Strategic Direction in a Competitive Environment

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This section contains abstracts for various articles Mr. MacLean has published. To view any of these full papers, click here. To be notified of new articles as they become available, please join our email list.

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Perverse Trade-offs - Ethical considerations in sustainable development, Environmental Quality Management, Spring 2011.

Within business organizations, decisions that have far-reaching health, safety, environmental, and economic impacts on entire communities (if not nations) can be made unilaterally, sometimes literally by one individual.  Corporate managers are in the business of making trade-offs—weighing one choice against another.  But can those trade-off decisions become so faulty as to be perverse?  In this context, we define “perverse” to mean morally and ethically reprehensible.  Dozens of high-visibility disasters caused by business activities provide ample evidence that corporate decision makers can become corrupted and unethical.  This column explores the business decision making process relative to sustainable development.  What are the internal mechanisms that ensure ethical decisions?  Clearly, some companies are extremely good at making ethical judgments.  Others have disastrous track records—an indicator that their trade-offs process had reached the perverse level.

Resource Wars - What’s Your Battle Plan?, EM Magazine, March 2011.

We may think that we are in the environmental business, focused on just the environmental impacts of our company’s products and production processes.  But such narrow thinking can lead to overlooking our potential contribution to society and the organizations we support and, ultimately, our long-term career potential.  In a much broader sense, we are in the resource business: we ensure the responsible acquisition, processing, and end use disposal or recycling of all the materials from which our products are derived.

Can we really call EHS management a "profession" in the same way that law, medicine, engineering, and nursing clearly are professions? We may consider ourselves genuine professionals and respect those individuals who pass muster with our list of certifying organizations. In the grand scheme of things, however, the way "pocket protector guys" are treated within organizations reflects little acknowledgment of what it takes to do a truly professional job. There is something fundamentally wrong with the environmental profession and how it is valued - or not valued - by the public, governments, and business management.

You’re Out of Order! - Proper Strategy Sequencing Is Essential, EM Magazine, January 2011.

Far too many environmental strategic planning processes have not only the sequencing out of order, but the internal agreement, alignment, and stability of the process are dysfunctional.  And these are the “good ones,” since in most companies there is no formal strategic planning, only what could more accurately be described as budgetary planning.  An environmental strategic plan should support the business vision, objectives, and strategic plan.  These business elements should always be the starting point for any environmental strategic plan.  Next, an analysis is necessary of current issues and opportunities in the context of how they may impact the business plan and objectives.  A robust strategic plan may be the right choice to break from the past.  It can lay out how the environmental efforts directly support the overall business plan, and thus it can be the first step in build support for your programs.

Can Anyone Be an Environmental Manager? - The tragedy of our "profession," Environmental Quality Management, Winter 2010.

This column explores the current condition of the EHS profession - and raises a number of troubling questions that have yet to be openly addressed within our professional ranks.  The problem was summed up in a headline I saw recently saying, "The EHS profession has skidded down the food chain."  In the jargon of marketing, the environmental profession has no identifiable brand and barrier for entry.  Anyone can be appointed the organization's "Environmental Manager."

Can we really call EHS management a "profession" in the same way that law, medicine, engineering, and nursing clearly are professions? We may consider ourselves genuine professionals and respect those individuals who pass muster with our list of certifying organizations. In the grand scheme of things, however, the way "pocket protector guys" are treated within organizations reflects little acknowledgment of what it takes to do a truly professional job. There is something fundamentally wrong with the environmental profession and how it is valued - or not valued - by the public, governments, and business management.

Redistributing (Eco) Wealth - It’s Not as Easy as It Seems, EM Magazine, November 2010.

Today, regulatory and voluntary economic instruments are very much in vogue as ways to value what previously has been overlooked. Be it incorporating externalities such as pollution into the price of goods and services or imposing a value on the indirect services or potential long-term benefits of a natural resource such as a rainforest, a new set of economic indicators is emerging.  But as governments reach further into the areas of regulation, taxation, and sales of ecosystem services, the decisions become more complex, more sweeping in their financial and long-term implications, more prone to manipulation by special interests, and more subject to the law of unintended consequences.
Clearly, the wealth generated from mineral resources has been abused for centuries in some regions when controlled by dictatorships. Are we to assume that the wealth from ecosystem services will be immune from a similar fate just because of its stated green objective? Could the taxes derived from the sale of this new generation of natural resources be put to uses that are completely contrary to any conceivable positive environmental benefit? We have a vital responsibility to look beyond the sound bites and offer our management a balanced, thoughtful analysis of any new program, product, law, or regulation sold as something good for the environment.

Think Like a Lawyer? - Will tomorrow’s attorneys help or hinder sustainability?, Environmental Quality Management, Autumn 2010.

Everyone claims to be pursuing the common goal of a sustainable future - while employing armies of lawyers to protect their organizational interests.  Green attorneys are being asked to explore legal issues with an eye toward promoting the interests of the organizations that hire them.  Many lawyers also work for the “opposing” side, within corporations, trade associations, and think tanks.  So what are the potential upsides and downsides to “thinking like a lawyer” in today’s rapidly changing business and political climate?
For those of you who are not attorneys, now may be a good time to sit down and have a frank discussion with the lawyers who support your organization. Let them know that, on matters concerning sustainability, you want them to consider both the positive and the negative aspects of thinking like a traditional lawyer.  For those of you who are attorneys, this may be a good opportunity for self-reflection. How can you do a better job of protecting your clients from legal liability—without allowing risk aversion to create the potential for even greater perils down the road?

White Swan Events - Some issues are so common as to be predictable, indeed inevitable . . . . Unless competent individuals are in control. Get in charge, EM Magazine, September 2010.

With all the facts laid out in hindsight, it is easy to claim that the BP oil gusher was obvious and predictable.  It was not.  Disasters of this magnitude are called “black swan” events because they are so rare and unique that they are difficult to imagine and foresee.  That said, the precedents leading up to black swan events follow a well-known pattern.
And the processes that create “routine” environmental issues are even more predictable – as common as white swans.  Most environmental issues do not attract national attention, but white swan events may ruin careers, cost millions in fines and remediation expenses, endanger or take lives, and ruin local ecosystems.
Be it a black or white swan often have the same underlying theme of a lack of cohesive leadership either just before the eruption stage is reached or in the wake of a crisis when everyone is responding.  You may be in a perfect position to observe the warning signs and take a leadership position to either prevent a white or black swan event or spearhead mitigation should an issue erupt.

Turnaround Companies - Could your company bounce back from a brand-crushing disaster -- and not make the same mistakes again?, Environmental Quality Management, Summer 2010.

