CSRHub Blog Research on ESG metrics and comments on sustainability best practice

Surfer Dudes Add Hope for Saving Our Oceans

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 14, 2016 10:25:45 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By: Carol Pierson Holding

June 8th was World Oceans Day. It was celebrated with a reception at U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The Empire State Building was lit in white, blue and purple representing different layers of the ocean.

The day started in New York’s Long Island City, where the UN Secretary-General greeted the Hawaiian boat Hokule after two years at sea without motors or GPS.

Beach TrashBostonGlobe.com ran stunning photos of oceans.

Capitalists played their part too. In his World Oceans Day blog for Huffington Post, Richard Branson dressed up as a Merman to announce that as part of the 2016 Virgin Strive Challenge, he would swim from the southern tip of Italy to Sicily. The challenge sponsor is Virgin Money. That’s corporate social responsibility the Branson way.

In the real world, aquariums put on special shows. Citizens participated in symposiums and beach clean-up. All of this to raise appreciation of our oceans and awareness of both ocean wonder and degradation.

But what excites me most are the younger surfers around the world who are taking action.

The best known is of course Boyan Slat, the now 21-year-old Dutch aeronautical engineer who two years ago raised $2.2 million via crowd-sourcing for his non-profit Ocean Cleanup.  After witnessing garbage despoiling Greek waters when he was 16, Slat asked the question, “Why don’t we just clean it up?” He didn’t know why that’s an impossible task — even if he could overcome technological, territorial and funding issues. But his naiveté turned out to be a strength as compelling as his persistence.

Slat’s system uses ocean currents to concentrate garbage where it can more easily be picked up. (For a description of how it’s done, read The Guardian’s look at feasibility and  links to technical papers.) After five years of relentless pushing and the help of top engineers and scientists, Slat’s ocean cleaning system is going into trial this month.

Anther solution to ocean garbage is the SeaVax, a solar and wind-powered, self-driving ship that sucks up plastic. Invented by a young British trio, the ship has special sensors to detect trash and sonar technology that protects marine and bird life. The first ship is ready and looking for a launch site.

And another: Designed by two Australian surfers from recycled material, the Seabin is an automated trash receptacle for marina docks. Much like Seavax, funding was cobbled together from seed money plus crowd-sourcing.

Despite lack of experience and limited resources, these young social innovators are part of a passion-driven force that is taking center stage. In an interview with the Chairman of C2 Montreal JF Bouchard, the annual conference on innovation, journalist Ali Velshi maintains that individuals — “the Many” —not policies or institutions hold the key to society’s greatest challenges. In his words:

“I used to lament the end of programs like NASA, where a government took charge of a problem, or things like Bell Labs, where somebody was just working on stuff that wasn’t for commercialization. But you know, what’s better than the government and these labs is people, regular people.”

Surely Velshi goes too far. One (ironic) example: another significant problem, rising ocean temperatures, was confirmed in 2015 by a collaboration that included Bell Labs’ underwater radar arrays…and NASA scientists.

Fixing problems is exciting stuff. Yet in the end, it’s less complicated than measuring problems or preventing them in the first place. That’s where you need big institutions. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco banned plastic bags; Congress passed a ban on microbeads to take effect in July 2017. Since 1972, the Ocean Dumping Act has reinforced no-dumping laws with stiff penalties.

Branson’s stunts and the surfer dudes who develop their fantastical gizmos give us hope for a quick solution to environmental devastation. With institutional support, we might just get there.

Photo courtesy of Ingrid Taylar via Flickr CC.


Carol2 Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University’s School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in corporate social responsibility, Seabin, Uncategorized, Virgin Money, plastic bag ban, Seavax, Ocean Cleanup, Ocean Dumping Act, World Oceans Day, Boyan Slat, Carol Pierson Holding, Microbead ban, Richard Branson

CSRHub's Cynthia Figge Speaking at Skytop Strategies CSR 2.0 Conference

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 7, 2016 9:58:00 AM / by Cynthia Figge

Skytop CSR 2.0

Join Skytop Strategies CSR 2.0 Conference, where our
Co-founder and COO, Cynthia Figge, will be moderating the Performance Drivers: Big Data, Transparency and CSR panel. This conference will be held on April 20th in San Francisco, California.  CSRHub will also be a strategic partner of this conference.

Skytop’s CSR 2.0 Conference will be attended by Corporate Responsibility Officers, Heads of Marketing and Strategy, and Human Capital Executives, with the goals of engaging, discovering as well as applying corporate social responsibility strategies.

For more information, please click here to visit Skytop Strategies website for the conferences agenda.

