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 ]

Jeremy Darroch

Every business takes from the environment. We get access to resources, roads, infrastructure, and education. So it’s only right that we have a mind-set that we give back, we replenish as well as consume. And we use our voice to try to make a difference.

The Case for Stakeholder Capitalism

Consumers and society at large are expecting more from business. Embracing these responsibilities can help shareholders, too.

How to Measure a Company’s Real Impact

Companies have always caused “externalities” — benefits for society for which they are not fully compensated and costs on society which they don’t have to fully pay for. A major change in global business in recent years is that these externalities are becoming increasingly rare — what was once extraneous to a business is increasingly affecting corporate revenues, costs, and risk profiles. This is a … [ Read more ]

Quantify Your Company’s Impact on People

Much attention has been paid to measuring companies’ impact on the environment. But when it comes to impacts on people, there has been far less scrutiny, standardization, and innovation in the data used to evaluate which businesses are ‘getting it right’ than we see in the environmental field. The current state-of-the-art involves just scanning for words in corporate-issued documents. This is inadequate. Instead, we should … [ Read more ]

Marc Goedhart, Tim Koller

There are many trade-offs that company managers struggle to make, in which neither a shareholder nor a stakeholder approach offers a clear path forward. This is especially true when it comes to issues affecting people who aren’t immediately involved with the company. These so-called externalities—perhaps most prominently, a company’s carbon emissions affecting parties that otherwise have no direct contact with the company—can be extremely challenging … [ Read more ]

Wallace Donham

We need in business and politics administrators who are able not only to handle their specialized problems well, but also to see things in wide relations and do their part in maintaining society’s stability and equilibrium.

Five Ways That ESG Creates Value

Getting your environmental, social, and governance (ESG) proposition right links to higher value creation. Here’s why.

Martin Parker

The problem is that business ethics and corporate social responsibility are subjects used as window dressing in the marketing of the business school, and as a fig leaf to cover the conscience of B-school deans – as if talking about ethics and responsibility were the same as doing something about it. They almost never systematically address the simple idea that since current social and economic … [ Read more ]

Column: What’s Wrong with the Harvard Business School and American Business

Professor emeritus Bruce Scott was a pioneer at the Harvard Business School, where he insisted that management training had to include the big picture, and helped craft the school’s now-mandatory MBA course, Business and Government in the International Economy (known colloquially as BGIE or “Biggie”) back in the 1970s.
 
Harvard Business School is the subject of journalist Duff McDonald’s new book, The Golden Passport, which examines … [ Read more ]

Take 5: How Companies Benefit from Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility has been a buzzword for a while. And it’s not hard to see how communities stand to benefit when firms are serious about CSR—be it by participating in a clean water campaign or having a large philanthropic presence.

But what about the firms themselves? How does doing good affect their bottom line? Here, Kellogg faculty share research and perspectives into how companies can … [ Read more ]

Tima Bansal, Mark DesJardine

The common approach to corporate social responsibility is grounded in ethics, morality and norms. And there is no question that many CSR initiatives are good at balancing competing demands made by shareholders and other stakeholders. To do this, however, many supposedly responsible firms borrow resources and capital from the future, which can magnify the imbalance in the distribution of resources between the short and long … [ Read more ]

The Right Way for Companies to Publicize Their Social Responsibility Efforts

It’s a common complaint. Companies keep trying to show the world that they are socially conscious and keep losing the battle. A major reason companies don’t get credit for their good works is they employ a one-size-fits-all strategy to communicating their efforts, while what’s needed are focused messages that matter to each of their four different audiences:

  1. Corporate watchdogs such as social media activists, NGOs,

[ Read more ]

Paying for CSR is Good Governance

More and more firms today are including incentives for corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their executive compensation contracts. But is this a worthwhile practice? Who benefits from it? Recent research shows a link between CSR activities and better social performance and the bottom line. But is paying for CSR beneficial for shareholder interests? Accounting and stock-price performance incentives are already common in executive compensation contracts … [ Read more ]

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.