“Sustainability” is a word in wide use that has many meanings. It all depends on who you ask. If you ‘re talking to environmentalists, they’ll say it’s about meeting society’s needs without compromising future generations’ capacity to do so, too. If you’re talking to economists, they’ll say it’s about keeping inflation low and growth steady. And, if you’re talking to business executives, they’ll say it’s a long-term strategy to gain a competitive advantage in innovation, efficiency, reputation, and ultimately performance. The last group is the one we’ll be focusing on with the launch of Bloomberg.com’s new Sustainability section.
The goal is to uncover what businesses are doing, or what they need to be doing, to thrive as global competition intensifies for strategic resources. We feel this is a unique yet critical way to report on sustainability issues – from inside the companies who are defining it. If executives don’t commit to making sustainability a vital part of their company, more than just their businesses will suffer. The communities they operate in, customers, and other non-financial players are also impacted by business decisions.
Sustainable efforts can have a positive impact beyond just a company’s short-term bottom line. For example, UPS was fulfilling its five-year sustainability goals in 2007, when executives noticed how rapidly the competitive landscape was changing. Despite its efforts, UPS was dropping in Global Reporting Initiative and Carbon Disclosure Project rankings. During an interview with Bloomberg.com Sustainability Editor Eric Roston, Scott Wicker, UPS chief sustainability officer and vice president of Corporate Plant Engineering said, “We were sliding off the list in the mid-2000s.” Competing firms were stepping in. “We needed to step it up,” he said. “Senior management saw reputational risks in not paying attention.”
The UPS example is emblematic of the entire sustainability imperative. Leading companies must be attuned to both their own internal goals and the dramatic external pressures emerging as the 21st century moves on.
Below is a brief video in which Mr. Roston provides more details about the new Bloomberg.com Sustainability section and why we think we’re well-positioned to do this. We can’t stress enough the importance of our expansion into this space. When speaking to senior executives, many have said that if you don’t have a sustainability plan, you don’t have a business plan.
The Bloomberg.com Sustainability Team