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Posted By CBSACNY Sustainable Business Committee, Monday, May 14, 2018

What is the Future for Sustainability Reporting in the US?


(Moderator) Bruce Kahn, Portfolio Manager, Sustainable Insight Capital Management
Daniel L. Goelzer, Senior Counsel/Retired Partner, Baker & McKenzie, LLP
William G. Russell, Principal, Transitioning to Green
Judy Sandford, Sr. Strategist and Managing Director, Sustainability and CSR, Addison


Moderator Bruce Kahn kicked off the seminar on “The Future of Sustainability Reporting: Trends to Watch” by highlighting BlackRock, Inc. CEO Larry Fink’s January Annual Letter to CEOS, which called upon corporates to embrace a new era of corporate responsibility and benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate.” However, Bruce noted the increasing flow of capital out of active and into passive management, which effectively removes both the carrot and stick for institutional investors’ influence on corporate actions.

Bruce challenged the speakers and audience to consider where we are in the cycle of impact investing, corporate social responsibility and governance, and what that means for sustainability reporting. Who is making disclosures through sustainability reporting? Why? For who?

For those who missed the April 24, 2018 meeting or want to refresh their memories, you can download the speaker presentations at the end of this blog. Here's a brief recap:

What the Experts Say:

Addison is a corporate strategy consulting firm where Judy Sandford helps lead the Sustainability and CSR practice. With clients across industries and sectors, Judy’s work must address a multitude of stakeholder perspectives. She offered insight into the evolution of sustainability reporting over the last 10 years, and highlighted the benefits that lead corporations to undertake voluntary reporting activities – to identify risks and opportunities, provide a basis for measuring progress, enable better long-term decision-making, and allow better comparison to other companies.

Judy emphasized the importance of sustainability reporting in enhancing intangible value. Studies show that good ESG performance results in lowering cost of capital, better operational performance, and better stock price performance. Companies should get ahead of the curve and take credit for what they’re doing right – if they don’t tell their story, others will. The details disclosed and stories told must be tailored to the needs of different target audiences, including customers, employees, investors, media, rankers and raters.

Four Trends

1. Reporting vs. Reports – Reports typically are annual disclosures made 6+ months after the activities have concluded, while reporting is an ongoing, year-round process that can happen in every channel a companies has access to. Not all constituents will want to read a big report, but more relevant pieces can be pushed out through appropriate channels designed for specific target audiences.

2. Proliferation of Reporting Frameworks – The most important established and emergent reporting frameworks include the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), CDP, UN Global Compact, SASB, Integrated Reporting, and the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive.

3. Alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Smart companies and investors are looking carefully at the SDGs, in order to identify which issues are the most relevant to their business, and partner with other businesses and NGOs to advance shared goals.

4. Increased Integration with Financial Reporting – Institutional and mainstream investors, governments, and stock exchanges are demanding more ESG information; while companies are responding by creating “investor hubs” where ESG data is presented along with financial information.

Daniel Goelzer is a securities law expert, Senior Counsel at Baker & McKenzie, a member of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and has held senior positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Dan addressed the legal requirements, risks, and opportunities to enhance the utility of sustainability reporting.

While the SEC has an 85 year-old regime regulating financial disclosures, the SEC has few disclosure requirements that apply to sustainability. Most sustainability disclosure are voluntary and happen outside SEC filings, which can be ironic given the importance and need for sustainability information that investors claim to want when surveyed.While there has been a dramatic uptick in reporting activity (among S & P 500 companies, 20% engaged in sustainability reporting in 2011, and 85% in 2017), the information does not sufficiently meet investor needs – when surveyed, investors report a lack of confidence in the quality of information received.

Currently, the SEC takes a principles-based approach that primarily relies on the concept of “materiality.” What is material and significant can vary to reasonable investors, and disclosures tend to include general and boilerplate language while lacking comparable, quantitative information about ESG risks and opportunities. While many companies assume that sustainability reports that are not part of required SEC filing don’t involve much legal risk, there can still be some securities law and other liability from poor quality reporting - if disclosures are materially inaccurate, inconsistent, incomplete, or unsubstantiated.

SEC Requirements

· Requires disclosure of “material” issues, but has offered limited guidance on what ESG factors may be material to a particular business, industry, or sector.
· Congress has directed to the SEC to require specific disclosures regardless of materiality, specifically: 1) Conflict minerals, 2) mine safely, 3) resource extraction payments, 4) CEO pay ratio disclosure, and 5) the Iran Sanctions Act.

· The SEC has issued limited guidance regarding climate change disclosures, but has brought few enforcement actions, to date.

