Welcome

Welcome to my blog. I’m Mike Tuffrey – variously a leader, adviser, director, speaker and writer on business, government and sustainability. Based in London, I’ve worked across all three sectors for 30 years – and that makes me a ‘tri-sector athlete’, or so I’m assured.

The big question I’m focused on is how business, government and civil society can work more effectively together to bring better outcomes for all… prosperity, health, well-being, today and for my children’s generation, especially as half the world now lives in cities.

Literally and metaphorically, we are all ‘in it together’. Click on This blog for more about my approach and on About Mike for details of my various activities. Follow the links to the organisations and partners I work with. Then please do get in contact if you’d like to collaborate.

Posted in Business | Leave a comment

Climate risks – an opportunity for plain speaking, and taking action

An event I chaired this week prompts me to ask – is concern about global warming getting lost in an alphabet soup of new initiatives? 

Try and make sense of this…. The G20 has asked the FSB to look at GHG emissions, so they’ve set up the TCFD which is working with CDP, SASB and CDSB on new reporting guidance – that BEIS could make mandatory.

Full marks if you got all the acronyms right, you are well up to speed.  For everyone else, here’s a plain English translation.

Governments around the world are increasingly taking the risks posed by run-away climate change seriously. However they worry that the financial system has got its head in the sands, ignoring the likely impact of the big policy changes they are making in trying to shift the economy to a path compatible with 1.5 – 2 degrees of global warming. If so, current asset values could be massively overstated – anything upwards from $4.2 trillion according to one estimate – and a repeat of the global financial crash is possible when reality hits home. That matters to you and me because our pension savings are at risk.

So they want companies to start estimating the financial implications of their climate-related risks and opportunities and to disclose them in annual reports in a way that investors can act on. A taskforce headed up by Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and former New York mayor and eponymous business data provider, Michael Bloomberg, has created a set of reporting guidelines.  These are voluntary for now, but the UK’s business department is said to be supportive of adding them to the existing rules about reporting greenhouse gas emissions if the uptake is slow.

Acronyms aside, the danger is this becomes just another reporting requirement, with Continue reading

Posted in Business | Leave a comment

Do investors care about sustainability?

They say they do, but companies are not good at giving them what they need – or so I found out during a conference we held this week at my consultancy, Corporate Citizenship. 

Yesterday was a first for us at Corporate Citizenship.  We’ve been working with companies for over 20 years now, and for the first time we brought together in one room representatives of the investor community for a face-to-face dialogue with those in companies charged with explaining how they approach sustainability.  And a powerful discussion it was too, all part of our continuing Long Term Value Project.

‘IR meets CR’, we called it.  Speakers came from Schroders, MSCI, Aberdeen Standard Investments, Royal Bank of Scotland, Total, Stora Enso and more.  You can get a tweet-by-tweet account of how it went here. Some 150 people participated, kindly hosted at Chartered Accountants Hall in London by the ICAEW and run in partnership with the Investor Relations Society. It was especially pleasing for me to be back at the ICAEW: when I was training to get my accountancy qualification, these topics were not on the syllabus at all.

Our proposition was that there’s a disconnect between corporate responsibility

Continue reading

Posted in Business | Leave a comment

’Tis the season of… too much consumption, and year end predictions

 As the year 2017 draws to a close, I’ll hazard a prediction about a rising trend for 2018 – a backlash by consumers about how companies use their data.

As I write, here in London the shops are full. Households are preparing for the Christmas season, when Christians astutely adopt the pagan winter solstice festival to mark new beginnings and everyone settles in against the cold for an excess of consumption.

If the advertisements are to be believed, high on Santa’s list of presents this year will be smart speakers – with Amazon Echo battling it out with Google Home, since Apple has announced that its HomePod will not be shipped until early 2018. New on the scene is the Echo Dot, small enough to slip into anyone’s Christmas stocking.

If you’ve not yet joined the fun (and I’m firmly resisting so far) these devices harness voice controlled AI assistants – Amazon Alexa joining iPhone’s Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Google Now out in the cloud – to give you a hands-free way to play music, control your ‘smart home’ devices, tell you the weather forecast, and much more.

Continue reading

Posted in Business | Leave a comment

The impact potential – next steps on corporate community investment

Two decades ago, a few pioneering companies came together in London to form a benchmarking group and that has now gone worldwide.  So what’s next for community investment?

 Last week I spent an energising day in the company of 70 corporates from our LBG network and came away with three thoughts on how business/community partnerships should change if they are to remain relevant to the challenges of our times.

