provided comments to the SEC in support of the possibilities raised by SEC in the dozen pages of the Concept Release devoted to ESG et al.

The US SIF — the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing, a very influential trade association of asset owners and managers — provided important input, as did the CFA Institute (the U.S.-based, global certification organization for financial analysts and portfolio managers worldwide).

Disclosure of material ESG issues was a key concern of the numerous responders in the public comment period.

This week’s development: The SEC Commission proposed amendments to existing regulations that are part of the “Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K,” citing a different package of legislation. (The FAST Act Modernization, which in part will the sponsors said will attempt to “prune the regulatory orchard” — this is part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or “FAST”.)

The Commission referred to the proposals as an important step “…to modernize and simplify disclosure requirements for public companies, investment advisors and mutual fund (investment) companies under the FAST Act…”

This, said recently-appointed SEC Chair Jay Clayton, “…is the most effective way to update SEC rules, simplify forms and utilize technology to make disclosure more accessible…”

The proposed amendments were characterized as part of the overall, long-term review of the SEC’s disclosure system. Thus, the SEC said the proposed amendments reflect “perspectives developed during the staff’s broader review…including public input on the prior Concept Release.

The details are available for you in a new 253-page document, at: https://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2017/33-10425.pdf

You have 60 days of open comment period ahead during which to express your views on the proposals.

The proposed amendments mostly address corporate governance (G”) issues that if adopted would:

• Change such items as Description of Property**; the MD&A; Directors, Executive Officers, Promoters and Control Persons; Compliance with Section 16(a) of the Exchange Act; Outside Cover Page of the Prospectus.

• Revise rules and forms to update, streamline and improve the SEC disclosure framework by eliminating risk factor examples listed in the disclosure requirement and revising the description of “the property requirement” to emphasize the materiality threshold**”.

Note that while “property” is usually a facility, this does not always apply to the service sectors.

• Update rules as needed to reflect changes since the rules were first adopted or last amended. (Including, “corporate governance” items, such as for Board Auditing, Compensation Committee operations.)

• Simplify the overall disclosure process, including treatment of confidential information; also, changes would be made to the MD&A to allow for “flexibility in discussing historical periods”. (The discussion on confidential info runs for pages – important to read for corporate managers involved in disclosure.)

• Treatment of subsidiaries.

• Incorporate technology to improve access to information requiring data tagging (XBRL) for items on the cover page and use of hyperlinks (HTML) by reference and in the EDGAR system.

Again – the public now has 60 days to submit comments on the proposed amendments (to such statutory authority as the Securities Act of 1933; Securities Exchange Act of 1934; Investment Company Act of 1940; and, regulations under these landmark securities protection laws of the land).

There are numerous sections within the proposed amendment document where the Commission is inviting public comment. To submit your comments, see: http://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed.shtml — file#S7-08-17

Disappointing News: There is no mention that we could find in the proposal document that addressed the many comments that were directed to the SEC staff in response to the earlier Concept Release by sustainable & responsible investor interests. And, in many investor conversations with SEC staff that acknowledged the growing importance of disclosure regarding corporate sustainability and ESG performance.

No mention of: Climate Change. ESG. Responsible Investment.

This is very troubling — no doubt members of the investment community and corporate leaders well along on their sustainability journey will be providing their perspectives to SEC — and the media, and elected officials — on this important oversight.

SEC guidance for corporate reporters regarding their ESG, sustainability, responsibility, citizenship, etc disclosures and reporting activities would be very helpful – right?  Of course, we are in a new political environment now, and perhaps that is helping to shape the agenda at the Commission as “reforms” are drafted and distributed for public consumption.

There is much more news to come when the response to the announcement begins. Stay Tuned!

P.S. – if you/your organization responds to the draft proposals, please do let G&A know so we can publicize your perspectives.

The National Geographic Can Have A Major Influence On Its Global Audience With Coverage Like This: Climate Change’s Hidden Costs

The National Geographic Society made its debut as a publishing force in 1888, introducing the natural world and faraway places to generation-after-generation, at first through the familiar yellow cover magazine (the “journal”), then on through broadcast and cable television programming, a web site, and movies.  (Remember “March of the Penguins”?)

And always, through the decades, the NG staff and contributors have kept up-to-date with world and domestic “happenings,” including wonderful places to visit and introductions to far-off cultures, explanations of geography and natural science, archeology and history — as well as reportage on serious storms, wars, civil unrest, droughts, famines, and other important touchstones of shared content to expand our personal knowledge.

