PUBLICATION: Valuing Business Sustainability


I received this mail last night which should be of interest to all Reputation Managers.

The Research Network for Business Sustainability recently held a dialogue
forum on valuing business sustainability. The speakers and participants – 30
managers, 20 academics, and 15 government and NGO leaders – offered insights
on sustainability valuation from various perspectives.

These insights are summarized in a report available at
www.sustainabilityresearch.org/Docs/ValuingForumReport.pdf.

Highlights include:

  • Thirty-five years of research shows that there is a small,
    positive relationship between superior corporate social performance and
    corporate financial performance; more importantly, there is no financial
    penalty.
  • Mainstream investors are starting to incorporate environmental,
    social, and governance parameters into their investment decision-making
    processes.
  • Various tools are available to help managers put dollar values to
    sustainability activities. For example, financial valuation analyses such as
    discounted cash flow, economic value-added, and rules of thumb, can help
    translate social activities in dollar values.
  • Too often, managers ask ‘how much’ and ‘how far to go’ on
    sustainability. This traps them in the old trade-off paradigm. Instead, they
    should ask ‘why,’ which will encourage them to understand how sustainability.
  • Activities can generate value for the firm and better position the firm to
    harvest that value through innovation.
  • While most consumers express support of corporate sustainability
    initiatives, their behaviour in the marketplace often does not support this
    view. Managers can influence customer behaviour more effectively by
    adjusting the context in which they sell, rather than promoting a product’s
    social attributes.

I quite like the emphasis on the asking of the "Why" question. In business we do tend to tell people what to do and how to do it, but we often forget the importance of selling the true and real benefits of a process.

Sustainable practices do have an outcome. Maybe not direct, but it impacts on corporate reputation. Look at the highlight – investors are starting to incorporate the triple-bottom line into their thinking & decision-making processes.

Quite simple, really! Do you invest in a company that soils the environment, kill people and have other scandals attached to their name? I don’t think so, unless there is a calculated risk and you believe that you can make a difference.

All in all, it makes for interesting reading!

One quote got my attention as well:“A future-oriented perspective of reporting is emerging to project future performance and value creation.” Alan Willis

Corporate Reputation is also based on future projections – I do business with you because of what I have heard about you. I put my trust in you. That is future focused thinking.

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