推動永續發展的商業理由

The Business Case for Sustainability
安德魯.溫斯頓 Andrew Winston
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計算無形資產。

企業創造價值的方法只有這麼幾種。一種是減少不利因素,像是降低成本、降低風險;另一種就是建立有利因素,像是推動營收,建立無形的價值。而永續性的視角,就是檢視世界時,詢問我們產生了什麼衝擊,也就是我們身為企業,透過整個價值鏈而對世界造成什麼影響?包括環境和社會面的影響,而這與財務績效密切相關。這個提問產生了很多潛在價值。多年來,很多研究已列出企業基於這種感受而創造價值的數十種方法。

我將重點介紹這四個格子中的幾項做法。第一個就是這種很明顯的類別,多年來一直為人所熟知的各種做法,包括降低成本、生態效率,以及減少能源足跡、用水、廢棄物。這基本上就是可以省錢、大幅提高效率,獲得更好的資產報酬率。

然後,還有某些種類的成本可以降低,例如保險成本,只要你是較低風險的企業。第二,我認為人們得到價值的另一個項目,是列在風險這個類別的所有項目。傳統上,這主要是法規風險、政府風險。但我認為,企業現在衡量的風險涵義更廣,像是企業供應鏈可靠性當中的可靠性和復原力。我們所有的東西是從哪裡來的?極端氣候是否會破壞我們的企業?我們投入要素的價格是多少?在過去15年中,商品價格出現了令人難以置信的波動,尤其是最近幾年。

然後就是一般的復原力。如果不管理這些風險議題,可能會讓你付出慘痛代價。我認為,現在讓人們對永續性事務感到興奮的原因,而且你愈來愈常聽到執行長從營收面來談這些議題,就在於你會變得更加創新,協助顧客和客戶解決環境挑戰,提高市占率,有時還能獲得更高的價格。這有時可能很難做到。我認為有很多證據是相互矛盾的。但可以肯定的是,在某些產品類別中,譬如有機食品和某些汽車,人們支付更高的價格購買更環保的產品。

特斯拉是很好的例子,可說明如何從永續性的角度來創造營收。最後,還有無形資產。這或許是最重要、也最難衡量的,我要花些時間來討論,那就是你如何建立很難衡量的價值,但它對企業具有真正的價值?你讓你的產品和企業進行差異化,建立顧客忠誠度,還要吸引和留住人才。當我與企業高階主管交流時,這最後一塊的規模很大。

你有聽說一些公司這麼做,像是PwC和思愛普,它們已經在衡量留住具有永續性思維員工的價值。這麼做為他們省下數億美元。所以在這方面創造了巨大的價值。而這裡有一系列跨類別的議題,採取這種永續性的視角,可讓你的公司整體上更加創新。它給予你營運許可證。這在許多社區裡是很有價值的,而且你可從中獲得一些先行者優勢。

所有這一切,都可歸結為一個很簡單的說法,那就是減少支出—這絕對是好事,可以讓你的資金流、現金流更加可靠,降低風險,賺更多錢,確保未來會賺到錢(這就是品牌價值的真正含義,未來的營收),當然還包括更高的商業價值和投資人價值。現在,我想強調某件很重要的事情,那就是,如果你思考這些議題與這些創造價值的方式,光是我在這裡強調的那些,所有這些都很難用數字來呈現,對吧?非常難。

但我要說,企業目前的做法,常是把這些東西的價值定為零,因為我們無法給出恰當的數字。我們要求企業提出理由說明,自家以永續性之名所做的一切事情,而那些做法很難衡量,即使有創造巨大的價值。所以我要給你一個非常簡單的架構。基本上,用很簡單的術語來說,有兩件大事企業沒有賦予價值。一個是外部效應,包括經典的經濟外部性,如汙染,包括正面和負面的外部效應。

人們談到永續性時,多半認為我們實際上只是在談這一點,是要幫助北極熊,要以不同的方式幫助我們賴以生存的這個地球,我們從地球取得所有資源,賴以創造商業和經濟。但我們把它視為外部的。但我認為,可能更有趣的是這個想法:所有這些價值都是在內部創造的,這對企業是有價值的,但我們沒有給予恰當的數字。有幾種方法可以處理這個問題。

