It’s all in the way you think about it. Debtors or victims? Creditors or usurers?
The ancient dance of debt and credit has changed partners and its moral compass through 4000 years of recorded history. Humanity has had an ambivalent relationship to debt since civilization began. The current battle between borrowers and lenders reveals the age-old struggle shows no sign of abating.
Today's New York Times article, "Target's First Store in Manhattan Took a Decade of Wooing" describes how Target laid the groundwork to open a major new retail outlet in Harlem. According to the article, Target invested a decade in getting to know the community, its leaders and its residents, and its needs and interests. Not only has Target been financially generous in strengthening schools, cultural institutions, and local parks, but the company is also selling locally produced and designed merchandise.
As the US markets continue to debate whether we are still in a recession, on the road to recovery, or headed for a double recession, the Indian government is busy imposing regulations to boost corporate philanthropy and social responsibility. In an economy that continues to post steady growth despite upheavals across Europe and the U.S., India Inc. is increasingly facing scrutiny for their role—or their notable absence—in the social and environmental growth of the country.
In 2007, Shannon Schuyler, an executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) wrote a white paper for the company's leadership emphasizing that PwC needed someone to oversee their CR efforts and give them direction.
Often politics and business mix in a big way. Small Business America is no exception. Access to credit for small business, sole proprietors and entrepreneurs in the United States is in dire straits according to every walking & talking politician out there from the Big O to the Fed Chief to elected officials from both political parties. Yet nowhere is any real and effective help forthcoming.
Something remarkable happened in the world of the richest men on earth. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who dedicated most of their lives to accumulating as much wealth as possible, decided to give nearly all of it away - in their lifetimes. Why? To help those who cannot help themselves. And even more than that, they have asked their peers to do the same (the Giving Pledge) – give it all away. If you don’t see this as unusual, think again.
What we commonly refer to as a nonprofit "board" is the governing board of a nonprofit corporation. This board is charged by law with the oversight of the nonprofit organization. Board members have a fiduciary duty and risk legal liability if they fail in their duties of care, loyalty, and obedience. The legal organization and responsibility is what makes a "board" a "board." Only the governing board has decision-making authority related to organizational strategy, budget, and the hiring of the CEO.
Indeed, sustainable business makes for strange bedfellows. Just this week, Seventh Generation announced it will soon offer its environmentally-friendly products in more than 1500 Walmart stores nationwide and on Walmart.com.
As BP prepares for a major image overhaul, what can we expect from incoming CEO Robert Dudley? It wasn’t Tony Hayward's lack of management skills or inept strategizing that have led to his departure, but a realization that he is, according to a Wall Street Journal report, "no longer seen as able to address one of the company's most crucial tasks: repairing BP's reputation and restoring its credibility in the critical U.S.
There is a great discussion on LEED apartment building tenant complaints over on the Consilience Blog. The complaints as tenant complaints go are legitimate, but have little or nothing to do with the buildings being LEED certified, rather they have to do with cost cutting and poor design, construction, and facilities maintenance.
In summary the complaints were:
Inability to control Air Conditioning to a point below 73 degrees
Challenged by low flow appliance and water pressure
Common areas have no Air Conditioning
Appear to be too few elevators and without AC and too many solar panels
Time lags in underground parking illumination due to motion sensors create safety concern .
As a landlord and manager of several non-LEED buildings and as a LEED AP, I had to throw my hat into the discussion and this is what I had to say:
Every one of the complaints listed are irrespective of the building being green or LEED certified. These complaints are a result of poor building, design, and facilities management choices of the buildings not because the building is LEED.
Heating/Cooling complaints are universal in rental units, period. If the building earned credits for indoor air quality /climate control then these complaints are due to poor installation/design/implementation. More likely the building owner and/or contractor cut corners to cut construction costs or have implemented additional throttle controls to cut operational costs.
If I had a nickel for every board looking for a good board chair...
Many boards are searching for board chairs. Even some nonprofits that have supportive board members are looking outside of their boards for board chair candidates who can lead their organizations to new heights.
