Future-Fit and Other Initiatives
How Future-Fit complements other initiatives
We're not here to reinvent the wheel. Insofar as we can, we build on and align with what's already out there. Read on to find out how our work complements other key initiatives.
B Corporations strive to balance profit and purpose. Future-Fit can help them on the journey, by giving them a clear destination to aim for and a way to steer toward it.
Any company may become a Certified B Corporation or "B Corp" by doing three things. First, the company must amend its legal governing documents to require its board of directors to balance profit and purpose. Second, it must achieve a minimum verified score on a questionnaire — the B Impact Assessment — which encompasses a wide range of criteria relating to the company’s impact on its workers, customers, community, and environment. And third, the company must publish a summary of its performance — a B Impact Report — on bcorporation.net.
Every B Corp is seeking to be a force for good in the world. The Future-Fit Business Benchmark can help them live up to that aim, by providing a holistic way to assess the positive and negative impacts of every decision they make.
Every year thousands of companies disclose data on their climate, forest and water impacts via CDP's platform. Future-Fit can help investors and companies gain more insight by putting these data in context.
CDP's platform enables investors and large purchasers to request annual disclosures from companies on their climate, forest and/or water impacts. Each company is required to complete an online questionnaire for every requested topic.
Companies receive a score for each questionnaire. Scores focus on completeness of data and quality of management more than on performance, so even a company whose negative impacts are high can make it onto CDP's "A List".
Future-Fit helps investors understand what trajectory a company is really on, via a set of forward-looking progress indicators which put current performance in the context of what society ultimately needs.
Companies responding to CDP are already collecting much of the data required to calculate Future-Fit indicators. And those indicators have been designed specifically to help companies make better day-to-day decisions in key areas such as procurement and product design.
EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive
The European Commission is in the process of reviewing its mandatory non-financial reporting requirements for large companies. The Future-Fit approach aligns well with the review's initial recommendations.
The EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) requires large companies based in the EU to disclose information relating to the environment, social and employee issues, human rights, and bribery and corruption. Any reporting framework may be used.
In late 2019, the European Commission acknowledged the limitations of the NFRD and committed to a full review. In the first public consultation (June 2020), respondents called for: a common disclosure standard which reduces the complexity for companies, and which can be used even by SMEs; data which is more comparable, reliable and relevant; all disclosures to be machine-readable and available via a single point of access; and stricter audit requirements.
Responding to these points, we have developed the Future-Fit "Statement of Progress": a new approach to annual disclosures which enables any business to explain where it is on its journey to future-fitness, where it's going, and how it's going to get there. We continue to monitor the EU's work and aim to support its final recommendations.
The EU Taxonomy will identify economic activities which can be called "sustainable" for investment purposes. European financial institutions and corporations must report against it from late 2022 — and Future-Fit can help them to get ready.
To create the EU Taxonomy, Technical Expert Groups are identifying activities which contribute substantially in one of six areas (e.g. climate change mitigation, waste prevention and recycling, and protection of healthy ecosystems) while doing no significant harm elsewhere. The first version will be published in late 2021.
This initiative has the potential to transform how markets allocate capital, but that is by no means guaranteed. Success of the EU Taxonomy will rely upon the widespread availability of consistent, high-quality data — both to verify an activity’s positive impacts, and to confirm that they do not come at the cost of negative impacts elsewhere.
Future-Fit can play a key role here, by equipping organizations to identify what ‘doing no harm’ means, to manage their impacts holistically, and to disclose relevant details in a concise, comparable way.
We plan to evolve our guidance so that by late 2022, when EU Taxonomy disclosures become mandatory, any organization already using the Future-Fit Business Benchmark will be ready to respond.
Global Reporting Initiative
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) creates and maintains the most widely-used sustainability reporting standards. Future-Fit can help any company which publishes a GRI report to gain more insight from the data it is already collecting.
GRI standards require the collection of hundreds of data-points spanning all major social and environmental issues. Thousands of companies around the world have been gathering these data for many years.
The Future-Fit Business Benchmark's Break-Even Goals define the line in the sand all companies must strive to reach, on issues ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to employee rights. A complementary set of indicators enable any company to monitor its progress toward each goal as a simple percentage.
These progress indicators have been designed specifically to help companies make better day-to-day decisions in key areas such as procurement and product design. And any organization already producing a GRI report is probably already in possession of most of the data needed to calculate them.
Impact Management Project
The Impact Management Project (IMP) has built a global consensus on how to measure, manage and report impacts on sustainability. Future-Fit integrates core IMP concepts into a methodology that is actionable for business.
In 2016 the IMP convened a community of over 2,000 practitioners to share best practices, delve into technical issues and identify areas where further consensus is required in impact measurement and management. The Future-Fit team has actively participated in this community since its inception.
The IMP's conceptual framing is relevant for any enterprise or investor wishing to manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks while contributing positively to global outcomes.
The Future-Fit Business Benchmark helps organisations put these concepts into practice. In particular it adds a structured approach that ensures consistency and comparability in the way organisations respond to the IMP’s Impact Dimensions, in terms of What [impact is generated], Who [is experiencing it], and How Much [change do they experience]. The Benchmark also offers guidance on how to assess the Contribution an organisation is making to that change, and on how to identify the Risk of unexpected outcomes.
The Science-Based Target (SBT) initiative helps organizations set the right ambitions to play their part in tackling the climate crisis. Future-Fit can help any such organization monitor and explain its SBT progress and trajectory in a concise, comparable way.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sets out what level of action is needed worldwide to adapt to and mitigate the worst effects of climate change, in particular by defining the "global carbon budget" which must not be exceeded.
Setting SBTs involves a ‘fair share’ approach to dividing up the global carbon budget, so every business will have to step up. Any organization which commits to an SBT should thus be recognized – and Future-Fit supports this by providing a consistent way for all users to explain the extent of and reasons for their GHG elimination commitments, and their progress and plans toward reaching them.
Sustainability Accounting Standards Board
The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) identifies which environmental and social metrics are the most financially material by industry. Future-Fit complements this view, surfacing systemic risks and opportunities which are extra-financially material.
Investors have welcomed SASB standards as a way to drive disclosures which are more comparable and relevant to their needs. However, many issues which are very significant to people and planet are not included in the standards, because they are not deemed to be financially material.
SASB’s focus is on identifying risks to a business. To solve society’s biggest challenges we must also consider risks from a business. All negative social and environmental impacts must be addressed – even those which markets do not currently ‘price in’ and which are thus not yet seen as financially material.
The Future-Fit methodology is concerned with extra-financial materiality – what matters at a societal level – and so offers a natural complement to SASB. This is particularly true for investors seeking to drive systemic change, and for universal owners whose portfolios depend on the continuing good health of the global economy as a whole.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a global call to action to protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all – and the Future-Fit Business Benchmark helps any business respond holistically to them.
By pursuing future-fitness, all businesses can make credible positive contributions to the SDGs, while simultaneously working to ensure that they aren’t inadvertently undermining progress elsewhere. You can find out more by following the link below.
Task-Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures
The TCFD is working to establish consistent, meaningful climate reporting. Future-Fit can play a supporting role here, by helping any business to identify and manage its climate-related challenges in the context of other systemic issues.
For a company to implement the full TCFD guidelines, many key business functions will have to be engaged – and it is hoped that this will lead to greater awareness and action across the organization.
The Future-Fit Business Benchmark can support such engagement, by equipping companies with actionable guidance and a set of progress indicators which can be used to improve understanding and decision-making across an organisation, in areas ranging from procurement to product design.