As leaders in our field, we regularly publish reports and commentary on emerging and established sustainability issues. We do so on our own, on behalf of our clients and with our partners.
Carnstone has been in business for close to 20 years. During that time, we have become one of the biggest independent consultancies focusing exclusively on sustainability, with a deliberately low profile. We realised early on that we’d much rather be known for what we do than what we say we do. As a result, this is the first and only Impact Report we have ever published. It covers some highlights of our work over the last decade, and also offers a few reflections on the process that got us here. We hope our clients, partners and future colleagues enjoy reading it (if not, rest assured the next edition won’t be out until 2030).
This report summarises the impact achieved by the Book Chain Project over the past 15 years. It traces the history of the Book Chain Project, from three separate tools to one collaborative project building better book supply chains; looks at our reach; outlines our work and impact across the three workstreams; describes our collaborations; and ends with a look at the future.
With a powerful foreword by Christiana Figueres, this report is a progress update and a call to arms for media companies. Focusing on what we call the ‘brainprint’, the report is concerned with media’s superpower: the ability to shift hearts and minds, and the enormous social, political and environmental change this can create.
In the report, we explore how the sector’s management of its content impacts has moved on since the publication of Mirrors or Movers I in 2013. Media responsibility has often been creative and innovative, putting the sector’s talents to good use. But our research shows that rigour and measurement now also characterise media responsibility. This is timely, because society's expectations of what it means to be a 'responsible' media company have developed rapidly.
Based on our insights from convening the Responsible Media Forum for over 15 years, as well as interviews with experts within and beyond the sector, the report also outlines a framework for good practice in content impact measurement and six steps to impact.
As conveners of the Book Chain Project, we’ve produced this guide to help publishing companies make informed decisions around the design, purchasing and production of their books, magazines and journals. It contains an overview of the current situation, looks at some of the common misconceptions, charts the new developments in this area, and presents good practice from other sectors.
In 2018 Carnstone analysed the first round of Gender Pay Gap reporting from the 350 largest listed UK companies. We have repeated and updated that analysis for 2019, again producing simple comparison tables for the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, and again comparing companies on a sectoral basis.
Want to know who has the largest or smallest gap in your sector? This report collates the mean and median gaps, the mandatory quartile data and boils it all down into a simple single-figure rating.
Our 2018 report was widely used by HR and Governance teams wanting to know how they compared against peers. So this year, we have expanded the basic data with an analysis of the biggest movers; those companies reporting the largest rises or falls in their data, and their quoted reasons for the change.
Lastly, the report also contains some initial modelling work to try and link data to cause, by exploring some of the most common drivers of gender pay inequality and investigating the tell-tale signatures they might leave in company data.
TCFD Briefing Note Article
The Task Force on Climate-related Disclosures (TCFD) published recommendations for voluntary climate-related financial disclosures in 2017. These recommendations aim to make such disclosures consistent, comparable, reliable, clear, and efficient. Improved information would help investors, lenders, and insurance underwriters appropriately assess and price climate-related opportunities and risks.
The TCFD recommendations are gaining traction among investors as governments and companies grapple with the message of urgency from last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 1.5°C report. Investors are asking more questions about companies’ climate change governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. This short briefing paper will help you understand what the TCFD recommendations are, their benefits, and how you can prepare to respond to questions from investors and other stakeholders.
For this briefing, we reviewed the corporate community investment landscape in China. We find that community investment in China is still largely about making cash donations or giving gifts in kind, but we also note an increase in volunteering activity and some progressive companies starting to match employee skills with the needs of community groups.
We also find that companies more often than not partner with GONGOs (government-organised non-governmental organisations) with impact evaluation activities still at an embryonic stage.
The analysis is based on a review of the activity of 26 major companies with operations in China; half of them Chinese enterprises, half headquartered elsewhere.
In collaboration with Acre and Flag, we have released our seventh corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) salary survey. The survey provides a snapshot of the salaries, benefits, responsibilities, qualifications, competencies, and job satisfaction in the CRS profession.
Here are the key highlights:
- The percentage of female respondents broke the 60% mark for the first time;
- Women are now a majority in every one of our generic role types with the exception of Director/Partner in consultancies;
- As with all our previous surveys, average salaries continue to be higher for those working in-house than for consultants with the gap widening to £12,000 this year;
- 90% of respondents have either an undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree;
- 72% of respondents have a postgraduate degree (including MBAs) compared to 49% in 2007;
- 1,277 respondents this year with an increased response from Europe;
- For those based in UK we have seen a 2% decline in average salaries (2018: £56,000);
- Those working in North America enjoy the highest average salaries of £90,000; and
- The best paying sectors are Natural Resources, Health and Consumer Goods with average salaries of £97,000, £89,000 and £81,000 respectively.
