CSR Blogs

Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 5: Five Ways to Build Your Sustainability Report Team

In order to build a good corporate sustainability report (CSR), it is important to have a solid team in place. The steps to recruit and motivate that team, however, are not unique to sustainability. Solid project management, expert networking and persuasive leadership are among the key business skills needed to guide your team in delivering a world-class report.

Once you have identified the key experts needed for your ...

The Complicating Factors

Part 12 in the series "The New PR"

Lack of Consensus on Standards

Globally there is no consensus on what social responsibility is, or how it can be defined across cultures and nationalities. For example, there are those that believe that the obligation exists to give back once a certain level of financial success has been attained. Others believe that true social responsibility is a pathway to success. In the US, a...

Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 4: Five Company Experts You Need for a Good Sustainability Report

Producing a corporate sustainability report (CSR) is a team sport. The stronger the team is, the stronger the report will be. Each player needs to bring specific expertise that is complementary to the team as a whole. So, it is important to recruit and rally the key experts that can deliver what you need to make the company’s report a success. Choose carefully and look for people who already demonstrate some passion about sustainability.

In most organizations, there are one or two departments that lead the sustainability report. Thosefunctions will likely be a reflection...

The Forces Encouraging Sustainability as a Business Model

Part 11 in the series "The New PR"

Globalization

One hundred years after the first powered flight, the oceans are no longer impenetrable barriers that keep people, ideas and information apart. 

Today people travel more than ever before, and corporations often outsource products and send workers to new locales. This leads to exposure of both companies and individuals to differing practices and societal norms. This...

Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 3: Five Key Elements of a Good Sustainability Report

Not all corporate sustainability reports (CSRs) are created equal. Some reports areglossy marketing brochures that lack substantive data. Others are so data focused that reading them requires a strong cup of coffee to resist boredom-induced sleep. The best reports provide a balance of accessible, engaging text and comprehensive, material data presented in a well-designed format. It is both art and science.

But what are the elements that go into making a good report? Which reports should you look to for inspiration? A good place to start is the list of...

Clinton Global Initiative's New Theme, "Designing For Impact," Emphasizes Action

 

For the first time in its 8-year history, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has assigned a theme to its Annual Meeting--"Design for Impact"--to remind participants that the goal of the organization is action, not simply ideas.

"When the history of CGI is written, it won’t be about the meetings, it will be about the impact of the commitments,” says ...

Maximum City: Engaging Youth in Urban Sustainability

Last month, I had the opportunity – and the privilege – to participate in the Maximum City program in Toronto.  This program is the brainchild of Josh Fullan, a high school humanities and languages teacher at the University of Toronto Schools, my alma mater.  Last year, Josh ran a pilot...

Business Benefits of Sustainability

Part 10 in the series "The New PR"

For anyone to accept the premise that social responsibility is a business strategy, we must be able to define and quantify the business benefits that can be derived from adopting this model. This is so that success can be measured, just as with any business strategy. ...

Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 2: Five Ways to Prepare Your Organization for Sustainability Reporting

First things first. Before setting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to write outlines or strategies or any text at all, there are a few important steps that will help build the foundation for a qualitycorporate sustainability report (CSR).

Most people won’t see the report’s foundation. But, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t make it any less important. Any builder (or homeowner with a leaky basement) will tell you how critical it is to have a solid foundation. Any shortcuts in laying the groundwork will impact the quality of the end product in the construction of...

Sustainability as a Business Strategy

Part 9 in the series "The New PR"

In addition to the obvious impacts on the environment, business is a powerful force for driving social as well as economic gains. This can be seen from the benefits that generations have come to take for granted in industrialized nations. For millions of people around the world, capitalism has been a force for economic and social advancement. People are living longer, healthier lives and enjoying the...

Sustainability Reporting 101 - Part 1: Five Reasons Your Business Needs a Sustainability Report

Part 1 in the blog series "Sustainability Reporting 101"

Sadly, most American companies do not produce sustainability (or responsibility) reports. In fact, a recent study of sustainability reporting by the US Conference Board, Bloomberg, and the Global Reporting Initiative shows that only a tenth of the 1000 largest U.S. publicly listed companies effectively disclose sustainability data.

That’s unfortunate. I’ve seen...

Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program - Key 5: Maximize Stakeholder Engagement

Part 8 in the series "The New PR"

Companies that have a genuine commitment to sustainability can implement their programs in ways that add value and clearly demonstrate their commitment.

Accurately Define and Identify Stakeholders

Many businesses take a marketing approach to customers – selecting to focus their efforts on the most profitable segments of their market. This is a sound business strategy that companies usually...

Restoring Chitimacha: How Companies Can Serve as Agents of Cultural Preservation

“The artist has a special task and duty: the task of reminding men of their humanity and the promise of their creativity.”

As historian, sociologist and critic Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) so eloquently noted in the quote above, all art – visual, musical, literary, architectural, performing, culinary – reflects the best of humanity.  We are, after all, the culture that we create.

