The Need for Agile Corporate Performance Management

Strategy

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

Agile corporate performance management is essential for the modern dynamic marketplace, requiring adaptability and alignment. It is relevant for adapting to extreme shifts in market conditions like the COVID-19 pandemic. Agility in business enables employees to maintain or increase performance even in the context of a business’s evolving needs. Thus, business performance management approaches are for companies that have aligned business priorities with employee goals to propel the company forward.

Strategic Corporate Performance Management

In an agile business model, corporate performance management (CPM) entails breaking down your company’s strategies into operational objectives and indicators. The strategic approach enables your organization to maintain efficiency through all transformational periods, remaining effective in every next normal.

CMP is also significant for budget remodeling, cost reduction, improved KPI alignment, an upgraded organizational strategy, and a refined financial planning process. In addition, a framework is crucial to ascertain your enterprise performance management. Therefore, strategy execution is of fundamental importance for senior executives today.

How do you implement your strategic plan? Strategy execution involves ensuring your organization’s goals, metrics, and projects align with your strategic priorities and concentrate on key business drivers. Many organizations join the corporate performance management market size by dedicating an entire performance management department to achieve agility in business.

The performance management cycle is a four-phase closed loop. It contains:

Strategies and Objectives

The first step of the corporate performance management framework is setting the organization’s strategies and objectives. Next, identify the goals and strategies that support your organization’s corporate purpose and financial performance that align with the framework to maintain business agility in every wind of change. You can quantify them as projected revenue or growth, ROI, market share, customer satisfaction and retention, carbon emissions, employee retention or diversity, workforce incidents, and many more.

Targets and Metrics

Establish key business drivers that help achieve your objective and strategies. Business metrics measure values, indicating the organization’s progress concerning its strategic goals. Therefore, understanding the relevant KPIs for your business is essential.

Performance metrics used in corporate performance management include;

  • Financial metrics – financial corporate performance management entails using data from the company’s books of accounts, income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements or budgeting and forecasting data like earnings, expenditures, and inventory reports.
  • Internal metrics – analyzes the quality of corporate management performance through employee performance.
  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty – are critical indicators of the business’s health and performance.
  • Compliance metrics – measures how well your organization follows employment regulations, financial reporting, and environmental rules.
  • Strategic metrics – indicates how well your organization executes strategies implemented by management to attain immediate targets and achieve long-term goals.

Execution of Strategic Plans

Develop an annual execution plan using business drivers, short and long-term goals, and targets.

 Measurement and analysis create a continuous performance management process.

Measurement and Analysis

Develop systems and methodologies for measuring KPIs for the business’s financial and operational plans. Use any relevant data that supports business performance management, converting it into actionable business information that is quantifiable to gauge the success of the objectives and operations.

Measurement and analysis create a continuous performance management process. Each evaluation comes with adjustments to maintain the success of the strategies. Traditional analysis processes take time to bring results. Agile business intelligence is a better alternative for real-time analytics.

Agile Business Philosophy Creates Corporate Adaptability

Agile for business means easy adaptability through change. It shifts attention to people and interaction instead of tools and processes.

Agile boosts a business’s velocity to adaptability and sustainability in a volatile business market. Therefore, your firm develops an enduring competitive advantage and a dominant position in the market.

Rapid feedback systems are indicators of an agile business. The resulting ecosystem from such mechanisms fosters interactions, enhancing trust among stakeholders. Feedback loops also encourage collaboration. They also lead to quick problem identification and the implementation of mitigation strategies.

Agile processes facilitate high communication rates through feedback loops. The constant communication enables stakeholders to stay updated on changes. It is easy to trace errors and implement changes.

Why Your Company Needs Agile Corporate Performance management

Employees respond positively to agile enterprise performance management because it encourages communication and collaboration. Employees can take part in the change process.

An agile enterprise and corporate performance management also enhance work efficiency by keeping employees focused on ongoing tasks instead of multitasking. Face-to-face interaction also increases productivity since it encourages collaboration.

The agile approach also provides the feedback employees want. The process encourages participation by integrating real-time feedback into the employee’s workflow instead of the traditional receiving orders from management. The two-way conversational approach also nudges employee’s in the right direction.

Furthermore, employee performance improves based on collaborative and communication efforts. They get timely feedback and are empowered to ask pertinent questions about performance.

Three Keys to Implement Agile Corporate Performance Management

  • Linking goals to business priorities – the best corporate performance management approaches align business goals and operations to their purpose and vision.
  • Another best corporate performance management practice is training managers on interactive and collaborative skills to improve employee interaction.
  • Differentiating consequences – differentiate rewards for extreme performances.

