Human rights impact of business activities is one of the hot topics of today. While the discussion has roots as far back as the times of Dutch East India Company (early 17th century), the landscape is still rocky and contentious, and different types of tensions embedded in the discussion are hard to escape.
Human rights issues, particularly within the context of companies’ supply chains, have been broadly recognized. However, since supply chains are increasingly located in Global South, the responsibility of addressing them has been a hot potato few companies have been willing to ‘own’ fully.
The approaches companies have adopted to various human rights challenges they face through their activities are varied, as there is no binding regulation that would steer the companies in these aspects. The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) were launched in 2011, but still, nine years later, there is little concordance as to the level and means business enterprises implement these guidelines. This has spurred on the growing interest in this topic and given rise to new ideas of how to go about charting the terrain.
Also, Finland has taken a closer look at the Finnish business’ human rights performance in an ongoing SIHTI-project, which has used the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) methodology to obtain a comprehensive and in-depth overview of how Finnish companies are fulfilling their human rights responsibility.
The SIHTI-report will be published on 18 January 2021, and a corresponding publishing event will be streamed online on 26 January at 9-11 am. The event will be held in Finnish, and you can register here.
This interesting podcast, which features discussion between the project research team, discusses both SIHTI, the CHRB-methodology, and human rights questions in relation to business activities in a broader sense. It is hosted by Nikodemus Solitander, Director of Centre for Corporate Responsibility (CCR) at Hanken with guests Jaana Vormisto, Managing Director at FIANT Consulting and Suvi Halttula, Founder and Senior Advisor at 3bility Consulting.
For many investors, the financial outcome of their investments is not their only objective. Some investors are also interested in the impact and role of their investments in promoting sustainability and responsible actions.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing is a term for investments aiming for long-term positive impact on society and the environment with positive financial returns. For instance, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock recently stated in their 2020 Letter to Our Clients that “sustainability should be our new standard for investing”. They see especially climate risk as a transition and investment risk for investors, and for their portfolios. Sustainability-oriented portfolios can provide higher risk-adjusted returns. On efficient markets, returns are viewed as compensation for taking on risks, and therefore sustainability-oriented investing should not yield excess returns.
The Bank of Finland (BoF) has had responsible investment practices in place for several years. It takes into account the risks and sustainability aspects related to investment activities. By signing the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in December 2019, BoF committed to incorporating environmental and social, and corporate governance issues into its investment decisions and ownership policies and practices.
One might ask, is ESG investing about achieving higher risk-adjusted returns? Can responsible investing work to mitigate risks during poor economic times for investors, i.e., work as a kind of insurance against bad times? How does the BoF actually implement responsible investment strategy?
Find out answers to these and other timely questions by listening Niclas Meyer, post-doctoral researcher at Hanken with Anna Hyrske, Principal Responsibility Specialist at Asset Management Department, Bank of Finland podcast on ESG investing!
Volunteering is defined as a free act of an individual or a group to give time and/or service to others. It’s about taking action for issues that feel important to oneself.
Volunteering has often been criticized for being harmful in certain contexts or being motivated by egoism. While the former is problematic, is the latter also a problem? Should volunteering be purely altruistic?
At the same time, there has been a lack of sense of community and increased polarization in different societies across the world. We are also facing a climate crisis and many other sustainability challenges. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased isolation and has also led us to question many things about our existence, communities, and societies.
This raises many questions! Is there a need to look at volunteering differently especially in the context of sustainable development? Has the COVID-19 pandemic put volunteering in a different light? What are the benefits of volunteering for individuals, companies, communities, and societies as a whole?
Get answers to these and many more interesting questions in this podcast hosted by Marisun Gajitos, Lecturer at the Centre for Languages and Business Communication at Hanken. Marisun teams up with Henrietta Grönlund, Professor of Urban Theology from the University of Helsinki, Daniela Sumelius, Hanken alumni and Client Development Manager at the Publicis Groupe agency CJ Affiliate and Kaisa Vainikka, Social Responsibility Manager at UPM for a very insightful conversation.
‘’If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’’!