· While Congress is unlikely to require the SEC to adopt broad ESG disclosure requirements, the SEC did raise such possibility in a small portion of its 2015 Concept Release. Although it was not the main focus of the release, two-thirds of the public comments letters received addressed sustainability, and 80% of these supported improved disclosures in SEC filing.

SASB May Fill the Gap

In the absence of more detailed regulatory disclosure requirements, SASB aims to fill the gap and develop voluntary sustainability accounting standards that help SEC reporting companies disclose material, decision-useful information in a cost-effective way. Because what is material varies depending on the nature of a business, SASB has issued industry-specific standards that include topics and metrics to assess company performance or exposure that are the most relevant, or “material,” to that industry. These standards can help companies comply with SEC rules, and also improve the consistency, comparability, and quality of disclosures that investors are looking for.

Global Trends

Sustainability reporting is increasing worldwide, and American companies with a significant employee base and presence outside the US should take note of global trends. Disclosure requirements in other jurisdictions, or those required by certain stock exchanges, can apply to some US companies, and may influence the attitudes of US companies and regulators. For example, the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive requires EU Member States to promulgate sustainability reporting requirements. While details vary by country, they apply to large EU-based public companies, “public interest entities” (PIEs) with more than 500 employees. PIEs are required to report on environmental, social and employee-related, human rights, anti-corruption, and bribery matters; they also must describe their business model, policies pursued by the company related to non-financial matters, as well as the principal risks and risk management of non-financial matters.

William Russell challenged us to consider a paradigm shift towards “integrated thinking” – the central thesis of Bill’s new book, The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook: Building New Bridges. Bill urged all practitioners to build sustainability into all activities, adopting systems thinking multi-capital accounting, so businesses and communities can thrive. Systems that take into account financial, natural, and human capital must be managed so that there is enough (systems thinking), for all (socio-economic justice), forever (intergenerational responsibility).

Business depends on nested interdependencies; a business can thrive only within a healthy society, and which in turn depends on a healthy natural environment. Thus, businesses should integrate finance, risk, and sustainability efforts. According to the World Economic Forum, the last ten years have seen a shift away from traditional business risks (e.g.political risks, asset bubbles) toward sustainability risks (e.g. extreme weather events, water crises, human migration) as being the most likely and most impactful risks to manage.

Taking empirical evidence of business risks into account, Bill argued that we have hit critical limits to what our global economic, environmental, and social systems can tolerate without collapse – we cannot grow our way out of sustainability problems. While studies show that businesses can “do well” while “doing good,” this is not enough. Businesses must take both carrot and stick approaches to implement a science-based sustainability strategy. Bill suggested that the Six Capitals of the Integrated Reporting (IR) framework - financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, natural – provide a useful process for enterprise systems and sustainability performance management. In addition, both Judy and Bill highlighted the importance of using shared macro goals, and pointed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals as the best guide for determining strategic alignment and goal-setting. While there are a number of different reporting frameworks, most are in the process of aligning with the common principles of the UN SDGs.


This recap was posted by the CBSACNY Sustainable Business Committee

Event Co-Chairs: Leila Goldmark & Anthony Mak

A special thank you to our panelists, who led a thoughtful, practical discussion on the risks and opportunities involved in corporate sustainability reporting. Also, thanks to our gracious host, Joanne Chiu and Marks Paneth.


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Posted By CBSACNY Healthcare Committee, Thursday, March 1, 2018

How Femtech, Genomics and Consumerism are Driving Change in Reproductive Medicine: A Recap


David Sable, MD (moderator)
Alan Copperman, MD
Susan Hertzberg, CEO, Prelude Fertility,
Mylene Yao, MD, CEO and co-founder, Univfy
Anne Morriss, CEO and co-founder, Genepeeks
Rebecca Kaden, partner, Union Square Ventures

Moderator David Sable's assessment of the forces that are changing reproductive medicine was a tour de force. He summarized key points in this must-read 3-part Forbes series, which is based in part on the panel discussion:  Part 1Part 2Part 3

For those who missed the January 24, 2018 meeting or want to refresh their memories, here's a brief recap:

Cool Stats: The IVF/reproductive medicine industry generates ~$5 billion in the US per year, a niche compared to big healthcare spend areas like cancer ($85 billion a year); 7 million women in the US suffer from infertility, but only a small percentage seek treatment; There is a severe shortage of reproductive medicine specialists and only 35 slots per year for endocrinology fellows in the field, hardly enough to satisfy demand, especially as market expands.  Egg freezing accounts for 30-40% of many practices. –David Sable

Big Trend: The industry is consolidating and expanding the range of services it offers to include new technologies and procedures for treating IVF as well as the use of reproductive technology for fertile couples, including those at risk of passing on genetic diseases. –David Sable

Gaps in Care Yield Opportunities for Entrepreneurs: Access to care is limited due to cost, stigma, unpredictable success rates; shortage of specialists; inefficient workflow (high personal touch now standard). –all panelists

What the Experts Say:

Union Square Ventures, as an early-stage venture firm, focuses on the intersection of technology and consumerism, according to partner Rebecca Kaden. With these priorities in mind, it sees opportunities to apply technology to mass-market, consumer-oriented strategies in fertility planning, notably addressing lack of scientific and medical knowledge and inadequate financing options for consumers. From providers’ perspective, technology can help improve branding.

