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 …

Why should you embrace Sustainability – Part 1 of 2

It’s been close to 3 years since I’ve been trying my bit to practice being resource efficient and persuade organisations to become more Sustainable. And boy, how times have changed. From being talk-talk-talk to talk-implement-talk, large companies worldwide have certainly made the leap. The same cannot be said about Indian companies though. In India, there have been a lot of conversations happening on this subject, but the examples of real action are far and few. For a long time, “Sustainability” focused initiatives had been looked upon as costs and not investments and therefore had been consistently moved down the hierarchy of priorities, even for organizations known to be Champions of Sustainability. And when the Sustainability agenda was embraced, the reasons given was about reduction of costs, meeting customer expectations (branding) and engaging employees. In-fact, here’s what my slide on ‘Why should you become Sustainable?’ looked like – 2 years. (I agree, the design is a bit hideous, but we keep learning ). Focusing on the content, the reasons said: Compliance …

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 …

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 …

Four Concepts For The Future That Could Create A More Sustainable World

Source: Fast Co-Exist Earlier this year, Sony teamed up with the Forum of the Future to brainstorm four scenarios of what life will be like in 2025. Among them: a treadmill of “hyperinnovation” and declining carbon emissions; a scenario of damaging climate change and reactive technologies (like solar paint); a scenario where sustainability and strong community ties are emphasized; and a world where the sharing economy has taken off on a global scale. Now Sony and a handful of partners have come up with four concepts–a platform, a product, a place, and a philosophy–that could exist within and take advantage of these visions of the future 15 years from now. THE INTERNET OF THINGS ACADEMY In the future, it’s possible that nearly everything will have an IP address–your clothes, your plants, and your refrigerator will all freely send and receive data. The proposed Internet of Things Academy will teach people to use the hardware and software behind this connected world, allowing them to do everything from creating experimental economic models to public health …

Visualizing sustainability’s rewards via MIT’s new interactive tool

Source: GreenBiz.com MIT Sloan Management Review released the results of its latest global survey on sustainability and innovation earlier this month, revealing that a significant number of companies see the value of sustainable business practices — and are reaping the financial rewards. For the first time, the results were released in aninteractive data visualization format. The new tool allows readers to filter the data by industry, company size, company performance and other factors. Presenting the data this way yielded several interesting findings: • The automotive sector gets it: The automotive industry leads the way in making the business case for sustainability. However, when it comes to profitability, automotive is only in the middle of the pack; the consumer products industry is at the top, with 42 percent of consumer products respondents saying that they are profiting from their sustainability activities. • High reputational benefits: Improved brand reputation is the greatest benefit companies enjoy from addressing sustainability issues. This is especially true in the automotive, consumer products and media/entertainment industries. • Customers drive sustainability: Of the “harvesters,” those respondents …

Recent Surveys show greater acceptance of Sustainability

Source: CCES blog Well, the first quarter of 2012 has come to an end, meaning the release of surveys and other studies of sustainability in 2011. The MIT Sloan Management Review Report was recently released. According to their survey, corporate sustainability programs grew markedly in 2011. About 70% of nearly 3,000 executives surveyed said that sustainability was on the management agenda in 2011 and will probably remain so permanently. Two-thirds of those managers surveyed said that sustainability-related strategies are not just “nice” or even adding on to profit, but are necessary to stay competitive. 24% of those surveyed meet their criteria of “Embracers”, companies that have incorporated sustainability in the management agenda, have a business case for sustainability within their company, and feel that sustainability is necessary to stay competitive. About 31% of those surveyed meet their criteria of “Harvesters”, companies that have begun a sustainability program and realize the business case, but have not made it a far-reaching or permanent part of the culture. Continue Reading…

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