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Human Rights Are Not Just an “ESG Factor”

BSR

The notion that investors should use environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations to inform their decision-making is having a moment. This is undoubtedly a good thing for those who believe that just and sustainable business has an essential role to play in the creation of a more equitable future. However, there is a risk of fundamental concepts getting lost in the process. One of these concepts is the responsibility of business—including institutional investors—to respect human rights. The profile received by ESG today may seem sudden, but is happening for good reason: The physical impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent with each season, the global pandemic has forced a renewed examination of human capital across company value chains, and the decline of democracy and trend towards political polarization has significantly increased legal, operational, and reputational risks for companies everywhere. In this context, it is not hard to convince investors of the material significance of ESG to enterprise value creation. However, this lens—of viewing ESG considerations solely as a series of factors that impact enterprise value creation and financial returns—may jeopardize the very outcomes we are seeking to achieve.  Put simply, respect for human rights is not just an ESG factor, but a global standard of expected conduct for all companies, including institutional investors. Human rights are not a subset of discreet social topics to be addressed, but a globally agreed upon standard of achievement for all people, covering a wide range of interdependent civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights....enterprise value creation should only happen when business can meet its responsibility to respect human rights. In the business context, this is manifested in a responsibility to adopt a human rights policy, embed respect for human rights throughout the business, and undertake human rights due diligence—in other words, a fundamental methodology and mindset, not simply an issue to address. And crucially, taking action to address human rights risks should not be contingent on their relevance to enterprise value creation; enterprise value creation should only happen when business can meet its responsibility to respect human rights. However, too often the opposite is the case. When investors position risks and opportunities for the business as the core metric for evaluating ESG performance, companies will respond by focusing too much on what shareholders have to say, and not enough on the voices of those whose rights are impacted. And by aggregating ratings across E, S, and G factors, companies may be labeled as strong ESG performers by investors due to their high ranking on financially material environmental criteria, despite contributing to human rights harms on social criteria.  This is a problem. Many investors misinterpret fiduciary duties as limiting their ability to act on anything that does not demonstrably increase the financial standing of beneficiaries or customers in the short-term. While severe risks to people often converge with risks to business, measuring the returns of paying a living wage (for example) may not be apparent in the short-term.  Public debates on the merits of ESG too often ignore the growth of business and human rights, such as the incorporation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) into the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and the subsequent creation of  responsible business conduct guidance for institutional investors  by the OCED. Emphasizing this shortcoming,  a recent United Nations report  found that “knowledge of human rights, including how human rights are defined, how they are relevant across ESG factors, and what meaningful human rights due diligence looks like remain limited in the investor community.”  We believe that the business and human rights framework tackles many weaknesses in today’s ESG landscape, and important organizations are moving in this direction too. The EU has taken on a leadership role in re-defining responsible business and ESG investing by codifying the human rights expectations of business actors—for example, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation requires investors to disclose the adverse impacts of ESG-branded investments on people and planet regardless of financial materiality, while the proposed EU “social taxonomy” is also grounded on human rights standards and frameworks. The notion of “ double materiality,” which features prominently in proposals for a new EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, is especially promising. Building upon two decades of standards development, double materiality makes clear that business is accountable in two different ways—to investors, for the creation of enterprise value, and to society at large, for impacts on people and the environment. We need standards for both. The two dimensions of double materiality are connected because impacts on people and the environment increasingly interact with the creation of enterprise value creation. This has become known as “ dynamic materiality,” and wise companies will seek to convey to investors how they address this relationship. However, the two dimensions of double materiality—to investors, for the creation of enterprise value, and to society, for impacts on people and the environment—are distinct and exist entirely on their own merits. Ten years ago, the unanimous endorsement of the UNGPs by the UN Human Rights Council brought new clarity to the notion that all companies, including investors, have a responsibility to respect human rights, regardless of its significance to financial returns. By all means, let’s seize the moment of increased investor interest in ESG to advance more responsible forms of business; but let’s not forget the conceptual foundations that make for truly just and sustainable business, and make sure that the ESG movement meets its own responsibility to respect human rights. AUTHORS DUNSTAN ALLISON-HOPE,  Vice President, BSR Dunstan leads BSR’s work at the intersection of technology and human rights. Previously, Dunstan led BSR’s information and communications technology, heavy manufacturing, and human rights teams. He brings significant experience working on a diverse range of engagements and issues, including human rights due diligence, privacy and freedom of expression, sustainability reporting and strategy, and stakeholder engagement. Dunstan facilitated the multistakeholder process of developing global…  PALOMA MUÑOZ QUICK,  Associate Director, BSR Paloma leads BSR’s work at the intersection of finance and human rights. She advises financial institutions on embedding respect for human rights into corporate governance, across products and services, and at each stage of the investment lifecycle. Prior to joining BSR, Paloma was Advisor to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and Senior Consultant of the UN B-Tech Project, where she developed…    View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from BSR on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 09:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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The Fast and the Furiously Changing Future of ESG Frameworks

