Quantifying Sustainable Success

With so
much going on in the financial world these days, I couldn’t help but to think
about how it all related to my role here as the newest member of the Bon Appétit
Management Company team. As an analyst,
my goal will be to measure the successes for all of our sustainable initiatives
such as our Low Carbon Diet and Farm to Fork programs. I’ve quickly learned that within the
sustainable movement, there is a thin line between greenwashing and true
success, and to have credible data requires transparency. The models and systems you design to collect
and analyze the data are in some cases even more important than the assumptions
you can make with the results. This
practice of manipulating data to create favorable headlines had been running
rampant on Wall Street, which in some ways is very similar to the recent
increase in greenwashing campaigns that threaten the credibility of the
sustainable movement.

Even with
warnings of rising foreclosures making headlines over a year ago, it’s still
puzzling to me that those in the finance world didn’t dig deeper to analyze
what the mortgage crisis would entail. Perhaps we have outdated models of analysis in place that need to be
updated to provide a fuller picture. For
example, maybe investors should analyze energy conservation initiatives to
determine which companies won’t be held hostage to the volatile oil markets,
which is sure to be the next big crisis to shock the world. But chances are companies do not release
their monthly energy bills, nor are there many people clamoring to see

sustainable initiatives is in its infancy, which excites me the most about my
new role. The models of data collection
have to be conceptualized from square one, but that means there is more room
for creative and diverse analysis. Bon Appétit
provides a truly unique opportunity to collect relevant food data and I hope
our future findings on our microcosm will provide insight on yours. And who knows? Hopefully in the near future, a company’s
responsible practices and their ability to quantify sustainable success will be
as important as trailing P/E analysis to an investor. I know I would sleep a lot better at night if
I knew the company I was banking on was doing everything in their power to do
the right thing!

– Chung Lee,
Analyst, Strategic Initiatives