Insights

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.

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The Future of the Printed Book

Report

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.

The Future of Responsible Media

Report

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.

Diversity in corporate Asia: a review of diversity and inclusion in 200 major companies

Report

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.

What's wrong with corporate giving?

Article

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.

The Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Salary Survey 2016

Report

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.

Promoting decent work in global supply chains

Report

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.

What investors need to know about employee relations in retail

Report

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.

Green Screen: How does IT contribute to sustainability?

Report

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.

Corporates and their Pension Schemes: helping each other be more sustainable

Report

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.

Are oil companies “morality-free zones”?

Article

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.

Know How Guide: Human Rights & the Hotel Industry

Report

To mark Human Rights day 2014, Carnstone provided input to the International Tourism Partnership’s ‘Know How Guide’ on Human Rights for the Hotel Industry. The document provides an introduction to human rights – what human rights are, the context of the hotel industry, steps to implement the UN Guiding Principles and resources for further reading.

Principles for Responsible Investment - Governance Review

Report

The United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative is an international network of investors working together to develop a more sustainable global financial system. It has grown exponentially since 2006, now comprising over 1,200 signatories, with a combined US$45 trillion in assets under management.

Due to the rapid growth and changing nature of the PRI, Carnstone was appointed to carry out a formal review of the PRI’s governance structure and processes. The aim of this review is to assess what governance structure the PRI should adopt to fulfil its mission.

After an extensive fact-finding mission, comprising interviews, desk research, legal reviews and peer benchmarking, we produced a set of 10 practical recommendations to support the future growth and aims of the organisation. We presented these to the PRI Advisory Council at the United Nations Headquarters in July 2014. The PRI is currently consulting with its signatories on the 10 recommendations for change, a process also facilitated by Carnstone.

Please click below to see the full report with our recommendations. The ‘article’ link provides more information about the next steps of the governance review.

Launching the ICRS

Article

On 9th July, Carnstone helped launch the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS) in the historic setting of the Guildhall. The packed event brought together over 200 people from business, academia, government and the third sector, to celebrate this landmark day in the history of our profession. Images from the event and more details about the ICRS can be found by visiting the article below.

Mirrors or Movers? II: Understanding the impacts of media content

Report

This report summarises the second Mirrors or Movers? conference, hosted by the BBC in June and organised by the Media CSR Forum, a Carnstone multi-client project. The event brought together more than 100 people from 34 major media companies to discuss the role of media in society. Specifically, we looked at the impacts of media content in the areas of women, the environment and privacy. Video summaries of individual sessions are also available - follow the article link below.

The Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Salary Survey 2014

Report

As a relatively new industry, the corporate responsibility and sustainability (CRS) sector is still finding its feet, but this year, we are witnessing the emergence of a recognised profession. CRS is becoming a mainstream business activity in many parts of the world. Our fifth CRS Salary Survey helps shed light on the sector, the roles within it, organisational structures, gender split, responsibilities, education and qualifications, satisfaction, and – of course – pay. Undertaken in collaboration with Acre and Flag, this year we achieved a record 1,200 responses, a 42% increase on 2012. The results show a sector enjoying continued growth, maturity, and exceptionally high levels of satisfaction.

Time to look beyond the supply chain?

Article

The past year has witnessed continued controversies surrounding the supply chains of big retailers. From the traceability of meat to collapsing factories in Bangladesh, the risks associated with product sourcing and labour standards in a globalised world are firmly on the radar of companies, consumers and investors. Conversely, the issue of how retailers manage their direct employees appears to have been relegated to almost secondary importance. We recently completed a research project for the UNPRI (Principles for Responsible Investment) to identify what investors should look for when assessing the human capital management (HCM) practices of large retailers. The report is available to download below. We also summarised the findings in an article for Guardian Sustainable Business.

Still Feeling Stumped?

Report

Since March 2013 businesses across Europe have been responding to the EU Timber Regulation; a law prohibiting illegal timber from appearing on the European market. We wanted to gauge the feeling across the retail and manufacturing sectors so, eight months on from the law’s introduction, we conducted a short survey to understand how companies were facing the new requirements. We presented the findings to the Chatham House Illegal Logging Update in February 2014. The results are summarised in our report Still Feeling Stumped?

On The Rights Track

Report

The 2011 UN Guiding Principles turned societal expectations of the role of business in human rights into global standards which companies are expected to meet. However, many companies find it difficult to practically implement them through existing business processes. This pragmatic guide was written with business practitioners in mind to address this difficulty. It summarises Ruggie's recommendations and communicates human rights standards in an engaging and user-friendly format. It also includes case studies highlighting significant human rights issues by industry.

As a follow-up exercise, we recently analysed to what extent FTSE 100 companies meet the new reporting requirements. Our analysis demonstrated decidedly mixed progress. You can access the full findings by clicking the article link below.

Does It Matter? An analysis of sustainability issues in the media sector

Report

The media sector faces many unique social and environmental challenges, setting it apart from other sectors. This report builds on previous stakeholder surveys to identify not only what those issues are, but whether they are operational, strategic or material. The research is based on input from media professionals within the industry as well as media analysts from financial institutions.

Mirrors Or Movers? Framing the debate about the impact of media content

Report

Does media content, in all its forms, merely mirror society or does it move it? Should the sector actively seek to shape public debate, change behaviours and promote sustainable lifestyles as its contribution to social responsibility? This report is the first of its kind highlighting a sensitive area for most media organisations. Based on interviews and discussions with industry experts, this report provides a framework and structure for the debate.

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