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CommunicatingContext and practiceAnuradha AltekarEnVision 2012National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai18 Octob...
“I hate buzz words but matching people,  planets, and profits is not a bad one.”
So what IS sustainability?
REWIND                                        1962 Silent Spring,                                        Rachel Carson    ...
Whats driving sustainability?“If you dont knowwhere youre going,any road will getyou there”Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderlan...
EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
Traditional concept supports strong                                                      economic and social development  ...
Broad and vague—split wide open to interpretations                           Labeled as “Cosmetic environmentalism”Cons   ...
Definition of sustainability should address                                                Distinction between renewable  ...
Questions to address            Is it possible for the rate of human use of renewable            resources to exceed the r...
Sustainability and impactsYES!…and so, all human activities associated with thosequestions are unsustainable.“Sustainabili...
In sumPrecise definition elusiveScholars support “constructive ambiguity”of Brundtland definition“Soft” approach conducive...
Is green = spin?EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
To communicatesustainability,your communicationshas to be sustainable.
Think reputation, not brandAct straight, shun spinThe outside–in perspective
Internalize thisAll communication must be founded on              Credibility              Trust              Responsibili...
GuidepostsSubstantive vs superficial           substantive—operational changes in raw material selection and sourcing,    ...
GuidepostsOwning externalities, not charity           Philanthropy is good but its not sustainability           Focus on c...
GuidepostsAuthenticity, not corporate speak           Plain speaking—no overstatements or trumpeting           No cover up...
By design or at random?                                                                        Has the company aWhat is th...
Sustainability statementsFrom the earliest days, Tata Steel has taken responsibility forthe impact of its activities and b...
Sustainability statementsContribute toward a prosperous 21st century society.Aim for growth that is in harmony with the en...
Sustainability statementsGreen is about finding a better way without compromiseWe believe that green technology should be ...
Some PracticesGoogle invests in clean energyGoogle invested more than$915 million in clean energyprojects–solar, wind andt...
Some Practices Marks & Spencer Once under siege for outsourcing, pesticide content in fruits and vegetables, contaminants,...
Some PracticesTata Global BeveragesA social media campaign gives teadrinkers the chance to learn how andwhere it is grown ...
Reporting sustainabilityAnalysis of the organization’s interactions withecological systems, resources, habitats, andsociet...
Current popularGlobal Reporting Initiative (GRI)The LEED of sustainability reporting: used by more than 1500organizations ...
Current approach gripesIncomplete picture of sustainability risks and opportunitiesin financial reportsCurrent financial r...
The new “integrated” reportingIntegrated report alternative of theInternational Integrated ReportingCommittee (IIRC)Propos...
TakeawaysGrowing global awareness of importance and urgency to includesustainability into long term strategies and report ...
“...when a company ororganization spends more timeand money claiming to be“green” through advertising andmarketing than ac...
Anuradha Altekara.anuradha@ubiquus.com
Communicating sustainability—context and practice
Communicating sustainability—context and practice
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Communicating sustainability—context and practice

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Anuradha Altekar, Head Brand Transformation and Sustainability Strategy, Ubiquus, made this presentation to graduate students of industrial safety and environment management, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (Nitie), Mumbai, on 18 October 2012.

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Communicating sustainability—context and practice

  1. 1. CommunicatingContext and practiceAnuradha AltekarEnVision 2012National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai18 October 2012
  2. 2. “I hate buzz words but matching people, planets, and profits is not a bad one.”
  3. 3. So what IS sustainability?