Susan Hertzberg’s firm Prelude Fertility has a scale-up strategy to apply best practices and innovative consumer outreach and financing arrangements to expand access to care and quality of the patient experience. The lack of knowledge about basic reproductive concepts and biology is fueling the need for a massive public awareness campaign to educate women and their OB/GYNs/ primary care doctors about fertility options. A neat tidbit: the older the woman, the less likely she produces healthy eggs when seeking egg freezing options, so Prelude would like to ratchet down the age at which women opt for fertility planning by educating them because younger women have a better shot at successful IVF.

Alan Copperman’s many hats include co-founder and managing partner of RMA of NY, one of the nation’s largest networks of infertility clinics, which is using data-driven precision medicine and next-generation sequencing of embryos to optimize embryo selection in order to reduce failure rates of procedures and occurrence of multiple births. Copperman is also Vice-Chair of OB/Gyn at Mount Sinai Medical Center and CMO of the Mount Sinai’s new genomics platform company, Sema4Genomics. The focus of his remarks was the need for education of specialists in the field and expanding consumer access to quality care with better success rates.

Genepeeks, a computational genomics company offering pre-natal clinical genomics, is, among many other activities, making sense of genomic data gleaned from preconception screening. This is potentially an alternative to carrier screening, with a higher resolution, says co-founder and CEO Anne Morriss. Genepeeks considers the emotional and technical aspects of patient decisions as it accounts seeks to help patients make decisions along the treatment journey.

Univfy’s CEO Mylene Yao co-founded the company in the belief that data-driven predictive analytics could hold the key to making IVF more accessible, predictable, and affordable. The company has a clinically validated informatics platform that predicts patients’ likelihood of successful IVF, which enables it to offer risk-based, innovative financing options. This is particularly pertinent to the US, where most patients pay for treatment out of pocket, compared to ex-US, where third-party payors often cover the costs.

General Discussion:

·        Sandstone Diagnostics sells an FDA-approved, at-home test, available on Amazon, for checking sperm concentrations to find out male fertility levels and understand individual risk factors that may be causing low fertility levels. 

·        While we have the ability to screen for thousands of genetic abnormalities and, thanks to CRISPR, manipulate cells to eliminate mutant genes, we are still far from having the ability to select genetic traits we want due to the complexity of genetics.

·        Because IVF labs are so inefficient, innovations in robotics, microfluidics, artificial intelligence and other technologies could greatly improve efficiency. While the US currently spends about $5 billion on infertility treatment, that number could easily double if more people seek appropriate help. One challenge for automation is that embryos are fragile and difficult cells to work with, but the field has practically zero tolerance for errors.

And for those eager to view the discussion, please visit our YouTube Channel.


This recap was posted by the CBSACNY Healthcare Committee

Chair: Wendy Diller

A special thank you to our panelists, who led a thoughtful, eye-opening discussion on the challenges and opportunities awaiting fertility medicine entrepreneurs. Also, thanks to our gracious host, Wendy Goldstein & Cooley LLP.

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Join CBSACNY to ... Bulletproof Your Career

Posted By Administrator, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Join CBSACNY to … Bulletproof Your Career                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             David Prince (CBS '03)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Marketing Committee Co-Chair

In 2009, I was in between jobs in media & advertising. Over the previous 5 years, I had planned several Marketing events for the Club and attended many more. I knew well the positive ROI in committing to plan and attend events was clearly beneficial for new insights and to deepen relationships with alumni and speakers. After some procrastination and some job leads fizzled out, I plunged into staging an event on social media marketing. The topic was a blind spot for me at the time, and I enlisted a star moderator who heads social agency Renegade, and 3 perfect panelists on the subject … I plucked one from Whole Foods after seeing her featured in AdWeek; another was a willing Columbia alumnus in charge of social marketing at American Express; a 3rd came from E.L.F. cosmetics, who emerged on an all-in endorsement from our moderator. We found a sponsoring law firm, snappy visuals, and ample space & budget for 250 attendees.              
“Build it and they will come”, I thought. But, two weeks before the event, registration was really light. I feared crickets in a near empty room, disgruntled panelists, embarrassed moderator, etc. I decided to flood my social media channels, and promote the event to everyone I knew - work contacts, friends, and all the people I had been networking with … even the ones who snubbed me or didn’t return emails and phone calls.

