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

Leveraging Good Will: New Data Reinforces That Nonprofit-Corporate Partnerships Are Win-Win

The latest Cone Trend Tracker reports that 59% of American consumers "are more likely to buy a product associated with the [nonprofit-corporate] partnership," and that 50% of consumers are "more likely to donate to the nonprofit" when nonprofits partner with companies. By leveraging their good will, companies advance their own...

Want a CSR Job? Read This First.

With just over two months left until I graduate from business school, I’ve started to reflect on what I’ve accomplished over the last two years.

Without a doubt, the most fulfilling experiences of my MBA program have been the chances I’ve had to engage in real-world consulting projects for corporate and nonprofit clients.

In the last four semesters, I’ve worked on some pretty terrific marketing and corporate social responsibility projects – including brand audits, marketing research plans, stakeholder communications strategies, and social media tactics.

But perhaps my most satisfying consulting project was a sustainability reporting and stakeholder engagement plan for Praxair, a $9B Fortune 300 industrial gas manufacturer in Danbury, CT. I’ve talked about this project in past posts, and I was thrilled to see that Boston University recently issued a press release about this engagement (including a quote from yours truly!).

These consulting projects have been the most rewarding part of my MBA, but they’ve also been the most challenging and time-consuming. In the end, though, I’ve signed up for all of them without hesitation – in large part because I (and many of my fellow MBA classmates) believed they’d serve as proof of our experience to potential employers come recruiting season.

For the Love of Business

We stand at the threshold of a moral crossroads in American business. Which way will we turn in the new decade is the dilemma before us. Do we retreat to old and tired patterns of indifference? Or do we find the courage to cut a new and hopeful path to the common good?
 
The heated debates of healthcare, bailouts, banking reform, financial regulation, usury laws, consumer protection, home loan modifications, small business support, social assistance programs-all point to one fundamental issue - the battle for a moral framework. What do we value in America? Easy Money or Hard work? Self-interest or Community? Vengeance or Forgiveness? Indifference or Compassion?
 
Do we continue to let 45 million Americans suffer without healthcare as long as we have access to it ourselves? Should we protect unsuspecting or reckless consumers or leave them at the mercy of profit hungry scams? Do we let the jobless and homeless fend for themselves because we are comfortable under our own roofs?
 
In the end, all of these economic debates come down to one thing: love. Love for our neighbor, love for ourselves, love for the planet, love for humanity. Love for those who are starving, hungry, desperate or forgotten. Love for those whose only hope of relief from suffering comes from you and me and our generosity.
 
Michael Moore’s latest movie was called, Capitalism: A Love Story. At first, the concept seemed hostile and sarcastic, yet the more I pondered its irony, the more I recognized its truth. Capitalism in its current anarchic state is all about love or rather the lack of it. Love in the Ancient Greek agape sense of the word.
 

Making the Emotional Case for (Sustainability) Change

There is a fascinating interview with Chip Heath in the latest Mckinsey Quarterly (free subscription required to access), titled: Making the emotional case for change. Heath's thesis is that building a rational, analytical case for change is not enough to make change happen. You also have to appeal to people's emotion. You have to motivate them to want to change.

 
I'm constantly amazed at how much businesses underestimate the impact of the emotional side of communications. Politics understands it. I dare you to find a politician running a campaign TV commercial that references anything remotely resembling an issue (unless it's an attack ad). Ditto for sales and marketing. But for some reason, business leaders seem to think that data alone is good enough to make their point. "If I could just show them this graph" or "they need to know the facts." As Heath explains, that alone is not enough to drive change.
 
This blog is (primarily) about external green communication, but before you can do that you have to have internal alignment. This article gives some great examples and tips for how to get that internal alignment. Take Heath's example from GE and how they got their team to start thinking in terms of ecomagination:
 

The Toyota Way: Beyond Shame

American business is getting an important lesson in civics as one of the world’s most beloved automakers dramatically and temporarily falls from grace.

Toyota Motor Company is accused of delaying its response to countless service complaints about “sticky” accelerators. Millions of cars, including the wildly popular Prius, have been recalled in an effort to avoid more accidents, injuries and potential fatalities. To date thirty four deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to the sudden surge in acceleration.

