Category: Responsibility

NASDAQ’s Sandy Frucher takes stock of sustainability reporting

©2013 Ann Goodman

Meyer “Sandy” Frucher

NASDAQ’s Vice Chair Meyer “Sandy” Frucher was a big hit during the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s (SASB) spring conference in New York City, reminding fellow panelists of common-sense wisdom during an arcane debate on sustainability reporting that pitted accounting standards against regulatory guidelines — and baffled most of the audience.

After a series of nonstop trips spanning four continents in his role as “roving ambassador without a portfolio” — and freshly returned from a board meeting of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) in Tokyo— Frucher sat down with me to talk what makes sense for companies, investors and the public as business embraces sustainability reporting.

Ann Goodman: Why did NASDAQ publish an integrated report last December?

Sandy Frucher: We’re a for-profit company. We used to be a boutique stock exchange in one place trading equities in the U.S. The world changed. We’ve become a global company, a multinational and multi-modal company — that is, Continue reading “NASDAQ’s Sandy Frucher takes stock of sustainability reporting”

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Calculating the cost of disaster vs. the price of resilience

 © 2012 Ann GoodmanJohnMutter

By June 2012, many had forgotten the devastation Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans some seven years earlier. Few had the foresight to predict Sandy and the crises it would cause New York City and environs.

In the super-storm’s aftermath, most have been concerned with “getting back to normal.” A few are calling for resilient new ways to handle what’s now being dubbed the “new normal” weather pattern.

And a very few are trying to calculate the real costs of the disaster.

One of those is Prof. John Mutter, the Columbia University scientist and economist, who shared his prescient insights with me on the price of climate related disaster last spring. In the wake of Sandy, which occurred right in Mutter’s backyard (full disclosure: mine, too), he with me shared some more recent lessons learned and potential ways forward.

What is striking about Mutter’s viewpoint is his focus on the longer-term economic and business costs of such climate-related disasters—versus an immediate fix—and his suggestions of opportunities to be reaped. Instead of reconstructing what was lost, he advocates taking a longer view to understand what the often lagging and lasting costs of such disasters are.

That approach often means looking not at current losses and rebuilding what was destroyed, but rather at the costs—over time—to business and society, in the long aftermath of the event, including productivity gains that might have occurred without a disaster.

It also means looking at any current destruction less as loss but rather as opportunity to create something completely different, perhaps elsewhere, with more wisdom, foresight, practical insight and technological know-how.

In short, Mutter’s approach suggests a new and different way of calculating the costs of disaster, pointing out that the biggest loss to the economy—the chain of production, consumption and everything that goes into it—doesn’t happen in the moment of crisis but actually begins afterwards “with losses that go beyond the value of the built structures trashed at the time, beyond the capital asset loss, to a deeper economic loss that happens over time.”

He adds that a climate-related—or other—disaster is a process with three key parts: build-up, event and recovery. The recovery period is where the risk of cost builds most—and where the opportunity for genuine correction also occurs, including boosting economic growth after the initial trauma.

The post-disaster period is when we start to understand the “true impacts,” he says, adding that they will be “highly variable, and the length of time it takes to get back to where you were is uneven” for different businesses. Continue reading “Calculating the cost of disaster vs. the price of resilience”

In Search of a Sustainable “New” Economy

© 2012 AnnGoodman

Bob Massie, NEI President

Who better to guide an emerging “new economy” than Bob Massie, the celebrated former executive director of Ceres–among the first organizations to bring together the business, investment and activist communities for a sustainable future—and a father of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) that continues to transform how companies conceive and report sustainability initiatives?

In his new role as president of the New Economics Institute (NEI), Massie is bringing to bear the full scope of his wide professional experience and personal strength—as leader of those groups, as well as business professor, Episcopal minister, apartheid rights activist, political veteran (most recently in his race for the Democratic Senate candidacy in Massachusetts), and healthy survivor of hepatitis, HIV and a liver transplant, recounted in his new book A Song in the Night.

That depth of character and breadth of action will likely be needed to help lead a fledgling movement that, up to now, may have been viewed by skeptics as something of a populist sideline.

I caught up with Massie—one of my longtime heroes in the business sustainability movement–in June at NEI’s first conference in upstate New York, which brought together economists, academics, business leaders, government officials, community organizers and others to examine what’s not working in our economy—as well as experiments that are working–and what role business and finance, in concert with other sectors, can play to help create positive change.

So what is the new economy? Continue reading “In Search of a Sustainable “New” Economy”

Digital Security: Business’s Social Responsibility?

©2012AnnGoodman

Harriet Pearson, IBM

At the BBB Forum on corporate citizenship in NYC recently, IBM’s Harriet Pearson, VP Security Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, made a good case for why Internet security should now be considered a number one business responsibility issue.

The recent LinkedIn snafu is just one example of the exposure a company faces when hackers gain control.  That sort of break-in is reason enough to address security and electronic privacy.

But the argument for data protection as a social responsibility concern goes deeper.

There are four drivers putting these issues on leadership’s corporate citizenship agenda , Pearson explains:

  1. Data
  2. Connectivity
  3. Risk
  4. Regulation

1.Data Proliferation

“There’s been more data created in the past two years than… Continue reading “Digital Security: Business’s Social Responsibility?”

What Keeps Sustainability Execs Awake?

© Ann Goodman 2012

At BBB’s NYC Forum on Corporate Responsibility on June 7, sustainability thought leaders talking about global and domestic challenges, solutions and trends had the following to say about what keeps them up at night:

Pamela Gill Alabaster

L’Oreal’s SVP, Corporate Communications,Sustainable Development & Public Affairs:

“Sustainable consumption–fewer resources, a swelling middle class,

[how to] share responsibility.”

Anisa Kamadoli Costa

VP, Global Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Tiffany & Co., and President, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation:

“Balancing Wall Street’s short-term earnings [demands] with long-term sustainability goals.”

Dave Stangis

VP, Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility,

Campbell Soup Company, and President, Campbell Soup Foundation:

“The sheer amount of things we could do…as I plug into all the parts of the business, the untapped opportunities in brand building, efficiencies…”

And where do they see the field going in the next five to 10 years? Continue reading “What Keeps Sustainability Execs Awake?”