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First Annual Work Group Meeting, Essex, MA November 2001 - Notes from the Business, Markets and Sustainability Indicators Work Group
Work Group Activities for the Essex Meeting
Sprawl/Smart Growth Notes on Meeting
Indicators for Decision Making Notes on Meeting
Business, Markets and Sustainability Indicators Notes on Meeting
Business Indicators
  • The session began with two presentations:  Gil Friend presented Business Metabolics software for tracking different indicators (can be used not just for businesses but also for community sustainability indicators).  Vesela Veleva presented the Lowell Center Indicator Hierarchy and the results from using it to evaluate six large pharmaceutical companies.
  • Part of the discussion focused on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) - what is its role and what is missing there. It doesn't have a vision or targets. It is simply a supporting tool, effort to harmonize reporting practices by companies.
  • What is currently missing in the field (and can be addressed by ISIN):  The gap between community and company indicators, and demonstrate continuous improvement in environmental/sustainability performance.
  • The problem of confidentiality of some business indicators (e.g., customer satisfaction, worker job satisfaction).
  • In the Dutch model government plays an important role. Can we emulate it here? EPA has done important step by developing the TRI database.
  • What is the agenda for social indicators:
    • Some benchmarking
    • The issue of scale
    • Industrial footprint
    • Defining human pressure
    • Accounting system, etc.
  • Importance of building a bridge between internal and external indicators.
  • A recommendation was made to do some research into what social responsibility is and come up with a small number of social indicators (e.g., ratio of highest to lowest salary in a company)
  • The problem of small companies - they are a significant source of pollution but do not report (don't have the resources to do GRI reporting and measurement).
  • Importance to emphasize the benefits of social responsibility. Increases the long-term shareholder value. For example, AT&T considers customer perception to be very important to the bottom line.
  • How do you get the market to work for sustainability. How to include SMEs.
  • The role of insurance companies in promoting corporate social responsibility. Insurance acts as regulation shadow.
  • We need to include sustainability as part of the strategic business planning.
  • The Dutch model is applicable in societies that buy into planning. How you take elements of it for implementation in USA?
  • It is strange how we view business separate from society here in U.S. It's cultural. We need stewardship. "12 steps to sustainability" by Paul Hawken was completely shocking at first.
  • Having a case study on corporate social responsibility in business schools has more impact on future CEOs than anything else.
  • IISD has done a compendium on indicators but currently doesn't have the funds to update it.
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