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

Gift Giving Returns with the Spring – Make it Eco Friendly!

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 29, 2013 3:21:59 PM / by CSRHub Blogging

By Gia Machlin

Just when you think you are out of the woods with gift giving, the spring season returns eco friendly shoppingwith all kinds of consumer driven holidays: Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Graduations, and all those spring birthdays!

For us treehuggers, it would be nice if we could just give the gift of love or a hug and pretend that it will make our families and others happy during this time. But while I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the gesture, they would probably prefer to also receive a new video game, an iTunes® gift card or a designer bag.

If you want to stick to your green roots (and can’t afford a Prada bag anyway), here are a few eco-friendly options that will put a smile on your gift-receivers’ faces.

For the wine or whiskey enthusiast, give one of these BottleHood branded tumblers. You can choose anything from a Corona juice glass to a Grey Goose recycled bottle vase or a Belvedere Vodka cheese tray from this beautiful line of reclaimed glassware.

If you’ve got a fashionista on your shopping list, she might like something from the ellecante eco friendly clothing line, which features pieces like a 100% organic cotton cardigan, a silk blend blouse, or a tailored tailored jacket. Whether your gift-receiver is a trend-setter or a laid-back, hobo-style chick, ellecante has something for you to give.

Don’t forget the music lovers. These Handmade Eco Friendly Journals and notebooks from Vintage Vinyl are sure to satisfy the classic-rocker or maybe even… grandma? The record cover selection is extensive, ranging from Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, to Grease and even Barbara Streisand.

What if you’re looking for an eco-friendly skin product for the natural-seeking beauty queen? Try the All Good Goop moisturizer and soothing salve. Free of petroleum and made with organic ingredients such as lavender, beeswax and extra virgin olive oil, this multi-tasker can help heal cuts, blisters, sunburn, chapped lips, insect bites, dry skin and more.

If makeup is what you’re seeking, I like the 8:30 Mineral Eye Liner & Eye Shadow in dark brown, by Ferro Cosmetics. This mineral shadow will last all day, whether you’re going for subtle color or dramatic Cleopatra eyes. For more shades, try one of the other Ferro Cosmetics’ eye shadows – they’re light and super shimmery – great for the spring season!

Last, but never least, don’t forget the eco-kids! Children are the ones who cherish gift-giving the most, so why not surprise them with an Earth Day Winter White ‘TREE’ Organic tee by Dhana EcoKids, one of these adorableGlobal Green Pals dolls, or a pack of non-toxic natural crayons by Clementine Art for those creative kinds. They’ll have fun drawing self portraits, without the worry of exposure to toxic chemicals.

If you want to give the greenest gift of all, try a e-gift card from EcoPlum!  Avoid the waste associated with returned and unwanted gifts, with the added benefit of introducing your loved one to all the beautiful and stylish eco friendly products available online at EcoPlum!


Gia Machlin,  president and CEO of EcoPlum, an online green shopping rewards site. Watch for her contributions to the CSRHub blog on eco-friendly products and green living ideas. For more on EcoPlum, or to follow the EcoPlum blog, visit www.ecoplum.com.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 7,000+ companies from 135 industries in 91 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.

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[fa icon="comment"] 7 Comments posted in CSR, Ecoplum, Gia Machlin, Uncategorized, sustainability, CSRHub, eco friendly gifts, eco friendly options, eco friendly products, green products

Panera As a Paradigm?

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 26, 2013 9:00:50 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Panera BreadBy Bahar Gidwani

Panera Bread has a number of coffee shops where I live, in New York City.  I used to go to them fairly often before I became involved in CSRHub.  However, my visits became less frequent after I learned more about Slow Food from my friend Brian Kaminer and after I saw the ratings we reported for Panera on the CSRHub site.

As you can see, Panera gets poor ratings on its environment performance and weak community ratings.  (Nine of our 201 sources track Panera.)  Nothing horrible—but nothing that would sway “conscious consumers” to go an extra block or two for a cup of coffee and a nice roll.

[csrhubwidget company="Panera-Bread-Company" size="650x100" hash="c9c0f7"]

Then, I had to go to Boston for some meetings.  I was 45 minutes early for one near Government Center and a Panera shop was temptingly nearby (around the corner on Tremont).  I needed a cup of coffee—and a few minutes of wi-fi access so I could catch up on my email.  I walked in and headed towards the counter.

I was immediately approached by a pleasant young woman who asked me if I was familiar with her shop.  I told her I thought I was, but she persisted.  Had I been to this Panera outlet, before?  When I answered “no,” she launched into a rather lengthy description.

As I understand it, Panera has started opening a new format operation called “Panera Cares.”  Instead of having fixed prices, customers are told what Panera thinks is a “fair price.”  Customers can then pay whatever they feel is fair or that they are able to pay.  The payments go into a box (the cashiers can make change but don’t take the money).  If you pay something extra, it goes to feed local homeless people.  The staff there seemed to love the concept.

