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Launching Investing in Society, a Sector-Wide Insights Collection

By André Solórzano and Alison Glaser, Manager, Data Insights and ConantLeadership Intern

Companies issue an annual report every year but where can you find information about the corporate sector as a whole? Sure, indices can tell you lots about stock price, market cap, and EBITDA. In this modern age, expectations of companies go much further beyond financial performance. CECP is thrilled to launch Investing in Society, a digital collection that endeavors to focus on the most crucial insights of how the sector is faring beyond where the Dow closes.

Investing in Society will be updated over the coming months so set a reminder to check back. Investing in Society organizes insights in five areas – Priorities, Performance, People, Planet, Policies. Each section offers multiple compelling and practical examples of business at its best.

Giving in Numbers Remains, Investing in Society Covers More Topics

Giving in Numbers will remain the authoritative resource on benchmarking corporate giving and employee engagement programs gathered from over 250 of the world’s largest companies. Investing in Society offers a holistic perspective of the corporate sector with a particular focus on the “S in ESG”. What we mean by that is how companies fold social value creation into their business strategies, form coalitions to ensure sustainable sourcing of materials, and even stand up against regressive legislation. To reflect the scope and depth of this recent activity, CECP pulled from myriad sources including CECP’s original research, thought leadership, findings from the 2017 Giving in Numbers Survey, hundreds of monthly discussions with more than 200 of the world’s largest companies, and conversations with leading experts and on-the-ground practitioners.

Themes: Diversity and Inclusion

Across these varying sources, several themes stood out. Through panels at events such as the CECP Summit and previous research from CECP’s S in ESG, we gleaned the overwhelming theme that Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) efforts are expanding and deepening. Companies are not only looking at how they integrate diversity and inclusion inside of their companies with their employee base, products, and services–but also considering how they show up outside of the company in the communities. CECP’s survey at its annual Summit found that 95% of companies consider D&I within their Corporate Social Engagement (CSE) efforts and that 79% expect their commitment to this area to increase within the next 2-3 years. This increased focus on D&I is in everyone’s best interest, as a study by Goldman Sachs found that companies with higher levels of female employees have seen an astounding average return–or alpha–of 3.3%.

Themes: CEOs Stepping Up

Another theme that CECP observed across various media–from CECP’s 12th annual Board of Boards event to national news–is that activism led from the C-suite has grown to be an expected business practice. Board of Boards drove home the point that leading companies are stepping up to elevated social demands, including leading with greater transparency and principle–and generating good returns as they do so. CECP’s survey research is corroborated by recent events, such as CECP-affiliated companies eBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, PayPal, and Salesforce filing an amicus brief in response to President Trump’s Executive Ban restricting refugees and travelers from several majority-Muslim companies. Additionally, as we approach a year since the events in Charlottesville, we reflect on Merck CEO Ken Frazier’s announcement and resulting departure from Trump’s manufacturing jobs council. Leading CEOs have followed Frazier in taking public stands, showing the power of corporate conscience and often changing the tide of public policy.

Bookmark Investing in Society

Investing in Society explores five areas–Priorities, Performance, People, Planet, and Policies–connecting the dots to tell a greater narrative. Investing in Society is an analysis of the current efforts of business as a force for good, and what it means to lead in a world where roles and sectors are increasingly blurred. CECP hopes you are encouraged and informed by these insights, and we welcome feedback. Join us in celebrating this launch! Bookmark the page and check back as updates will be added. The 2018 edition of Investing in Society will be finalized in November 2018 with top trends that summarize the year for the corporate sector.