Sunday, June 13, 2010

June CSR Social with Jeff Dubin: Green Products and Consumers

New York Corporate Social Responsibility Group cordially invites you to attend June CSR Social.

Green Products & Consumers: Is the Conventional Wisdom Right?

This talk will explore conventional wisdom about the market for green products and highlight what’s supported by marketing research data and what’s not, including ideas such as:

- Mainstream consumers usually don’t buy green products because they think they’re too expensive and don’t work as well as non-green ones.

- If everyone were as educated about the environment as “deep green” consumers, there’d be a lot more people buying green products.

- On the whole, liberals are greener shoppers than conservatives.

- The main thing holding green products back are people’s suspicions that these products are not really green.

- Very few people are going to buy green to save the environment. It’s more about how healthy a product is as well as the price and quality of the product.


WHEN: Monday, June 28, 6:30 pm

WHERE:
The Vig Bar - Backroom
12 Spring Street
corner of Elisabeth
New York, NY

SCHEDULE:
6:30 - 7:00 Open Networking
7:00 - 7:30 Presentation by Jeff Dubin, founder of Green Meridian, a green marketing research start-up
7:30 - 8:30+ Open Networking

COST: Suggested donation: $5

RSVP: lcandu at yahoo dot com

ABOUT:Jeff is the founder of Green Meridian, a marketing research firm dedicated to helping green marketers succeed with both core green consumers and the mainstream. His firm recently completed a study of women’s green household cleaner and personal care product purchasing patterns. Using the Green Product Adoption Framework™ he developed, Jeff identified drivers of green product use as well as several barriers preventing the wider adoption of green products.

Jeff has developed his strategic marketing expertise in a series of marketing research, product management, and new product development positions at Novartis, Thomson Reuters, and management consulting firm ZS Associates. Jeff's marketing research experience spans a wide variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches. He holds a B.A. in Psychobiology from Yale and an MBA from Columbia. Jeff maintains a blog and an e-newsletter at http://www.greenmeridian.com/.
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April CSR Social with Anna Triponel: Corporate Responsibility in a Globalized World

New York Corporate Social Responsibility Group cordially invites you to attend April CSR Social.

Corporate Responsibility in a Globalized World

Increasingly companies are being held accountable for misconduct overseas in courts located where they are incorporated, rather than where the conduct took place. Although business around the world is increasingly connected, stark differences exist between countries on the methods used to trigger corporate responsibility for human rights violations abroad. Find out about the modalities used by plaintiffs in the United States and how these modalities differ from other countries. In particular, the speaker will contrast the U.S. approach, a common law system that has a unique statute in this area, the Alien Tort Claims Act, with France, a civil law country which is increasingly influenced by European Union regulations. Understanding the differences in corporate responsibility will in turn affect both companies seeking to understand their litigation risk and plaintiffs seeking redress.

WHEN: Tuesday, April 27, 6:30 pm

WHERE:
The Vig Bar - Backroom
12 Spring Street
corner of Elisabeth
New York, NY

SCHEDULE:
6:30 - 7:00 Open Networking
7:00 - 7:15 Presentation by Anna Triponel, Associate at Jones Day and Head of International Law Pro Bono Group
7:15 - 7:30 Q&A
8:00 - 8:30+ Open Networking

COST: Suggested donation: $5

RSVP: lcandu at yahoo dot com

ABOUT:Anna Triponel is a lawyer at the law firm of Jones Day. She advises multinational companies on cross-border business transactions, in particular between the United States and Europe. She also heads the International Law Pro Bono Group and has contributed briefing papers to the ongoing work of John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations. Miss Triponel was recently asked by Kluwer Law International to contribute to the understanding of comparative corporate responsibility for human rights violations abroad. She is an advisory council member of the Public International Law and Policy Group and regularly publishes in the area of corporate law, international law, and development aid.
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Naked Civics from Nate Garvis and Target

This break-out session focused on the concept of Naked Civics, which strips away the angry noise that surrounds how we talk about the most important issues facing us today. It’s a new way of thinking that allows us to drive success through designed integration of activities with the elements that make communities more prosperous.

