Framework’s Selected 2012 Trends
What individuals and companies are focusing on this year
Part one of a series on 2012 trends
As part of Framework’s ongoing effort to keep clients abreast of the emerging issues in managing for sustainability, we compiled a list of developments and issues to follow in 2012. While some are client-specific and can’t be shared, several deal with sustainable business practices more generally. So we decided to share our perspective on what individuals and companies will think about, talk about, and work on this year.
It’s impossible to ever provide a complete list, of course. We are sharing the ideas that we find interesting because they are either:
- on the verge of reaching the tipping point to mainstream implementation, or
- on the opposite end of the spectrum and just beginning to enter larger public awareness and conversations.
We’ll present one or two topics at a time over the next week, and with the final trend, we’ll provide a presentation of the complete list.
Trend 1: The integration of sustainability principles into standard business operations
The long-term, systemic, holistic perspective that is core to managing for sustainability is being increasingly integrated into companies’ core operations and practices.
“I think we will continue to see an evolution in how companies view sustainability—as an integral part of their business strategy to reduce risk, improve their supply chain and address their customers’ needs and expectations.” —Carl Rush, Senior Vice President of Organic Growth at Waste Management (GreenBiz, What Will Be the Biggest Driver for Corporate Sustainability in 2012?)
Four sub-trends demonstrate this increasing level of integration:
b) Ownership of sustainability integration, initiatives, and performance is moving to business units and their executives, rather than being housed only in a sustainability department. And as both a cause and effect, sustainability principles are driving greater innovation in the development of products and services.
c) Financial valuations, annual reports, risk assessments, and other business-health metrics and evaluations are incorporating “sustainability” performance. Examples include:
- Puma’s environmental profit/loss statement, Dow Chemical’s collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to determine the value of ecosystems to Dow’s operations, and KKR’s Green Portfolio results;
- annual reporting that integrates traditional “financial” performance and strategy with sustainability strategy and performance (e.g., Nestlé, Natura Cosmetics, and American Electric Power); and
- the inclusion of sustainability-related risks in 10-K forms (e.g. Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., Weyerhaeuser Co., Merck & Co., Inc., Intel Corp., and Xcel Energy, Inc.).
d) Employee engagement has become a focus of sustainability initiatives.
Continue reading Trends 2 and 3.