Corporate Knights, a Toronto-based media and research company, recently released its annual list of the world’s most sustainable companies. This list is unique in that it takes into consideration what corporations need to do to make the most of not only environmental resources, but also human and financial capital. Corporations must be able to sustain the global environment as a whole, including the people who live in it.
Sustainable practices are tracked in a number of measurable ways including environmental factors such as how much energy and water are consumed and how much emissions and waste are generated. Key human factors include the ratio of CEO compensation to that of the company’s employees, worker safety and turnover, and representation of women in board and management positions.
These four companies work hard to take care of the Earth and its resources, along with the people who make the companies successful.
Biogen is the leading developer of therapies for people suffering from neurological, autoimmune, and hematologic diseases. Environmentally, Biogen is a carbon-neutral company meaning that it has effectively neutralized carbon-emitting activities with reduction and offset projects. In the community, Biogen sends thousands of employee ambassadors to promote and support STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs in schools and provides two Community Labs where middle and high school students can study in real-life settings.
For employees, Biogen specifically targets talented women to guide them into leadership roles and has extended resource networks to include employees of every imaginable background. Biogen promotes a sustainable work-life balance for every employee and is now including a year-end shutdown and employee sabbatical program.
With operations around the world, German-based Adidas is the manufacturer of Adidas and Reebok branded sporting equipment. Its general approach to sustainability is to find the balance between shareholder expectations, respecting human rights and the needs of its employees.
Adidas strives to provide the best lifestyle for its employees by including creative scheduling and time off models. Employees can earn flexible time off and have a lifetime working time account to bank time to use as paid vacations, sabbaticals, or early retirement. Its unique Parent Pool allows parents to continue on a part-time basis without losing status. In fact, some locations offer nursery rooms and fully-equipped temporary offices that are kid-friendly.
Based in Finland, the grocery retailer Kesko operates across eight countries. The objectives of its responsibility program include working conditions, social accountability, product safety, and mitigating climate change.
In its 2019 list of Sustainability Indices, Kesko showed continued growth in community investments like youth sports, veterans care, science research, and environmental organizations. Employees are provided with health coverage, parental leave, and retirement benefits and group leisure activities are encouraged through a dedicated program. It continues to decrease overall energy consumption, reduce emissions, and manage waste throughout the entire organization.
Based in Germany and with operations around the globe, BMW strives to build social engagement into the entire corporation including products and processes. Its sustainability efforts start in the manufacturing line as BMW continually strives to reduce the emissions of the vehicles it produces and offer electric and hybrid choices for its customers.
Within the organization, BMW has been working to minimize its impact on the environment since 1973 when it appointed one of the first Environmental Officers in the world. For employees, BMW is committed to equal opportunities and is working to refine its strategies to include an aging workforce rather than alienate it. BMW actively promotes women advancing into leadership positions, and uses flexible positions and scheduling to help employees find the balance between work and home.
These four companies have placed sustainability and the triple bottom line at the top of their business priorities. They are a great example of social and environmental responsibility among corporations and leaders in approaches to sustainability in a corporate context.
Be sure to check out The University of Scranton’s Free Guide, “Sustainability and the MBA: The Triple Bottom Line” which offers more information on today’s MBAs and sustainability in business with its focus on the social, environmental and financial aspects of business.