The CEO as Activist

Duke professor Aaron Chatterji believes business leaders have social and political responsibilities they can’t afford to neglect.

Jasjit Singh, Christiane Bode

Sceptics argue that enshrining social impact as a core value contradicts the basic nature of a for-profit enterprise. They insist that social concerns should stay separate from, and secondary to, primary business needs.

One compelling counter-argument is that while the common good may not always be a top business priority, attracting and retaining top talent absolutely is. And valued employees—like human beings in general—love to feel … [ Read more ]

Ezra Greenberg, Martin Hirt, Sven Smit

Business leaders typically spend about 30 percent of their time on external engagement, but by their own assessment, few do so effectively. For more business leaders to “step up to the plate” and “play a key role in driving solutions,” they will need to do more to embed society’s concerns in their business priorities, to make external engagement an integral part of their strategy, and … [ Read more ]

Social Entrepreneurship by the Billions

An audacious effort to provide digital ID numbers throughout India illustrates the potential for large-scale change.

Why Green is the New Gold

By turning sustainability initiatives into drivers of measurable value, some CEOs are outperforming their peers and forging a path for others to follow.

Corporate Digital Responsibility: Doing Well by Doing Good

Accenture has identified five principles that will increasingly define what it means to be a responsible business in the digital economy. Companies that understand and take action on these principles will be positioned not only to manage today’s challenges but also to differentiate themselves for growth in the future.

Circular Advantage: Innovative Business Models and Technologies that Create Value

Accenture research shows that leading organizations are now adopting circular economy models—decoupling growth from scarce resources and, thus, gaining a competitive edge (what we call a circular advantage).

We are rapidly approaching a point where the linear growth model is no longer viable for companies. This is due to the rising global affluence, the inability of many nonrenewable resources to keep up with demand, the strained … [ Read more ]

Natalia Karelaia

We found that individuals with a high sense of social connectedness felt their individual actions would generate a greater impact on a larger scale and, as a result, tended to be the most socially conscious consumers. Overall, the social values self-reported by the respondents were a less reliable predictor of behavior than the feeling that they, as individuals, could make a difference. This result is … [ Read more ]

Getting the Most Out of Your Sustainability Program

Sustainability initiatives won’t create lasting value if they’re poorly managed. Here are four lessons from companies that are doing it right.

The Inside Story of Facebook’s Biggest Setback

The social network had a grand plan to connect millions of Indians to the internet. Here’s how it all went wrong.

Are You Ready for the Resource Revolution?

Meeting increasing global demand requires dramatically improving resource productivity. Yet technological advances mean companies have an extraordinary opportunity not only to meet that challenge but to spark the next industrial revolution as well.

Kathy Nieland

If you want to reduce the amount of waste from packaging that goes to landfills, you can move incrementally. But now you need to actually optimize things at a higher level. Like, why do you need packaging at all? Do you just need it to protect the product or is it a marketing consideration for distinguishing your products from those of your competitors? Maybe you … [ Read more ]

Dick Martin

Understanding the ways and whys of people unlike yourself is key to winning and keeping customers, managing today’s workforce, and relating to all the third-party activists who have an increasingly influential voice in where and how a company does business.

Christine Bader

People ask me, “Should I take this CSR job? Will I be doing real work, or will I just be ordering matching T-shirts for people to go paint a wall?” And what you have to do is step back and ask, What are this company’s ten or five or three greatest tensions with society, and is this job working on any of those? If it’s … [ Read more ]

Christine Bader

This is a big problem with how the CSR conversation has evolved—we’ve sort of given up on governments. If you look at places like where I was in Indonesia for BP, companies are expected to assume the responsibilities of the state. That is neither appropriate nor sustainable. So that’s a big part of an idealist’s job: helping determine the boundaries of responsibility of your company. … [ Read more ]

Beyond Supply Chains: Empowering Responsible Value Chains

Instead of focusing only on commercial advantage, leading companies are balancing that with environmental impact and local economic development. It’s what we call, “the triple advantage,” where value chains support business goals and contribute positively to the socio-economy. Accenture and the World Economic Forum joined to identify 31 supply chain practices that lead to a triple advantage.

Marc Benioff

The reality is that capitalism has to be seen in the broader social context and not defined just by economic capital but also by human and social capital.

Albert Pike

What we have done for ourselves dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

Creating Partnerships for Sustainability

Companies are increasingly expected to join with other organizations—both public and private—to address social and environmental problems. Here are seven ways to make such alliances successful.

Sustainability’s Strategic Worth: McKinsey Global Survey Results

Executives at all levels see an important business role for sustainability. But when it comes to mastering the reputation, execution, and accountability of their sustainability programs, many companies have far to go.