As our calendar expires once again, many of us will be inspired to reflect on our journeys and to look forward to new adventures. “The Third Degree” is not immune to this drive; this installment serves that very purpose. It will not be mere nostalgia, however.
It is in the spirit of continuous improvement that previous installments will be revisited, referencing material published since their release. Resources that were simply missed in the initial telling will also be shared. This is a mostly chronological journey to simplify navigating the archive to review the original articles.
Claims about the impact of sustainability initiatives – or the lack thereof – on a company’s financial performance are prevalent in media. Claims cover the spectrum from crippling, through negligible, to transformative. Articles making these claims target audiences ranging from corporate executives to non-industry activists, politicians, and regulators. Likewise, the articles cite vastly differing sources to support claims.
These articles are often rife with unsupported claims and inconsistencies, are poorly sourced, poorly written, and dripping with bias. The most egregious are often rewarded with “likes,” “shares,” and additional “reporting” by equally biased purveyors of “the word.” These viewpoint warriors create a fog of war that makes navigating the mine-laden battlefield of stakeholder interests incredibly treacherous.
The fog of war is penetrated by stepping outside the chaos to collect and analyze relevant information. To do this in the sustainability vs. profitability context, a group from NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business have developed the Return on Sustainability Investment (ROSI) framework. ROSI ends reliance on the incessant cascades of conflicting claims, providing a structure for investigating the impacts of sustainability initiatives on an organization’s financial performance.
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