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The Six New Rules of Business

A Review

“Tell me which of the pressing issues of our time keep you awake at night, and I will tell you how the old rules of profit maximization and short-term thinking contribute to those problems,” Judy Samuelson writes in the introduction to her new book, The Six New Rules of Business: Creating Real Value in a Changing World. The rules are changing. The COVID-19 pandemic and other recent crises have made it clear that business and society are more intertwined than ever before, and the old notions of “what is good for business” are no longer sustainable for society – or…

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Pandemic and political crises reveal new role and challenges for business

The current pandemic and growing climate crises have thrown into sharp relief the critical role large firms now play in society, not just as economic entities, but as key social institutions and political actors. A decade ago, would we have imagined a scenario where business organizations are on the front lines of the fight to preserve democracy and to remove a president from office? (“This is chaos,” a statement from the conservative American Manufacturers Association read. “This is sedition and should be treated as such. The outgoing president incited violence in an attempt to retain power.”) Would we have anticipated…

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Biden and ESG:

How the new administration might shape the sustainability landscape

With one week until President-Elect Joe Biden takes office, the U.S. is likely in for a major shift in tone at the top. The Trump administration has been marked by a loosening of regulations, both environmental and economic, that have drawn criticism for their negative impact on ESG issues from climate change to social justice. Analysts are already predicting that a Biden presidency will give a substantial boost to ESG investing and many of his early cabinet and advisor picks appear to be ESG-friendly. With the recent runoff election in Georgia adding two Democratic seats to the Senate, giving the…

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FT ODX panel confronts the 21st century corporate governance challenge

What are the implications for corporate governance in an environment where firms are being looked to as “social institutions,” sharing with governments the responsibility to ensure elements of social welfare and well-being? This is the question considered at a panel session moderated by the Financial Times’s Billy Nauman, entitled “New Models of Corporate Governance,” part of the FT’s Outstanding Directors Exchange (ODX), a platform that brings together sitting directors of public companies to discuss strategic boardroom issues. Panelists Chris Pinney, President of High Meadows Institute, Peggy Foran, CGO of Prudential Financial and a Director at Orion Group Holdings and Sheila…

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Businesses and BLM – Evaluating their commitment

The last few months have seen a moment of national reckoning, as Americans confront the racial inequalities that have underpinned society for centuries. And the corporate world is finding that it can no longer stand on the sidelines. As consumers increasingly expect businesses to take greater responsibility for their impact on society, companies have begun more and more to speak out on a wide range of social, environmental and political issues. As the May 25th murder of George Floyd by police, the latest in a long list of brutalities and injustices perpetrated against the black community, sparked a wave of…

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ESG in a Post-COVID World

The COVID-19 crisis marks an inflection point in the evolution of ESG. On the one hand, it has provided proof once and for all that ESG is here to stay, as investors pour money into ESG funds that are significantly outperforming their peers in the market downturn. On the other, it has heightened public scrutiny of companies and expectations for their social performance. What does this mean for ESG?  It means moving beyond a model of ESG that is still focused primarily on minimizing harm and what Unilever CEO Alan Jope refers to as “seductive incrementalism” – creating change on the…

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HMI launches database of global corporate responsibility initiatives

BOSTON – High Meadows Institute is excited to announce the launch of the Business Leadership in Society Database, a comprehensive new resource for tracking and assessing industry associations and partnerships promoting responsible business leadership. Developed by High Meadow Institute, with support from KKS Advisors, the database profiles over 200 initiatives, operating both nationally and globally and will officially launch June 3. Self-regulatory initiatives that address major Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues have become an increasingly important contributor in setting standards for corporate social responsibility in the 21st century. While the number of these initiatives is rapidly growing, there is…

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BlackRock drives a tipping point on climate action

Larry Fink’s 2020 CEO letter and his commitment that BlackRock will now be front and forward on climate change across all of BlackRock’s assets under management represents a critical turning point in the climate fight. As the world’s largest asset manager, with $7 trillion under management, BlackRock’s leadership will now put pressure on State Street and Vanguard, the other two members of the big three asset managers, to follow suit. Together, these three firms are the majority shareholders in 88% of the S&P 500, with the power to dramatically influence corporate behavior and ensure climate change is on the agenda of every corporate…

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