Fortune 500 Sustainability Approach

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Fortune 500 Sustainability-Part 1

BP has a main four-part sustainability strategy that it utilizes, as well as a few additional components that comprise that strategy. The company's approach to funding sustainability projects varies by project. The examples of BP's sustainability spending that we found ranged between $10 million and $500 million.


1. BP's Sustainability Strategy

A. Four-Part Sustainability Strategy & Strategic Framework

  • BP has a four-part sustainability strategy. First, BP is "[g]rowing advantaged oil and gas in the upstream." In support of that pursuit, BP is investing more money in gas and oil and then producing those products more efficiently.
  • The second part of BP's sustainability strategy is to achieve what it calls "[m]arket-led growth in the downstream." To do so, BP is working to innovate through strategic partnerships and through the use of advanced products.
  • The third component of BP's sustainability strategy involves "[v]enturing and low carbon across multiple fronts." In support thereof, BP is "[p]ursu[ing] new opportunities to meet evolving technology, consumer and policy trends."
  • Lastly, the fourth part of the company's sustainability strategy involves what it describes as"[m]odernizing the whole group." To do so, the company is working to improve its productivity by using digital solutions and simplify its processes overall.
  • BP's CEO, Bob Dudley, addressed the company's sustainability strategy in the following statement, which he described as "our strategy to grow advantaged oil and gas in the upstream; market-led growth in the downstream; pursuing low carbon growth opportunities and modernizing the group."
  • An integral part of BP's sustainability strategy is its framework which it calls "reduce, improve, create." That framework emphasizes the company's work towards lowering its emissions of greenhouse gases as part of its business operations, bettering its products so that consumers/customers can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and developing businesses that are low carbon.
  • BP's sustainability strategy is also designed to be in accordance with the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement. As BP's CEO stated: "We firmly believe our strategy is consistent with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement . . . ."

B. Additional Elements of BP's Sustainability Strategy

  • In addition to BP's overall sustainability strategy outlined above, that strategy also involves other elements. The first of those additional elements is that BP's sustainability strategy involves collaborating with other entities that are also pursuing sustainability goals. For example, BP has partnered with the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative in an effort to address emissions of methane and develop ways to capture, store, and use carbon.
  • The second additional element of the company's sustainability strategy is to develop long-lasting relationships with customers, partners, governments, communities, and suppliers in areas where the company operates.
  • The third additional element of the company's sustainability strategy is to operate in a safe and responsible manner and, according to the company, safety is its top priority. BP CEO Bob Dudley addressed that part of the company's sustainability strategy in stating: "Only by operating as a responsible and reliable business do we earn the trust of investors and society more widely — trust that is essential for BP to fully play its part in advancing a low carbon future and human progress."

2. BP's Approach to Funding Sustainability Projects

  • Overall, BP's approach to funding sustainability projects varies by project.
  • The company's approach to funding sustainability projects involving technology is to "selectively invest in areas with the potential to add greatest value to . . . [its] business, now and in the future, including building lower carbon businesses." Furthermore, BP's approach to such involves "invest[ing] in small high-tech companies to help accelerate and commercialize new technologies, products and business models." In so doing, BP is "focus[ed] . . . on five areas that are core to . . . [its] strategy for advancing the energy transition: [A]dvanced mobility, bio and low carbon products, carbon management, digital transformation and power and storage."
  • BP values its investments involving technology because new technologies enable the company to produce energy in a more efficient and safe manner.
  • BP's approach to funding sustainability projects involving renewables is focused on the following types of energy: Solar, wind, biopower, and biofuels. The company has "been investing in renewables for many years."
  • The company's approach to funding sustainability projects also involves investing more in gas and oil and then producing those products more efficiently.
  • BP also detailed its approach for how it determines which sustainability issues to include in its annual sustainability report. Though the company doesn't outright state that said process pertains to its project-funding approach, the wording seems to infer that to be the case nonetheless (which is why we included it). BP begins that explanation by stating that it "conduct[s] a materiality review to evaluate the issues that matter most to . . . [its] stakeholders and . . . business."
  • Next, the company mentioned that it met with approximately 100 organizations, such as business partners and investors, that are part of its top stakeholder groups.
  • With respect to the sustainability issues discussed with the aforementioned organizations, BP stated that it prioritizes those issues based on (1) the level of importance that its stakeholders attach to them and (2) how those issues "could impact BP’s ability to deliver its strategy."
  • Thereafter, BP validates that information with staff from its "group risk, environment, human rights and society, government and political affairs, upstream, downstream, policy and technology teams, . . . [and] board-level safety, ethics and environment assurance committee."

