Dave Armon's blog

Dave Armon is CEO of the Corporate Responsibility Board, which publishes CR Magazine, produces the COMMIT!Forum, ranks the 100 Best Corporate Citizens and manages the Corporate Responsibility Association. Previously, Dave was CMO of 3BL Media and a member of the company's board of directors. A former journalist, Dave spent 20 years in management at PR Newswire, where he was president and COO.  

Corporate America honors fallen soldiers, supports veterans

On this Memorial Day, we salute the men and women whose lives were lost while serving in the U.S. armed forced.

To the fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, partners, children, grandchildren and friends whose loved one did not come home from military service, please accept our condolences for your loss and our gratitude for your loved ones' sacrifice.

Memorial Day should not be confused with Veterans Day, celebrated in November.

Yet it is hard not to draw contrasts between those who died on the battlefield and those who returned home with scars, both mental and physical...

A Case Against the 'S Word'

For a few minutes today, it appeared the United Nations might have to rebrand the newly minted sustainable development goals as PDGs.

A soul-searching session on day two of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) conference in Amsterdam took issue with the term sustainability, suggesting companies adopt “purpose” instead.

“The word sustainability is about as bad as it gets from a branding perspective,” said Ken Pucker, a former COO at Timberland who now teaches at Boston University, adding that CSR, CR, EHG and other corporate functions that are not fully integrated across a...

Watch 3BL Media updates from GRI in Amsterdam on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. ET, May 18-20

What a difference two years makes.

It’s been 24 months since corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability executives gathered in Amsterdam to discuss how their companies are tackling environmental and social challenges, and how best to report their progress.

As delegates of the fifth GRI Global Conference assemble in Amsterdam for a three-day summit beginning Wednesday, skeptics will be few and far between in the wake of two landmark agreements.

In Paris, leaders from 195 nations signed a universal, legally binding climate change pact that limits global...

‘Clean trillion’ is New Goal for $300 Billion Woman

The $300 billion woman is shedding her CEO title at the largest U.S. pension fund and adopting another monetary moniker: cheerleader for the “clean trillion.”

Anne Stausboll, who retires from CalPERS at the end of 2016, is urging global capital markets to remove barriers so the aggressive climate change goals agreed to by 175 global leaders in Paris can be achieved.

“The Paris agreement’s importance cannot be overstated. It’s unleased an unprecedented opportunity for institutional investors worldwide – a powerful, global green light to shape tomorrows low-carbon economy,”...

Gnarly Fruit Paves Way for Ugly Fish Jerky in Battle to Curb Food Waste

Misshapen carrots, oranges with bulging navels and pockmarked pomegranates have debuted at the Whole Foods and Giant Eagle supermarket chains, giving U.S. consumers a wake-up call about the issue of food waste.

Shoppers at Intermarche in France and Asda in the UK are already buying tons of wonky fruit in a successful campaign to reduce the unnecessary disposal of produce that was fresh but lacking in aesthetic appeal.

In January, Shark Tank investor Robert...

Senator Whitehouse to Ceres Conference: 'Denial Castle' is Crumbling

With the ink barely dry on the landmark Paris COP21 agreement signed by 175 countries, one New England lawmaker sees “real cracks in denial castle” and is calling on corporations to lobby Republicans in Congress to break party ranks and take a stand on climate change.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said industry associations opposed to stronger laws curtailing fossil fuels are now the only voices being heard in Washington.

“Talking to my colleagues about climate change is like talking to prisoners about escape,” Whitehouse quipped at the opening session of a conference...

Peso for Your Thoughts on Sustainability?

Acronyms make it easier to remember new concepts. The term PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned -- was useful in remembering the new paradigm for PR pros and marketers seeking to reach key audiences with their content in a highly fragmented media environment.

For those PR purists who find it hard to stomach paid as a mainstay comms tactic, try rearranging the letters and going with ESOP. This acknowledges that scoring coverage in a respected news outlet often commands more authority than the content a brand writes and publishes on its own.

Pitching a positive story about a...

Going At It Alone

Sometimes boldly going where no brand has gone before can be a lonely voyage.