Workiva

By Steve Soter Like a freight train, ESG reporting is converging very quickly with what financial reporting teams do today. That’s the view of Neil Stewart, Director of Corporate Outreach of the Value Reporting Foundation, which is bringing businesses’ and investors’ needs together as it advances the development of environmental, social, and governance disclosure standards. (You might remember, the foundation was born when the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB, and the International Integrated Reporting Council merged in June.) Neil spoke this month to the SEC Professionals Group’s ESG Reporting Committee about SASB Standards for ESG disclosures, integrated reporting, and changes ahead in the regulatory landscape. “It is developing far more quickly than I think anyone could have predicted,” Neil said of the landscape, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, European Commission, IFRS Foundation, and others explore where regulations should go next. A hint of what’s ahead While many of us may want a single standard for corporate reporting to emerge, the different audiences and differences in what is measured for financial reports versus sustainability reports could make that impossible, Neil said. "There will still be layers or building blocks of reporting approaches for different audiences,” Neil said. “As the IFRS Foundation and the SEC look at creating standards for reporting, we expect them to follow that building block approach and to stick to their sweet spot, which is disclosure about enterprise value for providers of capital as the users of the information.” The next building block, which could be applied by different jurisdictions depending on their sustainable development goals: reporting on environmental, social, or governance impacts that may not yet pose financial risks or affect the bottom line. The building block idea promotes a layered approach to reporting. The first building block or layer could address investor-focused demands for disclosure of information that’s financially material to the business, Neil said. The next layer could address concerns of other stakeholders, including employees, customers, or society at large. This sequence expands financial reporting beyond environmental, social, or governance impacts that affect the bottom line or pose current financial risks. By the way, SASB, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), and the IFRS Foundation, have all given the “ building blocks ” idea a look, as noted in response to the SEC’s call for comment on the commission’s forthcoming climate disclosure proposal. The Value Reporting Foundation has urged the SEC to require qualitative disclosures around governance and strategy, for example, but also quantitative disclosures, some of which would apply to all public companies and some of which are industry-specific. After all, SASB has long held that ESG reporting isn’t “one size does fits all.” Where to start with ESG reporting As you build your own ESG reporting process, the Value Reporting Foundation has resources that can help: Downloadable SASB Standards SASB Materiality Map, an interactive tool you can use to identify potential disclosure areas specific to your industry and sector Integrated Reporting Framework (even if you don’t use the framework, integrated reporting can still be valuable to in showing stakeholders the connections between ESG performance, financial performance, social impacts, environmental impacts, your risk strategy, and oversight) In the beginning, you may not have a full-blown sustainability report with data and narrative. Maybe you start with a table of key metrics and go from there. Using multiple ESG frameworks It’s common for companies to follow multiple frameworks, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework, which is used by thousands of ESG reporting entities. However, use of SASB Standards and the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) is growing quickly, according to Datamaran, as reported by The Economist. Financial giants including State Street and Norges Bank Investment Management support or report in accordance with both SASB and GRI, for example. At Workiva, we’re preparing our reporting in accordance with GRI and SASB standards and in alignment with TCFD and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Final thoughts As your ESG reporting and regulations evolve, the SEC Professionals Group is a place for all finance professionals—even if you’re at a private company or in the public sector—to share ideas, network, and talk about upcoming mandates. We’d love to have your voice in the group and on the ESG Reporting Committee. You can apply to join the group here. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Workiva on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 09:05 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Illumina's Spotlight on Ovarian Cancer: Understanding Tumors Through Comprehensive Genomic Profiling