3. Sustainability Spending

  • Each year, BP invests "$500 million . . . in low carbon activities," which includes its renewables acquisitions and businesses. Of that amount, approximately $200 million is spent on "develop[ing] options for new lower carbon businesses in five areas that are core to . . . [its] strategy for advancing the energy transition." The company believes that the aforementioned areas are ones that "have the potential to make a real contribution to . . . [its] future and build resilience in existing operations."
  • Low carbon companies that BP has supported from the aforementioned investment amount include Voltaware (energy consumption monitoring) and FreeWire (charging for electric vehicles).
  • BP also directs some spending on sustainability to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative's technology and research fund, though that amount was not reported.
  • BP announced its "plan to invest $200 million over a three-year period" in Lightsource BP (solar energy company), so that it can expand globally.
  • Earlier this year, BP announced funding in the amount of $100 million that will be used "for new emissions reductions projects in . . . [its] upstream operations."
  • BP has invested $10 million as part of a fund raised by NIO Capital seeking to improve the quality of urban air in China. That funding will be used to "support the development of advanced mobility opportunities, including electric vehicles, new energy infrastructure and batteries."

4. Sustainability Advertising Spending

  • While information about BP's sustainability advertising spending was not publicly available, we learned that in "January 2019, BP launched its first international corporate advertising campaign in more than a decade." That sustainability advertising campaign is titled "Possibilities Everywhere" and consists of "a series of TV ads and high-profile display advertising across the UK, Germany and US to profile the variety of approaches BP is using to increase production whil[e] lowering carbon emissions."

Your research team applied the following strategy:

The only data point we couldn't find information about was BP's sustainability advertising spending. We looked for that information in three different ways. First, we reviewed BP's 2018 Sustainability Report, as we thought that perhaps such information might be included therein. However, no advertising spending whatsoever was mentioned in that report. Second, we conducted wide-ranging, general searches for any articles discussing the company's sustainability advertising spending. The only results that method yielded were articles about specific advertisements that the company has aired over the past decade or so, but no applicable spending data was mentioned in those articles. As a third strategy, we tried to find information about the company's most-recent sustainability advertising campaign called "Possibilities Everywhere" because that would have at least provided insight regarding the extent of BP's sustainability advertising spending. We looked through a series of articles published about that advertising campaign from advertising industry and energy industry sources, but none of those articles provided any information about the cost of that ad campaign.

With respect to the other information requested, we found the vast majority of that information directly in BP's 2018 Sustainability Report. That report is incredibly detailed and wide-ranging, as it consists of 84 pages. The report covered all the other topics that we were looking for (strategy, funding approach, and spending). We mainly used this source because the information came directly from BP and thus was not described by a third party. We determined the company's sustainability strategy from the information in the report, which outlines the four main areas comprising that strategy. Some additional information about that strategy came directly from the CEO in his opening letter to the report, which we also included.
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Fortune 500 Sustainability-Part 2

Pepsico has incorporated a "Performance with Purpose" (PwP) 2025 sustainability agenda which is focused on time-bound goals across primary areas such as products, the planet and the people.



  • Pepsico incorporated the Environmental, Social & Governance Topics Index to address a broad range of sustainability-related topics that matter to investors, suppliers, customers, and the company.
  • The company has also incorporated a "Performance with Purpose" (PwP) 2025 sustainability agenda, which is focused on time-bound goals that aim to improve the sustainability of its products, the planet and their customers.
  • Pepsico uses its global scale, expertise and resources to influence positive change and minimize their environmental impact while growing the business.
  • The company focuses its sustainability strategy towards areas where they can make the greatest impact: agriculture, climate change, waste management, and water.
  • Pepsico sustainability development goals correlate with the United Nations sustainable development goals, focusing on combating hunger, providing better healthcare, moving towards gender equality, preserving the clean water, and improving sanitation.


  • The PepsiCo Foundation has been working with local partners and investing in community services.
  • The PepsiCo Foundation invests in sustainable food system initiatives globally, with projects focused on sustained nutrition, safe water access, effective waste management, and women’s empowerment.
  • PepsiCo has worked with Global Foodbanking Network, GENYOU, and Food for Good.
  • The 2017 PWP performance metric has declared that it will invest over $100 million until 2025 towards initiatives that will benefit over 12.5 million women and girls in different communities.


