The Jones family has a simple mantra: “There’s no need to boast about doing good, just do good.”
That mindset has guided four generations of family leadership at Seaman Paper as it quietly grew from a small paper mill in Massachusetts to a global company, employing 1,000, with sustainability as a top priority. As of its 2019 progress report, it has managed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 91 percent compared to a 2005 baseline, and “73 percent of energy use in 2019 came from renewable sources.”
The company’s accomplishments on sustainability, Jones says, are in part possible because of the family’s long-term, community-minded approach, said Peter Jones, sustainability manager at Seaman Paper. Indeed, a recent report from PwC says family businesses are ideally situated to make progress on a whole range of ESG priorities, which could significantly shape major industries — such as shipping and automotive — where family businesses control a big portion of the market (20 percent and 55 percent, respectively, according to the PwC report).
“Family businesses, based on their DNA and definition of being around for the long term, are positioned to lead on sustainability, because they are not interested in short-term profit but long-term value creation,” said Peter Englisch, author of the report. Englisch is the global family business and EMEA entrepreneurial and private business leader and a partner for PwC Germany.
A lot of that potential, however, remains untapped. Only 39 percent of family businesses say sustainability and ESG are a top priority, according to a 2021 global survey of family businesses conducted by PwC. Englisch says most family businesses are committed to “making the world better” through philanthropy or community service, but many have yet to make an explicit stand on environmental, social and governance goals.
“Family businesses should be more articulated about what they do, and they should make ESG a No. 1 business priority,” Englisch said.
Read the full article about family businesses in ESG by Mike De Socio at GreenBiz.
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