但首先,我想強調幾件事。第一,我提到無形資產的價值。為了更清楚說明這一點的重要性,以一家顧問公司Ocean Tomo為例,它合作的對象是從事無形資產、智慧財產工作的金融公司。他們進行這項研究已經很多年,所做的事情非常簡單。他們說,在1975年,如果你檢視標準普爾500指數和市值,也就是整體價值,然後看看其中有形資產所占百分比是多少。例如,帳面價值資產、硬資產?

1975年時大約占17%。你在股票市場中以市值衡量的一切,得到的就是企業的價值。現在一切都有很大的變動,在2015年,無形資產所占比率約為84%。抱歉我之前說錯了。17%是無形資產。83%是有形資產。我之前弄反了。我要說的是,現在有84%是無形資產。這有很多原因。這是因為從製造業轉向服務經濟。

但這通常就是我們賦予品牌的價值,以及顧客忠誠度和員工忠誠度等東西。因此可以說,我們做的所有會計工作都指向這16%。這是個問題。我認為,我們以永續性的名義所做的每件事情,其中有些是非常硬的資產,如削減能源,改善資產,但也有很大一部分屬於那84%難以衡量的事物。

因此我認為,我們面臨的挑戰是,企業使用這種很經典的投資報酬率概念,或這概念的某種版本,如內部報酬率或投資報酬率,來做投資決策。我們要把資金放在哪裡?我認為這個工具非常糟糕。原因是我們極擅長「投資」,對吧?要投入多少錢和人員的時間?對不對?這很基本。我們了解它,可以衡量它。我們不擅長的是「報酬率」,而這就要回到所有這些格子。

難以衡量的事物的價值是什麼?例如,讓我們回到員工參與的概念。我提到聯合利華。它可能是全世界最有永續性思維的大型企業。在過去五到六年中,它有了很大的改變。它已成為世界上最搶手的雇主之一。有些人也許認為,這家公司生產相當無趣的產品,就只是個人護理產品、日常用品,理應不像高科技那麼令人興奮。你看一下這個簡單的指標,就是有多少人在LinkedIn上面關注公司,藍色的科技公司的關注人數非常多,對吧?

這個科技平台用於連結企業。當然,Google、蘋果、微軟都是有吸引力、令人興奮的公司。但你接著看到了聯合利華。聯合利華在快速消費品中是最搶手的雇主,在34個國家都是如此,這些國家基本上是經濟合作暨發展組織成員國。而且,聯合利華一直在執行這個六年計畫、永續生活計畫,公司股價今年創下歷史新高。

所以這做法是有效的。你可以看到,相較於一些非常大、很受歡迎的品牌,它現在已經有超過兩百萬個關注者。你要為這一點賦予多少價值?這有什麼價值?這正是我要說的重點之一,如果你正在做一些事情,當然你可以衡量投資了多少,但你是在讓你的公司變得更有復原力。假設你正在轉向只使用可再生能源,或者你正在改變供應鏈中的某些做法,也許你付給人們更多錢,整個價值鏈都支付足以維生的工資,包括在世界各地種植咖啡或其他農產品的人,或是製造服裝的人,製作任何一種產品的人。這可能會提高你的成本。

但這麼做的報酬率是什麼?那些被你的企業吸引、想為你的企業工作的人,那些人對你品牌的報酬率是什麼?我認為,這是我們難以衡量的地方。但真正的價值正是在這裡。因此,目前我們稱它是0。這不是正確做法。這些都是投資報酬率的問題。我想說的最後一點,就是雖然有這個挑戰,但我覺得很奇怪,為何我們一再被問到,推動永續性的商業理由是什麼?沒有人會問行銷這個問題。沒有人會去問,有哪些商業理由支持我們去做所有那些行銷工作,或所有那些研發工作,或所有那些新市場的新事業?