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Big Data, corporate social responsibility, CSR, CSR 2.0, Cynthia Figge, Uncategorized, Skytop Strategies, transparency, corporate responsibility, CSRHub

Data-Driven Storytelling: Is your Company Collecting the Right Data to tell its CSR Story

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 15, 2015 10:46:19 AM / by Cynthia Figge

The catchphrase of 2014/2015 was, and is, big data- Good Done Greatdata sets that are so vast and complex that they need intensive resources to process. But what is the point of data if we cannot process it, analyze it, and effectively communicate it to our stakeholders?

Within the Corporate Social Responsibility sector, data legitimizes our efforts and encourages support from internal and external stakeholders. Without properly collecting and communicating the results of our volunteering and giving, CSR efforts can be diminished.

Join Good Done Great and CSRHub for a one-hour webinar discussing data-driven story-telling within the Corporate Social Responsibility space discussing topics such as how to collect the correct data, analyze it, and share it with both external and internal stakeholders.

Questions to be addressed include:

-          Why is CSR data important?

-          What data should CSR departments collect?

-          How do CSR departments make sense of this data?

-          How do CSR departments effectively communicate this data?

-          Which companies are correctly collecting data & communicating their stories?

Your CSR programs are only as effective as the impact and the stories they tell! Don’t miss out on this interactive session with two thought leaders in the technology, CSR, and data analytics space!

Tue, Oct 27, 2015 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CDT
Register for GDG
Register, here.

Company Descriptions:

About Good Done Great:

Good Done Great revolutionizes the way corporations and individuals give back to the communities and causes they care about. Through strategic consulting supported by our integrated software solutions, the Good Done Great team helps Fortune 500 and other companies maximize their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.

About CSRHub:

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,143+ companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

Presenter Profiles:

Christina Bowen leverages over 25 years of public relations, corporate giving, and strategic planning experience in her role as Vice President at Good Done Great. She works directly with Fortune 1000 groups, including Grainger, PPL, Ecolab, and Barrick Gold to deliver integrated CSR programs that increase employee engagement while delivering upon real business goals.

Cynthia Figge, Co-Founder and COO of CSRHub, is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement who co-founded EKOS International in 1996, one of the first consultancies integrating sustainability and corporate strategy. Cynthia has worked with major organizations including BNSF, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Jones, and REI to help craft sustainability strategy integrated with business. She was an Officer of LIN Broadcasting/McCaw Cellular leading new services development and started a new “Greenfield” mill with Weyerhaeuser. She serves as Advisor to media and technology companies and served as President of the Board of Sustainable Seattle. Cynthia has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Cynthia is based in the Seattle area.

 

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Big Data, corporate social responsibility, CSR, Cynthia Figge, Uncategorized, Christina Bowen, CSR story, CSRHub, GDG

Does Improving a Corporation’s Sustainability Performance Also Improve Its Business Operations?

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 8, 2015 11:05:07 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

sipa_logo

Recently graduate students from Columbia University SIPA participated in a Capstone research project in collaboration with CSRHub. The purpose of this project was to further explore the relationship between perceived corporate sustainability performance and operational performance, represented by cost of debt. Through use of a set of corporate social responsibility factors from the CSRHub database and data on the cost of corporate debt from the Bloomberg database, the Capstone team was able to investigate the relationship between the two. The team found that CSRHub’s 12-subcategory model for sustainability explained 9.3% of the variance in the cost of debt, or an estimated $343.4 billion in interest expenses for a group of 1,625 companies.

“The sustainability factors that had the most effect on debt varied by industry category and for those companies that had higher interest rates compared to those with lower ones. In general, better Board and Compensation & Benefits scores decreased debt cost. Strong Product and Energy & Climate Change scores can potentially enable companies with higher cost of debt to decrease their interest expenses. Companies with average and below average cost of debt in service and heavy industries benefited from strong Environmental Policy & Reporting and Resource Management practices, while those in light industries were helped by stronger Human Rights & Supply Chain performance.”

To see the outcome of the group’s research, click here or download below.

Capstone


About CSRHub
CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. By using the world’s most comprehensive CSR metrics database and analysis tools, managers, researchers and activists can benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and improve a company’s sustainability.