Illumina

“Growing up, I had a fear of being broadsided. The idea of an out-of-nowhere collision that might kill or maim me was terrifying. I grew out of this fear and while I’ve never been in that kind of accident, I have been repeatedly broadsided by cancer for the past 11 years.” Michelle Mindlin, a resident of Southern California, was 55 years old when she received the call from her doctor. While waiting to decide on having a planned, routine hysterectomy, Michelle developed a cyst on her right ovary. In consultation with her doctor, they made the decision to remove her ovaries as well as her uterus. The biopsy of the cyst was malignant and ovarian cancer was the diagnosis. The initial treatment was basic standard-of-care chemotherapy. After six years in remission, Michelle had her first recurrence, which was again treated with chemotherapy, as well as targeted radiation. That began a cycle of treatment, remission, then reoccurrences over the span of several years. Finally, Michelle was placed into a clinical trial of targeted immunotherapy treatment. While initially her tumor was sequenced for basic markers such as the BRCA gene, it wasn’t until a few years later that she learned just how much more information she could glean from a testing approach called Comprehensive Genomic Profiling (CGP). “People and doctors are always telling you what to do or what you should do, but you don’t grasp the significance of it at the time,” notes Michelle. Making the tumor your friend Michelle’s wife, Denise McCanles, had been casually researching clinical trials for a while. After helping her wife through the impact of treatments, and seeing her through several remissions, it was hard for Denise to just be there and have no control over the situation. “I’ve shared my life with Michelle for decades, there was no way I was going to live without her,” says Denise. That’s when Denise decided to take control of the situation as best she could. She set up Google alerts to notify her when any news of ovarian cancer was mentioned, waiting for the next finding or trial that would save Michelle. “I got to know her tumor, and even though it was actually my nemesis, I made it my ‘friend.’ I would just call up scientists and researchers whose therapies sounded promising,” says Denise. “I was an advocate for Michelle, asking the questions and helping her with the decisions. Many people are scared of clinical trials, but they are great and you have more access to medications and monitoring than you normally would.” Michelle was chosen for a promising targeted immunotherapeutic trial. While the trial was successful at first for Michelle, unfortunately it wasn’t for the majority of the other patients in the trial. And as the trial ended and the medication was running out, they found that Michelle was no longer responding to the treatment. “As this trial faded away, we needed to look at other options. That’s when we asked about comprehensive genomic profiling.” Advocacy and scientific advancement Denise’s continued research and diligence brought the couple to the Clearity Foundation and then, to the world of comprehensive genetic profiling. The science behind tumor profiling is evolving quickly and wasn’t an option when Michelle was first diagnosed. After speaking with the Clearity Foundation, they learned more about the value of whole-genome sequencing and what it could mean for them. Founded in 2008, Clearity Foundation seeks to revolutionize ovarian cancer treatment. Clearity takes a comprehensive, hands-on approach to help women identify the treatments that may work best against their unique disease. Assessing their medical history, as well as tumor molecular profiles and other diagnostics, Clearity professionals help women and their physicians identify optimal treatment options based on the latest science and research. Clearity’s Tumor Profile Reports are geared toward helping patients and caregivers understand a tumor’s molecular characteristics. That information can then point to therapies and trials that may have the best chances for positive outcomes. “Cancer research has come a long way since Michelle’s first diagnosis 11 years ago,” says Hillary Theakston, Executive Director of the Clearity Foundation. “By providing access to the latest research and science on ovarian cancer, Clearity has become a trusted source of hope for women and caregivers. The science is not always easy to understand, which is why organizations like ours are helpful—understanding your options and being able to make more knowledgeable treatment choices can be the key to a better outcome.” "Combining comprehensive genomic profiling with companion diagnostic tests is key to understanding a patient’s cancer and finding the right course of treatment." - Phil Febbo, Chief Medical Officer of Illumina With cancer, knowledge is power “What has saved me is that I’ve paid attention to my body and what it’s telling me—and in turn I’m telling the doctors,” says Michelle. “Many people don’t want to know things, but I’m the opposite—I want to understand everything. With cancer, and in general, I believe knowledge is power.” Michelle’s CGP lead to her latest trial for a drug that has primarily been used for breast cancer. Through the profiling, they found that one of her genetic markers is showing great results when treated with a specific drug—a drug that her doctors decided against earlier in treatment since she didn’t have the BRCA gene. “Combining comprehensive genomic profiling with companion diagnostic tests is key to understanding a patient’s cancer and finding the right course of treatment,” says Phil Febbo, Chief Medical Officer of Illumina. “The future of cancer care is personalized not for the tissue of origin of the cancer, but in the biomarkers of the patient’s tumor. Illumina is making great strides at developing assays that will make a real difference for patients.” As for Michelle, she and Denise are not sure if the new trial is helping or what the long-term impact will be, but that doesn’t dissuade them from trying. “No matter how hard it’s been, I feel lucky. Each treatment, each trial, it’s kept me alive that much longer and given me time I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Time for research to come out and new advancements to be made. Time that could save my life.” September is View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Illumina on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 09:04 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Bristol Myers Squibb Matches Employee-led Donations to Community