What Does a Chief Sustainability Officer Bring to the C-Suite?

Sustainability

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

Sustainability is no longer an issue that anyone can ignore. From investors to consumers, stakeholders at all levels increasingly demand a shift toward sustainable business models from investors to consumers. A Chief Sustainability Officer addition to your C-suite provides your organization with insights and strategies that accelerate sustainability practices. These, in turn, can boost profitability. Explore how a CSO officer can impact your organization to determine if you should add this C-suite executive position.

The Mandate of a Chief Sustainability Officer

The role of the Chief Sustainability Officer is diverse. For example, ESG risks vary by organization and industry. Additionally, priorities and corporate sustainability goals likely differ based on company culture and organizational leadership goals.

While the mandate of the CSO varies by organization, some key responsibilities typically fall within the scope of this role. Exploring these elements makes understanding how a CSO can support your organization.

Cheif Sustainability Officer Insights

Sustainability is a complex concept heavily influenced by the external environment, including expectations from stakeholders, ESG risks, and external changes such as updated regulatory mandates. A Chief Sustainability Officer gathers insights from the outside world relating to those influences. They identify environmental risks and collect data on how others respond to those factors to help them anticipate needed changes. Then, looking inward, the CSO can assess how well prepared the company is to navigate those coming changes.

The CSO brings all this environmental insight to the leadership team. They educate the C-suite executive team on the ESG risks that could affect the organization and the changes the company needs to make to keep up with outside factors. They provide thought leadership to help the executive team navigate these issues and synthesize all the information to make it worthwhile.

ESG Governance

Another critical role of a Chief Sustainability Officer is to implement a system of checks and balances in corporate decision-making. They develop and implement governance guidelines that ensure environmental risks are given adequate consideration when making decisions.

CSOs also participate in governance activities and groups to guide and develop the sustainability agenda. For example, they might lead various committees, including ESG risk or audit councils.

ESG Strategy

Your corporate sustainability strategy requires a balance of changing with the outside forces and maintaining profitability. CSOs help to develop and implement the strategy for your organization, often supporting the CEO in strategic development to minimize environmental risks. Prioritizing ESG concerns helps create a customized approach for your organization.

How a Chief Sustainability Officer Contributes to Corporate Governance

The Chief Sustainability Officer is a C-suite fixture with a core responsibility in corporate governance about sustainability. A CSO brings the following strengths to your organization’s corporate governance.

Agile Critical Thinking

A Chief Sustainability Officer implements agile critical thinking to help you adapt in quickly changing environments. Agile critical thinking requires logical reasoning to understand a problem or situation deeply. It uses a framework with specific steps to use critical thinking effectively.

To use agile critical thinking, the CSO needs a strong understanding of your business, including the culture, risks, stakeholders, and other essential details to better understand organization-specific ESG concerns. Then, they collect and analyze the evidence for taking appropriate reactions. Remaining agile throughout the process allows the CSO to interpret and apply changes and new data as it arises.

Exceptional Communication

Corporate sustainability initiatives might originate with your CSO, but the responsibility for implementing a corporate sustainability policy and reaching related goals filters out to the C-suite and beyond. An effective Corporate Sustainability Officer has excellent communication skills to educate the team on the key issues. They not only need to disperse insight and data in a way that people outside the sustainability bubble can understand, but they also need to exert their influence to get others on board with corporate sustainability goals.

Flexible Management Style

Successful Chief Sustainability Officers embrace and incorporate a variety of managerial styles to facilitate sustainability in corporations. These styles allow the CSO to become a catalyst for long-term, radical change. Key management styles for a sustainability director include:

  • Agitator: This type of leader aims to disrupt, pose questions, and challenge the status quo to create change. They bring up issues publicly to draw attention to the problem and rally people around making the desired change without presenting solutions.
  • Innovator: Innovators work to create solutions for the identified problems. While generating those pathways, they look for potential issues and other options to avoid roadblocks.
  • Orchestrator: This type of leader helps coordinate the different parts of the solution to make it happen.
  • Executor: When someone takes on the executor role, they put the solution into effect while instructing and managing the people making the changes happen.
  • Facilitator: Facilitators serve as mediators, invite input from others, and encourage others to promote collaboration.

An experienced CSO knows when each style is required based on the organization’s needs and specific situation. As a result, they often move between different leadership styles to get the desired results.