  4. 4. REWIND 1962 Silent Spring, Rachel Carson Seventies and Eighties urgency to redefine scope of economicRoots in 19thC development to include socialand 20thC and environmental impactsconservationism 1983 UN constituted World Commission on Environment “To meet the Development (Brundtlandneeds of the current Commission)generation withoutcompromising the abilityof future generations 1987 Our Common Future Brundtland Report definitionto meet their own needs” in wide use EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  5. 5. Whats driving sustainability?“If you dont knowwhere youre going,any road will getyou there”Lewis CarrollAlice in WonderlandEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  6. 6. EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  7. 7. Traditional concept supports strong economic and social development Pros Underlines the importance of protecting the natural resource base and environmentEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  8. 8. Broad and vague—split wide open to interpretations Labeled as “Cosmetic environmentalism”Cons Alibi more than guidance for strong action Unresolved conflict between “economic rationality/profitability, social justice, and ecological equilibrium”.* * United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  9. 9. Definition of sustainability should address Distinction between renewable and non-renewable resources What sustainability really means Which ‘needs’ are legitimate‘Sustainability Defined ‘ 2010 , Hector R Rodriguez, Adjunct Prof, School of Business, Mount Ida College;‘Recasting the Triple Bottomline’, Centre for Sustainable Innovation 2007EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  10. 10. Questions to address Is it possible for the rate of human use of renewable resources to exceed the rate at which such resources are renewed or replenished? Is it possible for the rate of human use of non-renewable resources to exceed the rate at which renewable replacements for such resources are developed? Is it possible for the rate of waste emissions by humans to exceed the rate at which the environment can assimilate such wastes? Is it possible for the rate of human, social, constructed and economic needs to exceed the rate at which they are being created?‘Sustainability Defined’ 2010 , Hector R Rodriguez, Adjunct Prof, School of Business, Mount IdaCollege; Daly H. ‘Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development’EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  11. 11. Sustainability and impactsYES!…and so, all human activities associated with thosequestions are unsustainable.“Sustainability must address the impacts ofhuman activity on the quality and sufficiency of vitalcapitals (renewable, non-renewable, and societal)in the world.”‘Sustainability Defined ‘ 2010 , Hector R Rodriguez, Adjunct Prof, School of Business, Mount Ida CollegeEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  12. 12. In sumPrecise definition elusiveScholars support “constructive ambiguity”of Brundtland definition“Soft” approach conducive to perceptionas process, not endReal challenges: political andpractical preparednessEnVision 2012 PGDISEM, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Powai
  13. 13. Is green = spin?EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  14. 14. To communicatesustainability,your communicationshas to be sustainable.
  15. 15. Think reputation, not brandAct straight, shun spinThe outside–in perspective
  16. 16. Internalize thisAll communication must be founded on Credibility Trust Responsibility ReliabilityEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  17. 17. GuidepostsSubstantive vs superficial substantive—operational changes in raw material selection and sourcing, supply chain management, production and manufacturing efficiencies superficial—recycled content in packaging, new line of green products without changing existing line, even significant energy cutsCore stakeholders, not niche audiences CSR elite—Peter Knight at Context America “Green Ghetto” Core attribute of reputation and identity Accessible language, mediaspeakingsustainability.comEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  18. 18. GuidepostsOwning externalities, not charity Philanthropy is good but its not sustainability Focus on companys impact on environment, people, communities HBR piece by Christopher Meyer and Julia Kirby Leadership in the Age of Transparency: When the costs of externalities become sufficiently clear—and onerous—they manage to get internalized one way or another. The scope of impact you are responsible for managing can only continue to grow. Your choice in the matter is whether to take charge of that scope or have it thrust upon you.Proof, not puffery Out—grand claims, platitudes, fluff In—aggressive, quantifiable goals, measured by the company and accountable for them Communications should continue, example Starbucksspeakingsustainability.comEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  19. 19. GuidepostsAuthenticity, not corporate speak Plain speaking—no overstatements or trumpeting No cover up of underachievement of targetsHarmony, not cacophony Company’s statements must be consistent and coherent Contradictions lead to confusion, adverse impacts--corporates and US climate change policyspeakingsustainability.com; ‘A Climate of Corporate Control’ , ucsusa.orgEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  20. 20. By design or at random? Has the company aWhat is the companys defined plan to reducevision of sustainability?“If you dont know where its impacts?youre going...” Set priorities, launch initiatives Does the company Does your company define sustainability inhave a quantified baseline?Engaging stakeholders to assess business terms? The “do the right thing” or impact first step “whats good for business”? speakingsustainability.com EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  21. 21. Sustainability statementsFrom the earliest days, Tata Steel has taken responsibility forthe impact of its activities and been a pioneer in employeewelfare measures, social and community initiatives andenvironment sustainability just as importantly as it hasensured sound financial management and acted as a trustee ofshareholders wealth.EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  22. 