Voices of Influence: Original and Guest Blog Posts from Around the World

These blogs provide insight into the latest issues, challenges, advances and debate around CSR and sustainability. Original and guest blog posts highlight differing perspectives and context.

3BL Blog

Board Members Wanted: Opportunities Available For Wide Range Of Give/Get And Expertise

In Their Own Words: The Value To Business People On Nonprofit Boards -- Part II

Earlier this month, I quoted business people regarding the value they derive from serving on nonprofit boards. While it is widely understood that nonprofits have much to gain from the expertise and resources that board members bring to bear, it is also useful to recognize that board members gain from the experience as well.

Here is a second set of comments from board members who serve on a wide variety of boards-- regionally, nationally, and globally....

GLOBE 2010 Brings The World to the Individual Level

“A green economy needs to just be the economy,” said Dianne Dillon-Ridgley, a board director at InterFace Global and member of the closing Town Hall session at the 20th anniversary Globe 2010 in Vancouver.  - a sentiment which would be shared by many and echoed throughout the conference.

Held every two years, Globe Foundation gathered over 10,000 participants from more than 80 countries to focus on a variety of themes that included Corporate Sustainability, Climate Change and Energy, Finance and Sustainability, Urban Infrastructure, Clean Technology, and Water: Impacts on Business.

According to many speakers, this year the conference seemed different – more participants, more women, and a greater number of students and young professionals.  One young woman, summed up her generation’s challenge with a question to the panel – as she looks for her first sustainability job, should she work for an oil and gas company and try change them, or work for something new and different? Nicholas Parker, Executive Chairman, Cleantech Group LLC in San Francisco, CA, encouraged her to “work in the lion’s den and help create the change we, and they, need to be.”  Those fossil fuel companies, Parker asserted, are facing necessary and inevitable transformation and we should all welcome and support it.

The Honorable John Yap, Minister of State for Climate Action, Government of British Columbia, Victoria, BC, David Runnalls, President & CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Ottawa, ON  and Tony Manwaring, Chief Executive, Tomorrow’s Company, London, UK rounded out the panel.

Time to Stop Talking About Going Local, and Doing It (pt 3 of 3) Eating and Getting Around

You hear so much about the value of "going local," but perhaps not so much on how to go about doing it effectively. Thanks much to Wayne Maceyka for sharing copious resources to do so, first covering the value of and need for localizing economies, then


Reality vs. Perception in Corporate Sustainability

Consumers have very little understanding of which companies trying to be more sustainable and which ones are not. Duh, you say? Well, that conclusion was driven home by reading MapChange 2010 from the brand agency Change.

This sustainability brand map study looked at the perceived and actual sustainability scores for 97 companies in 10 sectors and found that they didn't exactly always mesh. Some companies that were highly sustainable were not perceived as such while some of the less responsible companies were perceived to be more sustainable. Depending on who you talk to, that is another example of a communications failure or an opportunity (or both).

Some of the results were quite eye-opening. In the food and beverage sector, Organic Yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm had the highest actual sustainability score but a below-average perception, which was inverse that of Kraft, Kellogg and General Mills.

In the household sector, the perception of Clorox far exceeded their actual sustainability score (perhaps because of their recently launched Green Works brand endorsed by the Sierra Club?) while L'Oreal didn't get the acknowledgement they deserved.

But perhaps the most interesting to me was the Internet/Software/Media sector brand scores. In this sector, the perceptions of net giants Google, Yahoo and Amazon all exceeded their actual scores, while the perceptions of General Electric and News Corporation were much worse than their actual scores. GE was surprising considering their highly visible ecomagination brand and their high ranking in other surveys. And News Corp's well-publicized goal of making their operations carbon neutral appears not to have helped their public perception (perhaps they need to use language the public understands, rather than "carbon neutral").

Microlending…Enabling Global Entrepreneurship

Recent economic times have spurred uncertain thoughts and reactions around terms like “lending” or “investments.”  However, there is an emerging loan market that is working toward making a positive, significant impact on the lives of the impoverished globally.  The market that I am referring to is the “microlending” market.  Recent reports have estimated that there are more than 30 million microloans worldwide and at a growing rate of 30-40% per year.

So, why are so many individuals participating in microlending…


Aveda And The Yawanawa: CSR Chief To Chief

We Can Do More Good With a For-Profit Model: The Lesson of Speed

I used to consult with nonprofits as part of a firm. What I’m about to write comes from my observations doing this work.

We can do more good and do it more quickly with a for-profit model.

Nonprofits aren’t bad, their model just has some flaws. A nonprofit has two tasks: to serve its cause or constituents and to raise money. A for-profit’s only task is to satisfy its stakeholders. The by-product of doing this well is making money.

A nonprofit doesn’t get to the ‘good’ fast enough. There’s a lot of preparation to get started on fighting the cause or delivering services. Nonprofits paid our firm to tell them how and where to raise money. They paid us to do the research and write the proposals. But they weren’t off the hook for time. They still needed to spend time with us on their programs, budgets and contacts. They still needed to woo grant-makers, find new ways to grab donors’ attention and write follow-up reports. All this time took them away from their mission and the cause they were fighting.

Think of a guy who decides to take up running. He spends the first weekend researching and shopping for running shoes. The second weekend buying running shorts, the third weekend mapping the perfect route. On the fourth weekend he goes (but only if it doesn’t rain). That’s how I see the nonprofit survival model.

Compare this to the guy who decides to take up running. He grabs the closest pair of shorts that he probably slept in, laces up the shoes he has lying around and walks out his front door. He’ll move his legs like runners do and figure the rest out from there. That’s how I see for-profit start-ups. Able to get to the mission quickly and willing to course correct along the way.

Know Women, Know Sustainable Consumers

There is more than meets the eye in what we know about how women buy (poetry not intended).  And, fortunately for us, that means we’ve got a lot of information at the ready to help better serve the sustainably minded consumer.

My argument has always been that marketing to women was not a “whole new, complicated thing” compared to marketing done before we acknowledged women’s particular ways of buying.  Instead, marketing to women encompasses an understanding toward fine tuning the smartest marketing to the toughest customer.  Today, marketing to women continues to be a foundation...

Atlas Shrinks

Once upon a time in a far off land of sea monsters and fairies, there was a man named Adam. Now Adam was not the First Man. He was, however, the first man in his society to write down his ideas of man controlling his own economic destiny without the heavy hand of kings. Adam was a moral man and wrote that one’s “enlightened self-interest” and innate moral code should guide him in all matters of money and commerce.

Yet man is a funny beast, Adam knew, and in case of a lapse in reason a guiding hand, “The Invisible Hand,” existed to override his less intelligent and unjust impulses....