Nate Garvis, Target Corporation’s dynamic and witty strategic counsel, elaborated on the importance of de-politicizing and de-professionalizing our approaches to public policy to everyone’s benefit. Nate sees much opportunity in the world where stakeholders, industries and sectors partner with others in weaving the fabric of productive and common good-oriented civics. The only right direction is the ‘forward together’ one because it both honors community values and reveals business opportunity. The role companies can play in this new vision for building successful communities is exciting and rests on the following ideas:

All that matters is the common good. Everything else, including all the civic, religious, commercial and political institutions are tools we have created over time in our quest for healthy, safe and innovative communities.

The tools we have now are very powerful. We can achieve enormous good as well as terrible things with these tools. The hope is that we will use the common good lens in designing and redesigning our tools to access great opportunities.

When values become embedded into our culture and habitats, they propagate organically. For example, environmental stewardship is most likely to become ubiquitous in a decade from now. All products will be designed to incorporate environmental considerations and the concept of being ‘green’ will be taken for granted.

Corporate pre-regulation with the focus on common good is a successful approach that helps companies build partnerships within their communities and earn good reputation.
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Writing and Reading CSR Reports: Baxter and Risk Metrics Group

The Beyond Reporting break-out session of the BCCC Conference focused, as the title suggests, on the corporate social report which has become a routine task of the CSR departments. Companies recognize these reports as an essential management tool to communicate and track key performance indicators. Analysts use these reports to evaluate how the environmental, social and governance dimensions are affecting the financial health of the company.

So what? asked David Wood, director, Initiative for Responsible Investment, Harvard University, the two panelists, Elaine Salewske, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Baxter International Inc and Eric Fernald of Risk Metrics Group.

In order to ensure a comprehensive approach, it’s important to consider two perspectives of reporting: that of the writer as well as that of the reader. Baxter is a long-term reporter and believes in the need to prioritize content rather than the production of the report. In deciding what to include into a report, Baxter uses GRI standards as well as requests for information from the numerous stakeholders. On the other hand, Risk Metrics Group looks at many sustainability reports – as many as 500 annually – and rates companies based on a multitude of metrics relevant to socially-responsible investors and other stakeholders. RMG provided a perspective on how that content is weighed and analyzed externally. The conversation focused on the following main ideas:

Materiality is a key consideration for a corporate sustainability report. Given that it will never be possible to satisfy all demands for information, the company focuses on the areas that matter most for its business.

By creating a repository of all types of sustainability-related information, the reporting processes help a company establish performance goals and mobilize necessary resources to achieve them in due time. Reporting has a ‘plant the flag in the ground’ effect on the entire company.

Socially responsible investors are primarily interested in a company’s key performance indicators (KPI) – or the areas where the company has the greatest impact. CSR reports need to incorporate these metrics to achieve materiality and relevance.

Meaningful reporting that drives sustainability performance and achievement in a company is resources intensive because it considers a wide spectrum of values and issues and spans across regions and countries.
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The Business of Corporate Citizenship: Creating New Social Ventures Within Your Company

This is the name of the BCCCC Conference session I'm attending. Two companies - eBay and MAC Cosmetics are showcasing their innovative corporate social ventures. ebay presented its innovative World of Good and MAC Cosmetics - its MAC AIDS Fund.

Amy Skeeters-Behrens, head of eBay's Global Citizenship Marketing, considers World of Good a successful entreprise created by eBay's intrapreneurs. The venture is alligned with Pierre Omidyar's vision of a ecommerce place where everyone will feel trust and confidence in the fact that their purchases make a contribution to a more equitable and just world.

Diana Echevarria, executive director of MAC Cosmetics' North American Programs talked about the success of the VIVAGLAM campaign which in partly was due to the enourmously influential pop star of today, Lady Gaga's involvement as a spokesmodel. Another factor of success is MAC Cosmetics' heavy focus on a couple of related issues such as AIDS, women's health and sex. In addition to being smart and sexy, the marketing strategy behind the VIVAGLAM campaign has tremendously benefit the overall sales and ultimately the company's bottom line, which Diana pinpointed as one of the two most important challenges. The other challenge is how to allign customers' values with the specific community/culture. American consumers might be OK with the proceeds from the VIVAGLAM campaign going to support drug-users and sex workers, but in France this is not as acceptable because of the availability of a broad government-funded assistance net. Similarly, Lady Gaga's exuberance might not be the best fit with the Middle Eastern culture and values.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Live from Boston College Corporate Citizenship Center Conference

I just arrived in Boston and will be staying at the Intercontinental Hotel where the 2.5-day International Corporate Citizenship Conference is about to start. I'll be blogging live, tweeting (@luciacandu #bcccc_conf) and writing about the interesting discussions and speeches that are planned in the agenda.