22. Sustainability statementsContribute toward a prosperous 21st century society.Aim for growth that is in harmony with the environmentand set as a challenge the achievement of zero emissionsthroughout all areas of business activities.EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  23. 23. Sustainability statementsGreen is about finding a better way without compromiseWe believe that green technology should be accessible to everyone.When customers choose our products, they choose industry-leading,energy-saving technology that is easy to recycle. Whether it’sdeveloping energy-efficient products that incorporate sustainablematerials, creating packaging that uses the earth’s resources moresustainably or leading our industry in responsible recycling, we’re alwaysinnovating to deliver practical, efficient and cost-effective products thathelp save your scarce resources — as well as those of the planet’s.EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  24. 24. Some PracticesGoogle invests in clean energyGoogle invested more than$915 million in clean energyprojects–solar, wind andtransmission. In fact, it’s a classicdouble-bottom line investment,one that is intended to deliverenvironmental as well asfinancial benefits.Marc Gunther, Sustainable Business ForumEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  25. 25. Some Practices Marks & Spencer Once under siege for outsourcing, pesticide content in fruits and vegetables, contaminants, and making furniture with wood from rainforests. After continual engagement with stakeholders, M&S agreed to remove PVC from products and packaging and eliminate 79 pesticides.‘Collaboration in environmental stewardship ‘2010, JP Brown; ‘Case Study: The Responsibility Revolution’,James Hollander and Bill Breen EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  26. 26. Some PracticesTata Global BeveragesA social media campaign gives teadrinkers the chance to learn how andwhere it is grown from the producersthemselves through the companysFacebook page. The result: increasedawareness of tea sourcing andsustainability issues.Theguardian Sustainable business, Best Practice ExchangeEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  27. 27. Reporting sustainabilityAnalysis of the organization’s interactions withecological systems, resources, habitats, andsocieties, and interpret this in the light of all otherorganizations’ past and present impacts on thosesame systems.Gray, R–& Milne, M. J. (2002). ‘Sustainability Reporting: Whos Kidding Whom? ‘Chartered Accountants Journal of New Zealand 81(6), 66–70EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  28. 28. Current popularGlobal Reporting Initiative (GRI)The LEED of sustainability reporting: used by more than 1500organizations from 60 countries. Independent institution formedin 1997 to develop and disseminate globally applicable sustainabilityreporting guidelines comprising 158 indicators for reporting oneconomic, environmental, and social dimensions.Triple Bottom Line (3BL)Term dates back to 90s; coined by management think tankAccountAbility; found currency in 1997 John Elkingtons Cannibalswith Forks: The Triple Bottomline of 21st Century Business‘; promotedby GRI within its guidelines and by AccountAbility for use in thecorporate world.globalreporting.org; ‘Getting to the Bottom of Triple Bottomline’, Wayne Norman and Chris MacDonald, March 2003EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  29. 29. Current approach gripesIncomplete picture of sustainability risks and opportunitiesin financial reportsCurrent financial reporting standards are inadequate;emerged post 29 crash in era of plentyCorporate sustainability reports address issues ofnatural capital to some extent“Internal” focus risks promoting disclosures that missthe interactive effects of organizations with theexternal environmentNeed to connect the dots to financial performance and riskTheguardian Sustainable business; theiirc.com; ‘Barriers to Strengthening the Global Reporting Initiative Framework:Exploring the perceptions of consultants, practitioners, and researchers’ , Albert Fonseca, University of WaterlooEnVision 2012 , National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  30. 30. The new “integrated” reportingIntegrated report alternative of theInternational Integrated ReportingCommittee (IIRC)Proposes single, comprehensive, andauthoritative reporting format to bringtogether financial, environmental, social,and governance information60 companies participating inIIRC road-testing frameworkStrong support from Robert Eccles in hisnew book “One Report” with Michael P KrzusThe guardian Sustainable business; theiirc.comEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  31. 31. TakeawaysGrowing global awareness of importance and urgency to includesustainability into long term strategies and report to stakeholdersSustainability reporting is now the norm though still mostly voluntaryExpectation of government regulation over next 5-10 yearsClarion call for uniform framework for regulation of sustainability and CSRSustainability reporting framework will continue to add value to investorsanalysis...GRI G3, othersIncreasing acceptance of limitations of conventional financial reporting inassessing performanceLeaders in sustainability outperform their counterparts in stock marketvaluations (DJGSI, MSCI World Index)Professionals qualified to produce sustainability reports, and withknowledge of green business, green marketing in demandNikos Avlonas, John Friedman, ‘The Green Economy Post’EnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  32. 32. “...when a company ororganization spends more timeand money claiming to be“green” through advertising andmarketing than actuallyimplementing business practicesthat minimize environmentalimpact. It’s whitewashing, butwith a green brush.”GreenwashingindexEnVision 2012, National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai
  33. 33. Anuradha Altekara.anuradha@ubiquus.com

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