The triple play: Growth, profit, and sustainability

Revenue growth is good. Profitable growth is better. Profitable growth that advances ESG priorities is best. Here’s how outperformers who actively choose growth deliver the growth trifecta.

Linking executive pay to ESG goals

Public pressure and changing norms are paving the way for business leaders to be paid based on a new set of criteria.

The Long-term Business Case for Corporate Purpose

Business leaders do not have to choose between their values and creating value, according to a new study by Wharton’s Witold Henisz.

Overcoming the Eight Barriers to Making Green Mainstream

BCG has conducted in-depth research to understand the barriers impeding widespread customer adoption of sustainable offerings and behaviors and to discover how companies in different consumer categories can lower those barriers. We identified eight common barriers and found that these barriers and the most effective ways to overcome them can vary by industry. Although no one-size-fits-all approach will yield optimum results, a company can develop … [ Read more ]

The algorithmic trade-off between accuracy and ethics

In The Ethical Algorithm, two University of Pennsylvania professors explain how social values such as fairness and privacy can be designed into machines.

Reimagining Capitalism

What is capitalism? Is it the greatest source of prosperity and freedom the world has ever seen or a menace on the verge of destroying the planet and our society? Rebecca Henderson argues that capitalism is the only solution to the massive problems that we face and explores the ways in which the private sector can help to reimagine capitalism so that it works for … [ Read more ]

James O’Toole

When the purpose of a corporation is seen as only maximizing shareholder profit, enlightened capitalism — even when it is linked to long-term financial success — tends to fall by the wayside.

James O’Toole

The history of socially responsible companies shows that when virtuous programs and policies exist primarily because an individual leader cares about them, his or her successors have no problem removing them. These practices are far more likely to last when they are institutionalized in rules of governance. Thus, a few enlightened capitalists have attempted, in one form or another, to institutionalize their practices in an … [ Read more ]

Michael Birshan

We live in the era of ESG [environmental, social, and corporate governance issues] and we talk a lot about the “E,” but the “S” will also be crucial. This research shines a spotlight on some of the fundamental forces driving the phenomena we see today. One suggestion to business leaders is, know your numbers. What does your company’s value look like by pathway? What does … [ Read more ]

Climate Change: The Real Inconvenient Truth

Consumers choose economic development over serious climate initiatives. Corporations don’t invest in meaningful change because consumers won’t pay for it. And governments cannot lead if citizens won’t follow. The battle to prevent climate change through behavior modification, regulation, or personal deprivation has already been lost. Yossi Sheffi explains why the solution is collaborative investment in developing technologies that can reverse climate change.

Arndt Heinrich, Denis Huebner, Jannik Trapp, Maximilian Rauh

It’s common nowadays for companies to have a chief sustainability officer and team in place. This bundles the responsibility and often capabilities for sustainability-related topics in one place. 

But while establishing clearly defined responsibilities is key to kickstarting the road to sustainability, one function alone cannot drive every sustainability-related decision that needs to be taken, day in, day out, or manage all of the trade-offs required … [ Read more ]

The CEO’s ESG dilemma

Finding their own authentic true north on ESG can help companies navigate society’s expectations and investors’ demands.

The Strategic Race to Sustainability

To get beyond the starting line, CEOs need to approach the challenges of sustainability from a strategic and value-creation perspective in terms of both the questions they ask and the answers they seek.

How Boards Can Focus on What Matters in Sustainability

Boards are not carving out time for high-value strategic work when it comes to environmental, social, and governance. And that’s a problem for companies pushing for sustainability.

How to Make ESG Real

While ESG is likely to evolve both in substance and name in the coming years, its underlying impulse is here to stay. Here’s how companies can take a more systematic and rewarding approach to ESG.

Designing Your Company’s Sustainability Report

Climate change, sustainability, and ESG considerations are increasingly taking center stage in corporate boardrooms across the world. When measuring and communicating corporate sustainability performance through sustainability reports or ratings, executives face a rapidly evolving and complex set of choices. As a result, companies are at risk of falling behind or choosing inappropriate reports and ratings that don’t drive sustainability performance and open the door to … [ Read more ]

David Young, Martin Reeves

New business insights can come from changing perspectives on the company’s boundaries, resources, and time horizons. We suggest laying out the whole of the supply chain, the cradle to grave of the product life cycle, the adjacent business ecosystem, and all relevant stakeholders. Take a systems perspective to see the full ecosystem and market dynamics at work. Within this expanded business context, understand where issues … [ Read more ]

The corporation in the 21st century

Shifts in how businesses create value and how it flows to households highlight the changing role of the corporation.

Sebastian Leape, Jinchen Zou, Olivia Loadwick, Robin Nuttall, Matt Stone, Bruce Simpson

A useful framing, we find, is to compare the breadth of ESG with the uniqueness of purpose. ESG encompasses society’s wide range of expectations about the role of business. There are a multitude of ESG options, requirements, and variations—from community service to inclusivity, transparency in reporting, and waste management, to name just a few. Purpose, on the other hand, helps your firm prioritize from among … [ Read more ]