Three multibillion-dollar companies, that received accolades for taking an early and socially progressive stance on controversial issues, have publicly acknowledged they expected their competitors to follow suit sooner.

“We’re the only big company that’s on the record for mandatory GMO labeling on the label,” Dave Stangis, VP of public affairs and corporate responsibility for Campbell Soup Company,” said during an Ethical Corporation event in New York City. “We thought we’d have some followers.”...

From Farmer to Aerospace Engineer, 4-H Launches Drones

The farm kids’ organization long associated with sheep shearing and canning vegetables will focus its 6 million youth members on drone aircraft as its official national science experiment this year, 4-H Council’s president and CEO announced Tuesday.

The drone project aligns with a high-tech makeover aimed at encouraging girls to pursue science and engineering careers which, if successful, could make it easier for big U.S. defense contractors like Lockheed Martin to recruit female engineers in the year ahead...

Corporate Responsibility Needed at Uber, Says GreenBiz Presenter

It’s routine for massively successful startups like Uber to inspire or unnerve executives of the legacy businesses being disrupted by the sharing economy.

But Monday was anything but routine at GreenBiz, where an opening session on the circular economy took a detour to focus on Uber’s lack of corporate responsibility.

“That’s not the kind of design we want to put into the world,” Steelcase Inc.’s Angela Nahikian said of Uber’s focus on growth rather than ensuring the safety of customers and the communities where the ride-sharing service operates...

News Sites Emphasize Sloths, Social Good

A “help wanted” posting by an executive editor at The Huffington Post caught my eye recently.

Few news organizations have keener insights into the type of content that compels readers to click and share, so the fact that HuffPost is beefing up its “Good News” section is indeed good news for CSR and sustainability communicators.

“Do you communicate with your friends in GIFs? Do you have airtight journalism standards? Can you...

Thaw and Learn: 14 Winter, Spring 2016 CSR & Sustainability Conferences

Accountants have been around since the abacus. Personnel managers began issuing pink slips to unlucky employees as early as 1910. 

Corporate social responsibility and sustainability officers are a much more recent breed of corporate professional. Their numbers are growing, with more than 7,000 organizations now issuing sustainability reports, up from a few dozen in the early 1990s.

Because few companies have long-established departments staffed with generations of veteran CSR pros to teach newbies the ins and outs of corporate citizenship, learning often takes place during...

CVS Tobacco Ban Wins Market Share, One Octogenarian at a Time

Larry Merlo gets a gold star from retired pre-school teacher Reva Sipser.

The president and CEO of CVS Health banned sales of cigarettes at the chain’s more than 7,900 stores in 2014, proclaiming, “Tobacco products have no place in a setting where health care is delivered.”

The move sacrificed billions in cigarette-related retail revenue. But the positive reaction of Reva Sipser, age 88, suggests CVS Health’s reputation boost may be worth far more in the faster growing health and pharmacy segment.  

“When I saw that CVS was no longer selling cigarettes, I decided to...

UN Sustainable Development Goals are Pfizer's 'Christmas Windows' Display

Just two blocks from Grand Central Terminal, Pfizer’s headquarters on East 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan gets plenty of vehicular and foot traffic.

While it’s not Times Square, the location would earn a solid B+ from marketers if they could use the pharmaceutical giant’s office tower as a billboard.

So the site takeover procured by Pfizer’s Chris Gray is a feat worthy of acknowledgment.

When I last saw Chris, Pfizer’s senior director of global institutions and corporate responsibility, at the BSR Conference in San Francisco, the United Nation’s 2030...

Eco-Innovator Ellen MacArthur Partners With H&M to Recycle Clothes

While attempting to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe 11 years ago, British sailing champion Ellen MacArthur had plenty of time to think.

Sure, she probably considered how success might lead to being knighted by Queen Elizabeth II – and how she’d have to reprint her business cards to include the title Dame before her name.

But her 71 days alone at sea also allowed her to ponder weightier topics like ecology and industrial engineering.

“Without looking for it, I found something quite fundamental. That was that when you sail around the world in a...

