Over the next three months, I will be working with the University of Oregon Sustainability Leadership Program and Sustainable Industries to prepare for the online launch of new nationwide courses for the UO program. In addition, SI, UO and Newport Consulting are partnering on a study of CXO sentiment around the topic of sustainability and executive engagement. My article, the first of a series of three as part of this partnership also featuring colleague and Newport Consulting Principal Cindy Jennings, focuses on the issues facing the CXO office. Cindy’s offering will suggest a hypothesis for why CXO behavior seems counter to triple bottom-line decision making.
Many CXOs survived a near-death experience during the Great Recession. Can they move from bottom-line thinking to triple bottom-line decision making?
It was the winter of 2009. Some would call it the “winter of our discontent” in the Motor City. As history would show, the U.S. automotive industry was hours away from stopping – not due to a major labor strike or natural disaster, but caused by a meltdown of the liquidity market.
I was meeting with a CXO who was affable and open to new ideas and conversations. We had met earlier at a local economic lunch and exchanged pleasantries. Now, in his C-level offices of a multi-billion dollar automotive supplier, his candor was striking.
“We just survived a near-death experience,” he summarized slowly and purposefully, as if he had given the answer a thousand times before to his employees. “As far as the triple-bottom line goes, we are going to focus on the bottom line for the next three to four years.”
And that was that. Sustainability and the thought of strategically embracing the triple-bottom line was off the table.
Fast forward those three to four years. While gains have been made to move executive thinking on the topic of sustainability and triple-bottom line decision making, little has changed in the psyche of CXO executives in many global organizations. Why?
No doubt the issue of sustainability is on the minds of executives. Countless studies confirm this. The now-infamousUN Global Compact Survey (2010) indicated 93% of global executives believed sustainability would have an impact or a profound impact on their operations. Striking in those figures was an improbably 100% affirmative response from automotive executives like the same CXO who scoffed at my overtures. A more recent study by Deloitte, CFOs Are Coming to the Table (2012), illustrates that spend on sustainability has risen commensurate with an increase in sustainability activities inside the organization. But the same study admits only 39% feel that it is important to communicate the value of sustainability to their employees.
If so many CXOs believe there is a strategic importance to move towards sustainable business models and triple-bottom line decision making, then why is it that a minority of those same executives feel the need to engage employees by communicating the importance of these business practices? I submit that there is an “engagement gap” among the majority of top executives when it comes to sustainability. Many are able to “talk the talk” but only a minority is able to “walk the walk.” I suggest three key areas to consider as possible reasons why this gap exists.
You can read the full article on the Sustainable Industries UO page. Stay tuned for the next article in the series and an invitation to participate in our CXO Engagement Survey.
See on Scoop.it – Cloud Operations Readiness
Great overview of Windows 8 and the interoperability between on-premesis and mobile platforms. HT to Josh Greenbaum (@JoshEAC) and Insider Learning Network (@ILN4SAP). You can follow more on this topic and how SAP is focusing this interoperability in the financial management space in my eBook series this month at searchSAP.com.
See on insiderprofiles.wispubs.com
In advance of the Rio+20 summit, my Newport Consulting Group colleague Cindy Jennings and I were asked to share our observations regarding the increasing interest and requirements around carbon monitoring. Two elements of this issue are creating great synergy. First the increase awareness and need for carbon monitoring as a part of sustainability and regulatory compliance initiatives. The second is the accelerated development of enterprise solutions that can analyze, manage, report and monitor the intensity of this information. Cindy provides a great context in our article which recently published:
Carbon footprints are becoming as well known as Bigfoot himself and may feel just as mythical to some organizations. And yet they cannot be ignored. Shareholders and investors have been taking notice of carbon outputs and the associated risks for some time. Standards issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to inch closer to mandatory carbon reporting. Europe has introduced carbon trading and is now in talks with Australia to commence international trade in carbon by the end of 2012. Fortunately, automated carbon monitoring software has matured quickly in recent years, and numerous guides and standard calculations exist to help companies assess and benchmark their carbon emissions.
In response to such pressures, organizations have made automated carbon monitoring one of the strongest focus areas of their sustainability programs because it involves one of the most measurable impacts. That’s the good news. The bad news is it can still be difficult to determine what to monitor.
In my assessment of carbon reporting solutions, the overall feeling is that while we still have a ways to go progress has been made. In addition, many large enterprise business solution providers are stepping up to the plate by developing or acquiring their own offers.
Carbon monitoring add-on software has been available for several years. While many approaches focus on one or more of the four critical aspects of an automated carbon monitoring program, few are truly comprehensive. In addition, most early applications for reporting carbon footprints are based on a series of internal and supplier surveys that roll up into specific results that give an initial snapshot of the organization’s footprint. However, these early products weren’t specific enough to meet the regulatory reporting requirements facing institutions, commercial organizations, and public sector agencies, particularly for Scope 2 and 3 requirements.
In many small to mid-size organizations, data collection involved manually consolidating sources into spreadsheets often crafted by engineering companies and service providers. Large organizations are more likely to have sophisticated business intelligence (BI) software that can sift millions of data elements associated with carbon monitoring, but this is a two-edged sword. The deep repository of information potentially allows broader and more accurate carbon monitoring, but the information is often misrepresented, poorly calculated and even superfluous to the actual reporting requirements. In short, there is too much of the wrong information to provide accurate and reliable carbon monitoring.
Feel free to read the complete article at searchManufacturingERP.com here. Many thanks to Cindy for the collaboration!
In her recent article from SIGNAL Magazine, published by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA, www.afcea.org), Rita Boland looks at the mandates that will affect electronics manufacturers and how they track certain supplies following legislation aimed at reducing violence in Africa. These so-called “conflict minerals” are defined in Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010.
Section 1502 of the law amends Section 13 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, mandating that persons who require columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, gold, wolframite or their derivatives to build their products report annually regarding where they obtained the materials. Derivatives include metals such as tantalum, tin and tungsten, all common in the electronics industry—the business sector that may be most affected by any regulations.
Organizations that use electronics in their products—including the avionics and automotive industries as well as government developers—also will be affected. In the law, the definition of conflict minerals further extends to those determined by the secretary of state to finance conflict in the Congo or an adjoining country.
Rita was kind enough to include several quotes from yours truly in her article, along with colleague Michael Bierkandt of iPoint Systems. You may read the full article here. Thanks again to Rita for her generous use of our interview quotes.