NG through its communication channels reaches tens of millions of people worldwide.  And today the NG is focused on another hot topic:  climate change, and the costs (which run into the hundreds of billions of US dollars, according a report by the Universal Ecological Fund — “The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States.”

Key assertion of the study:  Extreme weather has cost the U.S. economy at least US$240 billion a year over the past 10 years!

The study authors point out that big storms lower the long-run growth rate of the U.S. economy and that economic and human impacts ripple through the country for us for decades. (New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is an example they shared.)  Crop yields are down US$56 billion since 2012 due to climate-related losses (drought).

NG shares a compelling chart showing numerous “billion dollar” weather disasters that have been increasing in recent years (due to drought, heat wave, wildfire, flood, hurricane, tornado, blizzard, etc).  There’s an accompanying video featuring Bill Nye, “The Science Guy”.  NG provides links to other articles, photos of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction, and a video, “Climate 101 – Renewable Energy.”

A number of experts contributed to the NG presentation, including report co-authors Sir Robert Watson, director of the UK’s Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, and Ryan Wiser, senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Amir Jina, University of Chicago; John Tomanio and Riley D. Champine, NG staff members; Adam Smith, National Climatic Data Center and colleague Jeff Masters, Weather Underground, at the Center.  The article author is Stephen Leahy.

Our Top Story makes a compelling case for action now! on climate change challenges and will be an oft-quoted source (we believe) for pushing back on climate change deniers.

Top Stories This Week…

Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year
(Friday – September 29, 2017)
Source: National Geographic – A new report warns of a high price tag on the impacts of global warming, from storm damage to health costs. But solutions can provide better value, the authors say.

Meet Hideki Suzuki, Bloomberg LP @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Hideki Suzuki, Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Hideki will be focusing on ESG Data from an Investor Perspective.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: HIDEKI SUZUKI
Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP
TOPIC:
ESG Data from an Investor Perspective

A conversation with Hideki:

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on ESG Data from an Investor Perspective?

In the session, I will walk through how RobecoSAM scores are viewed and utilized by investment professionals through our analytics.

Q:  What type of information from the RobecoSAM CSA is available to subscribers of the Bloomberg terminal?

The percentile rankings of each of the various criterion under the Environmental, Social, Economic and Total ESG categories for nearly 2000 companies are available. 

Q:  What can companies learn about their competitors if they have access to a Bloomberg terminal?

Benchmarking is made easy for corporate sustainability officers. Bloomberg terminal will let them see what others in the industry consider important, how their competitors are performing on the KPIs.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND:
Hideki Suzuki, Senior Governance Data Analyst, Bloomberg LP
Hideki Suzuki is a senior corporate governance analyst at Bloomberg.

After joining Bloomberg LP in 1999, he spent the first 5 years in electronic trading desk support and third party fixed income and its derivatives pricing contents team.

In 2005, Hideki moved to equity fundamentals data department then moved to ESG team in 12/2008. From 2014 on, his focus has been to build database and analytics for corporate governance and executive compensation products on Bloomberg terminal.

He has a BA in Economics and History from Fordham University.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

* * * * * * * *

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Meet Tina Berg, 3M @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Tina Berg is Sustainability Specialist at 3M is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Tina will be focusing on assessment questions for Human Capital.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: TINA BERG
Sustainability Specialist, 3M

TOPIC: Workshop 2: Human Capital

A conversation with Tina:

Q:  What is your involvement and experience at 3M in completing the RobecoSAM CSA for the DJSI each year? 

As 3M’s Sustainability Reporting Manager, I have the opportunity to lead a dedicated team of individuals from across the company to advance Sustainability in their organizations, while creating the story that best reflects our commitment to improving Every Life. This then also drives new growth by enhancing supplier, operational, customer engagement, and effective product and brand positioning through 3M’s Sustainability Report and DJSI submittal.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on Human Capital?

At 3M, we recognize that growth of our company is directly related to growth of our people, and the people with whom we work and live every day.   During the session, learn about our most valuable resource, our people, how we invest in their success, and how that is reflect in our Sustainability Report and DJSI response.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who are considering attending the program and looking to improve their RobecoSAM CSA responses, and get on the DJSI? 