Companies with some of the most tarnished images have transformed themselves from being viewed as environmentally or socially irresponsible pariahs to darlings of the media, the public, and even activist nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).  Other companies have accomplished this transformation in the short term, only to fail later on. 
What are the key ingredients for a successful, long-lasting corporate makeover?  To answer that question, it helps to understand something about the history of corporate attitudes on the environment and social responsibility.

Memo to Management: What “going green” can mean to a company, Brilliant Results, March 2010.

This article is an imaginary memo from the environmental manager of Ajax Corporation to the VPs of marketing and procurement. It was drafted “in response to your request for a summary of how sustainability programs and green products can enhance Ajax’s marketing efforts. You stated that I should be ‘brutally frank’ and not limit my reply to our usual one page memos, so here is my response.” It examines the historical evolution of sustainability and lays out the eight key steps necessary to have a successful green marketing program.

Going Nuclear - It's all about Relationships, Not Public Relations, EM Magazine, July 2010.

The internet has revolutionized information access, marketing, and even politics.  Entire industries such as the print media continue to struggle to redefine themselves in light of this tectonic shift.  Senior management is acutely aware of how the internet can be a powerful tool for environmental activists.
For nearly two decades companies have refined their own messages and uploaded them to their Web sites.  Indeed, companies have grown quite proficient at using the internet to describe their environmental and social responsibility programs . . . just in time to be blindsided by the next wave in this continuing information revolution.

Checking the Sustainable Development Box, Environmental Quality Management, Spring 2010.

Organizations can now even buy “off-the-rack” sustainability programs. But many companies seem to be deriving little value from their sustainability efforts. Even worse, in the rush to adopt prepackaged sustainability programs, corporate leaders may be failing to think about what sustainability really means for the future of their organizations. This column offers some context on the growth of corporate sustainability programs— and suggests why companies should take a harder look at the strategic significance of sustainability issues.

The Great Global Warming Distraction – Take 2, EM Magazine, April 2010

There is so much attention and controversy surrounding climate change that it is distracting the public, the media, scientists, politicians, and regulatory agencies from numerous other issues just as threatening to human health and the environment, and possibly more urgent. The planet is in serious trouble, and I am certainly not the first to voice such concerns - there have been dozens of reports and books on the subject.

Rarely are all the dots connected among these complex relationships. Again, the public is inundated with sound bites over controversies, or they are flooded with marketing pitches to consume more without guilt, as long as it has an eco-friendly label on the (recyclable) packaging. They do not grasp the folly of the current situation. For those readers who work for clients, companies, agencies, or organizations, now is a good time to step back a take a broader look at what is going on and re-evaluate their strategies.

The Six Mistakes Executives Make in Risk Management, EM Magazine , January/February 2010

This article was inspired by a recent piece with the same title in the Harvard Business Review. While the authors structured their message to reach executives facing a broad range of business risks, it is particularly relevant to environmental professionals for two reasons. First, preparing for low-probability, high-impact events—so-called “Back Swan” events—requires the same type of strategic thinking regardless of the nature of the potential risks.

Second, one of the greatest challenges for environmental managers is to secure the resources required to address crucial issues. Black Swan events are among the most difficult of all, since they do not present an immediate, obvious threat. This article provides an insight into business management’s thinking and it is essential that environmental managers recognize these business management preconceived notions on risk and consider their implications when preparing budget proposals. The technically perfect strategy can go nowhere unless it also accounts for how managers manage business risk.

The Selling of Sustainability, The Environmental Forum, Environmental Law Institute, January/February 2010.

Sustainable development is touted as the answer to the environmental challenges facing generations to come.  Corporations now advertise that their innovation and green practices will ensure our salvation.  Politicians and many environmentalists have taken up the cause.  But could all this talk of sustainability be hype blurring the real challenges facing generations to come?  Humankind has always risen to challenges and has the capability to do so in the future, but it is in our DNA to respond to short-term self-interest and immediate, tangible threats.  Humankind’s drive to survive is also wired into our DNA, but if societies are marching in lockstep like sheep over the environmental cliff due to misinformation, political and religious dogma, self-interest, and other powerful influences, then all bets are off.  Eco-friendly products are big business and under the banner of sustainability they are being packaged, marketed and sold to the public on a grand scale.  It provides consumers the illusion that real progress is being made and environmental degradation is in check.

The Road to (Environmental) Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions, Environmental Quality Management, Winter 2009.

As the proverb in the title suggests, well-intentioned efforts do not always guarantee desired outcomes. Two famous laws—one about unintended consequences and the other set down by Murphy—ensure that the landscape is littered with instances of good ideas gone awry.  This is as true in the environmental field as in any other area of endeavor.  As we have learned in recent years, many efforts that seemed environmentally friendly when they were launched later turned out to be unmitigated disasters.  In a few cases, they were eventually revealed not even to have been well-intended in the first place.

This article reviews some notorious cases where “good intentions” have gone wrong.  It also takes note of some current environmental practices about which skepticism is growing.  My discussion explores common themes among these examples and highlights the underlying ethical issues.  Finally, I offer some ideas (including a case study) suggesting what you can do to keep your organization from choosing practices that might ultimately become environmentally ruinous.

An Integrated Approach to Governance - Get the Most Out of your Auditing Budget, EM Magazine, November 2009.

As companies continue to look for every opportunity to save money and perform more efficiently, environmental organizations have been under tremendous pressure to cut costs. This article examines an important aspect of every environmental group, namely governance, and explores techniques to raise audit quality while lowering costs.

In large companies, the corporate department typically checks that the business groups' management systems are in place. The business groups, in turn, check that the sites' compliance or management systems are in place, while the sites complete the day-to-day compliance check lists. In other words, resources are spent to check the checkers who check the checkers. It does not have to be this way.

Entering the Fourth Environmental Wave - An examination of the emerging environmental dynamics facing organizations, Environmental Quality Management, Autumn 2009.

Environmental change comes in waves, as professionals in the field know well. Most are familiar with the eras that have come before: Since the early 1960s, the focus has changed from conservation to regulation to sustainable development. But most have not yet recognized the next focus of concern that is certain to impact the environmental world over the next few years: the struggle for control over the world’s remaining, easily exploited natural resources.

This high-stakes struggle involves environmental issues at its very core, and it is already beginning to exert major impacts on governments, corporations, and financial markets.  This article examines the emerging “fourth wave” of environmental change — and looks at how it will affect your organization and your career.

I Say Green, You Say Sustainable Development, EM Magazine, September 2009.

The meaning of words has gotten fuzzier.  Forty years ago, environmental terms were relatively straightforward because regulations were few in number and the regulatory philosophy centered on prescriptive command and control requirements.  As the costs to build pollution control infrastructure began to rise and the issues became more subtle, long term and global, conflicts broke out over the use and interpretation of environmental terminology.