The report is freely available to download. Please follow the link below.
With a foreword by Dr Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, this report takes the temperature of the environmental, social and governance issues facing the media sector.
Our analysis prioritises issues - from fake news to environmental management - into three categories: material, strategic and operational, based on the financial risk posed by each issue. It replaces and builds on previous materiality assessments conducted in 2004, 2009 and 2013.
With a plethora of organisations now evaluating media companies for a living, the aim of the report is to support a conversation between the sector and its stakeholders – particularly those evaluating companies on behalf of investors – leading to more constructive discussions and ultimately better long-term planning.
The new Gender Pay Gap reporting regulations produced a flood of data in April 2018. Carnstone has sifted through it to provide like-for-like comparisons for the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250. Which companies have the highest gaps in their sector and which the lowest? Who has the most equal pay in the FTSE 100? Which sectors are most equal and which least? This Review sets the data out simply and comparably to form an essential reference document for this first year’s disclosures.
In the face of rapidly changing reading habits what does the future hold for printed books? Will they still be around in ten years? And if so, how might they be made?
Our publishing initiative, the Book Chain Project, helps publishers to better understand how, where and from what their books are made. It’s been ten years since the first part of the Project began by gathering data on the tree species used in paper. We wrote this report to reflect on that past decade, to better understand our current reading habits, and finally to gaze into the crystal ball to see what books of the future might look like, and how and where they might be made.
Based on current trends we’ve identified four underlying stories of the book:
- Digital print: New printing technology is significantly affecting how books are made. It’s allowing print-on-demand, local production, and personalised content, and allowing publishers to revive their archived titles, and take opportunities to trial new authors.
- Digital conversion: In some cases digital clearly offers benefits over print when we look at connectivity and interactivity. Where the changes are happening, they’re happening quickly.
- Digital interaction: Print and digital can complement one another in blended approaches where digital interactivity can help to bring print to life.
- Digital distraction: In our desire to avoid digital overload from the ever-present screens and devices in our lives, are books one of our last remaining bastions of escapism?
We go on to predict three possible futures for the book and ultimately what this means for our future work on the Book Chain Project.
The report’s findings are informed by our desk research, in-depth interviews with the Project’s publishers, and guest presentations from our 2016 seminars in London and New York.
Obviously, all companies have a desire to stay alive and be profitable. But above and beyond mere survival, increasingly we expect businesses to play a positive role in society or at least reduce their negative social and environmental impacts as much as possible.
How do such concerns apply to the media sector? What are the key impacts of media companies? How will society hold them to account in the future?
In our newest report, The Future of Responsible Media, we articulate four interrelated challenges, the management of which, we believe, will set ‘good’ companies apart from the ‘bad’ over the next 10 years. We summarise these four challenges as follows:
- The future of privacy – getting serious about understanding users’ appetite for
personalised content vs privacy;
- Coming to grips with being movers – owning up to the fact that media content doesn’t just mirror society, it moves it;
- Becoming organisations without walls – finding ways of managing impacts in an increasingly splintered media landscape; and
- Managing the workplace of the future – rethinking existing notions of ‘purpose’, ‘progression’ and ‘hierarchy’ as the competition for critical talent heats up.
Further to this, we identify eight social and technological forces that are likely to transform society generally and the world of media more specifically.
The report is based on rigorous desk-research, the collective insights of the 25 companies participating in the Responsible Media Forum as well as input from some of the brightest sparks in business, politics and academia.
We were asked by a major investment manager to assess the state of diversity and inclusion (D&I) among a group of 200 major companies, all listed in Asia and the Pacific.
There is no one way of doing D&I, especially in a region as culturally and economically diverse as this. As a result, there are no established benchmarks or frameworks that can be readily applied to assess performance. Noting this, we created our own template to understand and rank companies’ D&I performance.
Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, the Indian pharmaceutical company, came out top, closely followed by CSL (Australia) and Hang Seng Bank (Hong Kong). However, our findings indicate that the majority of companies in the research universe largely ignore – or at least show no signs of managing – D&I as a strategic business issue. This suggests that awareness and understanding of D&I as a driver of competitive advantage is limited to ‘an enlightened few’.
The report includes case studies and sets out a framework for companies interested in improving their D&I performance.