The approach to the CSA response is a process just like any other.  At a high-level, three areas come to mind to drive that process forward: top-down culture, integrated purpose driven Sustainability strategy, and engagement of key stakeholders throughout the organization.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND:
Tina Berg is Sustainability Specialist at 3M
Tina Berg is Sustainability Specialist at 3M.  In this role, she is leading a dedicated team of individuals who work across 3M to drive new growth by enhancing supplier, operational, customer engagement, and effective product and brand positioning through 3M’s Sustainability reporting.  Tina is also leading strategic planning for 3M’s 2025 Sustainability Goal to engage 100 percent of water-stressed/scarce communities where 3M manufactures on community-wide approaches to water management.

During her 18 years at 3M, opportunities have provided her with diversified experience in a multi-disciplinary technical environment.   She spent her 3M career in laboratories, corporate environmental compliance, and hands-on facility operations before assuming this Sustainability leadership role in 2014.  She is an alumni of St. Olaf College graduating with a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Studies.  Growing up in Northern Minnesota, near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, sparked her life-long passion for water and the outdoors.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results, and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Meet Ariel Meyerstein, Citi @ Demystifying The CSA & DJSI Workshop

Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability Program, Citi is speaking at Demystifying the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) & The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This practitioner workshop is presented by Governance & Accountability Institute in collaboration RobecoSAM on October 24, 2017 and is being hosted at Baruch College/CUNY in New York City.  Ariel will be focusing on assessment questions for Human Rights.

MEET ONE OF THE SPEAKERS: ARIEL MEYERSTEIN
Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
TOPIC: Workshop 1: Human Rights

A conversation with Ariel:

Q:  What is your involvement and experience at Citi in completing the RobecoSAM CSA for the DJSI each year? 

As the newest edition to Citi’s Sustainability Team, joining in March 2017, I’ve been involved in Citi’s most recent RobecoSAM CSA filing for 2017, but my colleagues on the Sustainability team have long had lead ownership over preparing our overall response and gathering information from dozens of functions across our global company, garnering us a spot on the DJSI World and DJSI North American indices for 17 straight years. Our team also co-leads development of our annual Global Citizenship Report, which summarizes the ways in which Citi enables progress in the cities and communities where we live and work. I manage our reputational risks for human rights and other sustainability issues, so I focus on our CSA responses to the human rights-related questions, parallel sections of the Citizenship Report and various other external stakeholders.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session on Human Rights?

We’ll discuss how Citi supports human rights across our entire value chain – for our employees, suppliers, clients and communities in all the countries where we do business. This is a complex and rapidly evolving space that requires us to refine our approach to human rights based on a number of factors. Citi is determined to finding and eliminating human rights violations across our company, supply chain and anyplace else we can influence the human rights agenda.

We also recognize that partnering with our industry and more broadly is critical to improving businesses’ collective approach to preserving human rights. Citi is a founding member of the Equator Principles, a member of Shift’s Business Learning Program, and the first U.S. bank to report to the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who are considering attending the program and looking to improve their RobecoSAM CSA responses, and get on the DJSI? 

Corporate responsibility efforts, particularly on social issues like human rights and labor, are never complete, particularly as regulatory initiatives continue to proliferate and expectations around action and transparency continue to rise.  As companies work on these issues, we all struggle with how much of our internal story to disclose, particularly for efforts that are always ‘in progress’ or where results are uneven because the issues are challenging. So the trick is to keep tabs on developments, expectations and best practices and find ways to get comfortable with being increasingly transparent about your progress and your challenges so that stakeholders can have greater appreciation for all the hard work you do.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND:
Dr. Ariel Meyerstein, Senior Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Citi
Dr. Meyerstein works in Citi’s Sustainability team, helping to lead the development of policy frameworks and risk management approaches to human rights and sustainability issues. Prior to joining Citi, Meyerstein led multilateral organization policy engagement on human rights, labor affairs, sustainable development and corporate governance for the United States Council for International Business, an association of Fortune 500 U.S. businesses. While at USCIB, Meyerstein launched the Business for 2030 portal, one of the earliest platforms to promote and track business engagement in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to USCIB, Meyerstein spent several years developing expertise in international dispute resolution while working for global law firms and in international courts and tribunals. Meyerstein has served on a number of advisory committees to various U.S. executive branch agencies and international organizations on the intersection of trade, investment and human rights and sustainable development. He was elected a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2016 and is a member of the Global Advisory Council of the Ethics Alliance. He has published several articles and book chapters on various aspects of human rights law and teaches business and human rights as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law. He received his law degree and PhD in Jurisprudence & Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a B.A. from Columbia University in English & Comparative Literature with a concentration in Human Rights. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and two children.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

The aim of this workshop is to increase the participants’ knowledge about the methodology behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) and the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) — in this session, specifically on selected criteria including Human Rights, Supply Chain, and Human Capital. A workshop session will also be included on how institutional investors are utilizing data from the CSA and ESG data in their investment decision-making.

