Compliance & Governance

IBM team recommended legal changes in Kenya – and got them

IBM team recommended legal changes in Kenya – and got them

Global pro-bono team went outside comfort zone

David Sloan, an IBM software expert based in the Washington, D.C. area, went to Kenya in 2011. David’s team consisted of 12 IBMers from nine countries, with backgrounds including consulting, project management, sales, finance, recruiting, engineering and marketing. The team was deployed to Nairobi, Kenya, but spent the majority of its time based in Nyeri, an agricultural town based three hours outside the capital.

There were three key objectives during the deployment, divided among the three teams. David’s team worked to develop a legal and regulatory framework for e-government in Kenya. A second team provided recommendations for development and retention of technology specialist within the country. A third team provided strategic advice for how the postal system could be become more competitive, such as offering financial services to citizens.

Continue reading →

5 years after financial meltdown: What still hasn’t changed?

Too big to fail becomes too big to regulate


By Larry Doyle

Excerpt is from In Bed with Wall Street by Larry Doyle. Copyright © 2014 by the author and reprinted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Dodd Frank also gives regulators a variety of mechanisms they can use to channel political policy through the dominant institutions. The partnership works in both directions: special treatment for the Wall Street giants, new political policy levers for the government.

—David Skeel, S. Samuel Arsht Professor of Corporate Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and Its (Unintended) Consequences.

After 2008, the number of brokerage houses on Wall Street significantly diminished. No longer did the names Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Wachovia, Countrywide, Washington Mutual, and Merrill Lynch represent single- standing entities.

Continue reading →

Leadership in 2014: Everyone’s reporting – but who’s reporting well?

Those who demonstrate specific leadership traits.

By Marjella Alma

The KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2013 boldly states that “the debate on ‘whether or not to report’ is over. Reporting on non-financial or ESG issues is no longer an indicator of leadership; it is the new baseline. Moving forward, how and what you report will determine credibility and ownership.”


How can we identify sustainability leadership in 2014?
More now than ever, investors will demand a clear understanding of who has been involved in the sustainability management and reporting process—this is happening already. Leaders will involve their Board of Directors, senior management, and key external stakeholders to embed sustainability, i.e., long-term profitability and viability, into strategy: They will make stakeholder engagement a priority. Corporate governance should not be seen as a separate discussion from sustainability management, and, leaders will demonstrate these linkages to their stakeholders.

Continue reading →

Context Is King

GRI’s reporting guidelines are highly laudable. And insufficient.

By Mark W. McElroy and Jo M. L. von Engelen

Previously, we called attention to three rules for sustainability performance put forward by the famous ecological economist Herman Daly, all of which deal only with impacts on natural capital. Here we want to address the question of whether or not there can be rules of a similar kind for impacts on anthro capital. Indeed we think there can be. Before explaining what we think they are, however, here again are Daly’s rules for impacts, as neatly summarized in Beyond the Limits to Growth by Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, and Jørgen Randers: “In order to be physically sustainable [a] society’s material and energy throughputs would have to meet Daly’s three conditions: Its rates of use of renewable resources do not exceed their rates of regeneration; its rates of use of nonrenewable resources do not exceed the rate at which sustainable renewable resources are developed; its rates of pollution emission do not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment.

Continue reading →

It is a Jungle Out There

The global marketplace has never witnessed an environment so fraught with peril and filled with promise.

By Dean Simone

In 2012, the forces of change that had shaped business over the previous decade coalesced to become the new normal. Globalization, the rise of emerging markets, the ever-deeper penetration of data technologies and third-party service providers, the increased influence of external stakeholders, and continued repercussions from the global recession of 2008–09 combined to produce a new environment of uncertainty and complexity, where exogenous risks could come swiftly and unexpectedly, with far-reaching ramifications.

To cope with these new market realities, senior executives began to rethink their risk attitudes and approaches. Many companies initiated business transformation efforts to position themselves for success in a fast-changing marketplace.

Continue reading →

Context-Based Metrics

Between the relative and the absolute falls the shadow.

By Mark W. McElroy and Jo Van Engelen

As a distinct school of thought in the field of corporate sustainability management (CSM), the context-based approach gives rise to its own style of metrics that should be used in measuring and reporting sustainability performance. We call these context-based metrics, or CBMs. More familiar to practitioners in sustainability management, however, are so-called relative and absolute metrics. It is important to understand which of these two categories of metrics CBMs fall into, if any.

Starting with absolute metrics, these are perhaps the simplest form of measurement used in sustainability reporting, although they do have their problems. First, here’s a definition of absolute metrics we can use: Absolute metrics express operational performance in terms of what overall levels of performance are in specific areas of interest (e.

Continue reading →

A Tale Of Three Breakdowns

A horse breeder, a pharmaceutical giant, and a automaker each offer lessons on damaged brand reputation.

By Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek

Today we see too many leadership failures, too many leadership breakdowns and scandals. We need leadership that can build excellent, ethical, and enduring organizations. We need triple crown leadership.

Personal leadership is necessary but not sufficient in avoiding organizational breakdowns. In today’s volatile global environment, such organizational breakdowns are fairly common. Sometimes a breakdown is a quiet affair with an orderly dissolution of assets. Other times it is a seismic crash with embarrassing headlines, prison sentences, and painful ripple effects. Sometimes an organization rises to the top of its industry and then slowly falls back in the field.
In any list of great organizations, some are likely to descend from great to grim.

Continue reading →

A Few Steps Forward

The sustainability and transparency movements have never been stronger. Don’t stop now. Come join us.

By Mike Wallace

It’s been two years since the Global Reporting Initiative launched our Focal Point USA at the New York Stock Exchange in January 2011. While there has historically been steadier growth and expansion of GRI-based reporting across Europe, the uptake of sustainability reporting and the use of the GRI Guidelines in the U.S. has gone from strength to strength over the last couple of years.

We have entered an age of accountability for businesses of all shapes and sizes and a lot more exposure is being given to the way companies perform when it comes to environmental, social and governance metrics.

New research released by GRI’s data partner in the USA, the Governance & Accountability Institute (see www.ga-institute.com/) shows that companies that disclose their sustainability performance are outperforming those that don’t.

Continue reading →

Apples to Apples

America’s most transparent large-cap companies—sector by sector.

By the Editors

Welcome to the second annual set of “Industry Sector Best Corporate Citizens” lists. For these compilations, we use the same methodology as the “100 Best Corporate Citizens List,” with one additional data slice. The Best Corporate Citizens database comprises publicly available data from Russell 1000 companies collected and analyzed by IW Financial, a Portland, Maine-based financial analysis firm.

For the “Industry Sector Best Corporate Citizens” lists, we identify the industry sectors with high representation among the Russell 1000, our starting universe for our database. We then narrow those to 10 and apply the same review process to the companies on those lists.

The methodology collects 324 data elements in seven categories: climate change, employee relations, environment, financial, governance, human rights, and philanthropy.

Continue reading →

The Right Report

How to achieve genuine verification of corporate sustainability performance.

By Gwendolen B. White

Character is like a tree, and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
—Abraham Lincoln

If reputation is only perception, why does it matter for a company? If a company is doing well financially, is that enough? In recent years, the answer has been no. How did this come to be?

During the last 30 years, several things have influenced the way companies focus on their reputations. Large corporations such as McDonald’s, Apple, and Walmart have become recognizable all over the world, and globalization has brought greater scrutiny to all aspects of their products. News of unsafe products, poor working conditions, or environmental pollution can tarnish a company’s reputation. What’s more, bad news is traveling faster and faster; communication through the Internet and cellphones has connected stakeholders with unprecedented speed.

Continue reading →