My October 13th post Interpreting The Top Ten received a number of comments including from Jay Whitehead, publisher of CRO's ranking and from Chris Coulter who produces the Globescan report. I thought it would be interesting to hear from one of the companies that appears high in the rankings and Brian Boyd, VP of Environmental Affairs at Johnson & Johnson (3rd in Newsweek rankings) kindly shares his thoughts on the topic in this guest post.
Just being realistic, can anyone think of a more complex and all-encompassing “business issue” (and so deftly expressed in one simple word) than the concept we now know as “sustainability”? I can’t.
So it’s no surprise to me that “how we measure it” is going to evolve and vary. As a sustainability practitioner in a company that has been measured, ranked and rated for many years, you learn early that chasing ratings and points is a bit of the tail wagging the dog. While I agree it’s far more pleasant to come out near the top of any ranking vs. the bottom, the key is in how we use them. I find sustainability rankings to be quite helpful for tracking business trends, understanding stakeholder expectations, and gaining access to inventories of the latest sustainable business practices….all of which are fundamental to informing any business strategy. But given the demands of creating, aligning, measuring, and improving sustainability strategy and metrics in a large global company, reacting to “ranking volatility” just isn’t possible. So we view them as one of many important inputs to future strategy.
As for trying to reconcile the myriad sustainability rankings with each other, I don’t think that’s possible either. There are so many, each with its unique purpose and proprietary angle, many in competition with each other, it doesn’t seem likely that standardization or equivalence is anywhere near on the horizon. So for now, we’ll keep trying our best to set good business strategy, sustain strong performance …..and hopefully the good rankings will follow.
Brian Boyd is Vice President, Worldwide Environment, Health & Safety at Johnson & Johnson. Brian joined Johnson & Johnson at McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals in 1990, where he progressed to become Manager of Environmental Engineering. In 1997 he was promoted to Manager, Engineering, for the McNeil Las Piedras manufacturing plant where he led the plant launch team for MOTRIN production.
Brian joined Worldwide Environmental Affairs in 1999 as Director where he was instrumental in the development of the global environmental dashboard, external manufacturing and supplier programs, the MAARS process and in supporting all of our business groups. He was promoted to VP, Worldwide Environment, Health & Safety in November, 2003.