High-Commitment, High-Performance Management

Corporate Responsibility

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

High-commitment, high-performance management organizations (HCHP) sustain performance over long periods by concentrating on three organizational pillars. These pillars are crucial to creating a long-term vision that looks at big-picture growth and longevity rather than the bottom-line needs of this year or quarter. HCHP organizations are characterized in part by:

  • A sustained commitment from all levels, including investors and customers, to organizational excellence and shared missions
  • Long periods of achievement that exceed expectations and can be described as excellent
  • Clear goals that are tied to big-picture organizational success and can be dropped down to support relevant team and individual goals at every layer
  • An emphasis on continuous learning and improvement throughout the organization, including skills development, process improvement, and growth

The pillars of high-commitment, high-performance management are performance alignment, psychological alignment, and learning and change.

Performance Alignment

At the most basic, performance alignment is about getting the ducks in a row within an organization so everyone can focus well on a shared winning strategy. That being said, this pillar does not look to dictate single-minded paths from the top down. Instead, leaders and those on their teams work together to create a business strategy that supports success.

That strategy becomes the beacon for all paths to support the big-picture strategy. The business goal must be communicated to stakeholders at all levels. Stakeholders must have goals that serve them individually while supporting the business’s goals. When performance is aligned across the organization, success for the business means success for everyone, and success for one means the support of business success.

High-Performance Management in the Organizational Chain

To achieve high performance as a business, every link in the organizational chain must also be high-performance. That requires alignment across overall strategy and goals, specific, well-documented roles and responsibilities, and rules for decision-making.

Some common challenges for creating a high-performance culture include:

  • Putting the right leaders in place
  • Getting (and keeping) commitment from teams and people at all levels of the organization
  • Managing the communication and collaboration required for seamless performance alignment
  • Building and supporting the processes and tools required for this intense alignment

Psychology Alignment

It is not enough to set shared goals and align performance across all levels of an organization. If performance alignment is the structure by which high-commitment, high-performance firms are built, psychological alignment is the glue that helps hold it all together.

High-performance management practices require leadership to empower employees and trust them to make decisions. Ensuring everyone is aligned to a higher purpose can help build that trust because everyone is working toward the same common goal — and that goal is greater than the company’s bottom line.

While many employees certainly will understand that driving revenue or profit margins can be suitable for everyone, the ability to make a difference often pushes teams to do more than they would if business performance were the only drivers on the table. Under this pillar of high-commitment, and high-performance management, leaders provide a sense of higher purpose and a shared cause that can rally all stakeholders to action.

Common Goals in High-Performance Management Organizations

Building a better world and pride in performance are two common goals that work well for psychological alignment.

The first involves finding a mission the business and its employees can get behind. Environmental actions, such as reducing carbon footprints, or philanthropy, such as giving back to the local community, are two examples of building a better world.

Pride in performance ties psychological alignment to the business’s brand reputation or the quality of its products. It makes people proud to call themselves an employee and creates a culture where team members strive for excellence so they can be part of that legacy.

Some common barriers leaders can face with psychological alignment include:

  • Finding the right shared values to motivate employees and stakeholders while supporting business goals
  • Balancing profits and other business needs with action on visions and values
  • Maintaining a brand reputation in keeping with the shared values used for psychological alignment, as deviation from the path could mean public relations and employer branding challenges
Trust is an essential element of high commitment, high performance management

Learning and Change

Trust is a critical commodity in any high-performance management model, and one-way leadership can court the trust of team members is by ensuring opportunities for learning and change. In an HCHP organization, learning and growth are organic components of all processes, and everyone works to ensure access to knowledge and opportunity for growth across all levels.

In a high-performance culture, leaders have collective, public conversations with key lower-level stakeholders about what stands in the way of success — for individuals, teams, and the company. As a result, the business is transparent about clear goals and fair performance evaluations for individuals, and it is clear that importance is placed on providing growth opportunities. This emphasis on learning and change can help reduce burnout, support employee retention, and loyalty, and create growth patterns for individuals, teams, and the business.

Some common challenges businesses can face related to this pillar include:

  • Finding the time and resources to support learning and skills development
  • Creating transparent and fair practices for selecting high performers for opportunities
  • Driving the type of overall growth that makes room for team and individual growth

The Impact of Social Venture Capital on Society

Private Equity

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

Venture Capital as a Force for Societal Change

While traditional venture capital investment continues to provide investors with opportunities for financial reward, impact investing and social venture capital are beginning to take center stage in the investment arena. Venture capital projects with a potentially positive impact on society provide investors with an opportunity to return profits while supporting the most critical, necessary societal changes. Often supported by both the public and the public sector, there are many advantages to social venture capital. 

