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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Christian Toennesen shares the key findings of the Mirrors or Movers report here, published by the Guardian. The report seeks to provide a framework and structure to a contentious debate that asks if media companies should promote social good through their content.
Simon Hodgson looks behind 'Net Positive', the next big topic in sustainability, and asks whether we've yet to clarify what it really means.
Simon Hodgson took part in a discussion, along with other senior industry professionals, about the ethical issues facing the media industry. The discussion was hosted by Ethical Performance and Lumina CR, and was summarised in Ethical Performance's magazine.
Christian Toennesen outlines how Guardian News and Media is hoping to align skills development amongst its employees with furthering the objectives of local community partners. Carnstone has been involved in helping Guardian News and Media deliver its annual Volunteering Week for a number of years.
Organising For Sustainability Article
Paul Burke and Simon Hodgson partner with ENDS magazine to produce this report, providing insights into how companies are incorporating sustainability into their business.
Simon Hodgson argues that conflating morality and the responsibilities of business isn't always helpful.
The fourth CR Salary Survey report contains some illuminating findings. The CR sector is evolving and growing at a faster pace than ever in spite of the uncertain economic climate. As was the case with the previous survey, in 2010, the results are taken from the responses of individual professionals in consultancies and in-house departments across the world. This report identifies the highlights and is supplemented by commentaries from significant industry figures.
Multiple Messages: sustainability reporting in transparent times - reviews the factors driving SD reporting, finding conflicting and competing pressures and some very basic unanswered questions over why companies do it. But its most significant conclusion is that discussions over the nature and practice of SD reporting are taking place in the shadow of a tidal wave of social and technological change that is fundamentally transforming the way we communicate. Social media, instant access, handheld devices, syndication, and all-powerful search engines have conditioned users to find the content that they want when they want it. At the same time the fast-rising BRICS economies are developing their own views on the role of companies in society and affecting the way global corporations think. The one-size-fits all, once-yearly SD Report is looking increasingly out of date.