The definitions and the images conjured up when discussing terms such as sustainable development have become so broad and misconstrued that extreme caution must be used when talking to management; it is a surefire way to get off in the wrong direction.

The danger to companies is that they start to believe their own headlines and ignore what it takes to be truly environmentally and socially responsible.  Environmental managers need to talk clearly and openly with management about the real issues and not assume anything when using even the most basic environmental expressions.  This article reviews some of the areas of concern.
Sustainable Development: Tomorrow's Salvation or Today's Hype?, World Future Society's 2009 conference volume, Innovation and Creativity in a Complex World.

This essay examines the growing controversy over what government, industry, and the public are doing to protect the fate of Earth's ecosystems. Climate change is just one aspect, and possibly not even the most significant dimension. Some experts argue that, if we are not vigilant, humans will overshoot ecological limits and enter a period of collapse. Others believe that this doomsday scenario is preposterous. They argue that technological advances, new resource discoveries, and shifts in consumptive patterns will ensure that future generations' needs will be met.

The analysis briefly examines the positive and negative forces in play, such as technology, population, and affluence. In addition, it offers a critical examination of society's attitudes toward protecting the environment and its capacity to achieve the elements necessary to realize a sustainable future. The analysis ultimately presents a forbidding scenario of what the future may hold unless society rises to a challenge the likes of which humankind has not faced before.

Operating in Lean Times - An examination of best and worst practices for right-sizing environmental departments, Environmental Quality Management, Summer 2009.

Personalities and popularity, not performance, can sometimes drive decisions on who stays and who goes. Clearly, this should not be the case, but when it does happen, it is couched in terms such as Ted “does not fit into our company culture” or “is not a team player.”

For environmental professionals who can be viewed as surrogate regulatory enforcement personnel, the implications are troubling. Environmental organizations do not have to be powerless while these decisions are underway. Both courage and leadership are required, however, to gain some control over the situation before it reaches the point where mandates come raining down from above. For those willing to take charge, here are some recommendations on how to lead your organization.

Small- and Medium-Size Businesses - Readers Respond with Examples of Sustainable Development, EM Magazine, July 2009.

In my January EM Magazine 2009 column, I appealed to readers to supply me with some “breathtaking” examples of small- and medium-size businesses (SMBs) that demonstrate cutting-edge practices in sustainable development.  That article was prompted by an earlier e-mail request I had sent to nearly a dozen senior colleagues that yielded so few examples as to be not only disappointing, but perplexing.  As one colleague stated, “It’s hard stuff to find. There’s a dearth of SMB case studies.” In this article I examine the response by EM Magazine readers.  Nineteen experts responded providing the names of 37 companies and 13 organizations active in SMB sustainable development programs. I have been writing columns and journal articles for over a decade and this was one of the best responses I’ve ever received. Clearly, there is a keen interest in this area, as is evident by the expanse and substance of the information provided.

Visions of Sustainability - What you can do to make your organization's sustainability vision unique, EM Magazine, May 2009.

In the hierarchy of statements that define what a company is all about, vision ranks just below mission (why it exists) and values (how the organization will behave).  In other words, a well-defined vision is very important.  While business visions may take on the aspects of inspiring bumper stickers, they are generally backed by supporting statements and business plans that amplify what this future state will look like.  On the other hand, sustainability visions can be backed by not much more than good intentions.  There are a raft of reasons why this may be the case, not the least of which is that there is often an obsession with political correctness rather than clarity.  The challenge is to formulate a sustainability strategy that will identify the opportunities that support the organization's overall business goals.  It may even be possible to stake out a niche area with potential for sector leadership.  This is how you can develop a truly unique vision statement.

Beware of the Stealth Mandate - Mixed messages and marching orders are endemic to the environmental profession, Environmental Quality Management, Spring 2009.

Certainly, companies always try to put the most upbeat messages forward to the outside world, but even internally and behind closed doors it can be a real challenge to determine what the top executives really want accomplished.  This article explains the issue or stealth mandates and how to identify them.  Rule one is to pay close attention to the actions taken by business management and not their words.  If the marching orders are "social responsibility and sustainability," yet the underlying foundation on which this depends is being cut while at the same time highly-skilled marketing professionals are being hired, the stealth mandate is: boost the brand, our core programs are just fine.

Consulting in Tough Economic Times, EM Magazine, March 2009.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... "  Charles Dickens penned that famous line in A Tale of Two Cities to describe the range of social impacts brought on by the turmoil of the French revolution.  The global economic revolution is in a similar state of turmoil: widespread economic recession contrasted with niche shelters of growth and economic opportunity.  Home Depot, Caterpillar and Pfizer may be laying off thousands of workers but McDonald's is planning to spend $2.1 billion to open 1,000 new stores.  Where might comparable safe havens exist in the environmental consulting world?  And what is the overall mood right now among consultants?

Reflections on Environmental Leadership: Thirty-Two Hours of Remarkable Coincidences - The building blocks of environmental leadership reveal themselves, Environmental Law Reporter, January 2009

The media, public, and politicians currently are focused on global warming, but there are scores of other environmental threats with even more immediate consequences. Where are the wise environmental leaders who can sort through all this confusion and these competing priorities? Who will help guide businesses and the governments toward a sustainable path? Today these leaders appear to be as rare as spotted owls, but if you ran into one, what would be his or her characteristics and what traits should you emulate to reach that admirable position?  This article is a “stream of consciousness” story of 32 hours in my life in July 2008. It sums up my observations on what it takes to be an environmental leader today.

Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses: The Perplexing Search for Examples of Sustainable Development, EM Magazine, January 2009.

Small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) make up roughly 40–50% of gross domestic product (GDP) globally. These firms account for about two-thirds of innovations and are now widely regarded as the principal generators of net new employment, while the payrolls of large companies are shrinking in the United States. Indeed, SMBs are where the action is. What better place to find a powerful array of sustainable development innovations...or maybe not.  I have asked experts in the center of the sustainability movement and have done a modest amount of my own homework, but have found little to indicate that the true power of SMBs around the globe is being released to tackle the sustainability challenge. Please prove me wrong and supply me with some breathtaking examples that meet the criteria outlined in this article.

Telling Stories – The power of scenario planning in executive communication, Environmental Quality Management, Winter 2008.

Environmental professionals are in a unique position to understand and integrate emerging dynamics such as global regulatory constraints, raw material supply restrictions, green product opportunities, changing ecosystems, public opinion shifts, and consumer trends. But all too often, we plan only for that which is immediate and in plain view. Reporting on an environmental crisis or a key emerging regulation may be engaging, but it is not exactly exhilarating or career building. So a key question for environmental professionals is how to convey essential information about the future that is powerful and of strategic value. The technique of scenario development -- a very specific type of storytelling -- is ideal for environmental professionals. This technique has the added advantage of being familiar to most executives.