Trends in Social Venture Capital in 2022

Venture capital grew throughout 2021 and into 2022 after exiting the disruptions of 2020. It was up $332 billion in the first three quarters of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, and early-stage funding was up by more than 100%. Despite that growth, venture capital did not see the types of growth in ESG considerations that other investment areas did. That creates a significant opportunity for growth in social venture capital in 2022 and beyond.

Over the past year, movement in social venture capital indicates many firms and sectors are poised for that growth. Venture capital collaborations are moving to improve practices across the industry to support diversity and other critical missions, and many firms are hiring directors of sustainability and other professionals meant to steer investments and initiatives in ESG directions.

What Are the Main Advantages of Social Venture Capital?

Social venture capital offers many benefits for firms, businesses, entrepreneurs, and the community or society. Some of the benefits of social impact investing and social ventures include:

  • Better access to funding sources. Governments and other agencies offer incentives for social impact investment, making investors of all types more likely to enter the pool. In addition, channels such as crowdfunding and angel investments are typically easier to access when a mission backs the venture.
  • Increased service to the community. Services developed in social impact finance tend to be more relevant to community needs and more likely to solve known social or environmental problems.
  • Easier buy-in. ESG venture capital firms act on agreed-upon environmental, social, and governance missions. Because of that, it is easier to get buy-in from all stakeholders because the mission is clear, and most people can stand behind it.
  • Greater diversity. Consumers increasingly buy from brands they believe support important missions and social responsibility. Social venture capital tends to lead to increased diversity naturally.

Does Social Venture Capital Have Any Disadvantages?

Social venture capital is not without disadvantages. For example, social entrepreneurs relying on social venture capital may give up control to get funding. In addition, a lack of historical case studies may make it difficult for social entrepreneurs to convince potential investors. This may be challenging until social venture capital becomes a long-term trend.

The Dual Nature of Social Impact Investing

One of the challenges leading to investor hesitance for social impact investing is its dual nature. Investors and venture capitalists historically were concerned with the return on their investments. The bottom line can not be ignored, as investors that pour money into ventures that do not perform go out of business quickly. But social investors are also concerned with how the venture performs with regard to social or environmental factors, including diversity, sustainability, reduced emissions, or policies that provide for the community.

 A business woman investor examines solar panels while holding her notebook with social venture capital impacts listed.

Social Impact Investing To Cool the Planet

One growing area of social impact ventures has to do with the environment. Social entrepreneurs are leveraging innovation, sustainability, and other processes to create products or provide services in a way that safeguards the planet. Climate impact investors are putting money behind those efforts, funding businesses and efforts that keep the planet central to all missions.

Venture Capital to Reduce Poverty

In the same way, for-profit and nonprofit venture capital investors seek to improve the quality of life of people across all borders. For example, many are looking at ways venture capital can reach the poor in developing countries. Funds from private and public sources are being used to educate and train people in these nations to help them develop businesses, local economies, and even entire infrastructures that might lead to longer-term profits or prosperity. Again, the efforts come up against significant challenges, including currency risk, cultural barriers, and long-term poverty that can be difficult to change.

Removing Barriers for Minority Entrepreneurs

Women, Black, LGBTQ, and other minority entrepreneurs have historically found it challenging to get funding for several reasons. First, historically, not many partners in venture capital and investment firms match these demographics. People often invest in ventures that make them feel comfortable, which can mean a trend of investors funding ventures for and about people that look and act as they do.

Cultural and societal barriers, including systemic racism, also play a role in reduced funding opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. However, as more investors seek social impact ventures and awareness about diversity needs continues to rise, those trends are changing. As a result, venture funding to minority businesses has been up in recent years, though there is still a lot of ground to cover, as it remains small compared to the entire funding pie.

How Do You Measure the Impact of Social Venture Capital?

The first step in measuring the impact of social venture capital is to define why it matters and what success looks like for all involved. The second step is finding a numeric measurement that can help indicate performance.

If someone is trying to create more diversity, a good metric of success might be how many of their venture investments are run by or related to minorities. Investors interested in climate impact investing might want to measure the emissions associated with their portfolios.

Going beyond measurement, social venture capitalists might rely on case studies to demonstrate success in a more narrative format. Case studies can raise additional awareness and funds and illustrate the impact on investors and other stakeholders.

Examples of the Effects of Social Virtual Capital on Society

Social virtual capital has plenty of positive effects on society. For example, a venture capital fund that seeds startups helps businesses get off the ground. But a social venture capital fund that specifically seeds startups with a community mission does more than that: It helps a business help others. Likewise, a social impact investor that puts money behind ideas that introduce sustainability into sectors that do not tend toward eco-friendly processes helps those businesses grow and protect the environment.

