Making good = profitable — Managing Sustainable Businesses–Thomas Kochan

MIT Sloan Prof. Thomas Kochan

From off-shoring good jobs to the great and growing income divide, finance-driven decision-making has long been at the core of many of our economic problems. It’s not that financial analysts and operatives are necessarily evil or uncaring – rather, they believe they have a fiduciary responsibility to generate maximum returns for their funds, even when the results have worker and society-unfriendly consequences.

Changing this mindset has proven a tough nut to crack even for union pension fund managers, who are aware of the social consequences of investment decisions. But there are glimmers of hope and interest. On June 7, for example, some of the nation’s largest institutional investors and the biggest single pension fund investor – the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALpers) — will hold a conference to explore ways to transform socially and environmentally sustainable investment criteria from a perceived liability to an asset. CALpers has a commitment to responsible investing – for example, it calls for neutrality in union organizing – but it has never figured out how to make such policies systemic. Read More »

How (and why) women are leading sustainability efforts — Darcy Winslow

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Darcy Winslow

When it comes to sustainability, women are leading what was once an underground movement. They are enacting change from anywhere and everywhere within organizations whether it’s from the top down, bottom up or middle out.

Sustainability is no longer relegated to the “green team” or people with specific job titles. At women’s networking meetings, one of the most common introductions is: “This isn’t my formal role at the company, but it is my responsibility to influence.”

This is a powerful trend, as women have been playing a significant role in sustainability efforts within organizations for decades. In the early days of the Society for Organizational Learning’s Sustainability Consortium, an inordinate number of women were representing their company, signaling the opportunity to create a space of our own to provide mentorship and support. Read More »

Social responsibility can boost bottom line — Caroline Flammer

Caroline Flammer, Lecturer, Global Economics and Management

We generally think of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a sort of feel-good policy, as something that is good for public policy or public relations but not a company’s bottom line. But my research finds that good corporate citizenship can actually lead to superior financial performance. A company’s social engagement is actually a resource that can create positive value and improve competitiveness. Read More »

How waiting longer for the iPhone could help workers — Richard Locke

MIT Sloan Deputy Dean Richard Locke

From the So. China Morning Post

Richard Locke faults a production system geared to speed at all costs

Two decades after Nike faced heat for poor working conditions in its suppliers’ overseas factories, Apple has been responding to a series of scandals – health and safety problems, worker suicides and riots by workers employed at Foxconn, one of its lead suppliers in China. And, once again, consumer activists and others are calling for better standards, more workplace inspections and other steps to prevent such abuse. Read More »

Trond Undheim: Strategy failure in cleantech

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Trond Undheim

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Trond Undheim

Cleantech has seen its share of high profile failures over the past year.  The bankruptcy of solar cell company Solyndra has been the most public, but there are many others. This has led many to say that the sector is immature, others to say it is doomed or plagued by fickle or unstable state subsidies. It is also true that quite often, Cleantech firms bank on (somebody) introducing changes in infrastructure that need significant momentum (and time) to take hold. But surely Cleantech CEOs are smart people, so the reason they fail must be slightly more complex, perhaps? And is it even so certain that the problem lies with the industry itself and not with other factors? Is failure, in fact, quite evenly distributed across sectors? You may have noticed that strategies sometimes fail. Some would say strategies mostly fail. I know from my own life that intent does not always translate to result. The question is why.Jim Collins, in his book Why The Mighty Fail (2009), believes failures have a 5 stage lifecycle: hubris of success, pursuit of more, denial of risk, grasping at straws, and capitulation. Does his framework apply equally well across all industries? Is it fully relevant to cleantech?

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