Entries in planet (9)


Responsible Business Forum -- Watch the Videos

A wide selection of videos from the event are now available for viewing on our Events page. Enjoy them and join the conversation.

-- Bruno Roche


Measuring economic, social and environmental impact 

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global organization consisting of members that support small and growing businesses (SGB) in emerging economies.

A central element of ANDE's work involves promoting the measurement of the impact that these businesses have across multiple dimensions -- economic, social and environmental -- and it has developed it's own core set of metrics to track the development of the SGB sector. ANDE also recommends that its members adopt IRIS, a catalog of social, environmental, and financial performance metrics for impact investors from the Global Impact Investing Network.

We are interested in ANDE's efforts to foster common, transparent measurement definitions, and share its belief that these can improve not just credibility but overall business performance as well. For a closer look at how ANDE and its partners are using metrics to support value creation, I encourage you to read this SSIR article that postulates:

"For metrics and evaluations to create value for us, individually and collectively, we must do two things:

  1. Integrate impact metrics with financial and operational ones. Integrated metrics can help organizations develop better products and services, improve resource allocation, and build more efficient and impactful businesses.
  2. Implement targeted, actionable evaluations that are useful to multiple stakeholders and fit with collective learning agendas. Such evaluations will build on existing knowledge; break down big questions into manageable, answerable pieces; and put the answers back together to inform strategic decision-making for enterprises and the sector at large."

Image source: ANDE

-- Clara Shen


Next wave of social innovators blur the line between profit and purpose

In a recent Fast Company article, Phillip Haid, the co-founder and CEO of PUBLIC, a cause-marketing agency and incubator, stated companies have realized the value of combining the revenue-generating and philanthropic sides of their business, believing that co-existence produces greater impact and revenue.

He identifies four companies within the next wave of social innovators that embrace profit and purpose as the new way to do business:

  • Uncharted Play produces an energy-harnessing soccer ball called the Soccket. It provides off-grid power to kids and families in rural and remote areas and refugee camps to improve learning, air quality, and health and increase income potential;
  • Teeki provides eco-conscious, conflict-free activewear made from recycled plastic bottles;
  • Rareform repurposes billboards into surf bags, backpacks and totes, and is a member of 1% For The Planet program, which means it donates 1% of its revenues; and
  • LSTN takes proceeds from every pair of headphones sold and puts them towards restoring hearing to one individual.

Phillip Haid concludes that creating a social impact doesn't require companies to go outside themselves to effect positive change.

What other social purpose businesses are you aware of? We'd like to know.


Embracing the metrics of mutuality

Back in 2011, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and the chairman of Generation Investment Management David Blood penned a "manifesto for sustainable capitalism" in the Wall Street Journal. We find it interesting because they were really writing about how businesses could, and should, embrace broader performance metrics -- including the social, environmental, and governance areas.

In it, they argue for using the ultimate business management tool -- performance metrics -- to leverage a more effective response to global challenges than governments could muster.

Businesses cannot be asked to do the job of governments, but companies and investors will ultimately mobilize most of the capital needed to overcome the unprecedented challenges we now face.

Their five recommended actions include: 

  1. Identify and incorporate risk from stranded assets.
  2. Mandate integrated reporting.
  3. End the default practice of issuing quarterly earnings guidance.
  4. Align compensation structures with long-term sustainable performance.
  5. Incentivize long-term investing with loyalty-driven securities.

As we continue to investigate and refine the metrics associated with the Economics of Mutuality, we are eager to hear your ideas of what to look for and where to measure.

-- Bruno Roche


Jubilee economics

The economy is a complex system, not a series of separate functions -- meaning that initiatives to grow and improve it require systemic approaches. One such approach was outlined in a recent Guardian op-ed.

In that piece, Alex Evans and Richard Gower promote the idea of a new civic campaign -- based on the Jubilee Debt Campaign that helped foster the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2000 -- that promotes environmental sustainability and the reduction of economic inequality. The MDG debt campaign has been tremendously successful, as low-income countries’ debt has fallen from 69% of their national income in 2000 to 29% today.

Evans and Gower make the case that the inspiration for the 2000 campaign, the biblical tradition of the Jubilee, involved more than just debt relief.  The Jubilee required resting agricultural lands, granting freedom to all, and re-allocations of long-term assets every 49-50 years. Drawing parallels with the present, they note

"Living within environmental limits, ensuring everyone can meet their basic needs, and keeping inequality from getting out of hand – are at the heart of the sustainable development agenda."

What do you think of this concept? Our Economics of Mutuality initiative is also based on the principle that business can and should create mutual benefits across a full spectrum of measures: financial, social and environmental. We are interested in understanding the most effective way to engage and promote these ideas;  is a civic initiative based on Jubilee traditions the way to go?

-- Bruno Roche