The new Companies Bill 2012 – How does it impact you?

The Companies Act of 1956 will now be replaced by the Companies Bill of 2012, which can also be called The Companies Act 2012. Only the President’s assent is pending for this bill, been pending since 2011 to become a reality. The 309 page document tries to clear a lot of conflict points present in the Companies Act 1956 that have been a pain for companies over time and a reason for a lot of legal cases. So how does it impact corporate India & in general, You? Of particular interest to us is how this Bill/Act will address issues of Governance, Responsibility, Transparency, Diversity, Community and Sustainability. Let me try to dissect a few key changes that this bill aims to bring out in the above areas. This might be a longish post so please pardon me for the lack of brevity. 1. CSR being made close to Mandatory Yes, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not mandatory but the new bill will make sure that companies have to work really …

Why should you embrace Sustainability – Part 2 of 2

This blog post is a continuation from the post I had made previously here where I spoke about how the language of Sustainability is changing. In this post, I focus on some cases where Sustainable practices followed by companies are putting them in good stead while in some cases, how lack of sustainability thinking and planning has risked their revenues and reputation. First, we start with some positive stories. CEMEX – The Patrimonio Hoy Program So when you are a giant construction materials group with over $15 billion in revenues, but seeing a 50% drop in revenues, what do you do? Cemex went back to basics, understood that there is a large market at the bottom of the pyramid in poor people constructing their own homes, and decided to work this market. Integrating sustainability into their core business model, Cemex started a financing program called Patrimonio Hoy. It provided poor people access to building materials (not just cement), financing options to purchase material and technical help through CEMEX team comprising …

Can Brands Be Too Big To Do Good?

Source: Fastcoexist In kindergarten we’re all taught to play fair. It’s the golden rule, the ethic of reciprocity: treat others as you would like to be treated. Yet when it comes to the business world, what becomes of this golden rule? The individual rule of “being good to one another” does not have an equivalent proverb when we consider larger human systems, especially in regards to the corporate world. Still, being viewed as “good” is golden. It’s a desirable and elusive status that triggers businesses to invest large amounts of marketing dollars. Yet nobody seems to have successfully branded themselves as a truly good multinational corporation. In which big business do you have 100% faith in long-term social and environmental sustainability commitments? I’ve been quick to sing the praises of smaller businesses that have built “good” into their brand architecture. But it is significantly easier for small to mid-size businesses to understand their social and environmental impacts. Monitoring down-the-line suppliers is, in theory, a more manageable task. The greater question is about …

Creating Practical Consumer Value from Sustainability

Source: bcgperspectives Green products are in vogue. Consumers are increasingly interested in products that use resources more efficiently. But outside certain niches, consumers have resisted paying the high prices that these products usually require. In order to profitably connect with environmental concerns, companies in the home improvement sector are beginning to reorient green products around the direct material benefits to consumers. They emphasize savings more than green credentials. A Challenging Opportunity The housing bust of recent years further dampened what was already a mature home-improvement market. With household formation and home construction slowed, companies in affluent countries are eager for any area of potential growth.  On the face of it, sustainability offers a great deal of potential, but converting theory into commercial viability is difficult. Like companies in many other industries, home improvement companies have worked on improving the sustainability of their products. They’ve developed new lines and features and explored emerging technologies. But the results of these efforts have so far proved largely disappointing. The Boston Consulting Group’s annual survey …

Why the cloud is sustainability’s silver lining

Source: Greenbiz Cloud computing is getting a lot of buzz. The term describes data-processing operations that are outsourced to server farms, instead of being powered on-site. These range from websites and remotely hosted networks to digital storage space and individual documents. Software delivered over the web looks very similar to software operating on a personal computer, and is accessible from any computer in the world. Consequently, some IT sector analysts are predicting the death of the personal computer while others believe it will simply become another device to access the online world. Increasingly, the engine of the IT sector is composed of large-scale data servers that are driving the cloud-computing revolution forward. With regard to energy, cloud computing should result in lower costs for users and fewer greenhouse gas emissions by streamlining information-crunching into single facilities on speedy machines. Slashing Costs The cloud certainly seems to offer significant cost savings. A recent study found that if companies adopt cloud computing, they can reduce the energy consumption of their IT departments …

Reasons Not to Publish a Sustainability Report (At Least Not Yet)

