There has been a significant impact on companies’ reputations from negative stakeholder sentiment captured throughout 2011. This is made obvious by the fines paid by the industry, increasing regulation, and the risk of loss of license to operate faced by many of the firms mentioned. It demonstrates that it may be in these companies' best interests to heed the warning signals and to proactively engage to address the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues raised by various activist groups, employees, governments, shareholders and communities.
People, Profit, Planet is no longer just a catch phase. The choice for companies today is not if, but how, they should manage their sustainability activities. Companies can choose to see this agenda as a necessary evil, a matter of risk management and compliance to sustain a license to operate - or as a new modus operandi in a difficult economy to deliver a competitive advantage while creating value for society.