What role would you think sustainability policies play in accentuating political division in your country? How has the question of peat energy become a polarizing issue in Finland and how does it relate to sustainability? What is the Finnish approach to bioeconomy and how sustainable is it?
We’re witnessing an increased geographical division of politics in many countries in Europe and North America, between the so-called liberal, metropolitan centres on the one hand, and increasingly marginalized rural peripheries, on the other. We can see this division in the US elections, between and within states, but also with the recent success of various populist movements across Europe (Dimock & Wike 2020).
An important part of the dividing line in these polarizarions has to do with sustainability policies largely supported by the liberal populations of the urban centres and largely resisted by many people in more rural areas. For example, the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement in France started initially as a reaction against rising taxes on petrol and diesel. In the Finnish context, it is well known that the Green party gets its best scores in the largest cities and its worst scores in sparsely populated rural areas (Statistics Finland 2019). Perhaps as a mirror effect, the populist party Perussuomalaiset (True Finns) has come to define itself as vihreiden vastinpari, meaning the antithesis of the Greens (see Rämö 2019).
To get a better understanding of how sustainability is linked to political polarization, with particular illustrations from Finland, listen to Martin Fougère, an Associate Professor in Management and Politics at Hanken, Hanna Lempinen, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki, and Heikki Sirviö, postdoctoral researcher in geography with at the University of Helsinki.
One may think what has IPR to do with Sustainable Fashion. Well, fashion industry is an Intellectual Property (IP) intensive industry, that deals with plenty of creativity in the form of designs, fabric etc. However, historically, the global fashion industry has had to operate in a low-IP protection environment, especially when it comes to designs.
Fast fashion has benefitted hugely from the low-IP protection of the industry as it has been rather risk-free to knock-off designs of high fashion or indie brands and make cheap low-quality copies of them. This way, the low-IP protection has played a role in the fashion industry’s race-to-the-bottom when it comes to sustainability.
Fashion is also one of the most polluting industries globally, thanks to the “fast fashion” phenomenon. Fast fashion brands produce extremely high volumes of trendy garments and sell them for incredibly low prices. However, this comes at a huge cost, especially in the context of human rights abuses and our environment.
What is the impact of low IP protection on local and sustainable fashion? How can the IP protection of fashion designs and generally of the industry be improved? What makes fash fashion so dangerous from the human rights perspective? What is the impact of sustainability on the brand value?
Find out answers to these and many more interesting questions by listening to Heidi Härkönen, a lawyer and doctoral researcher at the University of Lapland, and Annariina Ruokamo, Research, Development, and Innovation Specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and a clothing designer.
Let’s make fashion sustainable again!
How to create human-centric and sustainable Internet of Things solutions?
The internet of things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. IoT solutions are found everywhere. Look around you and you might be surrounded with one! A smart coffee machine, a smart air purifier, smart locks and the list goes on and on!
Undoubtedly, there is a lot of potential in IoT to make our lives digital, convenient, hassle-free and to also contribute to making our planet more sustainable. However, the importance of people as an integral component of the overall IoT infrastructure is not yet fully understood and recognised.
Moreover, for IoT solutions to be successful, humans must trust its security, safety, and privacy and currently that is not the reality. We are currently far from responsible solutions!
In this episode of Sustainability Unwrapped, Kimia Aghayi, Doctoral candidate at the department of marketing at Hanken invites Tomi Teikko, Founder and head of Empathic Building at Haltian to discuss why the human aspect is so integral in IoT technologies. They talk about the challenges, cultural aspects and why we are too slow and what can be done going forward to create more useful, sustainable and responsible IoT solutions.
Is artificial intelligence fair, inclusive and ethical?
Imagine a robot running a recruitment process? Sounds like the solution we have been waiting for fair recruitment processes? But wait…Can it really be free of bias?
The answer is unfortunately not so simple and lies in the algorithms that are behind the artificial intelligence tools. As our lives become more and more intertwined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots, there is a need to dig deeper and critically evaluate the ethicality of it.
This and many other ethical issues of artificial intelligence will be discussed as Robert Ciuchita, Assistant Professor in Marketing at Hanken invites Martina Caic, Assistant Professor in Design at Aalto University, and Stefano Tempesta, Chief Technology Officer at Connecting Software.