問題是,某項行動方案的商業理由是什麼?所有的永續性行動,都不該受到這種質疑。我們應該用投資報酬率等工具來質疑它。我們應該質疑個別行動方案。我們應該把資金放在哪裡?最適合投入我們資本的地方是哪裡?而不是質疑這整個領域。我認為這是個大錯誤。有一大堆價值是我們可以衡量的,企業在這些不同的格子中賺進數十億美元。但是,我們不見得有衡量我們應該衡量的東西。

(劉純佑譯)


Andrew Winston: There's only so many ways that we create value in business. We're either reducing the downsides in business, reducing costs, reducing risk or building the upside. You're driving revenues, you're building intangible value. And the sustainability lens, the way of seeing the world through this question of, what's our impact -- how do we, as a business, impact the world throughout our value chain in environmental and social ways, which ties, intimately, to financial performance, that question yields a lot of potential value. And there's many studies over years that list dozens of ways that companies create value with this sensibility.

I'm going to highlight just a handful in these four buckets. So first, the kind of obvious category, the one that's been known for many years is everything called cost reduction, everything called eco-efficiency, reducing your energy footprint, your water, your waste. That just, fundamentally, saves money, being much more efficient, getting a better return on your assets.

And then there's kind of specific costs that get reduced, like insurance costs, if you're a lower-risk business. Second, I think the other one that people get is everything that falls under risk. And traditionally, that was around regulatory risk, government risk. But I think there's a broader sense of risk the companies are measuring now, just reliability and resilience in the business supply chain reliability. Where are we getting everything from ? Is extreme weather disrupting our business? What are our input prices? There has been unbelievable volatility in commodity prices over the last 15 years, but especially the last couple.

And then just resilience in general. Not managing these risk issues can cost you an awful lot of money. I think what gets people excited about the sustainability agenda now, though -- and you hear CEOs talking more and more as the revenue side -- is being much more innovative, helping customers and clients solve their environmental challenges, increasing your market share, and sometimes getting higher prices. I mean, that can be hard at times. I think there's a lot of conflicting evidence. But certainly, in some categories like organic foods, certain cars, people are getting higher prices for the greener product.

Tesla is a great example of building revenues from a sustainability lens. And then, finally, there's this intangible story. And this is really, maybe the most important and the hardest to measure, and that's what I'm going to spend some time on, which is how are you building value that's very difficult to measure, but has real value to the business? You're differentiating your product and your business. You're building customer loyalty. And you're attracting and retaining the talent. When I talk to executives at companies, this last one is very big.

And you hear this from companies like PWC and SAP that have measured the value of retention of their sustainability-minded employees. And it has saved them, and is worth, hundreds of millions of dollars. So I'm on kind of the mega value creation here. And there's kind of a cross-bucket set of issues, which is that taking on this sustainability lens makes your business more innovative in general. It gives you a license to operate. That's a very valuable thing in many communities. And you get some first-mover advantage from that.

And, you know, all of this boils to, in a very simple terms, spending less money -- that's always good -- making your money flows, your cash flows more reliable reducing risk, making more money, ensuring future money -- that's what brand value really is, future revenues -- and then, of course, just higher business value and investor value. Now I just wanted to highlight something really important now, which is, if you think about these issues and these ways of generating value, just the ones I highlighted here, all of them are very hard to put numbers on, right? Very hard.

But I would argue that what we do in businesses is we often put a zero value on these things because we can't put a good number on them. And we ask businesses to justify everything they do in the name of sustainability in ways that are very hard to measure, even though there's tremendous value creation. So let me just give you a very simple framework. Basically, in very simple terms, there's two big things that we don't put value on very well in business. There's externalities, there's the classic economic externalities like pollution, both positive and negative externalities.

And when people talk about sustainability, they think we're really just talking about this. It's about helping the polar bears. It's about helping the planet in some removed way from the planet that we live on in and drive all of our resources from and have business and economy from. But we treat it like it's external. But for me, I think what's potentially more interesting, is the idea of all of this value that's created internally, that is value to the business, that we don't put good numbers on. And there's a couple of ways to deal with that.