Measuring Up - Moving Beyond Environmental Metrics Based on Benchmarking and Reporting Standards, EM Magazine, November 2008.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, there is a whole lot of flattery going on when it comes to environmental metrics.  Companies typically focus on three areas: regulatory requirements, reporting standards such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and industry benchmarking.  That is fine for showcasing performance to external stakeholders, but this approach represents neither a metrics strategy nor a competitive business approach.  Indeed, it amazes me how much effort is devoted to finding the "right" metric set, as defined by what others are doing, requiring, or recommending. Benchmarking is important, of course, and executives love to see where they stand relative to the competition. But this approach to metrics strategy may not give much insight into long-term competitive positioning.  So what metrics are strategic and how do you identify and measure them? To answer these questions, we must explore the basics of metrics and how environmental professionals can add strategic value.

Business Management Communication - Are your skills up to the challenge?, EM Magazine, September 2008.

Although it did not seem so at the time, communicating with business managers was relatively easy during the 1970s and 80s.  The regulations dictated what was needed to modify manufacturing operations and companies spent billions to build pollution control systems.  But that was then; the challenge is so much different now.  One could also argue that the stakes now are much, much higher.  Environmental concerns have shifted from inside the fence line to global issues such as climate change.  Opportunities have shifted from cost savings through recycling and reuse to competitive positioning through green product marketing.  While in the past the requirements were narrowly defined, today there are broad voluntary guidelines on how to create a "sustainable company."  Communicating a coherent strategy and guiding business management through this maze requires excellent communication and persuasion skills.  Some are born with these requisite talents, and others must painstakingly learn them.

"Chicken Little" Syndrome - How to raise environmental issues without being labeled an alarmist, Environmental Quality Management, Autumn 2008.

The challenge for those of us who work in the environmental field has always been to gather information on how ecosystems, economies, and societies react, respond, and adapt, and then communicate it in a manner that will allow decision-makers to take appropriate action.  Environmental professionals sometimes believe they must couch their warnings in extreme terms in order to get attention.  If we impart shrill messages of doom, however, we will turn off the very individuals who have the power to positively effect change.  Instead, we need to offer vision and leadership.  So, how should you deliver the environmental message today?  This article provides nine key steps to deliver the message.

Career Tracks - Sustainable Development and Its Career Implications, Part 2, EM Magazine, August 2008.

Unlike earlier times when emerging issues were attended to within ever-expanding environment, health, and safety (EH&S) departments, there are already indications that the management of a new generation of issues and opportunities will be addressed by other organizations within industry and government.  Traditional EH&S departments will exist, of course, but will continue to be viewed, staffed, and funded as primarily overhead, again, a cost of doing business.  The buzz is, instead, on marketing opportunities, competitive positioning, investment relations, and such emerging issues as emission credits and offsets.  The new track requires finely-tuned communications, relationship, networking, marketing, and strategy skills, and competencies to which business managers can readily relate.

Outcries that the sky is falling do more harm than good, Arizona Republic Viewpoints section, June 1, 2008.   

Chicken Little outcries are a non-starter with any business group and, for that matter, most audiences.  If the objective is to influence, educate and change our direction, what do these diatribes accomplish? From my perspective, they actually do real harm. At the most obvious level, individuals who have the power to effect change positively will be turned off.  For those who want to delay or obfuscate environmental initiatives, the really bad actors, disseminating quotes from extremists is an ideal technique to undermine the validity of the underlying issues.

Fast Governance, Environmental Quality Management, Summer 2008.

If you know what to look for and what questions to ask, key EHS governance issues can be identified at major facilities - or even entire corporations - in a few hours  As described in the article, the framework for Fast Governance includes the evaluation of seven key areas.

Fast Governance can be a useful, inexpensive, and independent cross-check for determining whether EHS staff may have overlooked some key issues - a sanity check, as it were.  It is also a good technique for raising management's awareness by highlighting key issues without spending a fortune on detailed independent audits.  Fast Governance is particularly useful when a company has numerous sites. It is also helpful when the company uses many subcontractors, and where follow-up inspections of their work form a key component of assurance systems.

Career Tracks - Sustainable Development and Its Career Implications, Part 1, EM Magazine, May 2008.

Will Rogers once said, “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Pick up any newspa­per or magazine and you will find an environmental story. It’s not just hot, it’s fashionable, as in, Green is the new black. Environmental professionals have chosen an excellent career, but now it’s time to examine where this profession has been, where it’s headed, and more specifically, if it has begun to split into separate paths. Which track will you be on?

Do Voluntary Programs Work? The Environmental Forum, March/April 2008.

Yes, voluntary programs do work and they can be beneficial under certain circumstances.  For example, programs such as OSHA's VPP have received high praise.  However, a growing body of research literature finds that voluntary programs are extremely limited in their range and impact.  This article takes a close look at the current state and concludes that voluntary programs cannot reliably maintain the status quo or even make significant progress towards achieving national environmental goals.  Unfortunately, most companies do not participate; some companies do not play by the rules; and others skim off the public relations benefits. Meanwhile, the actions of these laggards and braggarts raise charges of "greenwashing," besmirching companies that really are making environmental improvements.

Choosing the Right Shade of Green - Keep your marketing programs in sync with the environment, Brilliant Results, Vol. 6, No. 3 (March 2008).

The green marketing buzz has reached a roar, prompting all manner of marketing research.  While the overall intent may be to increase market share and build brand, a poorly-crafted strategy can actually damage both.  These green efforts can quickly take on a life of their own as marketing or communications departments charge ahead under the CEO’s blessing.  Selecting the right shade of corporate green takes planning and a strategy that integrates a range of factors.  But the very first step in any public pronouncement on greenness must start with the fundamentals, namely, a rock-solid environmental management system.  Once this is accomplished, there are a number of tools to test whether a marketing plan is sound.

Integrating the Elements of a Strategy - A step-by-step path to success, EM Magazine, March 2008.

The most important element of any strategy is gaining a thorough understanding of the business framework within which the plan must operate.  This is not a simple process: it involves face-to-face discussions with top executives and key employees in a number of functional areas.  The benefit of all this effort is that once accomplished, everything else flows smoothly. For example, it will become obvious to business management if the current policies need revision.  Updating is easy and, more significantly, relevant because there will be a clear understanding of what is really important to the business — the foundation of any good policy.

Corporate Environmentalism - How deep is the green? Environmental Quality Management, Spring 2008.

