Developed from CECP’s premier research on, thought leadership for, and strategic engagements with more than 200 of the world’s largest companies, this digital release brings to light the state of corporate purpose in an evidence-based way and assesses corporate purpose-driven actions under the categories of Priorities, Performance, People, Planet, and Policies.
“Investing in Society is the must-read source for trends on the corporate sector’s shift toward being increasingly purpose-driven.”Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP See Executive Letter Here
A stakeholder seachange in 2019 has redefined corporate purpose. Business strategy is being reshaped to address the needs of more stakeholders, including employees, communities, customers, governments, and investors.
Better financial performance over the last three years corresponded to an increase in long-term corporate planning; however, consensus is still elusive in how companies demonstrated corporate purpose and governance in financial Long-Term Plans in 2019.
The advancement of corporate purpose led to greater inclusivity for employees in 2019, a new brand differentiator among consumers, and an increased focus on corporate social investments.
Integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the department that leads the "S" in ESG strategy is indicative that a company makes deeper investments in community and employee stakeholders. Company collaborations on DEI have shown:
Community investments continued increasing: 11% between 2016 and 2018. Explore more findings from Giving in Numbers: 2019 Edition here.
Beyond community investments, purpose drives companies to different social investments – Socially-driven internships stood out as a leading practice, more than digital donations, impact investing, or others.
Performance on environmental metrics was mixed in recent years; early adopting companies have begun to explore holistic impact measurement.
Green bonds are growing more prevalent and play an important role in the investment space, raising capital exclusively for projects or activities with specific climate or environmental sustainability goals. Read more about green bonds from Moody’s here.
Increasingly, companies make merger and acquisition choices to consider sustainability topics, including the environment. For example, ConEdison’s acquisition of Sempra Energy, made it the second largest solar producer in the U.S. Find more about direct investment approaches on page 9 of Investing With Purpose.
From the ESG data community to reporting standards (e.g., GRI), the message is the same: companies must further evolve measurement and reporting to show what they extract and what they produce, the good and the bad of their value creation process.
There are many studies and definitions to inform companies about holistic measurement: Boston Consulting Group’s “Total Societal Impact,” EPIC’s “Inclusive Capitalism,” PwC US’ “Total Impact Measurement and Management,” and the Future Fit Benchmark. Future Fit Benchmark is a free business tool to calculate a new version of a break-even point that better represents people and the planet. Explore this benchmark here.
ESG data analysis shows that companies have improved some environmental metrics, such as a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 13% between 2016 and 2018. However, others show a setback, such as an increase in water use by 27% in the last three years.
Regulation around the world affects corporate behavior and performance on the “E,” focusing a lot in recent years on plastics and production methods.
Increasing internal and external accountability in the last few years has led to slow but improving governance.
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CVS: Read more about CVS Health’s evolving role in the health care marketplace to demonstrate its purpose of helping people on their path to better health. This case shows how, by putting purpose at the center of strategies, companies may increase customer loyalty and broaden their customer base, enhance employees’ engagement, and drive greater interest by shareholders. Click here to read more.
Google: Google pledged to invest money and redevelop some of its commercial-use land to address the housing crisis in the Bay Area. Google also plans to donate additional funds to nonprofits that address homelessness and displacement. Read more about Google’s initiative to redistribute to society in a self-sustaining way. Use the following links to read the relevant NY Times article and Google blog.
3M: As part of its purpose to "use science to improve lives and help solve the world’s toughest challenges,” 3M encourages employees to dedicate 15% of their time to pursue their own ideas and concepts. In the seventy years since the company began this program, it has delivered countless innovative technologies, including Post-It Brand notes. Today, 3M is considered one of the most innovative companies in the world, demonstrating how a commitment to purpose can encourage new ideas and advance transformation. Read this case study here.
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