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Microsoft and Telecentre.org Providing Free Internet Access and ICTs To One Billion People By 2015

Incubated by Microsoft, Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for the past five years as Telecentre.org, the new Telecentre.org Foundation will be launched on March 3 as an independent NGO. “With 200 organizational partners in 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, we are facilitating the...

Toyota: Forgotten Principles

Last week Toyota’s president, Mr. Akio Toyota, testified before U.S. Congress regarding the company’s global recall.  Mr. Toyota repeatedly apologized for the recall of millions of cars, offering to take personal responsibility for what had happened.  As part of his testimony, Mr. Toyota stated that the company lost sight of its priorities, growing too large too fast.  He claimed the company’s original priorities were safety first, quality second and volume third.  However, over the years these priorities became scrambled, resulting in volume toppling safety.

This situation is a reminder that during times of growth organizations should continually review their founding principles and mission.  This can help to ensure that an organization’s current strategy does not lead it down a path it does intend nor desire.   Such an exercise may have helped Toyota keep its priorities in proper order.

Published on the Toyota Worldwide website is a set of  “7 Guiding Principles.” Principle #3 states: Dedicate ourselves to providing clean and safe products and to enhancing the quality of life everywhere through all our activities. Interestingly, none of the principles mention anything to the tune of “sell more cars than anyone else.”  Additionally, Toyota North America’s mission statement reads: To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America. Again, the mission is not about volume—rather it is about value and customer satisfaction.

Saving Ducks and Confiscating Guitars: A Good Law Gets Better

The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity.
 
There are many definitions for biodiversity, but the one adopted by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity is: “the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ‘inter alia’, terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.
 
Preserving the world’s ecosystems and the web of life they each support is a good and noble goal in and of itself.  But by preserving biodiversity we are really ensuring our own health, safety, economic security, and our very way of life.  So this year, global institutions of all kinds, government agencies, and even corporations are coming together to celebrate the variety of life on planet Earth, and the value and importance it has for us humans.
 
From supporting and advancing agriculture, medicine and tourism, to combating climate change, biodiversity has real bottom line benefits for our global society.  If you’ve never seen it, The United Nations Environment Programme issued a great report on the topic, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB).
 
But how do we make the goal of protecting species and ecosystems real?  How do we preserve biodiversity?  One way is through policies and laws with teeth, and through the rigorous enforcement of those laws.  One such law is the Lacey Act.
 

Sustainability, Carbon Sequestration, and the Bottom Line

Abstract. By burning fossil fuels we have put 3.6 trillion tons of Carbon Dioxide, CO2 in the atmosphere in the last 200 years – most in the last 60. This has changed the concentration of atmospheric CO2 from 250 parts per Million, ppm, to 390 ppm, an increase of approximately 35.9%. This increase of atmospheric CO2 is resulting in changing precipitation and rising temperatures, particularly at the poles and farther away from the equator.

The typical modern reductionist approach is to simplify the problem to develop a solution:
“Burning coal, oil, and natural gas puts CO2 into the atmosphere. All we need to do to solve the problem is modify the machines so they burn fossil fuel without releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. How do we do that? We should capture the carbon dioxide, and the arsenic, mercury, other heavy metals, radionucleotides, etc, and store it somewhere.”

But we need to remember that we are burning coal, oil, and natural gas for a reason: to generate heat, hot water, electricity and transportation. There are alternative energy technologies, including nuclear, solar, and wind.

Coal with Carbon Sequestration is estimated to cost $10 to $15 Billion per gigawatt, without considering the costs of mining, processing and transporting the coal, cleaning up after mining, and isolating the arsenicals, mercury, and radionucleotides released from burning coal.  Solar is estimated to cost $6.5 Billion per gigawatt - with no fuel and no wastes. Wind $2 to $3 Billion per gigawatt - with no fuel and no wastes.

We at Popular Logistics think, feel and believe that we need to replace coal with solar and wind immediately.

The Parallels Between Top Companies and Best Nonprofit Boards

In today's challenging environment, the nonprofit boards that will lead their organizations most effectively are the boards that identify, recruit, and develop outstanding leaders and board members who have the experience, expertise, and diversity of perspectives and backgrounds to envision the organization's greater potential and to achieve financial and strategic success. My readers will be familiar with my ...

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