Green is back in the news these days, in a big way. Consider the media’s growing attention to global warming, the endless announcements of “corporate responsibility” statements and policies, and the general promotion of all things good and green by businesses everywhere.  But what if you probe beyond the “green bark” with which corporate communications representatives have covered themselves? There you may find a different story. So how can companies make sure that their environmental endeavors go beyond public relations and marketing hype? And how can they avoid embarrassing (and costly) revelations of not-so-green behavior that damage the brand?  Maybe the more appropriate question is, “Just what shade of green should a company be in the first place?”

Ignoring Impending Disasters - Why do the warning signs go unheeded?, EM Magazine, January 2008.

Does this sound familiar? You identify a major issue looming over the horizon, one that might injure people or the environment, damage the company’s reputa­tion, cause long-term financial liabilities, or even offer a competitive opportunity. You raise the alarm, offer a plan of action and…nothing is done. Yes, we probably bear much of the responsibility for not communicating our recommendations clearly, but there are other factors in play. While we may have limited control over these other dimensions, it helps to understand and factor them into our strategic plans.

Get Organized! - How should facilities organize their environmental, health, and safety (EHS) functions?, Environmental Quality Management, Winter 2007.

I have written extensively on corporate EHS organizational design, but very little on structuring EHS functions at the facility level. This article was prompted by a call from an environmental manager at a mid-sized manufacturing plant who wanted to know the basics of forming an effective EHS group. Here is the essence of what I told him.

Affluenza - At What Point Does Conspicuous Consumption Become Toxic?, EM Magazine, November 2007.

Call it affluenza, conspicuous consumption, or luxury fever; it’s part of our culture. The environmental consequences of such behavior are only now starting to be recognized: hypocritical and inconsistent actions with respect to the environment can lead to a faded image. Is your company’s brand at risk?

Are Voluntary Standards Working? Environmental Quality Management, Autumn 2007.

Cynics claim these are feel-good measures that simply give the public an illusion of environmental protection. By contrast, defenders argue that in today’s complex world, detailed command-and-control regulations have reached their practical limits and voluntary measures provide needed flexibility. Who is right?

Reefer Madness - Trying to understand the real ecological problems can drive you crazy, Crosslands Bulletin on Business, Law and the Environment, September 2007.

I’m no marine biologist, but anyone can clearly see that the dynamics are complicated. Coral bleaching only recently has received the prominence it deserves, even though it is a story that has been around for more than a decade.  Politics and media myopia shape our thinking on what is good or bad for the environment. The law of unintended consequences plays havoc with us.

Closing the Gap - With the current environmental media blitz, is everyone in your company on the same page? Environmental Manager (EM), September 2007.

Environmental professionals hold in high regard their technical skills and their ability to deliver tangible results. Obtaining permits, maintaining compliance, and reducing waste definitely takes keen analytical skills and the ability to effectively interface with frontline employees. If environmental dynamics were unchanging, these skills alone would serve us well throughout our careers. But the environmental scene over the past year is changing like never before, probably more rapidly than the business world itself. Will environmental professionals have the networking skills to influence executive management during this period of rapid change?

The Great Global Warming Distraction - There is a lot more to the environment than just climate change, Environmental Manager (EM), July 2007.

Not since the beginning of the environmental movement in the late 1960s has the fate of planet earth received so much media attention. Business executives are, without a doubt, very sensitive to global warming concerns.  The downside may be that with all the current focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, executives may be unaware of other, possibly just as significant, environmental issues and opportunities.

Closing the Credibility Gap: The Challenges of Corporate Responsibility Reporting, Environmental Quality Management, Summer 2007.

Top-quality reporting requires a strategic approach. It should be intimately linked to both the business strategy of the company and its internal system for measuring environmental, social, and governance performance. More and more, such performance measurement systems are becoming critical to running a competitive enterprise. While these links may seem obvious, few companies actually make this cognitive leap. One reason may be lack of understanding (and hence support) from top management. Executive involvement and direction are essential to ensuring that the company forges the key link between its reporting effort and its core business strategy. A strategic corporate responsibility reporting process should serve a dual role: It should communicate externally with the company’s stakeholders while also informing the company’s internal management processes.

Keeping on the Green and Avoiding the Sand Traps - Playing the Environmental Game to Win, Brilliant Results, March 2007.

The environment is quite hot (pun intended) and where there is heat there are marketing and business opportunities for companies that position themselves competitively. Companies are piling on the green bandwagon and the big corporations are leading the way. While this shift towards the green may be transparently self-serving for those companies that stand to benefit handsomely from product sales or emission credits, it does represent a fundamental shift in how industry responds to global environmental issues. But what even the majors sometimes miss is that this is a game played with a very hard ball.

In Your Face (Mask) - Environmental degradation starts to affect us - here and now, Crosslands Bulletin on Business, Law and the Environment, September 2006.

What propelled environmental issues to the forefront of public concern from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s? The problems were in-your-face and up-your-nose. The contamination of Times Beach and Love Canal, as well as the Cuyahoga River fire, were real-time events to Americans, not theories about environmental degradation. Government and industry responded, and the battle for the environment was won.

Corporate Environmentalism: In search of vision, leadership, and strategy, Environmental Quality Management, Autumn 2005.

Environmental managers are in transition between a regulatory-driven past and new environmental dynamics. The future will be driven by stakeholder demands for the responsible use of natural and human capital. Understanding this transition and its business implications requires an examination of how we got to the current state, a brutally honest evaluation of where we are today, and re-examination of how environmental departments can add value in the future. Seven essential steps will be necessary to successfully navigate this transition.

The Shifting Roles Of NGOs - Moving Toward a “Superpower,” Co-authored by Brijesh Nalinakumari, PERC Reports – The Magazine of Free Market Environmentalism, Volume 23, Number 4, December 2005, 14-15.

NGOs are beginning to act increasingly like governmental regulatory agencies, issuing a new generation of de facto "regulations” in the form of standards, guidelines, and certifications. Once gadflies and outsiders, NGOs increasingly are shifting to market-based approaches in order to effect change and gain a prominent place at the table in stakeholder negotiations. This article offers a literature review of published information on NGOs. It is a primer for environmental, health, safety, and social responsibility (EHS&SR) professionals who are spending more and more of their time on “non-regulatory” issues driven by NGOs.

NGOs: A Primer on the Evolution of the Organizations That Are Setting the Next Generation of “Regulations” - Environmental Quality Management, Co-authored by Brijesh Nalinakumari, Volume 14, Issue 4, Summer 2005, pages 1-21.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been around for more than 150 years. Over the last decade, however, there has been a subtle but steady shift in the nature of their influence over business. In essence, NGOs are beginning to act increasingly like governmental regulatory agencies, issuing a new generation of de facto “regulations” in the form of standards, guidelines, and certifications. Once gadflies and outsiders, NGOs increasingly are shifting to market-based approaches in order to effect change and gain a prominent place at the table in stakeholder negotiations.

