Newsmakers: Moss Adams' Michelle Gall goes deep on the sustainable imperative
Michelle Gall is a senior manager at Moss Adams where she audits the financial statements of food, beverage, and agriculture companies.
Can businesses do well by doing good? The answer appears to be murky.
On the one hand, broadly speaking, sustainable products that cost more to produce still trail their conventional counterparts in sales. Consumers haven’t yet exhibited a widespread willingness to spend more on goods that come with an ethical or environmental mark of approval.
On the other hand, many businesses are beginning to realize that there are costs associated with not making an effort to operate sustainably. Those same consumers that might not always want to dig deeper into their pockets for, say, a hybrid vehicle at least want assurances that the automobile they did buy doesn’t contain parts produced under exploitive working conditions or that its assembly plant doesn’t unnecessarily pollute a nearby river.
What’s more, not offering sustainable products or operating in a sustainable fashion can harm a brand’s reputation and provide an opening to competitors. Many large national and global retailers — most prominently Walmart — have made sustainability commitments of their own, and if your product or service doesn’t match those commitments, they may seek an alternative supplier.
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And then there’s the increasing legislative pressure. The Dodd-Frank Act, for example—a law that primarily addresses regulation in the financial sector—contains a little-known provision that requires publicly traded companies to disclose more about their supply chains, specifically whether they include so-called conflict minerals from war-torn Central Africa.
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