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"The Economic Collapse, Fundamentally Is a Failure of Leadership"

Ann M. Charles wants senior management to realize that the economic collapse has changed the culture of leadership forever. Founder of BRANDfog and producer of the upcoming Great Leaders Conference, she firmly believes that for companies to be successful, they must embrace social media while recognizing that corporate responsibility is no longer a vague, idealistic concept.

Having spent almost 20 years in marketing and witnessed firsthand a pervading sense of short-termism across corporate America, Charles started BRANDfog in 2009 to address this gap and offers


What CSR And Nonprofit Leaders Are Reading - Part II

What CSR and Nonprofit Leaders Are Reading - Part I

Rethinking Debt: Deadbeat Creditors

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.

The New York Times published a remarkably biased report entitled, “...

CSR: Right On Target

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...

Mandating CSR: Indian Government Demands Full Disclosure From Companies

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 early March, corporations were surprised with an announcement from the government's Corporate Affairs...

Blogging on CSR and Nonprofit Boards: My Favorite 17 Posts

When Fast Company invited me to be an Expert blogger on Ethonomics and Leadership two years ago, I had no idea what a great adventure this would be. In over 165 posts, including coverage of two Clinton Global Initiative annual meetings, I've aimed to present you with a variety of CSR programs, the elements that make these programs beneficial for companies and communities, and people from...

Trouble Brewing For Green Mountain Coffee: Do 3 Billion Plastic Cups Negate 30 Years of Sustainability?

Does a history of progressive social and environmental responsibility compensate for recent environmental abuse?

Green Mountain Coffee is staring into the face of this question now with criticism of its environmentally noxious single-use coffee pods that work with its Keurig brewing system.  Last year, more than 80% of Green Mountain’s $803 million in sales came from the nonrecyclable,...

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 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...


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