EHS Organizational Quality: A DuPont Case Study - Best practices in corporate environmental, health, and safety organizational design Environmental Quality Management, pages 19-27, Winter 2004.

There is no such thing as the perfect template from which to model a top performing EHS organizational design. That said, there is a growing body of research that points to certain critical dos and don’ts.  DuPont is a case study in careful adherence to many of these best practices.

The New Rule Makers: The Paradigm Shift in Environmental, Health, Safety, and Social Responsibility “Regulations” Now Underway, Co-authored by Brijesh Nalinakumari, Corporate Environmental Strategy: International Journal for Sustainable Business, Vol. 11, Issue 8, pages 2-183 - 2-198, September 2004.

Corporations are facing a fundamental shift in the nature of environmental, health, safety, and social responsibility (EHS&SR) issues. These dynamics will affect their ability to bring products to market, raise capital and either expand existing or develop new facilities. Yet business executives, and even some EHS&SR managers, are unaware of the full significance of the transition underway. They are still stuck in a two-dimensional world of EHS&SR defined by government regulations and public relations. The emerging landscape is far more complex and populated by a new breed of “rule makers” most commonly referred to as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This article describes the challenges of this transition and makes recommendations on how to turn these challenges into competitive opportunities.

Organizations in Transition: An Annotated Bibliography of Published Literature on Environmental, Health and Safety Organizations Co-authored by Elizabeth Karan, Corporate Environmental Strategy: International Journal for Sustainable Business, Vol. 11, Issue 7, pages 2-163 - 2-182, July/August 2004.

For at least the past five years, environmental, health and safety (EHS) organizations have been caught up in relentless business re-engineering and other company-wide restructuring efforts. Top-down driven business initiatives to stay competitive and cut costs in a struggling economy have created major structural changes and staffing reductions in EHS groups.  While the movement toward “right-sizing” has been applied to all staff functions, not just EHS, it comes at a time when corporate social responsibility, sustainable development and global EHS impacts are emerging as looming concerns for many companies.

Template for Assessing Corporate Performance Environmental Quality Management, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Vol. 13, No. 3, Spring 2004.

A The performance of corporate environmental health and safety organization (EHS) organizations has been the subject of intense scrutiny during the last few years. Specifically, business executives have challenged EHS departments to demonstrate that they are both performing optimally and adding value. There are, however, no standardized methods and procedures for assessing the performance of EHS organizations. Among the difficulties impeding such standardized approaches are issues relating to data quantification and validity, as well as information collection and "mining".

Superior Environmental Health and Safety Performance Environmental Quality Management, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Vol. 13, No. 2, Winter 2003.

A survey of sixty senior EHS professionals found no consistent definition of superior environmental health and safety performance. Fifty-two companies were identified as “having it,” but the reasons for their selection differed greatly. Published literature and regulatory and legislative definitions do little to add clarity. If EHS professionals do not share a common vision amongst themselves and if they do not crisply state what constitutes superior EHS performance, how can business executive be expected to know and, more importantly, even care? Clarity on this issue could significantly advance progress towards sustainable development; this document offers suggestions on how this could be accomplished.

Sustainable Careers Parts 1, 2 & 3 A compilation of the three-part series on the future of environmental, health and safety professionals, Environmental Protection, October 2003

A three part series on the future of environmental, health and safety professionals.  Appearing in the January/February, April, and September 2003 issues of Environmental Protection Magazine. Part 1 examines the need to take direct responsibility for one's future job security. Part 2 examines the major trends that may dead-end some careers and raise others to new heights. Part 3 describes how to better position yourself in an EHS job market that is undergoing an extraordinary transformation.

Corporate Environmental Organizations: Evolving Business Management Strategies Co-authored by Elizabeth Karan, Corporate Environmental Strategy: International Journal of Corporate Sustainability, Vol. 10, Issue 8, September 2003.

While there is extensive literature on the evolution of corporate environmental management, there is relatively little information published on the impact that these transitions have had on business management strategy as it relates to the organization and staffing practices for this activity. Ongoing research at the Center for Environmental Innovation suggests that the current model for environmental staffing and organization is outdated and that the time may be ripe for a fundamental shift in how these activities are managed within corporations. This article provides an overview of how environmental, organizational and staffing approaches have evolved within the context of events that have unfolded over the past several decades. It suggests what may be in store for the future: realignment along four major activity areas that are disbursed and embedded largely within existing business functions. Movement away from the manner in which environmental activities are currently managed will not be easy and will require business executive leadership.

Lessons from Enron - Examining the Parallels to Environmental Governance - Corporate Strategy Today, Issue V/VI, June 2002, Pages 31-34.

Enron is all about systemic governance failure. The public initially reacted in disbelief, "How could something so far reaching have happened with so little warning?" The early warning signs were there but they were lost among the flood of upbeat, self-serving company boosters. Are there parallels to the current state of environmental governance? I think so. Maybe it is time for a critical self-examination - "See the world as it is, not as you would wish it to be," as Jack Welch would relentlessly espouse to his managers, (this writer included). So what might these lessons be?

EHS, By the Numbers, E-Factor, The Green Business Letter, October 2001, Page 8.

Using standard ratios to benchmark organization size may work for some departments, but not for EHS groups.

Making the Move from Spin to Strategy - Corporate Strategy Today, Volume #3, October 2001, pages 14-16.

The first generation of corporate reports were dubbed "Greenwash." Twenty years later, today's reports might be called "Designer-Brand Greenwash." What will it take to move from spin to strategy?

Green Arthritis, Co-authored with Frank Friedman, The Environmental Forum, Environmental Law Institute, Washington, DC, November/December 2000, Pages 36-49.

Develops the concept of "Green Arthritis" infecting environmental progress in the United States.  Europe is now taking the lead in developing new, innovative concepts that ultimately will impact America's competitive position. Environmental progress has become ossified, as the major actors replay the battles of the past: Environmentalists persist in seeing old problems as continuing crises. Regulators still triumphantly announce new enforcement actions. And industry touts sustainable development while continuing mostly to seek simple compliance. Meanwhile, perplexed citizens recycle newspapers in the hopes that they are offsetting the pollution effects of their sport utility vehicles."

Staffing By the Numbers, appearing in the members-only web site of the Environmental Law Institute, November 2000. 

For decades companies have benchmarked where they stand relative to the staffing levels in their industry sector. Ratios such as employees per production volume represent one of the most basic units of productivity, and higher productivity leads to greater profits. Is there any wonder why executives closely track these numbers and get very upset if their company is in the lower quartile?

