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The Financial Implications of Going Green

The link between financial success and social responsibility is of increasing significance—not simply to business executives, their employees, and clients, but also scholars and the general public. A company’s commitment to caring about the planet and its populace is a thought-provoking matter warranting review.  Two campus units, who are authorities in this area, partnered to present a conference on finance and sustainability.

The symposium commenced with a report on labor productivity at green firms by environmental economist Magali Delmas, a faculty member with the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Anderson School of Management.  Her talk concentrated on the relationship between environmental and social strategies and financial performance.  Professor Delmas highlighted her research on the implementation of environmental and social practices and the resulting increase in labor productivity. She provided real-world examples of this adoption in action, identifying Clif Bar, Adobe, Patagonia, and Timberland as organizations that have yielded positive outcomes as a result of their sustainability initiatives.

Professor Delmas shared the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development’s declaration that “Green initiatives are being held in high regard by firms’ employees, and as a result have become a key battleground in the war for talent.”

High-level senior executives from businesses with notable corporate responsibility records were part of a panel discussion.  The featured speakers were David Hendler, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Eric Johnson, Vice President of Capital Projects, Roll Global, and John Lemmex, Chief Financial Officer, Bayer MaterialScience.

Hendler demonstrated how golden Hollywood goes “green.” Citing examples from SPE feature film and television properties, the presentation emphasized that “actions are greener than words.” SPE incorporates eco-conscious practices into how they produce their entertainment through defined carbon emission and zero waste goals, green production policies and packaging, and employee engagement.

Johnson began his talk by noting the company’s principle of “Doing well by doing good.” Roll Global is a private international corporation with a focus on healthy products. Their brands include Fiji Water and POM Wonderful. The talk chronicled Roll Global’s sustainable projects such as setting up solar panels and installing fuel cells at sites throughout California.

Bayer’s Lemmex gave an overview of his organization and discussed their sustainability strategies. Bayer is a global enterprise and inventor company with competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture, and high-tech materials. The company’s sustainable initiatives are divided into three categories: application innovation, responsible operations, and life-cycle stewardship.  Their efforts include utilizing renewable energy sources and renovating buildings to meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards. 

Bill Kurtz of Bloom Energy delivered the concluding keynote address that focused on the financial benefits of fuel cells. Bloom Energy is the leading manufacturer of solid oxide fuel cells. This technology generates clean, highly-efficient power onsite from a wide variety of fuel sources.

The event closed with a cocktail reception that facilitated further discussion on the topics addressed during the conference. With an eye on sustainability and the future, it is hoped these examples of corporate environmental policy, and the positive results they yield, embolden other corporate entities to make a concrete commitment to the planet.

The Corporate Partners Program enables businesses to interact with university faculty, researchers, students, and other firms to explore opportunities in environment and sustainability best practices, corporate environmental performance, and eco-marketing strategy.

The Fink Center for Finance & Investments sponsors research, teaching, and the application of financial knowledge in the global corporate and investment community. It connects students, alumni, faculty, and the investment community and transforms fundamental knowledge into applicable practices benefiting today's global economy.