LBG started out with just six companies 20 years ago and has today grown into the global standard for measuring corporate community investment.  That’s why companies committed to increasing their social impact use it, over a thousand now, large and small, across all sectors.  Last week’s participants included not just the usual UK blue-chips, but firms as diverse as Nokia from Finland, EDP from Portugal, DP World out of Dubai and the Australian retailer Myers. Continue reading

Posted in Business | Leave a comment

Dull but important – why corporate governance matters

We’re starting to see a new approach to how our major corporations are governed and held to account. However few are getting excited about it.

Talk about corporate governance and most people’s eyes glaze over. When the Financial Reporting Council earlier this year announced a fundamental review of the UK Corporate Governance Code – 25 years on from the original Cadbury Report – not everyone cancelled their holidays to await developments.

That proved wise, as true to form, this will be a slow-burn. However some elements are starting to come together. Last week the government announced its approach to some hot topics that featured in political debate around the new prime minister and the general election.

The outcome is less than the hype, also true to form. Mandatory worker representatives on Continue reading

Posted in Government | Leave a comment

Responsible business and the dogs that didn’t bark

With the UK election over and the government up and running, what are the prospects for responsible business now, and how will the recently released Taylor Review of employment status change expectations.

On the face of it, normal politics in the UK has now resumed: the minority government has reached an agreement with the Northern Ireland’s 10 DUP MPs and the Queen has made her annual journey to Parliament to announce the legislative programme, albeit shorn of the usually flummery of crowns and gowns (tacit recognition of the existential nightmare underway in Brussels with the start of Brexit negotiations).

As if to underline the attempt at normality, the long awaited Taylor Review of Modern Employment Practices was published on July 11 , and – I think significantly – Theresa May used the opportunity for a big speech, trailed in the media as a relaunch of her premiership. That same day my colleagues and I at Corporate Citizenship convened our clients and partners to review the post-election prospects for those engaged in the journey towards responsible and sustainable business. I got to kick off the debate with an extended version of my previous two-part analysis (here).

Continue reading

Posted in Government | Leave a comment

Steady as she goes

With the UK general election over, what did it tell us about the continued relevance of corporate responsibility and sustainability? Four things at least, despite the lack of debate.

Prediction is a mug’s game.  In guessing numbers of seats in the House of Commons, mine were as flawed as most.  Now attention switches to the drama of the outcome and the interplay of personalities – a damaged prime minister, speculation about leadership bids, peace apparently breaking out in the civil war that was the Parliamentary Labour party.

As I write, a new government is being formed, looking remarkably like the outgoing one, save for its Orange underpinnings (an association that will surely undermine the 15 year project – author one T. May – to detoxify the nasty party).

Looking ahead to possible policy changes, what is likely to happen now?  Are the manifestos any guide at all?  Actually the pre-election analysis of the major parties’ offerings that I prepared for Corporate Citizenship is still relevant, I think, though that might not be obvious since so little was debated or contested during the campaign.

Ostensibly all about Brexit and strengthening the negotiating hand, in fact the election Continue reading

Posted in Government | Leave a comment

The change election – time for business to decide

With the election battle gathering pace in the UK, big business is keeping its head down, despite having much at stake. Mike Tuffrey reads the early runes as the contest unfolds.

The pundits will tell you that political parties adopt one of two positions in elections – either “it’s time for a change” or “things are getting better, don’t let the other lot ruin it”. This time, however, that isn’t the choice on offer; everybody seems to be promoting a change agenda of some sort.

As I write this, the parties are busy publishing their manifestos. I’ll do an analysis once they are all out. Still, enough has been leaked or deliberately trailed to hazard a prediction: this is not a change or status quo battle, or a conventional left/right choice where one side says we need more government and one argues for less.

Continue reading

Posted in Business, Government | Leave a comment

The price of democracy: defending civil society

Companies should do more to protect civil society, even if that means defending their critics from oppressive governments.

Think of business involvement in politics, and the murky world of backhanders and behind-the-scenes lobbying may spring to mind. However, define the issue as protecting basic freedoms –the sort of freedoms that companies need if they are to prosper in open and competitive markets – and a different perspective emerges.

So it was refreshing to hear a call, as I did last week, for companies to get more involved, not in party politics or the direct business of government but in defending the space for civil society to operate freely. That came during an event we at Corporate Citizenship organised with Danny Sriskandarajah, secretary general of CIVICUS, the global alliance of over 3,600 civil society organisations and activists working to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world. Continue reading

Posted in Business, Together | Leave a comment