Benchmarking is a common business tactic, but does it make sense to use a similar gauge to measure the efficiency of environmental, health and safety professionals? And more specifically, should benchmark ratios be used as a basis for rightsizing an EHS organization? The short answers to these two questions are (1) rarely and (2) never. One word responses will not satisfy business executives who are pushing for staff reductions based on recent surveys. This article could, however, provide information you may need.

Corporate Environmental Reports - Stuck Management Processes Hold Back Real Progress, Co-authored by Romi Gottfrid, Environmental Research Associate, Council on Economic Priorities, Corporate Environmental Strategy, Elsevier Science, NY, NY, Vol. 7, No. 3 2000, pp 244-255.

Early environmental reports were thinly veiled public relations exercises. Dubbed "greenwash," they angered many stakeholders. Over the past decade, industry, regulatory agencies, and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) have issued more than thirty standards for corporate reporting. Clearly, there is more guidance and tools available today, but has actual practice met stakeholder needs?

This article examines current practices and offers some suggestions for making reporting both credible and more effective. It's harder than you think, judging from our evaluation of recent reports. Reporting has grown sophisticated, but so too have expectations and analysis techniques. What may be viewed by many as excellent reporting may be judged by others as flawed, inconsistent, and even deceitful. How do you satisfy the needs of your target audience(s) and at the same time avoid errors and omissions that can prove to be embarrassing, if not damaging to your company's reputation? The answer lies in improving the internal management processes used to prepare these reports.

Right-Sizing Organizations for Quality, Three-part Series Appearing in EM, The Magazine of the Air & Waste Management Association.


Adequate staff resources are essential for achieving quality environmental, health and safety (EHS) programs. The technical challenges, internal coordination difficulties, public relations problems, and so on are rarely insurmountable  -- IF you have sufficient fiscal and human resources to effectively deal with the issues.  Without a minimum critical mass of resources you become consumed with day-to-day fire fighting and never make progress.  Worst case, an issue can erupt into a full-blown crisis, putting the company at risk and your reputation and career on the line.
Conservative risk managers, wanting to be on the “safe side” would argue for substantial resource commitments.  The demand for rising profits, one of the primary drivers in a competitive marketplace, argues, however, for limiting resources to the “bare-bones.”  How does the strategically thinking EHS manager determine the optimal EHS resource level?   What is the most efficient EHS organization structure?  How is this resource level and organization justified to senior management?

This is a series of three articles (to be printed in successive issues of EM) that provide insight into strategies to: determine EHS needs (Part 1); organize these resources effectively (Part 2); and sell the concepts to executive management (Part 3).  This material is not based on theory.  The authors are senior level EHS practitioners who have successfully dealt with management executives and boards of directors in resolving these issues and, in doing so, have mastered the techniques presented.

The methods are similar to those effectively employed by other functional disciplines to define and obtain resources.  Written in the context of a corporate EHS group, these techniques can be modified and adapted to any functional level within a broad range of organizations.  Whether you are an individual contributor or a manager, these articles can help you better understand resource issues.

Part 1, Right-Sizing EHS Organizations, Co-authored with Rick Monty, Director of EHS for Huntsman Chemical, May 1999, Pages 19-31.

Before you can make a business case for resource changes to management, you first have to determine what level of resources is appropriate to meet the company’s objectives.  Seems obvious and straightforward.  It’s not.  Probably the greatest difficulty is to maintain objectivity during this process.  Peoples’ careers are involved.  Terminating an employee is among the worst tasks managers face.  Justifying new resources can be brutally demanding for staff functions, especially if the company is not achieving financial targets and management suspects that existing support resources are not working optimally.

In this first of three articles we take a look at methods to objectively “right-size” Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) organizations.  The makeup and the total level of resources are dependent on management goals, the organizational structure, and a number of other factors covered in this article and in the two that follow.  Right-sizing an organization is not a sequential process; you will need to integrate the information from all three articles.

Part 2, Optimizing the Organization's Structure, Co-authored with Rick Monty, Director of EHS for Huntsman Chemical and Kyle Dotson, Vice President EHS, BHP Non-Ferris and Industrial Materials, June 1999, Pages 19-33.

In the first article we discussed how to: (1) synchronize the strategic direction of environmental, health and safety activities with the company’s business objectives; (2) evaluate current resource utilization in keeping with these objectives; (3) develop a resources map to guide future activities; and (4) begin addressing EHS staff issues.  In this article we examine how the EHS organization structure can be optimized.

Organization structure is almost always a reflection of a company’s culture.  Some companies prefer decentralized structures, others prefer centralized staffs, and so on.  For the most part, an EHS organization must fit within this management philosophy, unless there is an overwhelming reason to do otherwise.  While you may think you have limited degrees of freedom in selecting an organization structure, there are a number of options that might fit within any existing structure.

Over the past decade there has been a growing trend to reduce the cost of “commodity” or “specialized” services by consolidating these staff support functions into internal “shared service” groups or by outsourcing these activities to consultants.  This movement toward consolidation and outsourcing applies to all staff support functions, not just EHS.  We will examine this trend in detail.

Part 3, Making the Business Case to Executive Management, Co-authored with Rick Monty, Director of EHS for Huntsman Chemical, July 1999, Pages 21-29.

The perfect plan is of no value if you are unable to obtain the resources necessary to move forward.  One of senior management’s primary functions is to allocate resources. You may be convinced that the plan adds value, but the definitive test is: “Does it convince those who can approve the organizational change?”

As Harry Truman once said, “Leadership is the ability to get men [and women] to do what they don’t want to do and like it.”  In this article we will discuss leadership techniques to gain support from business managers.  Management may prefer to allocate the resources to more familiar, income generating programs, but with the approaches recommended in this article, they will recognize the ultimate value of your recommendations to the company.

Leading Successful Environmental, Health and Safety Organizations -- Recommendations for EHS Executives, Co-authored with Dorothy Bowers, Vice President, Environmental and Safety Policy at Merck & Company and William Sugar, Senior Director, Anheuser - Busch Companies, Corporate Environmental Strategy, Vol. 5, No. 2, PRI Publishing, Metuchen, NJ, Winter 1998.

There is no shortage of literature on EHS program design and implementation.  What is missing is practical guidance on implementing EHS programs within the framework of evolving corporate management practice.   How do you implement change in today's ever changing corporate world?   EHS programs may seem great on paper, but they may or may not get anywhere within the corporate culture of your company.

This paper provides practical guidance to EHS managers faced with the real world challenges of getting things done in organizations. The authors of this paper are among the first generation of managers to have dealt with CEOs, officers, and boards of directors to create and implement cutting edge corporate environmental programs.  Corporate Environmental Strategy is pleased to bring its readers one of the first environmental journal articles that provides an insider's look at the challenges and opportunities faced when negotiating at the highest levels of corporations.

