It's an Honor Just to be Nominated


This is the season of Oscar glitz. In 2018, it's  served up with a welcome helping of social consciousness, thanks to a growing awareness of the distance we all need to travel on improving gender and racial equality in the workplace.

Still, no matter how tightly they embrace the need for social change, equal opportunity and an end to sexual exploitation, the Academy Awards will remain, first and foremost, a celebration of talented, creative, glamorous, beautiful, wealthy people leading lives that are far beyond the reach of most of us. And the celebration, like so much of what we consume from the entertainment industry, is a fantasy.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. Fantasy is fun -- even necessary.

But it’s nice to be reminded that there are also awards for achievement in improving the real world we live in every day -- for building not only a better fantasy, but a better future for generations to come.

I learned this week that one of these awards has come my way. It feels a little unreal; like my own, tiny Oscar moment. An Oscar for being a policy wonk; an Academy Award for commitment to social change. Who knew such things existed?

The Society for Progress has just announced its 2018 Progress Medals for “pioneering work in shaping the economic system to achieve greater fairness and well-being.” To my surprise, I was named as a co-recipient of one of these medals, along with my friend and colleague Allen White of the Cambridge-based Tellus Institute. Allen and I are receiving the Progress Medal for our work as co-founders of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which we established in 1997 with the support of the United Nations Environment Program. Now based in Amsterdam, the GRI helps 93 percent of the world’s 250 largest corporations -- and thousands of other companies -- to use the Sustainable Reporting Standards we developed as the framework to document the impact of their business activities on global sustainability. Allen and I are honored to share our medal with Dr. Jean Rogers, Chair of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.

The citation for our medal reads in part:  “For pioneering work in developing standards and methods that today enable and encourage thousands of enterprises worldwide to pay attention to, measure, report, benchmark, and improve their environmental and ethical ‘footprints.’”

I told you it was the Oscars for wonks. But wonks can change the world, I’m proud to be one -- and all of us are thrilled and grateful to be recognized for making a difference.

Will George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence be at the after-party? I sure hope so.

You can read more about the medals at