Climate Finance | October 7, 2020

Helping companies make good on their commitments to stakeholders

Amy Cortese
ImpactAlpha Editor

Amy Cortese

ImpactAlpha, Oct. 7When 181 members of the Business Roundtable signed on to a new statement of corporate purpose a year ago, little could they imagine how the COVID-19, racial justice, and climate crises would soon put their stakeholder-centric pledges to the test.

A recent analysis of corporate behavior in the wake of the COVID pandemic found that Roundtable signatories performed no better on social measures than non-signatories.

“Companies are really struggling right now to understand what’s expected of them and what sustainable leadership looks like,” CERES’ Kristen Lang told ImpactAlpha. The nonprofit is releasing a ‘roadmap’ today that aims to help managers “identify and prioritize” actions they need to take over the next decade.

It’s one of a crop of new initiatives and resources to help corporations live up to their promises to value their employees, suppliers, communities and the planet along with shareholders. 

Climate roadmap

The Ceres Roadmap 2030 presents a comprehensive action plan for companies with one-year, five-year and 10-year goals across three areas: climate action, steps to integrate sustainability into business operations, and actions to create systems change, such as public policy engagement and multi-stakeholder collaboration.

It’s also a roadmap for investor expectations. “We don’t have a decade to wait for companies to take action,” said Lang. “There are critical things that need to happen in the next five years.”

Worker wellness

Even before the coronavirus hit, half of workers at America’s 1,000 largest public companies were not making enough to support a family of three, even with a part-time working spouse, according to JUST Capital, a worker advocacy nonprofit cofounded by Paul Tudor Jones.

A new tool from the group and PayPal will help companies assess whether their employees earn enough to cover the cost of basic necessities. It’s part of a broader Worker Financial Wellness Initiative launched yesterday that aims to “make workers’ financial security and health a C-suite and investor imperative.” Companies that prioritize their workers outperform their peers, JUST Capital’s research has shown.

The partners are holding a webinar on the initiative on Wednesday, Oct. 28. 

Stakeholder metrics

A reporting framework released by The World Economic Forum and Big Four accounting firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC aligns corporate financial reporting with environmental, social and governance, or ESG, indicators.

Weighting accounts for impact

Harvard’s George Serafeim and Sir Ronald Cohen are working on impact-weighted accounts that enable companies to measure their benefits and costs to society and the environment.