I'll focus more closely on two breakout sessions: Beyond Reporting David Wood, Director of Initiative for Responsible Investment and Elaine Salewske, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Baxter International Inc. and Naked Civics: Private Interest/Public Good with Dan Bross, Senior Director, Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft Corporation and Nate Garvis, Strategic Counsel, Target Corporation. In addition, I'll highlight any other interesting ideas during key speeches and the other 2 break-out sessions that I'll physically be able to attend.

I'm writing this from the In Good Conversation Salon and am looking forward to the conference welcome reception that will feature as plenary speaker Niloufar K. Molavi, Tax Partner and Chief Diversity Officer, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Responsibility Revolution and the evolving corporate consciousness


I finally got my hands on the "The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Business Will Win" by Jeffrey Hollander and Bill Breen after reading great reviews here and here. I've been looking for the next good book on corporate responsibility - corporate consciousness - and I found it.

The book acknowledges the rapid evolution CSR from the fringes of business activity to the very core and into the mainstream of business thinking. Jeffrey Hollander, himself a visionary businessman, and Bill Breen talked to a number of revolutionary entrepreneurs who revealed a variety of business models designed with consideration of the new challenges and expectations. Only such companies, the authors claim, will thrive in tomorrow's economy. They see the following as the key factors driving corporate consciousness to higher levels:

1. The threats and opportunities posed by global climate change;
2. The importance of a company's reputation;
3. The need to compete for high-end talent;
4. The benefits of leveraging employees' untapped potential;
5. The importance of approval from external stakeholders;
6. The importance of positive change throughout supply chains;
7. The benefits of partnerships with the nonprofit sector;
8. The opportunity to engage and contribute to a new era of change.

The authors don't make a secret out of the fact that: "to move beyond a strictly bottom-line orthodoxy is to embark on a journey filled with peril as well as promise. Making the shift to a purpose-driven model, in which profits tell you only part of the score, is risky, painstaking work." And the risks are significant:

1. By having too many option and too little focus there is a risk to fail to deepen the company's social impact.
2. CEO's grand vision might never come to fruition if middle managers fail to understand how to connect it with customers and consumers.
3. Unless CR efforts are embedded into both tactic and strategic business decisions, they won't save a company its reputation.
4. If it CR looks like PR, it probably is and the public opinion won't like it.
5. During buyouts, a company's values might take a big hit.
6. The market is oversaturated with greenwashing and customer's cynicism is high.

I'm looking forward to finding out how the companies featured in this book approached these risks and what makes them revolutionary.
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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Twestival Global 2010: partnering for social good worldwide

Last week, I attended the Global Twestival 2010 in New York. Twestival Global is an innovative social-media-driven campaign that raises awareness and collects funding for social causes. The first Twestival Global took place in February 2009 and was held in 202 cities in the world. It involved 1,000 volunteers and 10,000 donors and fundraised more than $250,000. These funds were managed by charity:water to build 55 wells in Uganda, Ethiopia and India having a direct impact for over 17,000 people.

This year the cause was education and 72 million children in the world who don’t have the opportunity to go to school. The organization selected to receive the funds collected is Concern Worldwide due to their comprehensive and well respected approach to education. More than $400,000 have been collected to date. Each city or independent event selected a different category to support within Concern's education programs. These included building schools, training teachers, furnishing classrooms, providing school meals and improving access to water facilities.

It is amazing how social media allows for mobilization of so many resources in so many cities worldwide. One day, one cause, one social movement. Throughout the day of March 25, people in 175 cities came together to join the social media movement for the same cause, as momentum built on Twitter throughout the day. Almost exclusively via Twitter, thousands of volunteers mobilized their local communities in cities around the US and globally to arrange events in venues ranging from boats and schools, to bars and nightclubs. The founder of Twestival, Amanda Rose, says:

"Twestival demonstrates the growing power of Twitter as more than just a social networking tool. It has become an innovative and far-reaching technology that unites people around the world in support of a good cause. Organizing online and gathering offline allows Twestival to harness the incredible communication power of Twitter to propel participation in real events around the world. There is no shortage of people who are passionate and want to help. The challenge is coordination, not participation. By using social media platforms such as Twitter, Twestival is able to connect hundreds of independent local events into a powerful global initiative. It is inspiring to see how collective local actions, online and off, can have such a profound impact towards something as life-changing as education."
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Friday, March 26, 2010

March CSR Social: Labor Standards and Global Supply Chains

This is a guest post by Laura Domnescu, member and co-organizer at the New York Corporate Social Responsibility Group.