Bristol Myers Squibb Company

Last year, our employee-led People & Business Resource Groups identified impactful organizations fighting disparities and discrimination. When U.S. and Puerto Rico-based employees donate to these selected groups, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation double-matches their gifts. Learn more about this special Employee Giving program. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Bristol Myers Squibb Company on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 09:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Leveraging Pro Bono to Build Strong Nonprofit Boards

Taproot Foundation

1 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. CT / 11 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. PT Register Now It’s hard to overstate just how important a strong board of directors is for the long-term success of a nonprofit. In addition to guiding the organization through change and building strong systems to withstand future challenges, if your board of directors is representative of the community that you’re serving, it can also act as a vital sounding board when making programmatic or leadership changes. Despite this, board recruitment and development is one of the most under-utilized areas of business pro bono support. Taproot Foundation is out to change that in this free Wednesday, October 13 webinar, presented as part of the 2021 U.S. Pro Bono Summit, which will dig into: How a fully functioning, resource-raising nonprofit board operates Best practices for using pro bono to build and develop your board Tips from a nonprofit and volunteer whose pro bono partnership led to board service Register now to join this 2021 U.S. Pro Bono Summit virtual event! We’ll save plenty of time for live Q&A on the webinar—so bring your questions and any friends or colleagues who also are interested in nonprofit boards. Register Now 1 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. CT / 11 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. PT   This 2021 U.S. Pro Bono Summit session is being presented free of cost thanks in part to support from PwC and RBC and will be recorded. All registrants will receive a recording of the event. To learn more about Taproot’s pro bono programming, visit our website at www.taprootfoundation.org. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Taproot Foundation on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 09:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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My Special Aflac Duck® Taking Flight in Arizona

Aflac Incorporated

BY  CHRIS KENNEDY For more than 65 years, Aflac has had the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to help provide peace of mind to individuals who have our supplemental insurance policies. Though many things have changed over the decades, one thing has not: Aflac is committed to being there when people need us most. But this promise extends far beyond our policyholders. Twenty-six years ago, Aflac made a commitment to children with cancer and their families, and since that time we have donated more than $154 million to pediatric cancer and blood disorders research and awareness. Now, we’re extending that impact to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Aflac hasn’t stopped at donating needed funding. We wanted to provide a tangible, touchable comfort provider for children who are facing cancer and sickle cell disease. After two years of research and development, I was particularly proud to have introduced the newest member of the Aflac family – My Special Aflac Duck® – to more than 20 pediatric cancer patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. My Special Aflac Duck is an award-winning robotic, comforting companion designed especially for pediatric cancer and sickle cell patients. More than 10,800 children across the U.S. have received a My Special Aflac Duck of their very own and Aflac is committed to ensuring every child age 3 and up diagnosed with cancer or sickle cell disease has the opportunity to have one. That’s Aflac’s commitment and we are proud to be bringing that to life here in Arizona. To learn more about My Special Aflac Duck visit  https://aflacchildhoodcancer.org/. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Aflac Incorporated on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 09:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Marquee investors rally into Coinrule funding round as auto crypto trading takes off

