CSR Blogs

PwC's CSR Leader: "I had to accept that some people weren't going to come to the table or invest in this"

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. Schuyler also candidly pointed out that while the accounting giant had done some impressive things for...

Do Republicans Hate Small Business?

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.

The recent Small Business Jobs and Credit Act was shot down with filibuster...

Is This A Viable Alternative To Crowdsourced Social Good Campaigns?

I’m not the first to make the case that crowdsourced social good contests should retreat quickly into the night.

  • They’re inefficient at creating change;
  • Their current popularity has diminished the value they bring to companies and brands;
  • Consumers are fed up with them (how many vote-for-me solicitations do you get a week that make you feel more like a brand pusher than a change agent?); and
  • For the money and hoopla they involve, they should accomplish more than marketing the company and channeling money to (often unvetted and under-qualified)
  • ...

The Giving Pledge: A New Social Conscience

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. This act represents one...

When Is a Board a Board? When Is It Not a Board?

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.

A board is not a board when the nonprofit organization...

Walmart and Seventh Generation Join Forces to Bring Sustainable Products to the Masses

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. And according to...

A Responsible BP Must Go Beyond Petroleum

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. market." So will a...

LEED building complaints – are they really LEED related?

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:
  1. Inability to control Air Conditioning to a point below 73 degrees
  2. Challenged by low flow appliance and water pressure
  3. Common areas have no Air Conditioning
  4. Appear to be too few elevators and without AC and too many solar panels
  5. 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.

Help Wanted: (Nonprofit) Board Chairs

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?

Because on the one hand, the nonprofit board has the ultimate...

Better Employees, Finances and Image: Why and How to Create A Corporate Volunteer Program

Listen to the interview here.

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.

When Olivia Khalili asked Chris what a...

So You Think Your Brand is Unique... But What Do Your Employees Think?

Does your company have an HR handbook? Chances are, you're thinking yes, of course. What about a culture book for employees? Zappos does.

The company, which started by selling shoes a decade ago, is today an Amazon subsidiary and has expanded to a multitude of merchandising. It is also probably one of very few companies to grow its brand around an idea of transparency, ethics and collaborative culture. For Tony Hsieh, cofounder and current CEO of Zappos...

Measuring the Strength of Your Volunteer Program

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.

It makes...

Freeland's Washington Post Op-Ed Is Wrong: CSR Does Maximize Corporate Profitability

Job Hunting in CSR, Part 3: After All Is Said and Done, Where Are The Jobs?

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.

Finding an Internship in CSR

For Ashley Jablow, the traditional MBA summer internship search was only the beginning of a long road ahead. "I had a lot of trouble looking for an internship because I...

The Washington Post Equates CSR with Charity: #FAIL

CSR? Don't quit you're day job!
 
I was flabbergasted. I had to read the article three times just to be sure I wasn’t missing some essential qualifier. Here was the Washington Post equating Corporate Social Responsibility with charity and philanthropy.

“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.”

Job Hunting in CSR, Part II: Connecting Corporate Responsibility with Career Objectives

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.

None of the graduates started business school with CSR in mind:...

Economic Disaster: Who Pays the Price for Failure?

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.

No one compensated Katrina victims for lost homes and businesses despite the fact that the City of New Orleans and the State of...

Green Mountain Coffee’s ‘Organic’ Sustainability Evolution–with Mike Dupee

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.

Click the player to listen to our conversation. Prefer MP3? Right-click and download.

...

Everyone Needs a Greater Purpose (Even Companies)

"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. Lublin is the CEO of DO Something, founder of...

What BP and the Government Could Have Done and Should Be Doing

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.

Where do we go from here?

Return on Integrity Is the New Bottom Line for Marketers

What do a small chocolate maker, a global tire manufacturer, a natural-foods company and an insurance company have in common? They all believe that acting with integrity is helping their businesses perform better.

The recession was caused by a culture of capitalism that was characterized by an all-consuming pursuit of profit that put integrity on the back burner and made irresponsible business practices acceptable. As the recession eases, our expectations of corporations have changed radically. Today, we expect corporations to have a social purpose, and we need new ways to assess performance that are not just in black or red.

How should we account for the feelings that employees have toward their employers? What are the best ways to measure the bottom-line impact of a partnership with a community organization? What is the value of authenticity and transparency? What is doing the right thing really worth?

While there are no easy answers to these questions, integrity has become a common denominator to many of the intangible assets that together are adding up to a new idea about what business success looks like. And return on integrity is a new measure that will help redefine how business operates.

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently launched a global call to action for business integrity. Its framework for integrity involves: establishing integrity as a C-suite and boardroom priority; putting integrity at the core of a company's mission and making it a business, not a moral issue; establishing company codes and standards based on models recommended by leading standard-setting organizations; establishing internal controls to ensure compliance; and reinforcing standards with rewards and compensation schemes.

Café Mujer: Coffee Promotion Starts Today!

The act of raising a family alone is not easy, but being a women entrepreneur with only a small coffee plot to provide for your children is downright heroic. For Peruvian female farmers in this situation, Green Awakening created Café Mujer. The company works directly with cooperatives to source organically grown coffee, which results in an increase in farmer income by at least 30% when compared with farmer sales to importers.

For three weeks this summer starting today,...

Learned: Gender Evolution

(LEARNED) "The End of Men?" A recent article by Hanna Rosin in The Atlantic got me thinking.  And her words were not as inflammatory as you may imagine.  Instead, her article takes a sweeping look at how our culture has evolved from an organizing principle of patriarchy to a situation that looks much the opposite.  She makes the point that times have simply changed with regard to measures of economic success.  The talents of all adults - not just half of them - are the key.

So if time’s up for the patriarchy, does that mean we’re heading full speed to a matriarchy?  No. We need to equally value what men and women contribute, and to encourage them to do so using their own unique styles.  We can get there if our culture, and the media that covers it, stops emphasizing the extremes.

In my mind, what lies in the center of the pendulum swing between extremes is most important.  And this middle ground is key in both our gendered work culture and our sustainable business practices.

The "women’s era" seems to be all the buzz right now. But the truth may be that things have shifted to give men the opportunity to learn as much about "feminine" ways of thinking as women have already learned about "masculine" ways of thinking.  Times are indeed different.  But both men and women are adapting.  We are all settling in to that pendulum center.

Panera Bread Learns People Are Basically Good

Panera Bread sets an example with its non-profit cafe and challenges other corporations to push their philanthropy beyond writing checks.

Last month, I blogged about Panera Bread’s new non-profit cafe in St. Louis dubbed the St. Louis Bread Company Cares Cafe. The idea was simple… take whatever you want...

Critical Thinking & Social Entrepreneurship: A Harvard Graduate On a Financial Mission

One of the greatest challenges for the upcoming generation of leaders, active citizens, and responsible adults is to figure out ways to reclaim balanced lifestyles from a contrived system of over-consumption and credit card debt. Luckily, this generation is equipped with visionary and innovative solution-making skills that combine contemporary thought and respect for time-tested wisdom. The result: quirky, out-of-the-box thinking that just might help society kick some nasty habits.

Innovators realize the power of entertaining, individually-empowering yet educational technologies...

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