Money Matters

The Future Economy Project

(Source: hbr.org)

It’s time for sustainability to be a real goal for businesses striving to ensure a competitive future. Not only is it the right thing to do for society, but it’s also a key to delivering strong financial performance — not just quarter to quarter but for decades to come.

The United States’ decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord has sparked discussion across the business world. Many companies, big and small, are examining their own commitments to sustainability in light of America’s shift.

We recognize a hard truth: When it comes to how businesses view climate change, the need to focus on financial performance and create value for shareholders often obscures the importance of environmentally responsible corporate stewardship. Short-term rewards too often take precedence over the longer-term interests and viability of a company.

The upside of a sustainability agenda is clear. Regardless of your views on the who, what, when, and why of climate change, the pursuit of sustainable processes up and down supply chains can translate into immediate savings — and opportunities for innovation. Firms as diverse as Walmart and KKR are finding that reducing energy use and embracing renewable energy can be immediately profitable. Moreover, global challenges including water scarcity, severe weather events, and ecosystem degradation — coupled with a growing interest from consumers and investors in whether companies have a “green” agenda — signal that the environment will have an increasingly direct impact on companies’ earnings and risk profiles.

We don’t pretend to have all the answers — and neither do the pioneering business leaders who are joining this initiative. But over the coming months we will provide case studies and practical lessons from their experiences to help other executives who believe that profits and environmental responsibility must go hand in hand.

The Future Economy Project will culminate in the publication of a list of principles and actions, endorsed by our partners, aimed at outlining a path for businesses that want to pursue sustainable goals. The principles will reflect our partners’ thinking on how to operationalize sustainability throughout the enterprise.

Together, we are taking action.

Leaders who responded to our call

Dominic Barton

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Q&A coming Nov 17

Global Managing Partner, McKinsey & Co.

Marc Benioff

Chairman and CEO, Salesforce

Richard Branson

Founder, Virgin Group

Marne Levine

COO, Instagram (Facebook, Inc.)

Andrew Liveris

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Read Q&A

Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company, and Executive Chairman, DowDuPont

Doug McMillon

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Q&A coming Nov 16

CEO and President, Walmart

Indra Nooyi

Chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo

Henry M. Paulson Jr.

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Q&A coming Nov 15

Chairman, Paulson Institute

Paul Polman

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Read Q&A

CEO, Unilever

Our advisers

Rebecca Henderson

Professor, Harvard Business School

Andrew Winston

Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies

Mike Toffel

Professor, Harvard Business School

Tensie Whelan

Professor, Stern School of Business

More Info: hbr.org

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