New Developments in Sustainability: CEOs say ‘tax us’

At a time when Australia seems set to do away with the carbon tax (and not introduce the carbon pricing mechanism that was set to follow), we noted the results of a recent Accenture survey with great interest.


Nearly one-third of CEO’s suggest intervention through taxation should be pursued to advance sustainability initiatives. Given how extensively business typically lobbies against any form of business taxation, that’s a truly remarkable result.


In total, 59% of CEOs call for harder approaches from government, including regulation and standards. Interestingly, only 21% believe softer approaches such as voluntary initiatives and information resources are the way to go.


Perhaps not the kind of result you might expect.


So, if the carbon price is working, Australian businesses don’t think getting rid of the carbon price will make a difference to them, our biggest trading partner is just introducing one, and even a good proportion of company CEOs can see the value in taxation, why are we getting rid of it again?


A Christmas anecdote on the importance of transparency

Shopping for a gift for a family member recently reminded one of our team here at Impact Sustainability of the importance of making sure environmental claims are made honestly, and communicated well.


The gift in question was a watch, produced by a small manufacturer who claims to use only recycled materials, and that every watch purchased has a positive impact upon the environment, through a range of partnership initiatives.


Curious about the details behind this, we went hunting for more information…little was available via the company website. So we went in search of reviews, where a range of review and blog sites disputed the company’s claims about sourcing recycled materials, claimed that the company mislead customers about where the product was manufactured and suggested the lack of detailed information about the partnership initiatives indicated possible dishonesty.


So, our team member took his gift-buying budget elsewhere. The key message here is that, while making claims about environmental performance and initiatives can have great benefits for brand perception (for companies like Honest By, and a range of other hero brands we’ll be blogging about in the coming months), honesty and clear communication are key to ensure that you get the rewards you deserve.

The Hero Brand files: A superpowered fashion label
Honest By has a business model that 10 years ago would have been labeled a seriously bad idea.


Recently launched by the former art director of Hugo Boss, Honest By claims to be the world’s first 100% transparent company. A bold claim indeed, but one that’s hard to refute.


Customers are shown where materials are sourced from, where they were processed, their environmental and health credentials and even…gasp…how much the company paid for them.


The sharing of such commercially sensitive information is a bold move, but in the murky world of textiles supply chains, it is one that is clearly targeted at generating trust between company and consumer, and a feel good brand association at the point of purchase.


Such an approach requires working much more closely with the supply chain than is typical of companies within this sector, which are often unaware (perhaps blissfully) of the original source of much of the materials in their products.


We’ll be watching with interest to see how this new business fares!


Let’s stop talking sustainability and start talking good business

By Hayley Morris


Sustainability is not a new concept. But it does require new thinking. New thinking that redefines the current business-as-usual environment.


It is about longer term thinking.


It is about placing equal value on social and environmental returns, as we currently place on economic returns.


It is about valuing your employees and creating a safe, happy, healthy and productive workplace.


It is about being the good guy and letting people know about it.


It is about checking to see if the values we have in our personal life translate into our business life, and if they don’t, it’s about asking ‘why not?’


It’s about measuring more than just your economic performance and understanding that investment in one area may have a return in a completely different area of the business.


Our company and other social business ventures have these concepts at the very heart of the way they operate. But it’s not only relevant to the new wave of organisations; some of the world’s most well-known business leaders have come together to create a movement and challenge the very concept of the way we do business.


The B Team is a new non-profit organisation founded by Sir Richard Branson and Puma Chairman Jochen Zeitz for the purpose of building a movement for a new way of doing business. It’s called The B Team as we need a plan B, because clearly plan A hasn’t worked!


They launched Plan B on the 13th June with a joint declaration from 13 business leaders.


“These are not the outcomes we envisioned as we grew our companies; this is not the dream that inspired us. And the overwhelming conclusion we’ve reached is that businesses have been a major contributor to the problems, and we as business leaders have the responsibility of creating sustainable solutions.”


“Our vision of the future is a world in which the purpose of business is to become a driving force for social, environmental and economic benefit,” the declaration states. “Our mission is to help develop a ‘Plan B’ that puts people and planet alongside profit. Plan A — where companies have been driven by the profit motive alone — is no longer acceptable.”

When doing good is good for business

In this article, Hayley Morris discusses the concept that community investment or corporate philanthropy can and should be managed strategically in a way that aligns with corporate objectives, resulting in better outcomes for both the community and the organisation. 


Recently I was facilitating a workshop with a hospitality group with the intention of creating a sustainability strategy for the company. I knew that a few of the restaurants in the group donated money and vouchers to local football clubs and school fundraising drives and fetes. I asked whether they were measuring the financial value of this contribution across all of their businesses.


The CEO responded to my questions; “but we don’t do that for sustainability, we do that because it’s good marketing and good for the business.”