Ultimately, social venture capital can change the world. Investors must do so, however, with one eye focused on change while the other eye remains trained on the bottom line. It can be a problematic duality to walk, but it is critical to the future success of communities, nations, and even the planet.

Reacting to Recent Trends in Shareholder Activism

Corporate Responsibility

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

Shareholder activism was robust from 2017 through 2020. Though it saw some decline in 2020, partly due to economic and business disruptions related to COVID-19, activism is bouncing back. Large-cap companies in the United States saw a 30% increase in activist campaigns in early 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The expectation is that shareholder activism will continue to rise. Understanding shareholder trends and reacting proactively to them is essential for businesses, investors, and governments.

Shareholder Activism in 2022

M&A and shareholder activism trends in 2022 continue to follow paths set in 2021 and even earlier. However, the evolution of societal, economic, and political factors continues to play a role in how these paths develop. Some types of shareholder activism investors and businesses can expect through the rest of the year and the immediate future include:

  • ESG as a continued focus. Record numbers of ESG-related proposals were presented and successfully won shareholder support in 2021. That trend is expected to continue, especially given that governments and other agencies are pushing these agendas alongside private equity and activists.
  • M&A activities leveraged as change mechanisms. M&A activity continues to be a driving force in shareholder activism, with hostile takeovers and board member removal used as change mechanisms to drive desired future states. For example, when Senator Investment Group failed to secure CoreLogic due to the CoreLogic board voting down the proposal, it teamed up with activist shareholders to vote out members of the board and replace them with people willing to vote in the acquisition.
  • More shareholder support for social and environmental activities. Board takeovers and other changes managed through shareholders and voting are likely to increase with growing support from shareholders in certain areas. In addition, shareholders are increasingly stepping up to champion environmental and social proposals—a fact that boards, other investors, and businesses must take note of to continue with success in 2022 and beyond.
  • More activist efforts are succeeding. Historically, boards and businesses could count on activist efforts to fail in most cases. But the David and Goliath dynamic has slipped, and shareholder activism holds more power than existing structures. As a result, business leaders and others should not act on the assumption that activist efforts are likely to fail.

Growth of ESG Shareholder Activism

Investors’ desires to back personal and societal missions with money have increased, creating a significant force in the changing balance of power that ensures more activist efforts succeed. These factors have, perhaps, the most current momentum in two areas: climate change and social justice.

Activist investors and activist shareholders are putting pressure on firms of all types to go green to reduce emissions and carbon footprints, reach toward Net Zero futures, and reduce risks associated with climate change. Tactics used by these investors range from creating awareness for their missions to negotiating with firm management to make change happen. For example, they may put proposals in front of boards or other shareholders for votes. They can even go so far as hostile takeover activities such as voting out board members or arranging proxy votes to orchestrate change.

One interesting note in 2022 is that this type of environmental-economic activism is taking a top-down journey. The greenest companies have become too expensive for some investors, and shareholder activists may find they have done all they can with such firms. The dollars, then, are trickling down to investments where ESG is fledgling and shareholder activists can make more significant changes.

Social justice is another rallying point for shareholder activists, who look to embed missions related to economic and social equality into firm activities and growth. In many cases, shareholders support these proposals because failure to engage in social justice is seen as a risk for modern businesses, especially as business partners and consumers become increasingly aware of such activities.

M&A Shareholder Activists: Firms Should Remain Vigilant

It is increasingly important for firms to be aware of shareholder activism and its potential impact on M&A activity. Activist investors are increasingly driving M&A activity, selling, or breaking up companies to achieve desired results for social or environmental concerns. 

Firms should always remain aware of potential shareholder activism and how it might impact mergers, acquisitions, or overall business growth. However, before launching any effort, firms should take time to analyze weaknesses, particularly concerning ESG, and understand shareholder desires and makeup. Looking for shareholder positions of strength that can leverage to force M&A activity to move in a specific direction can help firms understand where weaknesses are and what potential paths shareholders might try to push the business down.

Moving Industrial Clusters Toward Net Zero

Sustainability

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

Executive Summary

Industrial clusters are one tool for companies to take the climate action consumers are demanding. An estimated 70% of the global economy appears committed to reaching Net-Zero by 2050. For the past decade, industry has accounted for more than 25% of the global economy. The industrial and energy sectors account for more than 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

By working together, businesses within industrial clusters can significantly impact emissions and help achieve net-zero goals on time.