This month, the Smithsonian held its 46th...

Nonprofit Board Self-Assessment: Creating the Path Forward

Given financial threats and opportunities and a passion for their missions, a growing number of NGO/nonprofit boards are seeking to assess how they can become stronger and more effective in maximizing their greater potential.

Business executives and professionals and people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who serve on NGO/nonprofit boards can bring valuable expertise in helping boards consider new revenue models and opportunities and explore ways of increasing the organization's impact through new partnerships.

In my work with hundreds of NGO/nonprofit boards, they...

Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program - Key 4: Tangible, Local Benefits

Part 7 in the blog series The New PR

“All politics is local” – Tip O’Neil

With exceptions such as relief after the Indian Ocean tsunami and other disasters that draw international attention and concern, for the most part, people like to see the benefit of corporations in their own community. Impacts such as employment opportunities, contributions to tax revenues and bringing needed goods and services to the community are easily understood...

Everything I Need To Know About Life I Learned On My Nonprofit Board

 

In my experience, people on nonprofit boards almost always act with good will; they become disappointed or frustrated, however, when roles are unclear, and that can bring about tension. Under such circumstances, the board can get stuck. When the board underperforms, so does the organization; the community suffers.

This is a life lesson for people in workplaces, families, classrooms, and any relationship. That peace, happiness, and fulfillment come from creating a mutual understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and each person’s role in achieving...

Penn State, And How Nonprofit Boards Will Shape Up In The Wake Of Scandal

To begin with, many of you did plenty. If you’re reading this post, then it’s likely that you’re active in social media. Public attention to recent nonprofit board scandals, as well as robust participation via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media has been influential in the cases of Penn State, University of Virginia, and the Komen Foundation. There were financial and reputational consequences for organizations led by people who made bad decisions.

Beyond these three cases, you are having an exponential impact because two messages are loud and clear: 1) Boards of nonprofit...

Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program - Key 3: Employee Engagement and Empowerment

Part 6 in the blog series The New PR

Employees are closest to the community of stakeholders because they are community stakeholders with the unique perspective of knowing the needs of both the community and the company.

Recently I attended a conference on social media. One presenter offered up the notion that companies are no longer able to control their ‘brand’ or image using the example of a recent YouTube video ‘...

Nonprofit Board Scandals: Let Them Move Governance Forward

The nonprofit board scandals of the past year are highly distressing: revealing everything from complete board dysfunction in the firing of the CEO at the University of Virginia, to the cover-up of criminal behavior at Penn State, to policy decisions that arguably destroyed Komen's leading nonprofit brand. In all three cases, the financial and reputational losses are quite severe. People to be served by the mission and outsiders have been harmed, the victims at Penn State devastatingly so.

However, the fact that these boards and organizations have been raked through the coals,...

Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program - Key 2: Integrate Sustainability into Day-to-Day Operations

Part 5 in the blog series The New PR

From a Vision to a Culture (building an internal constituency)

For sustainability to be integrated into a business model, it must be compatible not just on the theoretical level, but also practically on a day-to-day basis. Asking people to engage in behavior that is seen as incompatible with their regular duties is a recipe for failure. For this reason, the human...

NOW is the Best Time to Rebuild Your Board: Here’s Why and How

According to surveys by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, nonprofits face growing financial pressures while also experiencing greater demands for services. At the same time, there are new funding opportunities for nonprofits, including corporations seeking to advance social and environmental purposes as well as investors and new philanthropists. The smartest NGOs/nonprofits will weather the financial threats while capturing substantial new revenues in the next several years....

Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program - Key 1: Alignment with your Core Business Model

Part 4 in the blog series The New PR

Successful businesses are adept at determining market changes, trends and expectations. They cannot be in such a rush to embrace the “new” trend that they abandon their fundamental and core purposes.

For any program to be valuable to a business, it must further the goals of that company. Businesses must therefore be prudent when it comes to sustainability efforts, and not rush headlong into activities or partnerships that are not aligned with...

MBAs Without Borders: Experience In Emerging Markets Gives Graduates An Edge

"Without question, I'm far more likely to hire MBA graduates who have had management consulting experience in emerging markets over graduates who have not," said Amit Sinha, Head of Database and Technology Marketing at SAP.

As an employer who hires graduates from many MBA programs, Sinha himself took advantage of the International Business Development program when he was a graduate student himself several years ago at the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley.

"Graduates who have worked on...

Business… with Liberty and Justice for All (Part Two)

The world is more peaceful today than it has been since 2009. This is the finding of the 2012 Global Peace Index, released last week by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

As noted in my ...

Five “Keys” to Unlock a Successful Sustainability Program

Part 3 in the blog series The New PR

The measure of success is not how well your business model supports sustainability objectives but rather how well your sustainability efforts support – and define - your business model.

The five “keys” that I have developed over the last fifteen years and have been teaching for about a decade are those elements that I believe are necessary to build a unlock the full potential of...

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