  • According to the 2018 Global Citizenship Giving, the total spending on sustainability initiatives total $122.1 million, with contributions from the PepsiCo Foundation ($44.9 million), corporate contributions ($6.2 million), division contributions ($9.7 million), and division estimated in-kind ($61.3 million).
  • The Pepsico foundation 2018 disbursements include investments in nutrition ($5.8 million), water ($7.1 million), women ($6.3 million), waste($3.7 million), diversity and engagement ($2.4 million), community investments ($3.9 million), and disaster relief and humanitarian support ($5.6 million).


  • Pepsico has committed to advertise in a responsible manner. Only products that meet PepsiCo’s Global Nutrition Criteria will be advertised to encourage the consumption of more nutritious food and beverage products.
  • Pepsico's total activities, reported as selling, general and administrative expenses, totaled $4.2 billion in 2018 while the total advertising expenses in 2018 were $2.6 billion.(Source 5)
  • Pepsico has committed to spending $1,686 million from 2019 to 2024 on marketing.
  • Pepsico's investment in marketing and advertising is believed to have had a big impact on the company's 2.6% growth in revenue in 2019.
  • Pepsico plans to increase their spending on the Performance with Purpose campaign in next 10 years.

Research Strategy:

  • We began our research by going through PepsiCo's 2017 sustainability report and their 2018 annual report to find information about the company's sustainability advertising spend. Unfortunately, we were only able to determine the total advertising spend of the company.
  • We also looked through multiple news articles and reports such as PRNewswire, eMarketer, Greennews but none of the articles we visited discussed the company's sustainability advertising spend, instead focusing on providing a general overview of the different advertising projects of the company.
  • As a final resort, we tried to triangulate the information using the 2018 Pepsico Foundation financials. We tried to estimate the funding specific to various sustainability projects and calculate the total spend on advertising/marketing of these projects. Through the search, however, it was found that the Foundation released a disbursement for the various sustainability projects specific to water, nutrition, women but no insights were published on the funding spend on advertising for these projects.

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Fortune 500 Sustainability-Part 3

Unilever's sustainability strategy is based on three goals that are enshrined in its sustainable living plan. The company's approach to the funding of all sustainability projects is based on the project's positive impacts on the environment and its business growth. Unilever has no set amount for sustainability spending because the business model of the entire company centers on sustainability.


  • The company's sustainability plan is aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, improving the use of water for its operations, reducing waste through improved packaging of its products and sustainable sourcing of raw materials among others.


  • The company's sustainability projects are chosen based on the project's double effects of having a social and environmental impact and driving its business model.


  • Unilever does not dedicate a certain amount of funding to sustainability each year. This is because the company's entire business model is based on the sustainable living plan.


  • The company spends about $8.4 billion on marketing and advertising its brands.
  • The impact of this spending can be seen in the over 2.5 billion people who use their products daily.


We could not address the request for Unilever's sustainability advertising spending. We started with the company's 2018 Sustainability Report. This report is presented as part of the company's annual report. We felt that this report was the best avenue for the company to present its sustainability advertising expenditure. However, no advertising spending was mentioned in the report. Information found in this report was on the company's 2018 sustainability progress report and achievements.

Next, we scoured through a range of articles searching for reports that contained a detailed overview of the company's sustainability advertising spending. We searched the databases of PRNewswire, eMarketer, and Green News among others. Reports identified from this search were articles on the company's advertisements relating to its sustainability brands.

Furthermore, we attempted to review some of the company's sustainable advertising campaigns over the past year. We felt that if we could identify such information, we could present a range of the company's expenditures on sustainable advertising and hence calculate an estimated average. We looked through a series of articles published on its advertising campaigns from advertising industry sources. Here, we found information on the company's sustainability advertising. Also, information on the advertising campaign messages was outlined. However, none of these articles provided any information on the spending associated with these sustainable advertising campaigns.

We belive information on Unilever's sustainability advertising spend is not available on publicly available sources because the expenditures are generally grouped with the company's total expenditure on advertising/marketing. We have presented that information as part of our findings above. For convenience, the report can also be accessed here.

We were also unable find a direct answer to the company's core sustainability spending. This was because the company's entire business structure is based on sustainability. The company does not dedicate a certain amount to sustainability projects each year, because sustainability is part of its business operations and not a separate project. This is encapsulated in the company's motto: "Making Sustainability Living Commonplace."

Did this report spark your curiosity?