Click here for more info and to register.

RobecoSAM and Governance & Accountability Institute expert representatives will contribute to the meeting overall and in particular present content (including analysis and slide decks) that address each of the criterion. Representatives from CSA-responding corporations that are high scorers in the respective CSA criterion will respond and share their perspective and experience in crafting responses to the CSA.

Participants can expect to take away a deeper understanding of:

  • The DJSI 2017 – results and learnings.
  • Effective approaches to assessing established and emerging sustainability topics in the CSA.
  • Rationale, the business case, performance, and results from last year’s assessment, and learn more about major challenges for companies, especially in the CSA Criteria of Human Rights, Human Capital, and Supply Chain.
  • How institutional investors/fiduciaries are utilizing ESG data.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: http://bit.ly/CSAtrain

Sustainability Pays, Says Wal-Mart & Some Of Its Suppliers in PBS NewsHour Interviews

As part of the PBS series, “Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change,” the network’s NewsHour reported on how a few large U.S. companies are doing their part to meet climate change challenges…and prospering…even as the Trump White House continues to move toward withdrawal from the historic Paris Agreement (COP 21).

The efforts of the giant retailer Wal-Mart Stores are highlighted in the broadcast.  Wal-Mart stresses that it is striving to be recognized as a corporate leader in the “fight against climate change.”  Kathleen McLaughlin, the company’s chief sustainability officer, is interviewed in the program by PBS correspondent Stephanie Sy.

Says the Wal-Mart CSO:  “…sustainability is core to our mission.  It’s critical for business.  It’s important for customers and communities…”
The company’s sustainability journey was launched in 2005 by then-CEO Lee Scott.  He pledged to curb the company’s GhG emissions by the use of clean power sources, aiming for 100% renewables over time. As part of the effort, Wal-Mart saves energy — and money! — in store operations by demanding more efficient equipment from vendors (for HVAC, lighting, refrigeration).  There are solar installations on 364 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores now — this makes the company the second largest commercial solar power generator.

Wal-Mart plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 2025 by 18% from its 2015 levels, even as it ambitiously expands its retail footprint.  With 99% of the company’s GHG impact coming from its supply chain, Wal-Mart points out that at its encouragement, dozens of its major suppliers have signed on to Project Gigaton (the effort to cut emissions).

One of the company’s key suppliers — candy maker Mars, makers of M&Ms — itself set an aggressive target of “zero carbon” in its operations by 2040, working to achieve zero GHG emissions by that date.  The company’s “vast solar farm” in rural New Jersey is featured in the PBS broadcast.  Barry Parkin, chief sustainability officer of Mars, Inc. is interviewed about the company’s efforts.

Key to the sustainability efforts:  Wal-Mart’s model, the way stores are managed, the work done with the massive supply chain partners…all of this “optimizes and lowers the footprint to deliver the same amount of product to people,” explains company CSO Kathleen McLaughlin.  And, she adds, “if you look at the scale and ambition of the efforts and what we’ve actually achieved, I’m actually quite excited about it.”

The company has partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) for guidance in achieving its climate change goals.  Responding to the question about is “Wal-Mart doing enough?,” Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund in the interview said:  “The scale of Wal-Mart is hard to wrap your head around.  They can always do more.  What they have shown so far is a serious commitment, and the journey is an ongoing one of improvement.”

Making this story come alive for you:  There is a videotape of the program and the various interviews posted in the print version of the program script in our Top Story that you can view.  You’ll also want to read the various viewer/reader responses to see the perspectives shared by viewers…many opinions were shared, both positive and negative.

“Peril and Promise” is an ongoing PBS series on the human impact of, and solutions for, Climate Change.”  FYI, PBS is the largest non-commercial television network in the U.S.A., with more than 350 local stations broadcasting PBS and their own programming; combined, these reach more than 100 million households. Major stations are located in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, Denver, Detroit, and many more cities in the 50 states.

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