These “Top Ten Principles” can be put to use at any time and may prove especially useful to newly appointed EHS executives.  Although designed for implementing programs in large corporations, many of the underlying concepts can be applied within small companies and at any organizational level.

Environmental Accounting for Competitive Advantage, Chapter 6, Environmental Management and Business Strategy: Leadership Skills for the 21st Century, Co-authored with Ann Rappaport of Tufts University, John Wiley & Sons, November 1998.

Progressive companies and developed country governments have embraced pollution prevention; in simple terms, not generating waste in the first place, as a preferred approach to environmental challenges.  Although this concept has been practiced historically in some industry segments, the existing practice of pollution prevention falls short of what is technically feasible and financially sound.  One explanation for companies' slow progress may lie in the reluctance of business executives to utilize the tools that are currently evolving to assist them in making decisions that are both fiscally and environmentally sound.  Financial analyses can be modified to more fully address environmental considerations.  This section focuses on one such tool, environmental accounting.  With environmental accounting, business executives can become key environmental decision makers, supporting the strategic direction of the CEO.
Shared Services: A Survey of Industry Practices Within Environmental, Health and Safety Organizations, September 1998, 48 Pages.

Note: This is a controlled distribution report.  Contact Richard MacLean & Associates, LLC for additional details

    Consolidating environmental, health and safety (EHS) services among several business groups offers many benefits, beyond cost savings.  As attractive as these benefits are, significant challenges exist for a company moving towards consolidating EHS staff resources, especially into a “shared service” group.  Few companies have chosen the shared service structure, and most appear to be moving in the direction of hybrid organizations, tailored to their particular culture and management objectives.  This report provides a current perspective on these organizational trends and issues.  It is based on interviews with EHS managers in twenty seven multinational corporations, the author's own experiences in forming a shared service group, discussions with senior EHS colleagues, and published literature.
    The report is broken into three parts:
    1. Survey Results and Analysis contains the results of the survey;
    2. Recommended Best Practices contains conclusions and recommendations applicable to most multinationals considering the formation of a shared or consolidated service group; and
    3. Specific Example outlines an organizational structure combining a number of commonly employed elements that appear to fit well in a number of companies.
    Some of these issues will require monitoring and attention to assure optimal performance even after the formation of the new organization.  Included are several management tools to support a company consolidating resources.
Pollution Prevention Resources, August 1998.

This four page document contains a summary of environmental accounting resources for pollution prevention.  It was prepared for distribution at Pollution Prevention Pays: Myth or Bottom-line Reality?, Southern California Gas Company Pollution Prevention 2000 workshop, Los Angles, CA, August 7, 1998.

Advice to Practitioners of Environmental Accounting, August 1998.

This two page document contains a list of key recommendations for implementing environmental accounting programs.  It was prepared for distribution at Pollution Prevention Pays: Myth or Bottom-line Reality?, Southern California Gas Company Pollution Prevention 2000 workshop, Los Angles, CA, August 7, 1998.

Adding Value and Credibility to Environmental Reporting and Third Party Statements, Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), Orlando, Florida, May 19-23, 1997, Pg. 494-506.

There are over a hundred U.S. corporations producing voluntary annual environmental reports.  An increasing number of firms have contracted with third parties such as accounting or environmental consulting firms to conduct audits to verify the accuracy of these reports.  These “third party statements” are an attempt to enhance the overall credibility of their environmental disclosures.  In March of 1996 the IRRC (Investor Responsibility Research Center) and GEMI (Global Environmental Initiative) completed a joint project to evaluate the value of third party statements to key stakeholder groups.

The joint research project concludes that third party statements do not add “much, if any, incremental value to corporate environmental reports” and that the study team “did not trust any” of the potential attesting organizations.  The report indicates that these reviews could add value, if they are based on sound environmental standards and performed by credible outside organizations.

There is currently underway an initiative by several large, nationally recognized institutions to develop standards and perform credible third party statements.  This paper discusses the evolution of environmental reporting, its current status, and innovative new research to provide a framework for credible and effective reporting.

Environmental Due Diligence Within Multinational Corporations, Proceedings of the 22nd Annual Conference of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP), Orlando, Florida, May 19-23, 1997, Pg. 494-506.

Superfund and other state and federal regulations that emerged during the 80’s dramatically changed the way corporations managed property transactions.  At the beginning of that decade there were very few engineers experienced in environmental due diligence.  Over the past 15 years a sophisticated consulting industry has emerged to support companies in their effort to minimize liabilities associated with contaminated property.  There is now a wealth of published literature on environmental due diligence, including generally accepted standards for investigating property contamination from organizations such as ASTM.

While the technical know-how has risen to meet the challenge, the internal corporate policies and practices typically have not.  A recent benchmarking study of a broad array of multinational corporations has found a largely ad hoc approach is used for many transactions.  The results of this survey are surprising in light of the heightened awareness by upper management on property contamination issues.

Few corporations have detailed internal guidelines or cross-functional communication networks to cover all transactions.  Major acquisitions or divestitures are adequately covered.  However, smaller business transactions such as leases, toll productions, and rights-of-way often receive little or no scrutiny, although they are potential multi-million dollar environmental liabilities.  Control over international property transactions is especially problematic.

This paper examines the current state of  environmental due diligence among multinationals.  It presents the underlying reasons for the current ad hoc nature of due diligence investigations and what companies can do to improve their policies and communication networks.  A summary is given of  the best practices used by industry leaders to minimize liabilities.

Due Diligence in Multinationals - Ad Hoc with Big Bucks, Environment, Health & Safety Management, Vol. 7, Nos. 18 & 19, August - September, 1996.

Most manufacturing firms use an ad hoc approach to acquisitions and divestments, surprising in that so much money is at stake.  This five page article includes a summary of best practices based on a survey of leading corporations.

Greening of the CFO: Recent Practice and Emerging Trends, Co-authored with Ann Rappaport of Tufts University,  Corporate Environmental Strategy, Vol. 2, No. 4, PRI Publishing, Metuchen, N.J., Spring 1995, pages 5-13.

The ability of financial decision makers to increase their participation in corporate environmental strategy is dependent on the availability of reliable internal cost information.  Environmental full cost accounting is one tool that can be used to support the vision and strategic direction of the CEO.  This article explores the practical aspects of implementing full cost accounting, including its unintended and unexpected consequences.

Do Utilities Undervalue R&D?, Fortnightly, Vol. 132, No. 6, Public Utilities Reports, Inc., Arlington, VA, March 15, 1994, pages 13-14.

Describes the changing scene of utility research and development in advance of the major restructuring of EPRI, the utility research institute.

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