Source: Environmentalleader I love sustainability reports. At my company, we think they are a critical aspect of a company’s sustainability strategy, useful for looking back and measuring progress as well as a tool for future planning. That doesn’t mean your company should jump on the sustainability reporting bandwagon, however. In fact, there are several really good reasons not to produce a sustainability report (at least, not yet). 1. You’re really looking for a marketing “puff piece.” While it’s true that sustainability reports can (and should) talk about all the good things that your organization is doing, the reality is that a sustainability report needs to be a complete and accurate reflection of what you are doing right and wrong. For each topic that you tackle, plan to cover the challenges and opportunities that you face. And make sure that you’re including all the topics that your stakeholders care about — not just the ones where you shine. A report that makes you look 100 percent “right” on sustainability is going to raise red flags …

6 keys to broadening and deepening sustainability

Source: Greenbiz Despite the growing number of corporate leaders that recognize the importance of sustainability as a long-term business imperative, major challenges persist in closing the “execution gap” between strategy and actual performance. Closing this gap will require leaders to focus on embedding sustainability both broadly and deeply into the very fabric of the business. This will involve both aggressively de-siloing sustainability and institutionalising it into the operational and capital investment decisions that occur on a daily basis. Where decisions are made One reason embedding sustainability is critical is because business performance is predominantly delivered “out there” in the line of the business, not in the CEO’s office. Managers — who are faced with inevitable trade-offs day-in day-out — are frequently exposed to perceived short-term tensions between social, environmental and financial performance, regardless of how clearly a company’s corporate strategy aligns the three. Moreover, in large, complex, multinational corporations, the specific skills and knowledge of employees from across the organization must be leveraged to develop sustainable solutions — they are …

The Ten Commandments of Green Marketing

Source: Environmentalleader Hold on a second. The New York Times may be giving marketers of green brands a free pass but I’m not going to let them off the hook that easily for their brands’ often uninspiring performance. Yeah, green brands are facing fierce headwinds but there are several actions marketers of sustainable brands can take to goose their brands’ sales. I’ve boiled down my suggestions into Ten Commandments of Green Marketing: I. Thou shalt not assume that all people who want to buy green products are card carrying, latte sipping (or granola munching, etc.) liberals. There are many people out there that live outside so-called politically progressive areas (e.g., Berkeley) that want to green their purchases if only it were easier.  They are worried about the environment but say they are not aware of many green brands and are skeptical about green products’ ability to get the job done at a reasonable price.  Make these folks aware of your brands and convince them they work at a price that doesn’t break the bank.  …

Business leaders need systemic thinking for sustainability

Source: Guardian The economy is in the tank and thousands of people are out of work. At the same time, the planet is dangerously heating up and ecological systems are declining. What are we to make of these troubles? Are they merely the result of poor policies? Or is something more fundamental at play? The roots of our difficulties are simple, yet for many business and political leaders completely hidden from view. The activities of most firms, and the goals and structure of the economy as a whole, have been shaped by fundamental misjudgments about how the planet functions and what it means to live a good life. To resolve today’s challenges, our leaders must overcome the erroneous perspectives that created the predicament. At the most fundamental level, this requires moving from a “linear” way of thinking – where we focus on quickly fixing the most visibly broken parts of what isn’t working – to a “systems” perspective that brings thought and behaviour into line with the natural laws of …

The Business Scorecard from Rio+20

Source: Greenbiz As 130 heads of state began their closing remarks in Rio last Friday, the blame game had already begun, and with it a knee-jerk dismissal of the Rio+20 outcomes as inadequate and not ambitious enough. Trade unions were “bitterly disappointed,” while the environmental community called Rio+20 “a failure,” “a hoax” and “a squandered opportunity.” All this drama ignores the extraordinary effort demonstrated by Brazil to lead the conference to a resolution despite the economic downturn and political headwinds – indeed, it’s rather amazing that the conference took place at all. The knee-jerk overstatements also ignore the vast participation, pledges and funding brought to Rio by non-governmental and public-sector players. The UN reckons those pledges amount to half a trillion dollars. Given the scale of global challenges, more might be needed, but this is a significant starting point. For those who have taken part in previous UN sustainability events — including the original Rio earth summit in 1992 and the Johannesburg summit ten years ago — this is déjà …

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