In this episode of the Sustainability unwrapped podcast, we uncover questions like: are algorithms neutral? Who is designing them? Does AI really have a brain of its own? How can AI be fair and inclusive? What is ethical AI? Are there any principles and standards for it?
We will also take a step forward and discuss how the ideal future could look like and how can AI solve some of the biggest sustainability challenges our planet is facing. Time to get people and sustainability aspect into the AI debate!
How can private investors invest responsibly and sustainably? Moving beyond the why!
Sustainability matters for all investors, both private and institutional. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impending climate crisis, the interdependence of capital markets, economies, environmental impacts, and social impacts is clearer than ever.
In 2019, sustainable investment by institutional investors was USD 30,7 trillion in assets under management in Europe, the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (GSIA, 2019). This is a 34% increase since 2016 and a 68% increase since 2014 (GSIA, 2017), indicating that sustainable investment is becoming mainstream.
This trend can also be seen in the private investment space. Many individuals are moving beyond the question of why they should invest sustainably and are now focused on how to best incorporate sustainability considerations into their investments in ways that support their overall objectives and values.
However, this is path is not as clear and straightforward. There are many questions that pop up in a private investor’s mind. How and where to start? Is sustainable investing the same as ethical investing? What is Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing? Do I have to forgo profits when investing sustainably? What are the information sources? How much time do I need to put in? How does sustainable investing differ in stocks V/s fund?
To answer all these tricky yet tangible questions, Hanna Silvola, Associate Professor in Accounting at Hanken invites Tiina Landau, a Sustainability and ESG expert who currently works at Neste and has previously worked at one of the biggest pension funds in Finland, Ilmarinen. They have also together written a book in Finnish on sustainable investment titled ‘Vastuullisuudesta ylituottoa sijoituksiin’. This book will be soon released in English with the title ‘Sustainable Investing: Beating the market with ESG’
Black Lives Matter – how and why slavery and colonialism still reflect on Western corporations and what steps should be taken towards decolonization?
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought the legacy of slavery and colonialism to the Western consciousness in a way perhaps not witnessed since the end of formal colonialism in most of the African countries in the 1960s. It has reinforced the fact that the legacy of colonialism lives on today in the forms of economic and epistemic dominance, as a power structure that reproduces inequality and racism.
The BLM movement has come as a reality check for Western corporations. Many of the companies publicly support the movement, but their track records show another story behind. Even today, the black CEOs constitute one percent of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in the US (Fortune 2020). No doubt these companies mirror the racial hierarchy with white male executives.
In this episode, Eva Nilsson, doctoral researcher in Management and Organisation at Hanken invites Stella Nkomo, Professor in the Department of Human Resource Management at the University of Pretoria, South Africa; Bobby Banerjee, Professor of Management at Cass Business School in the UK, and Holger Weiss, Professor of General History at Åbo Akademi University, Finland, to discuss why slavery and colonialism are still prevalent in Western corporations and what can be done
Is there really a need for a Diversity Program in corporations and why decolonization has become like an ice-cream flavor?
What is the future of textile reuse in Finland and beyond?
Let’s be honest. You don’t wear every single piece of clothing you own. None of us do! Recent studies reveal that we are using only 12% of what’s in our closets. It means that 88% of our clothes remain there, untouched.
The fashion and textile industry is responsible for approximately 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of all wastewater. The industry consumes more energy than the airline and shipping industries combined, according to a United Nations study. In addition to the environmental costs, the fast-fashion sector also has huge social costs. For example, the catastrophe of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2012 killed 1 138 garment workers and injured 2 600.
But there might be light at the end of the tunnel! Recent trends and developments seem to promise a rather bright future for textile reuse. Consumers are more and more aware of environmental and social issues. The second-hand clothes market has witnessed a boom, evidenced by the increasing amount of donated clothes and demand for reused textiles.
In this episode, Anna Zhuravleva, doctoral researcher in Supply Chain Management and Social Responsibility at Hanken invites two guests from UFF: Maija Makkonen, Communications specialist, and Pia Tanskanen, Sustainable solutions specialist.
