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

Why Earth Day Is More Than Recycling That Stack of Paper

As we head closer to Earth Day, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, I wanted to update you on all the exciting elements we have planned for the next two weeks. Yes, while we all relate to the significance of the day as consumers who are gradually changing from chemical to natural, synthetic to organic, this Earth Day resonates with us at a much more personal level as informed professionals. With a static national unemployment rate and the economy barely past its recessionary level, we have a new decade of business to get used to. A green decade, that is.
Green jobs
And I say that not only because every expert I have spoken to predicts that the green job market will be responsible for propelling us out of this recession, but also because the few states that have managed to deter the rising unemployment scale are the ones who have taken on renewable and alternative energy projects as their mainstay for job creation. So, whether you are a job seeker, an executive or a professional looking to make a career move within your company or to another, the basics of the needs, demands and specializations the green job market offers will serve you well in your career path.
There is also another aspect that distinguishes Earth Day's 40th anniversary from any other year. It's the fact that CSR as a policy, a strategic choice and as a conversation is finally beginning to make a conscious presence in the office. While there is a long way to go for corporate social responsibility to be immersed in the way business is conducted, the argument and the discussion for its case is finally making the transition from advocacy to active board room contentions.
Corporate Social Responsibility

Great Campaign from Starbucks and Free coffee!

Cliff Burrows, President of Starbucks Coffee U.S., spoke about their efforts to limit the environmental impact of coffee consumption at Fortune Magazine's Brainstorm Green conference. According to Burrows, they have made big strides in how coffee is grown and now one of their largest impacts is the coffee cups. Out of the millions of coffees they sell every day, only one percent are served in reusable mugs.
Starbucks wants to increase that number, but according to Burrows, the incentive of saving a...

Going the Distance in Corporate Responsibility

It’s truly remarkable how important corporate responsibility has become in such a short period of time.

In 2001, when I started Impakt, very few people had any idea what corporate responsibility was. Friends, family, and colleagues couldn’t imagine why I thought a business could be built in an area that was so esoteric.  There were many times that I wondered the same thing. As recently as three years ago corporate responsibility was seen by executives as a marginal “nice-to-have” that had minimal impact on core business priorities such as...

The Golden Rule of Health Care

In the quiet beauty of Iowa farmland, a middle-aged unemployed “tea party” protestor, Randy, screamed his displeasure at the healthcare reform bill into a megaphone. He joins the ranks of radical activists mounting increasingly violent attacks on supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Randy and other equal-access healthcare opponents have medical insurance and they don’t want to share their good fortune.

“The most pro-choice president...

Why CVS’ Social Responsibility Programs Are Its Most Wasted Resource

If your company consistently runs social responsibility programs, but you doesn’t take the time or have the confidence in its programs to make sure I know about them, it’s doing me and itself a disservice.

Like Walgreens or Rite Aid, CVS is a national pharmacy chain. There’s no visible differentiation between it and its competitors. Maybe the aisles are cleaner and the coupons better, but maybe not.

I don’t see a reason...

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").