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

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.

...

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 ...

Buyer Beware: Consumer Finance

The incessant chatter about financial industry legislation reveals more talk and less action. Opponents of financial reform stand to lose big bucks if the status quo is changed. Okay, so they have the right to free speech in the USA, but why would anyone of sound mind and independent means bother to listen to that tired old rant? If you are not working for the Big Four Banks that currently control monetary policy in America or any of its subsidiary arms or lobbyists, then logic should compel you to join the public campaign for financial reform.

For the sake of American economic security, the financial system needs to transition from anti-public to pro-public by ceasing to favor private interests over public concerns. What we need is a Ralph Nader of consumer financial products. (I nominate Elizabeth Warren, chairwoman of the TARP Oversight Committee and a staunch advocate of the new Consumer Financial Product Agency.) Ms. Warren’s activism aside, establishing an independent agency is vital for the health and welfare of consumer finance.

Back in the zippy American sports car hey day circa 1960s, the hot car of the decade was a jazzy little number called the General Motors Corvair. The car sold in record numbers allowing consumers to live out their American dreams of sexy convertibles and high speed travel. Yet the sports car’s poor safety record was hidden from the public and put unsuspecting drivers at risk. Enter Harvard educated lawyer Ralph Nader. The consumer superhero wrote an expose in 1965 entitled Unsafe at Any Speed detailing flagrant safety issues like unstable driver control, spinouts and rollovers.

Working Women: Key to Promoting Energy Efficiency

How women buy and how they work/lead is big news these days – no matter what brand, category, industry or organization.  When you think about how to start to change the culture around sustainable life and business practices, women also appear to be worth serious consideration.  This is particularly the case when you examine the “household manager” role and how women keep those responsibilities in mind all the time.

Let’s connect some dots: One of the reasons people begin to think seriously...

Why Transparency Matters…Impacting Reputation

 

What does it mean to be a transparent organization?  While transparency includes honesty, it is more than just telling the truth when asked.    Transparency at its best involves pro-actively communicating with stakeholders (consumers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, etc) on all aspects of  business.  Being transparent does not mean one has to reveal confidential information or give away company secrets.  Rather, it can entail explaining an organization’s motives, responsibly alerting customers to potential product risks or setting

...

PepsiCo, sexism and “diversity”

This is PepsiCo’s SoBe brand, showcasing the actress Ashley Greene and her “zero inhibitions” in a painted-on swimsuit, as part of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit extravaganza. What better way, after all, to promote Sobe’s  “zero calorie” flavors than with a babe wearing zero clothes on your corporate website and on You Tube videos, which have attracted more than 500,000 views?

And then there is the photo, from the page about Our Commitment to Diversity on the PepsiCo website, which goes on at some length about the company’s efforts to foster a workplace of caring and candor and where everyone is treated with respect. As best as I can tell, all the PepsiCo employees in this photo appear to fully clothed, although it’s possible that some wise guy in the back isn’t wearing pants.

The company says:

Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do for our business. We’ve made it our commitment to make diversity and inclusion a way of life at PepsiCo….In fact, we view diversity as a key to our future.

And:

PepsiCo has been nationally recognized as one of the top places for women and minorities to work. We were one of the first companies to begin hiring minorities in professional positions, as far back as the 1940s. We were the first Fortune 500 company to have an African-American vice president.

The company also says that its

Multi-year strategic plans for diversity are developed with the  same vigor and goal-setting process as other business issues.

Pages