Karma is into Business Climate Initiatives
Updated: Jun 3, 2022
It’s trendy for corporations large and small to boast lofty sustainability goals. We often hear a company’s “ambition” sound something along the lines of: to have “net zero emissions across our entire assets under management by 2050.” This particular claim comes from BlackRock Investment Management. Yet, the waters are muddy here. BlackRock manages investments of others - some of which happen to be oil and gas companies. This warrants questions, such as: Are they discussing their business initiatives or the initiatives of the businesses they are managing? Can you convince fossil fuel companies to agree to another company’s mission statement so earnestly?
It can be really confusing when BlackRock’s website reads like a B Corporation, pumping all efforts into crafting a sustainable vision. They even have an employee video entitled, “What is your why?” on their site.
Hey BlackRock, want to do a podcast with us? We like that mission, too.
A more pertinent question for BlackRock is whether or not their lofty, altruistic claims are just greenwashing? From Google to Costco, companies have been making claims to sound as if they are Planet Earth’s biggest fans. And some companies do stand behind their claims, taking great measures both internally and externally. Regardless of the truth of the environmental claims, corporations get hit with karma in the end. Some make off with a warning, and sometimes, like Deutsche Bank, they get upended offices and well-deserved gossip surrounding fraudulent sustainable investments. If you are a little confused on how to tell the difference between a greenwashing, trendy company and a solid, sustainable one, here are a few ways to read between the lines. One obvious way to recognize potential greenwashing is if a company recently rebranded...sometimes with a blatant color choice - green. NPR published an example where a notable company turned their label green to promote a more natural offering. Another way to see if claims are fluff, is to look into the specifics of the claim. If a company is committing to something outrageous - ahem, BlackRock - then it may well be too good to be true. It doesn’t take much to consider that a company holding total assets over $152 billion may not invest drastic changes to improve sustainability. CEO Larry Fink is positioning the company alongside his own claims that the next 1,000 unicorn companies will be in climate tech business. While he is likely correct, he has positioned his company website with sustainability jargon.. And yet, he has been called out in a report highlighting that BlackRock held $85 billion in assets connected to coal and the New York Post reported that Fink commented, “Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke. It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism.” Even with that statement awash with misleading definitions, we aren’t giving up. We are also not reporting here on whether or not Fink is the real deal or not. We are not educated enough in that realm. What we are doing is setting the stage, with a lot of green. Referencing our discussion with Michala Barnett of Knoxfill, things are improving. EVs are trending, research showed that over 300 of the largest global companies collectively reduced emissions by 25% from 2015 to 2019, and there has been a 16% rise of companies choosing B Corp Certifications in 2021. Since we happen to believe in karma, let’s hope Larry Fink’s consciousness talk becomes reality. To further shed positive light, businesses such as Grow Ensemble are springing up. At Grow Ensemble, they state their mission is:
to make sustainability and better-for-the-world business practices the norm for both individuals and businesses, to support an impact economy. Our focus is accelerating the cultural shift that leads to consumer expectations of sustainability and fair practices of the companies they engage with. For us, this means spreading awareness of social and environmental issues we face, highlighting the companies and organizations providing solutions to these issues, and inviting our community to engage with these solutions daily.
In a recent post, Grow Ensemble highlighted fifteen of the Most Sustainable Companies for 2022. These are vetted companies that have corporate transparency and certifications that line up with their yes, lofty claims. We hope this eases potential worries over our planet, as well as knowing that the only greenwashing here is with terrible jokes and Dr. Bronner’s lemongrass soap.
https://www.jpmorganchase.com/news-stories/corporations-are-stepping-in-to-combat-climate-change https://fortune.com/2022/05/31/deutsche-bank-dws-esg-greenwashing-raid-evidence-seized-whistleblower-fixler/ https://www.bcorporation.net/en-us/news/blog/scaling-b-corp-certification-reflections-2021#:~:text=Year%20over%20year%20growth%20in%20B%20Corp%20Certification%20submissions,%2C%20and%20Taiwan%20at%2044%25