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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Simon Hodgson and Richard Welford, Chairman of CSR Asia, have been exploring the changing expectations that companies face, in terms of their supply chains, both at home and a key sourcing market, China. The two companies looked at how far a company’s responsibility stretches and the latest challenges to those responsible for supply chains that involve Asia and the UK.
The case for environmental action - particularly on climate change - is clear, and a host of research demonstrates that public awareness of the problem is high. And yet the adoption of even simple solutions remains low. There is a disconnection between our knowledge and our behaviour. The 21st Century Living Project was created to look rigorously and honestly into this gap. For this research, we pooled our skills and resources with those of Homebase and The Eden Project. Close to 100 ordinary households spent 18 months finding out what they could achieve. Or - just as important - explaining frankly what got in the way. This is the executive summary.
This year, we’ve gone global. The Corporate Responsibility Salary Survey now provides the most accurate picture of how the industry looks on the ground, from those people working day-to-day in corporate responsibility around the world. As in previous years, our survey was based on individuals working both in-house and for consultancies in CR and sustainability. We conducted the survey online throughout January and February 2010 and this year’s results show some of the most exciting insights ever.
For the second time, Carnstone and Acre Resources have collaborated on a global survey of professionals working in climate change and carbon space. Nearly 1,000 respondents from around the world have provided an in-depth picture of the carbon job market. The survey includes information on: global salary and bonus levels; the different roles and responsibilities currently undertaken; and the educational backgrounds of those working in this growing area of activity sector. The report also contains commentary from leading figures in the sector together with the conclusions of the project partners.
Over the past few years, the management of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has become one of the core corporate responsibility issues. The focus of this activity has evolved from a concentration on direct and indirect (i.e. electricity) emissions, to one that considers wider emissions across the value chain. This report, produced in collaboration between Carnstone (then Acona) and Insight Investment, sets out our views on current practice on GHG emissions in the value chain and aims to catalyse discussion on how corporate practice may evolve over the next two to three years.
The Carbon Salary Survey is a collaboration between Carnstone (then Acona), Acre Resources and Thomson Reuters. The global survey is aimed at professionals working in the climate change and emissions trading markets to gain understanding into their roles in this quickly evolving field. Nearly 1,200 practitioners completed the survey throughout April 2009, the findings of which are presented here along with commentary from senior professionals within the industry.
Since 2003, Carnstone (then Acona) has provided the secretariat function for the Media CSR Forum. For this report we engaged opinion formers from both the CSR and media fields. The report offers a timely overview of the most important concerns facing the industry. For clarity, we have divided CSR issues into three areas: those common to all sectors, those shared with other sectors but with unique implications for the media and, lastly, those unique to the media sector.
The ILO commissioned this report to explore current Human Resources (HR) and labour relations practice within major international hotel chains, regarded as 'standard setters' within the industry, in order to form a basis of future dialogue. The report explores the scope of HR policy across a number of international hotel chains and, by illustrating some of the frameworks they use, the way in which HR policy and labour relations are intended to be implemented.
Carnstone (then Acona), in conjunction with Acre Resources and Ethical Performance, has undertaken the second detailed study of remuneration, working conditions, background and principal activities of those working on corporate responsibility (CR) issues. The fact that more than 350 people (a 26 per cent increase on last year) took the time to complete our questionnaire suggests there is considerable interest in the survey and its results among practitioners.
Carnstone (then Acona), in conjunction with Acre Resources and Ethical Performance, has undertaken the first detailed study of remuneration, working conditions, background and principal activities of those working on corporate responsibility (CR) issues. Nearly 300 people participated in what is intended to be an annual survey. The results cover those employed in-house, as well as the growing number of external consultants operating in this field, and provide information on average salaries and bonus levels, location and experience of CR practitioners, and how they spend their time.
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.
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.
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.
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.