 

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Bloomberg, Capstone, Columbia, corporate social responsibility, corporate sustainability, Uncategorized, SIPA, CSRHub

VW Should Think Small Again

[fa icon="calendar'] Sep 29, 2015 10:05:19 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By Carol Pierson Holding

Volkswagen’s recent emissions scandal has been the subject of countless media reports,VW Bug with news organizations such as Huffington Post posting nearly hourly updates. Even stories focused on financial or reputational damage touch on a deep sense of betrayal. This wound was captured best in a New York Times op-ed piece called “Me and My Jetta: How VW Broke My Heart” in which Richard Conniff, a science and nature writer, tells his story of buying a new Jetta in 2009 because it was “clean diesel.” In fact, it had just been deemed “Green Car of the Year” by the Sierra Club Executive Director.
In those days, diesel engines were the environmental winners among gas-fueled cars, promising to be both cheaper to run and good for the planet. Those are the same attributes on which VW has positioned its brand since its first U.S. ad campaign in the 1960s advised buyers to “Think Small” and buy the Beetle.

After all, the German word volkswagen literally means “people’s car.”

VW made its Beetle wildly successful as “the car of the hippie movement." And ever since, VWs have been to a more or less extent the cars of the counter culture.

This brand persona is in direct opposition to the company’s culture. As James Stewart writes, quoting a former VW executive:

“…a scandal, especially one involving emissions, was all but inevitable at Volkswagen… (due to) the company’s isolation (in its company town of Wolfsburg), its clannish board and a deep-rooted hostility to environmental regulations among its engineers….

“People (at VW) have a completely uncritical view of cars and their impact on the environment because they all make a living from the industry. …Volkswagen is seen as having a national mission to provide employment to the German people. That’s behind the push to be No. 1 in the world. They’ll look the other way about anything."

Unfortunately, many companies believe in the jobs over the environment argument. In fact, some make their living from products that we know will kill us and our planet. Fossil fuels, tobacco companies, and the asbestos business have for years fought relentlessly against environmental and safety regulations.

But none of those companies positioned itself as green, whereas VW used its environmental positioning in the U.S. for 65 years.

That positioning went beyond VW cars. The company made a concerted effort to make diesel fuel appear to be the environmental standard, even putting a miles per gallon indicator in the center of the dashboard.

It’s not just the scandal itself, but the cynicism of VW’s environmental claims that makes this such a staggering betrayal.

Those in sustainability bemoan the damage the VW scandal might inflict on the entire Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement. The voice of that movement, Triple Pundit, ran a piece by Leon Kaye using the VW example to expose what has gone wrong with CSR, revealing “a global business culture that awards and rewards itself on ‘sustainability’ and ‘responsibility’ but frequently does not match accolades with accomplishments.”

Of course, business rhetoric should support real action, and most does. Business has in many instances embraced sustainability, especially when its environmental efforts lower costs as well. But I believe the problem with CSR is much more insidious: a company can achieve the highest CSR score but still make lethal products that kill people and planet. And let’s face it, cars that run on fossil fuels are just as big a problem as fossil fuels themselves.

Governments and consumers are calculating what are bound to be enormous financial penalties. Some believe that the German government will have to step in to save the company as the U.S. saved Detroit. This is a huge opportunity: with the German Chancellor and Economy Minister calling for Electric Vehicles incentives, why couldn’t the same government predicate a VW bail out on using its vaunted engineering prowess to create an electric car for the people? And use the fines to build out the charging station network and speed conversion from fossil fuels, the source of over 50% of its energy, to renewables?

Many of the articles on the scandal mention VW’s roots in Nazi Germany, a link that until now has been overshadowed by its environmental positioning. Why not bring back that loyalty by leading electric car technology as it once led small cars?

If consumers can be persuaded to Think Small, they can surely be persuaded to Think Green, especially by a company steeped in earth-friendly heritage. Environmentalists are notorious forgivers – and who doesn’t love the idea of an electric “people’s car” — especially after some serious mea culpas.

Photo courtesy of Sir Mildred Pierce via Flickr CC.


Carol2Carol Pierson Holding is President and Founder, Holding Associates. Carol serves as Guest Blogger for CSRHub. Her firm has focused on the intersection of brand and social responsibility, working with Cisco Systems, Wilmington Trust, Bankrate.com, the US EPA, Yale University’s School of Environmental Sciences, and various non-profits. Before founding Holding Associates, Carol worked in executive management positions at Siegel & Gale, McCann Erickson, and Citibank. She is a Board Member of AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation). Carol received her AB from Smith College and her MBA from Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 15,000+ companies from 135 industries in 132 countries. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

Read More [fa icon="long-arrow-right"]

[fa icon="comment"] 1 Comment posted in asbestos, corporate social responsibility, CSR, Electric Vehicles incentives, fossil fuels, Sierra Club, Uncategorized, Volkswagen, Think Green, My Jetta, VW Beetle, Carol Pierson Holding, emmissions scandal, VW

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all