March CSR Social was another successful event in the series of monthly gatherings organized by the NY CSR Group. This time, the cozy back room of the Vig Bar hosted a group of about 35 CSR professionals and enthusiasts who got together to exchange ideas and hear Adam Greene, Vice President for Labor Relations and Corporate Responsibility at the US Council for International Business (USCIB), a business membership organization of 300 multinational companies, law firms, and business associations. In CSR, USCIB's objective is to promote business perspectives on corporate responsibility; shape the development and implementation of codes, standards and principles on corporate responsibility; and increase awareness of the positive social and environmental contributions made by business. Similarly, the organization pursues a proactive and coordinated strategy to positively influence international labor standards, increase labor market flexibility and promote best practices.

In his speech, Adam focused on the interplay between labor standards and international supply chain management. According to Adam, uneven enforcement of national laws in many sourcing countries is a key corporate responsibility challenge for global companies. The difficulties vary across companies, sectors, and levels and types of integration. Despite the fact that most countries have ratified numerous International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, many national governments are rather weak at enforcing their implementation, which generates a governance gap. Consequently, USCIB supports the long-term goal of achieving effective national implementation of national laws which are already aligned to international labor standards.

A program built upon this premise is Better Work, a partnership between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation(IFC). This program supports enterprises in improving their labor standards based on core ILO conventions and national laws. This way, enterprises can meet the buyers’ demands for compliance and become competitive in global markets. The crucial part of the model, according to Adam, is the fact that it uses a single monitoring system that generates verifiable and credible data – and thus valuable expertise – that is then transferred to national governments. Consequently, the state becomes an integral part in the efficiency model.

Adam argues, in essence, for the need of a concerted national effort for coordination and prioritization that will help close the governance gap and improve labor standards in international supply chains.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seventh Generation - a 'New' Company for a New World

At the Doing Well by Doing Good corporate citizenship conference, Jeffrey Hollender, Chief Inspired Protagonist, Co-Founder and Executive Chairperson of Seventh Generation, a natural household cleaning products company, made an inspirational speech about the ‘new’ company. I asked him to summarize the main traits of such a company:

"Seventh Generation has been in business for 22 years so the concept of ‘new’ refers to the company’s set of values and the business model. The newness involves a radical type of transparency. Most corporate responsibility efforts in the industry are about being less bad, and not about being good. Although the ‘being less bad’ efforts are broadly rewarded, they won’t solve the fundamental problems facing the world, be they environmental or social.

We recognize that despite our company’s impressive growth and overall success, our business model is not a sustainable one. The company still does more harm than good. Although I do think our products are better than any other from a sustainability perspective, they do not have a positive effect on the Planet. They use less energy, water, they emit less carbon dioxide, but, nevertheless, they still have a degrading effect on the environment. The sheer fact of acknowledging this makes us an unusual business.

Our customers are not aware of many things our company does in the corporate responsibility area. For example, years ago we helped start a program in San Francisco - Wages – that helps low-income Hispanic women gain higher quality employment through creation of work cooperatives. Most of our customers know what we stand for: we assume a higher level of responsibility and advocate for a world they want to see. That advocacy and focus is extremely important for our business, perhaps even more important than making money.

We acknowledge the existence of the broken contract between the business and society mentioned during the conference. Most efforts to fix this contract are small and highly compartmentalized which continues to create inequity between the rich and poor. The aspiration to deal with these fundamental systemic and structural problems makes Seventh Generation an unusual business."
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Aveda, a Company with a Mission: Beauty is as Beauty Does

At the Doing Well by Doing Good corporate citizenship conference I talked with Dominique Conseil, President of Aveda, a natural beauty products company. Dominique described Aveda's sustainable business model and the challenges that came along:

"Sustainability is in Aveda’s DNA. Since its creation in 1978, Aveda has pursued an innovative and sustainable vision: to create safer products for beauty industry professionals. Safer for people, safer for the planet. In 1989 the company was among the first to endorse the CERES Principles which have since guided Aveda’s management systems and sustainability reporting. In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio, the company committed to conserve rainforests in Brazil through sustainable sourcing of indigenous plants such as the Amazonian uruku. Today, Aveda continues to assert its leadership in many areas such as being the first beauty company manufacturing with 100% certified wind power.

