Earlier this week, a coalition of companies, investors, and organized labor announced a major new initiative in support of sustainable business practices. The Investor-Business Roundtable for a Sustainable Economy was launched during the 2011 Ceres Conference. Founding signatories include CalPERS and CalSTRS, the AFL-CIO, Levi Strauss & Co., Pacific Gas & Electric, SAP, Jones Lang LaSalle, Generation Investment Management, and the Skoll Foundation.
Participants in the Roundtable have agreed to leverage their position as "industry leaders and key market influencers to accelerate adoption of sustainability approaches and solutions across [their] networks, including employees, customers, supply chains, media and marketing." (.pdf) Individual commitments made by the founding signatories include:
- Levi Strauss & Co. announced new "terms of engagement" for its supply chain under which the company "will require contract factories to help make employees’ lives better by supporting programs for their workers that align with the UN Millennium Development goals."
- CalPERS, the largest pension fund in the United States, announced that it would integrate environmental, social, and governance factors into its investment decision-making across all asset classes.
- SAP, one of the largest business software companies in the world, announced that it will release new energy management solutions in the next quarter to assist companies in implementing energy saving initiatives. SAP estimates that its 170,000 customers emit 1/6th of the world’s manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to the nine founding signatories, Ceres has said that it intends to engage more organizations in future Roundtable meetings. The Roundtable has its origins in a meeting hosted by Ceres and CalPERS in December 2010 which brought together companies, investors, and labor groups to discuss global sustainability challenges. The launch of the Roundtable highlighted the 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap to Sustainability, a report and framework announced last year that is intended to help companies imbed sustainability into all aspects of their operations.
Also this week, CalPERS and CalSTRs announced that they will join a group of more than twenty other investors in sending letters to all companies in the Russell 1000 index requesting that management teams and boards of directors address sustainability challenges in all aspects of company operations, including supply chains. The Russell 1000 tracks the largest 1000 U.S. securities.