The episode digs into questions like “How does the reuse and recycling system operate in Finland? What is special about the Finnish second-hand market? What will be the impact of the up-coming regulations for separate collection of textile waste? In general, why reuse matters?”
Our experts will also share some tips on how to donate clothes correctly. We bet you will be inspired to get your unused clothes sorted and donated after listening to this episode.
Legal Design and ethics in commercial contracts
Imagine a world where you would know if your insurance would cover the repair of your broken iPhone’s screen or of your drowned drone. Where you would know what your data is being used for when you download an app on your phone, where you would read and understand the “terms and conditions” before clicking “I agree”, where you would understand the legal terms of your contracts.
Let’s be honest here! Most of the time we have no idea what our rights or obligations under these contracts are. Could simple, empathetic and user-centric legal design be the solution?
In this episode, Katri Nousianen, doctoral researcher at Hanken in commercial Law, invites Viveca Fallenius, the founder of Gentle Rev, a company focusing on legal design, law, impact, and yoga, driven by a desire to infuse more empathy and innovation in the legal sector and beyond; and Marie Potel-Saville, the Founder & CEO of Amurabi, a legal innovation by design agency which combines legal expertise and user-centric design to reduce the gap between the law and its users. https://www.amurabi.eu
Find out, what are the advantages of using design thinking methods. What impact legal design has on commercial practice? What do we need to do, individually, as users, and as lawyers?
The Legal Design approach can be used to empower people, societies, communities, and entities in their legal matters and life in general. It would make legal products, services, and processes more ethical, efficient, transparent, and fair. This would overall save money, time, and unnecessary long-drawn legal battles, which is a win-win for our societies as a whole.
Will intelligible, accessible, and engaging legal documents be the new normal tomorrow?
Where are we headed with Sustainability and Ethics in the Banking Sector?
Sustainability, and especially Ethics, are not the first words that come to one’s mind when thinking about the Banking Industry. Although banking activities are largely based on trust, banks do not benefit from a positive image. Scandals of money laundering, links to cartels, and terrorist organisations have generated quite a lot of bad publicity for the sector.
In recent times, sustainability has gained a lot of attention and momentum in the banking sector, especially after the financial crises of 2008-09. The United Nations has recently launched a new framework for driving sustainability in the banking system: Principles for Responsible Banking. The objective is to help the industry to demonstrate how it can make a positive contribution to society.
Do global guidelines sincerely increase banks’ positive impact on the society? Are they just a way to polish their image? Is it banks’ role to steer other businesses, via their financing decisions, toward more responsible activities? How can banks stop money laundering?
In this episode, Emilia Vähämaa, Associate Professor in Finance at Hanken is discussing these very questions with Nebojsa Dimic, Assistant Professor at the University of Vaasa and Mika Leskinen, Chief Investment Officer and Head of ESG at FIM.
Will the banks play an increasing role in steering the sustainable changes that the world needs? As we say “the one who has the money can set the rules”, so hopes are high! But can we trust the banks in changing the world for the better?
Why Corruption needs to be addressed in the quest for Sustainability?
Every year, $3.6 trillion end up in individual’s pockets via systems of corruption. Lots of money, right? According to Transparency International’s corruption perception index, which scores and ranks 180 countries by levels of perceived corruption, 98% of countries are corrupt, only 2% are least corrupt, and no country is clean.
On the other hand, the United Nations estimates that $5 to $7 trillion per year is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) globally, with the estimates being $3.3 to $4.5 trillion per year in developing countries.
Corruption, which is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain, is the biggest impediment to achieving the SDGs.
In this episode, Neema Komba, doctoral researcher in Entrepreneurship, Management and Organisation at Hanken, invites Matthew Jenkins, knowledge and research manager at Transparency International, and Prisca Kowa, senior officer at Policy Forum, a network of over 70 Civil society organisations in Tanzania.
The episode digs into questions like why should we care about corruption when talking about sustainability and the SDGs? What are the different forms of corruption in different contexts? Why is corruption an issue that concerns us all, everywhere in the world? What can we do about it as individuals and citizens?