Coinrule

Fintech startup Coinrule which provides individual and retail cryptocurrency investors an automated crypto trading platform for their assets, has today announced a $2.2m seed funding round. A range of decorated tech founders and investors participated in the round including Fitbit founder James Park, Twitch founder Kevin Lin, Kayak founder Paul English and a fund in which Naval Ravikant is an investor among others*. Coinrule has also joined the YCombinator S21 cohort. Founded in 2018, by Gabriele Musella, Oleg Giberstein and Zdeněk Höfler, Coinrule enables cryptocurrency investors to create and test automated trading strategies for their assets to benefit from market opportunities but also to protect them against adverse events. It was created with the mission to increase the accessibility of trading strategies and models, typically the preserve of investment banks and hedge funds, for anyone. In effect, Coinrule provides algorithmic trading without having to learn a single line of code. Users can access one of 4 plans: one is free, the others charge a tiered fee for Hobbyist, Trader and Pro plans. Gabriele Musella, co-founder of Coinrule commented: “Coinrule is perfectly placed between two super trends, hyper financialization and the growth of automation in the world. We are bridging these trends to bring everyday crypto currency holders the opportunity to seize market opportunities. This funding and joining the YCombinator programme has put us in a good place to deliver our mission for financial inclusion by giving people the tools to compete in a new world of trading.” Coinrule has grown rapidly over the last 12 months and now has over 80,000 users trading assets worth £100m every month. In any given month, users are creating over 100,000 strategies on the platform as they seek greater ownership of their assets. “Crypto trading volumes account for over 10% of US equity trading and there are more than 60m active crypto traders worldwide. Moreover, our insights tell us there are some 360m people owning crypto assets worldwide with 82% who are keen to act quickly to market changes but feel constrained by the lack of means to do so. The opportunity is clear and present for Coinrule to help a range of people with crypto assets to generate value and protect their assets. Over the next 5 years, we plan to expand our user base to over 2 million and automate $100 billion in crypto trading volume” added Gabriele Musella. “The world of finance is changing. Up to 90% of global markets are managed by bots and run by investment banks and hedge funds, leaving the average investor with few tools to compete. Learning to trade manually is difficult and time consuming and the relative knowledge of professional and hobbyist investors is very different, and so is their access to opportunities.” Coinrule's vision is to become an investment ecosystem that allows users to backtest strategies, copy trades from expert investors in the marketplace, find arbitrage opportunities and automatically find the best prices across exchanges. Coinrule has already integrated it’s offering with global crypto exchanges including Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, Bitstamp among others. Gabriele Musella concluded: “The new world of finance requires levelling the playing field between regular traders and hedge funds. Until that point is reached, we will continue to innovate and increase accessibility of the Coinrule platform to all. Long term, we intend to expand into traditional assets such as stocks as well as the new field of Decentralised Finance. Adding decentralised apps to Coinrule strategies would open endless opportunities like staking coins, smart routing and trading synthetic assets. All of this will be possible from one single interface enhanced with the power of automation.” Coinrule is uniquely positioned to become the link between the old world of finance and the new, offering an automated SaaS trading solution across all assets and platforms, * Other investors include: Matteo Franceschetti’s Superfund (Founder of Eight Sleeps), Zilliqa Capital (a blockchain crypto fund), YC Alums Fund, Urban Innovation Fund (a Silicon Valley fund), NZVC, Startup Leadership Program (SLP Angels), CV VC, Kube VC, NV Ventures, Christophe Lassuyt, Robin Bade, Justin Hamilton, Stelios Gerogiannakis and Dan Scarfe. About Coinrule Coinrule enables retail investors with crypto assets to automate their investments across multiple platforms to protect your funds and catch the next great market opportunity - algorithmic trading without having to learn a single line of code. Coinrule was founded by Gabriele, Oleg and Zdenek in 2018 to help more people take control of their cryptocurrency assets. In doing so, this will inspire normal people to learn more about investing and access trading tools that are currently only available to professional traders. Contact Details Coinrule Bilal Mahmood +44 7714 007257 press@coinrule.com