Net Zero Solutions for Industrial Clusters

Industrial clusters have a lot of power and responsibility as essential drivers of wealth and growth in various global regions. That includes responsibility for social and environmental factors that may feel impacted by industrial businesses. With around 70% of the global economy, including economies in China, India, Africa, and Saudi Arabia, committing to net zero, industry clusters must find solutions to support net-zero emissions and other environmental goals while helping maintain economic stability within their regions.

Direct Electrification

Electricity is a crucial factor in moving toward net-zero energy for all types of industrial clusters. Relying more on electric power over fossil fuels and other energy sources can significantly affect pollution emissions. However, moving in that direction involves an energy transformation that has not been seen since the Industrial Revolution and, even then, likely outpaces that historic time of innovation. Therefore, energy companies and industrial clusters must embrace new solutions from digitization and low-carbon technologies. 

Carbon Capture

Despite the excitement over direct electrification, resource and functional limitations mean that not all efforts within industrial clusters can transition to these cleaner forms of energy — certainly not in the immediate future. Carbon-capturing technology has become increasingly critical in this environment, and current efforts are falling short. According to data from the International Energy Agency, at the current rate of progress, carbon capture projects will fail to capture the 1.7 tons of CO2 required by 2030 to keep up with global goals for a 2050 net-zero scenario. Industry cluster businesses must step up to push these efforts further and gain more ground in this area.

Hydrogen Technology

Hydrogen technology is a low-carbon, clean energy alternative that may help industries turn away from high-carbon gasses and fuels. While hydrogen technology is currently in use, it is a relative newcomer to sectors that have long relied on fossil fuels. Nevertheless, industry leaders are committing to hydrogen research and developing this technology. Others in the niche must follow suit by implementing these technologies as they become available.

Bioenergy

Bioenergy is the oldest form of energy used by humans, who began burning wood for warmth centuries before electricity, fossil fuels, and other energy sources were available. Researchers are delving into different biomass energy resources, including byproduct residues from industries such as forestry and agriculture and even fumes from landfills. Bioenergy is frequently focused on turning the byproducts of one process into energy sources for another.

 

Carbon Net Zero in industry can be attained through industrial clusters

Collaborations for Net Zero Industrial Clusters

Organizational and governmental actions must drive collaborations to help create net-zero industrial clusters. Since the world is already falling behind on total net-zero goals, U.S. government efforts, U.N. collaboration, and buy-in from large sectors, such as China’s industrial clusters, are critical to future success.

Industrial Cooperation

Profound transformation must occur by 2030 to support the final goals of net-zero emissions by 2050. It is a relatively short time frame, requiring intense cooperation and collaboration among industry clusters. The IEA notes that investments are already being made in technologies to support low-carbon and net-zero approaches. By 2040, the average expected investment in technologies for this purpose is $350 billion; by 2060, those investments are expected to rise to $3 trillion.

While alternative energy investments are significant, businesses and agencies within industrial clusters must also cooperate to:

  • Set and work toward short- and long-term goals together. Goal-setting is a requirement for companies adopting the Net-Zero Standard. Working together can help businesses within industrial clusters set realistic goals and work through the challenges of obtaining them.
  • Find ways to make rapid, deep emissions cuts in the short term. By working together to find the low-hanging fruit and enacting quick cuts to emissions where possible, businesses in industry clusters can significantly impact global emissions, even in the near future.
  • Moving beyond value chains. Most businesses prioritize cutting emissions within value chains, but industry cooperation lets organizations move beyond those goals to find further options for reducing emissions.

Government Initiatives for Industrial Clusters to Reach Net Zero

With approximately half the global population highly vulnerable to the impacts of negative climate change, governments across the globe have reasons to join in the cooperative effort to reduce emissions. Some ways government initiatives and collaborations can lessen the impacts of climate change by supporting industrial cluster moves to net-zero include:

  • Setting priority policies to support net-zero efforts. These can range from creating and enforcing regulations for driving net-zero approaches to funding and rewards for industrial clusters and businesses that meet goals.
  • Creating opportunities for investors. Public-private partnerships increase available capital for green-tech efforts and drive flexibility for rapid adoption and implementation of sustainable technologies.
  • Being aware of internal issues. Understanding government issues and how they might create blockers for success with net-zero is important, as it allows nations and agencies to address challenges and create smoother paths to success for industrial clusters and businesses.

Collaboration across business sectors, national borders, and industries is critical to reaching net-zero goals and objectives. Industrial clusters can lead the way by modeling collaboration and implementing rapid new developments.

Building Company Culture Through Human Capital Consulting

Corporate Responsibility

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

What place does human capital consulting have in today’s business ecosystem? The history of technology in the workplace is one full of tension and, sometimes, downright fear. Workers have frequently worried that technology would replace them, and with the rise of robotics, machine learning, and automation, it is not a wholly unfounded concern. The key to minimizing these worries is positively managing human capital alongside technology investments.