Large companies give huge amounts to charity. Last year the FTSE 100 handed over a combined total of £2.1bn in charitable giving, approximately 1.6% of their pre-tax profits. And companies are doing great things for, and with, charities – Sainsbury’s alone has donated over £100m to Comic Relief since 1999. Lots of money flowing, professionally managed relationships and plenty of good ideas. All at a time when the charity sector is feeling the pinch. What is not to like?
Our opinion piece in Blue & Green Tomorrow argues that there is lots of room for improvement.
In collaboration with Acre and Flag, we have released our sixth corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) salary survey. The survey provides a snapshot of the salaries, benefits, responsibilities, qualifications, competencies, and job satisfaction in the CRS profession. This year, we achieved an 8% increase in respondents to 1,294, reflecting a growing and maturing sector.
We found an increase in the global average salary from 2014, with pay increases in the UK, Europe and the USA. This increase was largely due to a significant jump in female professionals’ salaries, indicating a shrinking – but still present – gender pay gap. Another key finding was the average salary premium of £10,000 (£5,000 in the UK) for professionals working in-house when compared to those working in consultancies.
How do multinational enterprises (MNEs) promote decent work in their global supply chains?
This International Labour Organization (ILO) report provides a comparative analysis of good practices across four different sectors to help understand the structure of MNE supply chains and how decent work is encouraged.
Carnstone provided insights into the tourism sector, writing Study 2. Among the key findings, the research indicates that hotel ownership models have a strong influence on the ability of a multinational chain to maintain standards and effect change throughout their supply chain. The approaches to maintaining standards through franchising agreements, informal agreements and through outsourcing and agency labour contracts, including the business opportunities and risks associated with these diverse arrangements are explored.
The ILO is the United Nations specialised agency devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. This report was produced to encourage the exchange of ideas and provide inputs to the discussion on decent work in global supply chains at the 2016 edition of the ILO’s International Labour Conference.
From 2013-2015, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the leading global network for responsible investors, coordinated a collaborative engagement with the aim of improving employee relations reporting and performance at 27 major retailers. Carnstone supported the process as the primary research partner, analysing in detail the extent to which employee relations are financially material and tracking the progress made during the engagement. The findings and insights have now been summarised in a guide, laying out why and how investors should engage with retailers on topics such as training, turnover rates and employee engagement. The research and subsequent engagement enjoyed the support of 24 investors with US$1.5 trillion of assets under management.
How does IT contribute to sustainability? In sustainable development, the IT sector is usually seen as a force for good. The direct impacts of the sector itself – energy, waste, pollution – are small, especially when compared with other industries. Moreover, these effects are offset by big indirect benefits as IT enables social advances, and offers routes to lower environmental impacts. This new report, supported by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and written by Carnstone, explores the extent to which the sector is delivering on that promise.
It argues that IT companies must stay on top of their direct impacts. More importantly, however, they must help their customers get the biggest possible benefits from their products. They also have a role to understand their influence on long-term societal changes which will likely make or break IT’s contribution to sustainability. The report concludes by setting out a practical agenda for how IT companies can play their part in maximising sustainability benefits.
Companies have spent considerable resources on understanding the sustainability agenda and trying to manage the threats and opportunities. It is now seen as an integrated part of doing business, with many companies building their brand around it. Many pension schemes equally recognise that, as long-term investors, they need to be conscious of the sustainability of their investments.
If sustainability is accepted as good business practice at the corporate level, surely the company’s pension scheme should incorporate the same belief and the same practical lessons into the management of its money? Some pension schemes are already doing this. But why not more?
On 9th February, Carnstone in partnership with the NAPF, the UN PRI and WHEB Asset Management, brought together industry experts to discuss what lessons pension schemes could learn from their corporate sponsor, and vice versa, in order to both achieve greater sustainability.
Do oil company employees operate in morality-free zones? Jonathon Porritt suggests so in a recent article for Guardian Sustainable Business. Reflecting on Forum for the Future’s decision to cease working with BP and Shell - due to a perceived lack of traction towards real transformation – he argues that it is becoming morally unacceptable for oil company employees to carry on in their jobs.
At Carnstone, we like a good discussion. We spend a great deal of time debating the role of ethics in business, internally and with our clients. Our view is that blankly rejecting other people’s position as immoral or lacking morality is unproductive. Instead, we see the ability to appreciate – and sometimes critically engage with – other moral framings of particular social, economic or economic challenges as a core skill of good consultancy.
In his response to Jonathon Porritt’s criticism, Christian Toennesen argues that it is wrong and divisive to say oil companies and their employees do not have morals.