September 27, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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Understanding Stakeholder Value

Kaleidoscope Futures

The dominance of shareholder value grew through the 1970s and into the ‘greed is good’ Wall Street boom-and-bust 1980s, with deregulation ushering in a new era of creative financial products like derivatives. This in turn fuelled the growth of the casino economy – which economist John Maynard Keynes had warned about decades previously, saying: “Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” [i] It was in reaction to the prevailing shareholder value logic – and especially the idea that companies have a legal, fiduciary duty to place their needs above all others – that the concept of stakeholder value emerged. Although the idea wasn’t new, American professor, R Edward Freeman is credited with introducing stakeholder theory in 1984. [ii] He argued that companies should be accountable to a broader set of stakeholders – literally, all those who have a stake in the business; in other words, interested and affected parties. The argument against a stakeholder-driven approach, advanced by neoliberal economists, avaricious shareholders and many incumbent business leaders, was and continues to be that, since everyone is a stakeholder, the concept is rather meaningless. And more to the point, that by trying to satisfy a diverse set of competing interests, business will take its eye off the making-money ball. This objection is, frankly, ridiculous. Every business leader knows that he or she needs to be profitable. Profits – including returns to shareholders for stock listed companies – are like oxygen. Business needs profits to survive. But breathing is not the purpose of a business. Nor does breathing accomplish anything on its own. Profits are a means to an end, and the end, companies’ reason for being, is adding value to society through the provision of goods and services. And that is of course impossible in the absence of healthy relationships with suppliers, customers, government, communities, media, investors and others – good stakeholder relations, in other words. The shareholder primacy lobby began to be questioned when the social responsibility and corporate governance movements took off in the 1980s and 1990s. One breakthrough moment was the inclusion of stakeholder value in the 1994 King Code on Corporate Governance in South Africa. Another was the creation of the stakeholder salience method by academics Ronald K. Mitchell, Bradley R. Agle and Donna J. Wood, to help companies prioritise stakeholder groups. I still use their power, legitimacy and urgency test for helping companies to achieve stakeholder focus. [iii] The 2000s was the decade of accountability, as stakeholder engagement and non-financial reporting gained traction following the launch of the AA1000 standards and the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, both in 1999. Since these standards were modelled on financial accounting, auditing and reporting, the principle of materiality, or significance, was adopted. But how should a company determine if one sustainability issue or another is more or less material? The answer is to ask stakeholders – and so stakeholder materiality assessment was born. Today, you will often see an illustrative matrix in corporate sustainability reports, plotting the importance of different issues to stakeholders in relation to their impact on the company. It is worth noting that in 2019 and 2020 a set of symbolic victories for stakeholder value over shareholder value were achieved. Specifically, three things happened to demonstrate that stakeholder primacy has finally been recognised as the preferred business philosophy, twenty-five years after Freeman introduced it as a theory. It began (ironically, some might say) with the investment management firm Blackrock, which is the biggest investor in the world, with $8.7 trillion in assets under management by the end of 2020. Back in January 2019, their CEO Larry Fink wrote a public Letter to CEOs of the companies in which Blackrock invests on behalf of their clients. The letter, which mentioned stakeholders six times and created ripples of interest in media and boardrooms around the world, was entitled “Profit & Purpose” and included the following statement: “Purpose is not a mere tagline or marketing campaign; it is a company’s fundamental reason for being – what it does every day to create value for its stakeholders. Purpose is not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them. Profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose – in fact, profits and purpose are inextricably linked. Profits are essential if a company is to effectively serve all of its stakeholders over time – not only shareholders, but also employees, customers, and communities.” Next, in August 2019, the Business Roundtable, which is an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies, announced “the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs who commit to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.” Those CEOs included the leaders of many of the world’s largest corporations, including Amazon, Apple, BP, Coca-Cola, Dow, Dell, DuPont, Deloitte, EY, Ford, General Motors, Google, Goldman Sachs, IBM, HP, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, McKinsey, Mastercard, Microsoft, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, Nasdaq, Pepsi, Pfizer, Phillips, PwC, Oracle, SAP, Proctor & Gamble, Salesforce, Siemens, 3M, Walmart, Xerox and many others. In announcing the change, the Business Roundtable makes the end of shareholder primacy crystal clear, saying: “Each version of the document issued since 1997 has endorsed principles of shareholder primacy – that corporations exist principally to serve shareholders. With today’s announcement, the new Statement supersedes previous statements and outlines a modern standard for corporate responsibility.” The statement itself goes on to say that “we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders” including delivering value to customers, investing in employees, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, supporting communities and generating long-term value for shareholders. Finally, in January 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF) went on to issue its Davos Manifesto 2020, subtitled “The Universal Purpose of a Company in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. The Manifesto repeated the same message as the Business Roundtable Statement, beginning with the statement that, “The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large.” In September of the same year, WEF issued a set of Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics, collaboratively developed and supported by 120 of the world’s largest companies. -- Wayne Visser is a globally recognised Cambridge "pracademic" and thought-leader on sustainable and responsible business and the author of Thriving: The Breakthrough Movement to Regenerate Nature, Society and the Economy. He is a Fellow and Head Tutor at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, Professor and holder of the Chair of Sustainable Transformation (supported by BASF, Port of Antwerp and Randstad) at Antwerp Management School, and Founder and Director of CSR International and Kaleidoscope Futures Lab. Wayne is the author of 40 books and held previous roles as Director of Sustainability Services for KPMG and Strategy Analyst for CapGemini. [i] Keynes, J.M. (1936). The general theory of employment, interest and money. London: Macmillan. [ii] Freeman, R.E. (1984). Strategic management: a stakeholder approach. Boston: Pitman. [iii] Mitchell, R.K., Agle, B.R. & Wood, D.J. (1997). Toward a theory of stakeholder identification and salience: Defining the principle of who and what really counts. The Academy of Management Review, 22(4), 853–886. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Kaleidoscope Futures on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 08:17 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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A 'Trailblazer of Business and Human Rights' Who Will Not Be Forgotten