Magically, the event ended up selling out. How’s that for social media marketing? There was a buzz, the moderator was energized, the panelists delivered genuine perspectives and insight that led to much Q&A, chatter afterward and, of course, tweeting. I met a few attendees and kept in touch with one of the panelists I had just met. Within 3 weeks of the event, 3 of the people I invited offered me immediate positions, and all were out of the blue. I accepted one at NPR and worked there for 7 years.

This is one example, but surely not the only one of how planning events and leaning into CBSACNY can elevate your profile and reinvigorate your career.

Tags:  Alumni  Careers  Membership 

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Downloadable Summary Now Available for Artificial Intelligence Event held June 19, 2017

Posted By Cindy Rosenthal, Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Updated: Friday, August 18, 2017

CBSACNY Panel Tackles the Coming Explosion

of Artificial Intelligence in Business


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) has the potential to be a paradigm shift, broadly disrupting business in the next few years as much as the Internet did in the early 2000s and mobile communications has since 2010. That was the key takeaway message from a panel of experts at our “Artificial Intelligence in Business” program, held on June 19, 2017.  

Panelists:  Norman Niemer (UBS O’Connor); Bethany Hale (IBM/Watson Health)
Christian Jong (Opentopic);  Sebastian Wilner (Google);  Chandler Wilson (Walmart)

This fantastic and tightly focused program featured AI advocate-experts from top corporations working in the field, and a sell-out crowd, thanks to the organizational skills of CBSACNY’s Media and High-Tech Committee, chaired by Bonnie Halpern and Brad Jobling, both CBS graduates. Describing AI loosely as the ability of computers to “contextualize things and provide more actionable information”, moderator Norman Niemer, a graduate of Columbia’s School of Engineering with a master’s degree in Financial Engineering, led a broad and illuminating conversation that highlighted AI’s tremendous importance to different sectors of business, as well as outlining specific applications and challenges to implementation.

“We are transitioning, from a business perspective, from a mobile-first world of product design to one that is AI-first,” said Niemer, who leads a quantitative data science team at UBS O’Connor, the hedge fund unit of UBS. In his leadership of AI innovation initiatives at UBS, Niemer has observed that the key to corporate success in such a ‘smart’ environment is having a data strategy-- that is, plans for collecting, storing, cleaning and analyzing enormous reams of data. AI uses big data and machine learning (ML) as essential tools, but goes further as “the glue that holds those together and gets actionable results out of all that data,” he said. ML, in contrast, is a subset of AI, in which computers use algorithms to harness data sets and learn from them.

Panelists defined AI as machine intelligence that analyzes unfathomably huge amounts of data to identify patterns and predict outcomes, making continual adjustments based on the input of new data according to rules created by the system itself, based on the input of new data. Bethany Hale, a CBS graduate who is Chief of Staff for the Global Healthcare and Life Sciences industry team at IBM, which includes Watson Health, the company’s most high-profile AI initiative, explained that a cognitive computer can process both structured and unstructured data, derive meaning from the data it is analyzing, and learns iteratively from feedback. That is what drives its ability to “think”.

AI can improve operating efficiency and provide new understanding of customer insights, which are central to success in sales, panelists said. Moreover, its adoption into strategic decision making is becoming a critical competitive advantage in business, as traditional market analysis is no longer a differentiator and as many “soft” functions such as IR, communications and strategic planning, can be quantified and thus incorporated into an AI-driven operating environment.  (more...)

For the full summary, see the attached downloadable document.

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Tags:  Artificial Intelligence 

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Why You Should Join Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York

Posted By Xenia Razinski, Thursday, August 18, 2016

Xenia Razinski  Columbia Business School Class of 2015 shares her experiences on why she joined CBSACNY.



For those of you deciding on whether you should join the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York, my advice is to you is JOIN.

My experience at Columbia Business School was outstanding in every way and I was looking for a friendly & supportive community way to continue that. I found it at the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York.


  • CBSACNY opened doors to a whole new network of people from different professions ages and experience. At the events I find it fascinating to speak with others about their professional experiences. Some conversations I had led to business follow-ups. Several people I met became friends
  • The organization holds dozens of panels and meetings covering virtually every professional field, industry, and social interest. Meet people like Paul Eastman the CEO of advertising giant JWT, speak to Wall Street business authors like Charles Cohan, and hear from real estate experts like Jonathan J. Miller. You get industry insights and the opportunity to meet distinguished executives at a fraction of the cost you would pay to attend similar events at major conferences.
  • Committees, the driving force behind the events, are based on a wide range of business fields providing an opportunity to work closely with people of similar interests and to forge new professional relationships.

I’m a big fan & could go on and on, but I don’t need to. You can find out yourself by joining today.




Tags:  membership 

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