January Corporate Citizenship Highlights

EnvironmentIn January, policy makers, government agencies, and companies took advantage of the New Year spirit by recommitting to goals, setting targets, and measuring results in the environmental arena. Earlier this month, the Obama administration built on 2014’s advances in climate change policy—an effort the President reaffirmed during his 2015 State of the Union address— with a plan to limit methane emissions and the announcement of a federal “model rule” for states that don’t file carbon-cutting plans. In Canada, Ontario got closer to revealing its plan for carbon-pricing, and plans to unveil its strategy later this year.

In response, many companies are taking time assess their environmental impact, develop reduction strategies, and report on their performance. Those that do will not only be armed with the necessary information to shrink their carbon footprint, they will also have a better understanding of potential risks to their business and opportunities for innovation. Furthermore, companies that disclose environmental performance metrics may boost their bottom line, as research indicates that analysts are increasingly using environmental, social, and governance (ESG) information to inform their decisions. The financial benefits of transparency hold true even during market crisis, as the liquidity of transparent firms is more predictable (and thus attractive to investors).

To report environmental performance, many corporate citizenship practitioners turn to the CDP, the world’s only global natural capital disclosure system, through which more than 4,500 companies from more than 80 countries and 207 cities report, manage, and share vital environmental information. To learn more about reporting to the CDP and the benefits of transparency, consider joining the Center for our CDP Reporting: Disclosing Environmental Impacts class. In addition, be sure to check out these great Center resources:

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  • Earlier this month, Betty Cremmins, senior manager, CDP Supply Chain (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), CDP, shared an overview of CDP, the CDP reporting process, and the benefits of reporting during an hour-long webinar.
  • Learn more about the benefits of transparency in The Value of Sustainability Reporting, a research report issued produced as a joint effort between The Center for Corporate Citizenship and Ernst & Young LLP.
  • Research finds that board composition plays a role in reporting. Firms with larger and more gender diverse boards are more likely to integrate corporate citizenship information with corporate strategy and accounting material to create a more complete picture of company performance.
  • A 2012 study finds that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reports complement financial reporting and lead to more accurate forecasts by financial analysts.
  • Researchers found that—while the quality and quantity of corporate citizenship reports have been in constant flux—the vast majority of large cap companies are now producing them.

* This research brief is being provided freely to nonmembers. Research Briefs are distributed monthly to Center members, and provide summaries of recent or seminal research findings from corporate practice and academic study that offer insights and tools corporate citizenship practitioners can apply to their work.