But first, I just want to highlight a couple things. One, I mentioned the value of intangibles. Just to put that in perspective -- there's a consultancy, Ocean Tomo that works with financial companies that does intangible asset, intellectual property work. And they've done this study for a number of years where they do something very simple. And they said, in 1975 if you looked at the S&P 500 and the market cap, the total value, and said OK, what percentage of that is tangible assets. Like book value assets, hard assets?

It was around 17% in 1975. So everything you're measuring in the stock market in market cap is getting at the value of the business. Now what's changed dramatically, is by 2015, the intangible amount is something like 84%. I'm sorry I misspoke before. The 17% is the intangible. The 83% was the tangible. I flipped that by mistake. What I meant to say was 84% now is intangible. Ok? And there's a lot of reasons for this. It's the movement from manufacturing to service-based economy.

But it's just the value we're putting on brands, in general, and things like customer loyalty and employee loyalty. So everything we're doing an accounting, arguably, is just pointed at this 16%. Right? So that's a problem. And everything I think that we do under the banner of sustainability, some of it's very hard assets like reducing energy, improving your assets. But a lot of it falls into this 84% of the things that are hard to measure.

And so then, I think the challenge we have is that in business, we use this very classic idea of ROI, right, some version of that -- IRR or ROI to make investment decisions. Where do we put our capital? And I would argue that this tool is very broken. And the reason is that we're incredibly good at the I, right? How much, in terms of money and people time, are we putting into investment? Right? Very basic. We know that. We can measure it. What we're bad at is the R, the Return. And it comes back to all those buckets.

What is the value of things that are hard to measure? Let's go back to this idea of employee engagement, for example. I mentioned Unilever. They're probably the most sustainably-minded large company in the world. And they have seen one very big change over the last five to six years. They have become one of the most in-demand employers in the world in a company that makes, some would argue, fairly boring products, just personal care products, everyday products, not as supposedly exciting as tech. And of course, when you look at just something as simple as the measure of how many people follow a company on LinkedIn, the tech companies in blue are big, right?

This is a tech platform for linking to companies. So, of course, Google, Apple, Microsoft, thry're sexy, exciting companies. But then you've got Unilever. Right? And Unilever has measured this as the most in- demand in the fast-moving consumer goods, the most in-demand employer in 34 countries, basically the OECD countries. And by the way, this six-year plan they've been on, the sustainable living plan, they hit their stock all-time high this year.

So this is working. And you can see, versus some of these really big, very popular brands, they've got over 2 million followers now. So how do you put a value on that? What is the value of that? And that's part of my point that if you're doing things that, yes, you can measure the investment, but you're making your business more resilient. You're moving to all renewable energy, say. Or you're changing something about your supply chain, maybe you're paying people more, a living wage throughout the value chain -- people growing coffee around the world or other agricultural products or people making your apparel, whatever it is. It may raise your costs.

But what's the return on that? What is the return to your brand to people being attracted to your business to wanting to work for your business? And this is, I think, where we have trouble measuring. But the real value is there. And so currently we call it 0. That isn't the right way to do it. So these are the problems with ROI. So I want to make one final point, which is, given this challenge, I think it's very strange that we're even asked repeatedly, what's the business case for sustainability? Nobody really asks that about marketing. You don't have someone go, what's the business case for all of marketing, or all of R&D, or all of new market ventures.

The question is, what's the business case for a particular initiative? All of sustainability shouldn't be questioning it this way. We should be questioning it with tools like ROI, sure. We should be questioning individual initiatives. Where should we put our capital? What's the best place to put our capital? Not the entire domain. And that, I think, has been a big mistake. There is a ton of value we can measure, literally billions of dollars companies are making in all these different buckets. But we don't always measure the things we should.



安德魯.溫斯頓 Andrew Winston

作家,著作為《大轉折》(The Big Pivot),並曾與人合著暢銷書《綠色商機》(Green to Gold),以及著有《綠色復甦》(Green Recovery)。他為全球頂尖企業提供諮詢,建議如何因應各種環境及社會的挑戰,並從中獲利。


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