If you can’t pay anything, the store will still feed you.  If you can’t pay and you wish to do it, you can volunteer to work at the store for an hour or two.  Later in my visit, I listened to the same pleasant greeter arrange work time slots for two young men who looked pretty hungry.  They were asked to wear clean clothes “with as few tears and rips as possible.”  Almost every time slot was filled for the next three days.  One of the young men seemed to be experienced in the routine and was encouraging his friend to join this new system.  “You can eat a lot,” he said.  “They make good food and you’ll love doing the work.”

I was told that Panera has opened five Panera Care shops since May 2010.  A second manager told me with obvious pride, that Panera’s founder and co-CEO Ron Shaich wanted to give back to his community and was dedicated to making this concept work.  I have to admit, I was pretty impressed!  This is a radical idea—a system that is blatantly socialistic .  And, it is coming from a company that hadn’t distinguished itself in this area (at least as far as I could tell), in the past.

Is this a new paradigm?  How many stores will post something like this in their window: "Panera Cares.  We are a non-profit community cafe of shared responsibility.  We trust you to do the right thing."  Will McDonalds, Starbucks, and Dunkin Donuts all follow in Panera’s footsteps?  What effect would it have on our society, if they did?

Unless I’ve missed something (and even though I am pretty skeptical, I don’t think this effort is just “greenwashing”), I would hope to see an outpouring of support and enthusiasm for Panera from the CSR and Slow Food community.  Let’s prove that people will pay a fair amount for the goods they want—plus a little more, if they know that doing so will help their community.


Bahar Gidwani is a Cofounder and CEO of CSRHub. Formerly, he was the CEO of New York-based Index Stock Imagery, Inc, from 1991 through its sale in 2006. He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor Web site. Bahar holds a CFA, was a partner at Kidder, Peabody & Co., and worked at McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to both large companies such as Citibank, GE, and Acxiom and a number of smaller software and Web-based companies. He has an MBA (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and a BS in Astronomy and Physics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College. Bahar races sailboats, plays competitive bridge, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 7,000+ companies from 135 industries in 91 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.

 

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[fa icon="comment"] 11 Comments posted in Bahar Gidwani, CSR, non-profit, Uncategorized, sustainability, Panera Bread, Panera Cares, slow food, CSRHub

Coca-Cola’s Brand of Cultural Leadership Zeros in on Third World

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 25, 2013 9:00:24 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By Carol Pierson Holding

When I was young, I took it as the gospel truth that Coca-Cola could eat the paint off of cars. Then my grammar school classmates reported that baby teeth dissolved in Coke. I learned my lesson: drink Coke at your own peril.

I divested my Coca-Cola stock some time ago for social responsibility reasons —Mark Bittman recounts the health dangers in his New York Times blog — and for financial reasons. I thought that with all the warnings, many of Coca-Cola’s markets were destined to decline.

[csrhubwidget company="The-Coca-Cola-Company" size="650x100" hash="c9c0f7"]

I was right, for now. Starting in about 2004, sales of all sodas began to tank. More recently, regulation entered the picture, when New York’s Mayor Bloomberg tried to ban sales of fast food soft drinks over 16 ounces.

Then the breakthrough: earlier in March, Beverage Digest reported  water consumption once again exceeds soda consumption. Common sense was finally winning out over the immense marketing power of soda companies, without the lawsuits that forced other dangerous and addictive products such as liquor and cigarettes to limit their advertising and promotion. Even a former Coca-Cola marketing executive quit amid public mea culpa’s for the harm he was doing by pushing Coke in the poverty stricken pavelas in Brazil. It seemed Coke might be doomed.

So it was with some interest I read that the new head of marketing for Coca-Cola was speaking to the Harvard Business School Club of New York. His talk, called “Bringing the Fizz Back,” was promoted on the HBSCNY web site as follows:

“With all the negative news surrounding carbonated beverages, you would be led to believe the end was near for storied companies such as the Coca-Cola Company and its brethren. Yet the legendary Atlanta-based firm is thriving with a strong focus on international markets, educating consumers about obesity, and being resilient in what Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent calls ‘the reset world;’ a world where new consumer attitudes, the role of government in economic and commercial affairs, and geopolitical, economic, and demographic shifts collide.

“Clearly this is a major challenge. As the Chief Marketing Officer of the firm, Joe Tripodi is among those at the forefront trying to address these issues.

‘Coca-Cola is also in the middle of an ambitious plan to double its business by 2020. …Just how does the venerable firm plan to execute this goal? …Mr. Tripodi will talk about ‘the brand as cultural leader’ –the imperative for many brands today to take a leadership position on issues and challenges that are important to their consumers and integral to the company’s DNA.”

Hmmm…Coca-Cola as cultural leader? Mr. Tripodi’s bio tells us that he has worked in global marketing for liquor (Seagrams) and oil (Mobile Oil, now part of ExxonMobil), so he knows a thing or two about marketing dangerous, addictive products as “cultural leaders” – recall Mobil’s series of small space ads on the New York Times Op-Ed pages about their efforts to clean the environment.

One wonders if Tripodi was the one who came up with the brilliant idea of supporting educational and non-profits in minority communities, so that when and if government leaders such as Mayor Bloomberg tried to limit soda consumption, Coca-Cola would have staunch allies among minorities, as it did in New York.