No Unicorn Sightings at BSR

Just blocks from a San Francisco construction site that will become the new home of the 61-story Salesforce Tower, executives from across the globe gathered yesterday at BSR Conference to learn how to be better corporate citizens.

Salesforce, with a $53 billion market cap, dedicates 1 percent of its value – defined as profit, equity, and employee time --...

Giving Birth to a CSR Report

Companies that rely on their CSR report as a primary communications tool are missing the opportunity to tell their stories year-round to audiences that care about corporate citizenship, according to veteran CSR executives.

IBM has evolved its communications efforts from press releases to blogging, relying on 100 corporate citizen managers around the world, each with their own voice in social media, according to Kristina Kloberdanz, corporate responsibility leader for the tech giant.

“Now I’ve enabled the employees to be the spokespeople,” Kloberdanz told CSR pros at CR...

CSR "More Than Giving Away Money and Product Donations"

We’re on the ground in Washington for this week’s U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Conference, where corporate social responsibility leaders are demonstrating how they are closely tying business objectives to social impact.

Abbott talked about the success it’s having improving health care in Tanzania, where the company has invested...

Top 10 Fall Events for Sustainability Pros, Plus 2 Comms Conferences

As fall airfares drop, CSR and sustainability conferences are taking place across the United States.  Here's our Top 10 list, plus two communications-focused events that can help marketing and PR pros sharpen their skills. 

Practitioner to Educator: Writing the Book on CSR

One of the most social attributes of social media is the ease of sharing content and collaborating with others who want to share your content with their audience.

For writers disciplined enough to post quality content on a regular basis, it’s not unusual to receive offers to become a guest blogger or contributor to a site featuring stories on your area of expertise.

Whether you take advantage of the solicitations depends largely on whether you need the SEO value of links back to your site and – this is probably the bigger factor for many of us – if you have time to cram any...

Corporations See Faster Sales Growth of Sustainable Products, Study Reveals

Many homeowners who installed energy-saving light bulbs five or 10 year ago were disappointed when they burned out prematurely, especially since the “green” bulbs cost significantly more than the old Thomas Edison-era filament models.

Same goes with the first generation of water-saving toilets, which met the government standard but didn’t get the job done reliably.

But manufacturers did not stop tinkering with their product designs and have created far superior replacement lines using LED bulbs and bathroom fixtures that actually work effectively while using even less water...

Brand Sustainability Communications Lacking on Facebook, Study Finds

Only 40 percent of 195 multinational consumer goods brands in a new study are communicating about their sustainability efforts on Facebook, and just four companies are doing half of the talking, according to research from Sustainly.

Half of the Facebook discussion about sustainability happens on pages managed by McDonald’s, Dove, Coca-Cola and Nescafe, Matthew Yeomans, founder of the UK research firm, reported at 

...

Macy’s Adopts Returning Soldiers as Cause

We’re right smack dab in the middle of events season in the sustainability and CSR sector.

A big benefit of industry conferences is that staffers at small nonprofits can gain access to senior executives who work for big corporations.

Likewise, the high-powered officers who attend events like this week’s Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, and Cause Marketing Forum last week, love leaving the office to get inspired by peers and hear about innovative ideas.

With more than 800 stores in 45 states, Macy’s is one of the nation’s premier retailers for fashion and...

Seventh Generation Ad Shows Kids Licking Table

A mom’s decision to skip plates, forks and napkins as she serves giant slices of cake to a houseful of kids is a messy affair – and the setup for a powerful commercial created by the natural cleaner manufacturer Seventh Generation.

CMO Joey Bergstein screened the spot during Cause Marketing Forum, saying iconic brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Chipotle earned their status because “they are out to change the world.”

“We’re moving from educating people to inspiring people,” Bergstein said, adding that commercials produced by Seventh Generation have moved from citing statistics...

UN Foundation Reveals 17 Cause Marketing Goals

​In the same way Russian hackers salivate when they access a trove of credit card numbers, the execs attending Cause Marketing Forum were ecstatic when they got a sneak peek at previously undisclosed United Nations Foundation data.
 
Aaron Sherinian, chief communications and marketing officer for the UN Foundation, teased the 500 nonprofit and corporate marketers in Chicago ...

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