by Hank Boerner – Chair and Chief Strategist – G&A Institute
How do we structure a more sustainable (and responsible) business – it’s a question we are regularly asked here at G&A Institute. By big firms and small companies — publicly-traded or privately-owned (and numerous planning to go public).
As we get into the conversation, what often becomes clear is that the company really was founded to meet some kind(s) of societal need, and sometimes it actually created a need (think of the popularity of the Apple eco-system or the early days of the Ford Motor Company and the “horseless carriage”) that it fills, benefiting society.
And in the firm’s “growing up and maturing” phase the leaders want to be recognized as a sustainable and responsible enterprise.
There are well-known corporate models that can help point the way for a management team. We explain the successes of our “top performers and reporters” roster as examples of how the industry leaders (depending on sector and industry) have achieved clear, recognized leadership in sustainability. Their stories are inspirational as well as instructive.
(Tip: read the companies’ GRI reports for a deep dive into corporate strategies, programs, collaborations, and achievements – our team dives into 1,500 corporate reports and more each year in our work as GRI Data Partners for the USA, UK and Republic of Ireland.)
But what about smaller enterprises, not “giants” in their industry, or niche players, run by talented entrepreneurs and managers who want to do the right thing as they build their business? How do we find their stories?
You know, like the early story of Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream), two young guys with borrowed money operating a small store (a renovated gas station) in downtown Burlington, Vermont; the founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, built their business as a pioneer in social responsibility. (In 1985, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation got 7.5% of annual pre-tax profits to fund community-oriented projects and supporting dairy family farming was a priority – like the duo’s support of Farm Aid.)
What we have for you today are the stories of seven perhaps less well-known firms briefly profiled by tech blogger Kayla Matthews in her guest commentary on the Born2Invest platform. The quick-read profiles explain the companies’ business models and how they try to operate as sustainable enterprises.
These are: Prime Five Homes (building $1 million eco-mod homes in Los Angeles); LaCoste (marketing the well-known crocodile brand of clothing); Liberty Bottleworks (recycled water bottles); Cleancult (paving the way for more efficient detergents); Andean Collection (marketing jewelry from the rainforest and providing Ecuadorian women with jobs ); Blockchain (technology); Wash Cycle Laundry (eco-friendly local laundry service).
What is interesting is that each of the companies, the author explains, develop products and manufacturing processes that benefit employers, employees and Mother Earth by striving for and being (more) sustainable. The stories are fascinating – and very appealing in this age of anxiety for many of us.
These stories remind us of the 2018 “Sense of Purpose” letter sent to public company CEO’s by Chairman and CEO Larry Fink, who heads the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock. As a fiduciary, he explains, BlackRock engages with companies to drive the sustainable, long-term growth that the firm’s clients (asset owners) need to meet their goals.
And society, he explains to the CEOs receiving the letter, “…is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose.”
To prosper over time, Mr. Fink wrote, “…every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society…without a sense of purpose, no company can achieve its full potential.”
You can read Larry Fink’s letter to corporate CEOs here – it well worth the read: https://www.blackrock.com/
You can follow Kayla Matthews on her tech blog, Productivity Bytes, where she often connects technology and sustainability topics: https://productivitybytes.com/
And do read our top story – it’s a fascinating and brief read to learn more about these innovative companies striving for greater sustainability and societal responsibility.
This Week’s Top Story
How 7 Eco-Friendly Businesses Are Changing The Sustainability Game
(Tuesday – September 11, 2018) Source: Born To Invest – To save the planet, it’s going to take cooperation from everyone, including both individuals and corporations. In fact, an increasing number of corporations are realizing that modern consumers are growing more environmentally…