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Heading into 2016, companies are becoming more transparent, committed to long term sustainability

Any “Doubting Thomases” on the genuineness of long term corporate sustainable development (aka corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, etc.) might well consider two landmark research studies by The Conference Board.

The inescapable conclusion of the research: Corporate sustainability commitments are driving evolution of a dominant global business model for the 21st century. 

Evidence: Corporate sustainability policies and programs are now solidly integrated into strategic plans and long term commitments; company disclosure/ transparency is increasingly.

In its “Global Awakening” report, TCB concludes that, “More US companies are aligning sustainability disclosure with global standards through the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework … Exceptional progress has also been made in the transparency of individual practices, such as anti-bribery and climate change.”

A few highlights:

. Reporting Practices – GRI reporting continues to rise among US companies and the overall sustainability disclosure rate grew faster among smaller companies in all regions.

 . Environmental Practices – The risk climate change poses to a business is being disclosed with more prominence, especially among US companies.

. Social Practices – Disclosure of anti-bribery policies showed the greatest increase among the practices analyzed; there has been a significant uptake in human rights disclosure; and the 2015 corporate charitable and community spend in the S&P Global increased 13 percent over the prior year. 

These are some of the findings  from TCB’s Sustainability Practices Dashboard 2015, a comprehensive database and online benchmarking tool.

A companion TCB research report, “Driving Revenue Growth Through Sustainable Products and Services” presents 12 case histories of companies applying corporate sustainability programs to drive innovation and growth strategy. The report examines the extent to which sustainability is generating revenue, providing growth opportunities and stimulating innovation in products and services among a subset of S&P Global 100 members.

This analysis examines research and development (R&D) investments allocated to sustainability initiatives to offer insights on the time horizon and profitability of those investments. A key aspect: “In 2013 a sample of seven S&P Global 100 companies allocated on average about two-fifths of R&D spending to sustainability, or $1.6 billion. Compared to 2010,  [such] spending increased on average 21 percent, outpacing the 15 percent increase on overall  R&D spending by these companies.”

The review presents specific examples of company initiatives related to sustainable product innovation at these companies: Allianz, BASF, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, DuPont, GE, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberley-Clark, Phillips, Siemens and Toshiba.

For more information on these and other TCB corporate responsibility reports visit: