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.
Briefing paper: An uncertain business: the technical, social and commercial challenges presented by nanotechnology
Commercialising nanotechnologies presents huge opportunities for business. But at the same time - while the evidence of harm is currently limited - there is real uncertainty over the potential environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks of some nanoscale materials. All businesses with an interest in this area will need strategies for dealing with these uncertainties.
The report presents an outline framework for what, in the authors' view, Best Practice in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) governance looks like. This framework consists of seven basic principles covering: director competence; director roles and responsibilities; culture, standards and values, strategic implications; performance management, internal controls; organisational structure.
A clear trend is emerging; more companies are increasing their involvement in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and more customers want to trust that business practices are ethical. Yet customers are sceptical of the validity of ethical claims, and businesses have doubts about the sincerity of customer interest. In an effort to better understand why businesses are often slow to engage customers on CSR, this report looks firstly at the evidence for customer interest in environmental and social issues, then secondly at some of the common barriers preventing businesses from engaging with customers and markets on the subject of CSR. Finally it reviews best practice in this area to identify approaches taken to overcome some of these barriers and suggests practical steps for better customer engagement.
Corporate Responsibility is often challenging, and there are already heavy demands placed on Directors of large companies. However, effective Board action on sustainability issues need not involve onerous work. The secret of success is to ensure that - in choosing strategy, approaching regulation, designing incentives, shaping the organisational culture, and overseeing internal control - 'virtue' is rewarded.
Few companies look at their supply chain as an integrated system and most importantly, at how their own buying practices affect suppliers' ability to meet their own commitments to uphold international labour standards. The report explores how certain characteristics or organisations link to, and may undermine, commitments in typical supply chain labour standards codes of practice. Indeed some companies may be inadvertently pursuing a buying strategy that creates tension, or in some cases directly conflicts with their commitments to ethical sourcing.