As a result of constant reinvention, Aveda has heavily relied on innovation in designing its products. Because the industry was largely using an unsustainable way to manufacture beauty products and practicing the business-as-usual approach, we had to rethink and reinvent all aspects of operations, including packaging, distribution and transportation so as to incorporate environmental sustainability in order to create safer and healthier beauty products.

Doing business in a different way, true to our vision, required hard work and constant reinvention. As a result, the company regularly undergoes transformative cycles that allow us to come up with better and better products. Our business is value-based and driven by its people’s motivation. Dedication to sustainability is part of the company’s culture.

The greatest challenge for us stems from the changing goals of sustainability. What used to be good yesterday isn’t good enough today, and will be rather bad tomorrow. We are constantly learning from our stakeholders who help us ensure the way we understand sustainability is up-to-date. For example, during 2002-2005, we screened about 600 ingredients used in our products and learned that a number of these that were considered sustainable a decade ago no longer met the current sustainability criteria. As a result of a methodical review of the formulas, our products evolved and improved. This entire re-assessment was quite a task for our company but it was well worth it!

Another challenge is packaging. Our goal is to achieve responsible packaging by reducing the use of virgin material. Today most of our packaging is made of at least 80% post-consumer recycled plastic. When we started recycling polypropylene caps, there was no adequate infrastructure in the US so we had to invent our own system. That's how the campaign, Recycle Caps with Aveda came about. We first partnered with six schools in the New York area to collect caps. Children loved collecting caps because they saw their action as a way to protect ocean animals. Consequently, more schools enrolled and we collected 37 million caps from everyone willing to give them to us, including stores, competition, beauty salons, etc. Being a small company, to achieve some of our goals, we need to partner with large business and even competing businesses. One byproduct is that innovation becomes widely available, more accessible and affordable."
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March CSR Social with Adam Greene of USCIB: International Supply Chains

The New York Corporate Social Responsibility Group cordially invites you to attend the March CSR Social

Corporate Responsibility and International Supply Chains

WHEN: Monday, March 22, 6:30 pm

WHERE:
The Vig Bar - Backroom
12 Spring Street
corner of Elisabeth
New York, NY

SCHEDULE:
6:30 - 7:00 Open Networking
7:00 - 7:15 Presentation by Adam Greene, Vice President for Labor Affairs and Corporate Responsibility, US Council for International Business
7:15 - 7:30 Q&A
7:30 - 8:30+ Open Networking

COST: Suggested donation $5

RSVP: lcandu at yahoo dot com

ABOUT: Adam Greene is responsible for USCIB’s activities on labor policy and corporate responsibility. He manages U.S. business participation in the development of international labor standards and advises companies on international and regional trends in labor and employment policy. He also coordinates USCIB involvement in the governing and standard setting bodies of the International Labor Organization and promotes the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. He is vice chairman of the Business Technical Advisory Committee on Labor Affairs to the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor.

Mr. Greene advises USCIB members on international codes and initiatives, internal management systems, strategic alliances and corporate reporting. He is a member of the ISO Strategic Advisory Group on CSR and the U.S. Advisory Committee for the FTSE4Good social investment index. Mr. Greene is actively involved in the ongoing implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and a wide array of other international initiatives. He is a frequent speaker on corporate responsibility and sustainable development.

Prior to joining USCIB, Mr. Greene served as associate director of the Global Environment Program at the Stern School of Business at New York University, and prior to that as manager of fixed income securities for Dean Witter Financial Services. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester and an MBA from New York University.

ABOUT: NY CSR Meetup Group is an increasingly popular New-York-based group of corporate responsibility and sustainability professionals and enthusiasts. We meet for various sustainability-related events as well as for montly informal networking and discussion events - CSR Socials. To join and for more information please visit: http://www.meetup.com/The-New-York-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-Meetup-Group/ or http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1917952&trk=hb_side_g or http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44036267423
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