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Introducing ‘the SASB report’; JetBlue is first adopter

There is a new flavor of sustainability reporting from which to choose. JetBlue, the low-cost airline that is now the sixth-largest carrier in the United States, has piloted “the SASB report” with its 2016 report.

SASB is the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, which was formed in 2012 to create a framework for disclosure of material sustainability factors by U.S. public companies. The intention is to create the same level of scrutiny of, and confidence in, sustainability data as has been mandated for public companies’ financial data. The SASB standards are highly targeted, with material issues specifically identified in standards for 79 industries – from Advertising & Marketing to Wind Energy. Companies in one industry, such as JetBlue, have one relatively…

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How do investor relations and sustainability keep missing each other?

The investor relations and sustainability fields recently missed a rare opportunity to collaborate and build relationships that could have long-term benefits. Earlier this month, both the 2016 National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) Annual Conference and Sustainable Brands 2016 were held in San Diego, occurring simultaneously about a 15-minute drive away from each other. We wish the organizers of the two events had agreed to do something together, but they did not. It was a lost opportunity, in our view, although the shared goals and need for collaboration may be a foregone conclusion.

The fact is investor relations and sustainability are increasingly being pushed together by growing interest in socially responsible investing, integrated reporting,…

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Sustainability Storytelling: More than just an annual opportunity

Issuing a regular (usually annual, sometimes biennial) CSR/sustainability report is now standard practice for many companies. Others will most likely be doing so in the next three to five years.  Of course, such reports can be quite a bit of work to pull together, with input and content coming from many sources within the company. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to be able to share a rich picture of all the sustainability/CSR activity that took place during the year.

I find it a shame, however, when companies confine all of their great content – examples, stories, data points, photos, etc. – only within the sustainability report. Once the report is published, these companies rely on readers to find the report themselves and read the entire thing in…

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Next steps for Chipotle after shareholders’ vote ‘for’ sustainability report comes up short

In mid-May, Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) shareholders voted on two investor-proposed sustainability issues during the company’s annual meeting. The fact that both sustainability proposals lost is not all that unusual – sustainability/CSR/ESG resolutions rarely receive shareholder approval at U.S. public companies. In fact, even organizations that specialize in raising such issues in the context of annual shareholder votes acknowledge that they rarely win. Instead, they hope the proxy process will motivate the board to “take a stand on sustainability” – as sustainability investor Bob Eccles said in his March 30, 2016 blog post on Forbes.com.

Despite the company’s “Food with Integrity” commitment, Chipotle’s board and management opposed the non-binding…

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CSR and sustainability drive employee engagement

Heightened employee engagement is one of the primary benefits of having a corporate social responsibility program and communicating about it effectively.

Several recent studies have made this point loud and clear:

  • 86% of companies believe their employees expect to be provided opportunities to engage in the community – according to “The New Corporate DNA: Where Employee Engagement and Social Impact Converge,” the results of a survey of 120 companies by America’s Charities.
  • The biggest benefits of sustainability reporting come from enhanced relationships with employees and the ability to recruit young talent – according to a survey of 91 EHS and sustainability leaders at U.S.- and Europe-based companies by environmental, health, safety, risk, and social…
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