In short, businesses must invest in company culture, ensuring people understand how important they are to the processes that drive success. People who know and understand that human capital has a place in an organization despite technological innovations are likelier to adopt tech that enhances productivity and bottom lines. Human capital consulting helps a company identify opportunities for improvement.

Technology and Human Capital Consulting to Build Company Culture

Human capital solutions require employers to look at all tech trends and innovations in their businesses through a human capital lens. For example, what does innovation mean for the status of employees, and what might employees think about these changes? Human capital consulting firms can help companies bridge the gap between tech innovations and the people who power processes, but businesses can also start with some of the basics below.

How to Use Human Captial Consulting to Enhance Communications

Leverage technology to enhance communications. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many teams remain in hybrid or remote work structures, relying on technology to keep them tied together. But even teams that are 100% back to the office or those in other models, such as field service or manufacturing teams, need ways to bring everyone together, ensure team members are aware of important information, and support better interpersonal connections.

However, business leaders cannot simply invite everyone into a group chat or video meeting. Using technology to enhance communications in a positive manner that does not merely add more checkboxes to worker to-do lists requires careful strategy and top-down investment. Human capital consulting considers solutions that:

  • Are easy to use and even automate some routine tasks, so employees are not spending valuable time ensuring communication workflows work
  • Are as inclusive as possible and do not require constant manual intervention to ensure everyone has access to the information they need to do their jobs and feel like a productive, meaningful, and appreciated part of the team
  • Support interpersonal and fun communication in an appropriate manner to help teams socialize and build trust

Remember That Employees Are Customers Too

Businesses that implement technology solutions must be aware of who the customer is for those solutions. Frequently, the customer base is comprised of internal teams.

Too often, however, leadership adopts and implements technology without consulting or considering the needs of the internal customers. That is bad for employee morale and productivity at any time. Moreover, in today’s competitive hiring environment, it can also be disastrous for attrition. Employees who do not feel they are being listened to or are struggling to adopt innovations they perceive as being unnecessary and cumbersome frequently seek employment elsewhere.

Enable Success With Technology

Ultimately, companies should never adopt new technology solely to chase something shiny and new. Instead, each innovation should be carefully considered and implemented, whether a human capital solution or a technical one. If a business cannot point to specific — and measurable — ways technology supports success for the organization and its employees, it should consider whether the tech investment is appropriate.

For example, many banks today offer mobile banking. Customers can log into their mobile devices to take pictures of checks and deposit them, check balances, make transfers, and conduct other basic banking transactions. This technology increases customer success and drives success for banks. On the surface, it may seem like it replaces teller jobs, however. But a human capital management approach looks at how mobile banking enables employee success. Tellers are no longer inundated with repetitive, basic tasks that can be handled on mobile devices. Instead, they can concentrate on higher-value tasks, better customer service, and training that lets them move up with the organization.

Data Sharing, Decision-Making, and Human Capital Consulting

One of the best ways to use technology to enable success is to empower people at all levels of an organization to make job-appropriate decisions in the workflow. People need proper access to data and decision-making tools to make those judgment calls.

Technology supports this in several ways, including:

  • Housing documents and data management via cloud software, which ensures team members in any location have access to the information they need to serve customers, make decisions, and complete work
  • Automated workflows that help teams make decisions or route tasks based on preprogrammed criteria
  • Real-time training, wizards, and prompts that can trigger and guide team members through processes or decisions in the moment, enhancing team member confidence and increasing accuracy

Technological Fluency of the Workforce

Of course, businesses can only reap the rewards of technology managed through the lens of human capital when they invest in the technology fluency of their workforce. Businesses should:

  • Provide education on digital topics for team members, especially when implementing new solutions
  • Support growth of technology skills by offering and paying for outside webinars and other training
  • Encouraging employees to adopt new innovations by creating scaled quotas or other requirements that provide time and space for mastering new skills
  • Taking a top-down approach so leadership can demonstrate adoption and mastery of new technology

Drones, Robots, and Communications

Technical solutions and devices that support remote work change company culture by:

  • Putting potential barriers between human capital
  • Removing routine tasks that can be automated from human workflows
  • Reducing face-to-face communications and team building
  • Causing workflows to evolve often involves individuals taking on higher-level work as drones, robots, and other machines handle lower-level repetitive tasks.