Why is the choice of board chair so important? Would those of you who are successful in your business enterprises want to chair a board?
Why is a good board chair so essential to the success of the nonprofit?
With a poke in the chest, Chris Jarvis was asked a question on a street corner that stripped away what he knew and put him on a path to give people the opportunity to realize their full worth. Chris is responsible for helping companies attract and retain the best people. But he’s not a recruiter. He creates and implements employee volunteer programs (EVPs) for companies and nonprofits.
I talk to companies every week about employee volunteer programs. It doesn’t seem to matter if the company is local business or a multi-national Fortune 500 corporation. Invariably the conversation begins with the question of how to get more employees to participate as volunteers. Next, we explore how the volunteering program fits within the company and what the outcomes have been so far. Finally, we talk about metrics. What is the data telling you? Usually, this brings us right back to the beginning of the conversation: participation rates and how to increase that number.
This is the final excerpt from a series of interviews I conducted with four MBA candidates (see footnote for biographical information) who graduated—or expect to soon—with a focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). In this portion, the graduates discuss their internship experiences and the dilemmas of conducting a job search in corporate responsibility.
“But the gulf oil spill and the financial crisis have taught us, rather brutally, that the heart of the relationship between business and society doesn't lie with the charitable deeds that companies do in their off-hours but whether they are doing their day jobs in ways that help -- or hurt -- the rest of us.”
Chrystia Freeland, global editor at large for Thomson Reuters, wrote the article “What’s BP’s social responsibility?” (Sunday, July 18, 2010). Google reader brought it to my attention and halfway through the first paragraph I was hooked - particularly at the point where Chrystia suggests, “I would like to suggest a third, inanimate culprit: the cult of corporate social responsibility.”
This is the second excerpt from a series of interviews I conducted with four MBA candidates who graduated—or expect to soon—with a focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR). [Read the first part on Vault's CSR blog: In Good Company] In this portion, the graduates discuss their myriad backgrounds, and how they came to focus on CSR as a career choice.
The issue of restitution is front and center in the Gulf. How does a publicly traded corporation like BP compensate business owners and workers who suffered severe economic loss due to its negligence?
In our survival-of-the-fittest world of capitalism, the traditional response is “tough luck sucker” if you are on the losing end of the deal. In the late 20th century model, compensation for BP’s mistakes would not even be on the table.
This was one of the most educational interviews I’ve done. Mike is able to admit when he’s wrong, to explain the internal motivations and strategy behind his company’s social responsibility programs and to go beyond corporate sound bites.
"Why do business people on nonprofit boards make decisions they'd never make on behalf of their companies?" This was one of the intriguing questions from the audience this evening when Matthew Bishop interviewed Nancy Lublin at the 92nd Street Y.
The handling of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe is a textbook study of how not to manage a crisis. The government seems to have ceded responsibility to BP, which seems to have acted to protect the Macondo oil field rather than the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Coast.
It seems clear that neither BP nor the government were prepared for an event like this. At a minimum, both BP and the government should have had an understanding of the potentially catastrophic ramifications of an accident and, more importantly, an ability to shut off the flow of oil – to minimize the damage - as is the case with rigs operating in the waters of the North Sea.
BP's initial public statements were clearly inaccurate. On May 14, 2010, while BP was emphasizing 5,000 barrels per day reaching the surface, NPR reported scientific analysis suggesting 70,000 barrels per day was gushing from the well. On June 15, 2010, the U. S. Government revised its estimate to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day. We now know that crude oil gushing from a broken well on the sea floor is like an iceberg - most is below the surface. BP and the government should have been accurate, open, and forthcoming in their statements.
BP answers to stockholders and to the governments of the jurisdictions in which it operates. The U. S. government's regulatory regime should have been stricter and more comprehensive. While BP might not be expected to go beyond what is mandated by law, it can neither be expected to regulate itself nor act in the interest of anyone but shareholders.