GRI

Following the news of the death of John Ruggie, author of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Global Reportign Initiative (GRI) has paid tribute to the immense legacy he leaves behind. John Ruggie was one of the architects of the UN Global Compact, before in 2005 being appointed by Kofi Annan to create what would become known as “the Ruggie Principles”. Since their launch in 2011, the Guiding Principles have spearheaded global recognition for the responsibilities of companies in meeting their human rights obligations. He latterly served as chairman of Shift– the global center of expertise for the application of the Guiding Principles. Eric Hespenheide, Chair of the GRI Board, said: “On behalf of the entire GRI family, I want to convey how sad we are at the passing of John Ruggie. He was a true trailblazer of the business and human rights movement, and leaves an enduring legacy through the application of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Today, they set the authoritative and intergovernmental benchmark for companies and other organizations around the world to adhere to, achieving enormous progress in business accountability for human rights related impacts. Indeed, the revised GRI Universal Standards, to publish next month, will explicitly align with the Guiding Principles. John’s vision will continue to be fulfilled through the mission of Shift to ‘build a world where business gets done with respect for people’s dignity’. These are values that GRI wholeheartedly shares and, in his honor, we will strengthen our resolve to secure  transparency and action on the role of business in advancing human rights.” Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the independent, international organization that helps businesses and other organizations take responsibility for their impacts, by providing the global common language to report those impacts. The GRI Standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process and provided as a free public good. View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from GRI on 3blmedia.com

September 27, 2021 08:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time

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