Company culture tracks in two possible directions when your organization faces human capital adjustments. It either transforms into fear among staff that jobs are in jeopardy, or it leads to understanding opportunities for success and advancement for all. Leadership is responsible for ensuring that teams take the path to success by frequently communicating, at all levels, the power of their human capital and its importance in your organization. 

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Responsibility

Jeff Bartel

Chairman and Managing Director

According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, individuals across the globe are looking to business and industry to take a more significant role in addressing climate change, racial injustice, and economic inequality, showing the importance of corporate social responsibility. This is fueled in part by trends of decreasing trust in governments and media.

Businesses can lean into these expectations from consumers and clients by engaging in corporate social responsibility, or CSR. These efforts help companies connect with customers, engage positively in their industries and the greater world around them, and potentially avoid current and future regulatory and public relations issues. For ethical firms, corporate social responsibility is not just crucial to the bottom line — it’s a duty of any good business.

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility on War

The war in Ukraine (and Russian aggression) paired with the global social consciousness afforded by 24-hour news cycles and social media has created an increasing role for businesses in times of war. Historically, governments often led the charge in sanctioning aggressors to limit war or warlike movements. Today, companies can — and are expected to — take a leading role in these efforts.

Volunteers helping Ukraine combat Russion aggression shows the importance of corporate social responsibility.

For example, nations can enact economic sanctions on aggressors, including embargoes, trade locks, and freezing assets. But governments are slow to act for numerous reasons, including a need to balance social responsibility with geopolitical protection of their own interests. In such cases, businesses may be the first to step up, refusing to trade with or within aggressing nations. They should also pressure companies helping aggressors by refusing to enter into supply, purchasing, or other agreements with them.

Companies should also leverage internal capabilities and resources to help impacted communities. That can range from diverting charitable donations for relevant causes to leveraging existing networks, such as supply chains, to help others deliver aid. Stepping up to model and lead such efforts can help encourage people and organizations of all types to follow suit.

How CSR Addresses Human Rights

Work — and under what circumstances it gets done — plays a massive role in the lives of billions of individuals across the globe. Yet, when it comes to human rights, corporate social responsibility starts in the workplace with factors such as fair labor practices, equal opportunity employment, and safe environments.

But the civil, economic, and community rights that businesses champion within the workplace should also be supported outside of a company’s in-house environments. Civil rights, for example, should be supported throughout customer service and sales channels by ensuring the mental and physical integrity of everyone with whom a business’s processes connect. Of course, that extends to communities and individuals; corporate social responsibility means ensuring a business’s processes are promoting positive results in the community — or at the very least not contributing to negatives.

Economic rights should be supported by avoiding unethical price gouging or providing avenues for success at all socioeconomic levels. A great example is pharmaceutical companies, which often sponsor grant programs to make more expensive medications available for those that could not otherwise afford them.

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility During Disasters

Disasters of various kinds demand corporate social responsibility to help cities and regions recover. One of the obvious ways businesses should engage in CSR in the wake of a disaster is to respond to community needs. Donating money, goods, or time is a common approach to CSR after a natural disaster like a hurricane.

But businesses should also invest in processes and infrastructure to help build community resilience for withstanding disasters or recovering more quickly after one. For example, financial organizations can create processes to ensure individuals and businesses within a community have access to cash flow and capital for disaster recovery efforts. This type of resilience is important in all industries — even the food industry. In the wake of disasters, the first needs of the community are often safe shelter, clean water, and food.

But corporate social responsibility doesn’t start during or after a disaster. It starts before it. Businesses should look for ways to mitigate future disasters by investing in measures like reducing climate change.

How CSR Aids the Fight for Social Justice

Evolving corporate social responsibility into corporate social justice can help businesses join the fight for social justice in ways that make sense for their brands and bottom lines. Human resources — from hiring to people management processes — is an obvious first internal step. Companies should ensure employees are trained to enact just processes within these areas.

But businesses must also engage with the community, going beyond philanthropic donations and virtue signaling via messaging. Companies that dig into their own impact on the community can create processes and products that better support social justice. They’re also able to bring their own resources to bear on the most critical issues for the community.

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility to the Bottom Line

Consumers today care about more than surface factors like quality and price — though obviously, those considerations do matter. But a business can have the best product at the best price and still lose out to a competing brand with better corporate social responsibility. Consumers want to buy from companies that make them feel good, align with their own values, and do good things in the world.

When it comes to the bottom line, CSR is a requirement. It can drive customer loyalty, powerful connections with business partners and consumers, and sustainable relationships lasting through market ups and downs. But CSR should also be seen as a duty for good companies that want to partner with others in the stewardship of resources and relationships around the globe.