"How do we know which companies are serious about sustainability, and not simply paying lip service?" This is the question I'm asked by graduate business and law students, employees at multinational corporations, and audiences of business and NGO leaders. The research for my book showed that companies that find solutions to global problems -- in order to profit while building a better world -- do three things well: effective board governance, NGO/nonprofit partnerships, and stakeholder engagement. They also make information readily available about all three, so these companies are also good at disclosure.
Yet, one might still look at a list of companies that rate rather well in all four areas and still have concerns about their social impacts.
Aron Cramer, President & CEO for BSR, went to the heart of the matter in addressing BSR's annual conference earlier this month. The greatest challenge is the context in which companies operate. "Without changed market rules, it's very hard for long-term thinking to get embedded in what companies do."
A vital force that will drive long-term thinking is integrated reporting. Three organizations -- the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Integrated International Reporting Council (IIRC), and the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) -- joined together with business leaders at BSR's conference to discuss integrated business reports that address non-financial risks and opportunities (sustainability issues) that affect corporations' ability to create long term value.
BSR plays a vital role in convening 275 member companies and establishing a multitude of business collaborations and multistakeholder initiatives to help advance new business models and transform markets. Read more here about BSR's work and how your company can become involved.