But even more pernicious than pushing Coke in this country, where information about its dangers is plentiful even at the grammar school level, is Coca-Cola’s intention to addict people in the third world. I’m reminded of the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy, where a pilot drops his Coca-Cola bottle from his plane at the feet of an African tribesman. Initially, the bottle causes conflict in the tribe, because, as the narrator tells us, “A thing they have never needed before suddenly became a necessity.” Of course, the story is about a glass bottle, not its former contents. Still, one might be forgiven for imputing this lesson: Nobody on earth is safe from Coca-Cola’s brand of cultural leadership.


Carol Pierson Holding writes on environmental issues and social responsibility for policy and news publications, including the Carnegie Council's Policy Innovations, Harvard Business Review, San Francisco Chronicle, India Time, The Huffington Post and many other web sites. Her articles on corporate social responsibility can be found on CSRHub.com, a website that provides sustainability ratings data on nearly 7,000 companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on nearly 7,000 companies from 135 industries in 82 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.


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[fa icon="comment"] 11 Comments posted in carbonated beverages, Coca Cola, CSR, Cultural Leadership, Uncategorized, Carol Pierson Holding, CSRHub

Leverage Sustainability Reports to Drive Performance

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 21, 2013 9:00:14 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

Sustainable Seattle

EKOS

CSRHUB

Sustainable Seattle Good Business Workshop.

Imagine if you knew more about corporate social responsibility. What are CSR Raters evaluating? What are new CSR trends? This workshop will help you understand how to improve your Sustainability Report. You may want to work on your environmental performance, increasing brand value, connecting with customers, engaging employees, or accelerating a culture of continuous improvement. These topics will be discussed and analyzed during the workshop.

The workshop is hosted by Sustainable Seattle and led by Seattle's-own Russell Barton and Cynthia Figge. They combine their experience as "internal" strategic advisors to CSR reporting for you. They've consulted with many of North America's most well-known companies and also bring their perspective of being "external" raters.

Date and Time: Thursday, March 21, 2013 6-8 pm

Location

Bainbridge Graduate Institute

220 Second Ave. South Suite 400, Seattle, WA 98104

Map

Registration*

Early Bird (regular): $20

Early Bird (member**): $15

Early Bird ends Friday, March 15th at 11:55pm.

 

Individual (regular): $25

Individual (member**): $20

Student $15

*Registration includes appetizer buffet, nonalcoholic drinks, and dessert.

** Members will be sent a promotional code, email members@sustainableseattle.org for inquiries.

Panelists

Russell Barton, PhD

Partner and Co-Founder, EKOS International

Russell Barton has for over 20 years served as a lead consultant to the top North American management teams including Boeing, Darigold, Milliken (Baldrige winner), Nike, SmithKline Beecham, and Weyerhaeuser. From 1986-1994, he was one of four Managing Partners of Deltapoint. He has led 12 Executive Study Missions: 10 to Japan and two to Europe. Russell is a member of the original group of trainers who have helped bring The Natural Step to the United States. He is co-author of the book, Mapping the Journey: Case Studies in Implementing Sustainable Development Strategies. He holds a Ph.D. and MA in Organizational Psychology, from the University of Oregon.

Cynthia Figge

Partner and Co-Founder, EKOS International

COO and Co-Founder, CSRHub

Cynthia Figge is a forerunner and thought leader in the corporate sustainability movement. 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.

 

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[fa icon="comment"] 1 Comment posted in CSR, Cynthia Figge, EKOS, environmental performance, sustainability reports, Sustainable Seattle, Uncategorized, sustainability, russell barton, brand value

Private Company Ratings on CSRHub

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 20, 2013 9:00:29 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

Publicly-traded companies are a big part of world economic activity.  However, most of the world’s goods, services, and jobs are generated by privately held companies (including large, medium-sized, and smaller companies), not-for-profit enterprises (including foundations, schools, and religious institutions), and government organizations (airports, ports, municipal governments, agencies, etc.).  CSRHub’s mission is to provide transparent information on the social performance of all types of enterprises.  This past month, we have begun to offer ratings on a number of private and government organizations.

Why couldn’t we do this before?  The original pressure for revealing social performance data came from investors who wanted to put their money only into companies that had a positive social impact.  These investors supported the work of financial analyst groups, encouraged the rise of reporting systems such as the Global Reporting Initiative, and helped fund not for profit groups like the Carbon Disclosure Project (which has recently re-christened itself “CDP”).  These systems tended to focus on the largest and most widely-held companies—the ones that large investors most wanted to know about.

Competitive pressures—and investor interest in investing in smaller growth companies and public companies in less-developed economies—has caused the coverage universe of financially driven research to expand.  Some of our data partners now claim to track the social performance of 30,000 publicly-traded companies.  At the same time, a growing number of non-public organizations have begun reporting data on their sustainability performance.  For example, we estimate that about 1,800 non-public organizations filed Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reports in 2012, as did at least a thousand of the 5,000 reports offered via CDP.

Two additional sources of data have emerged on non-public companies over the past few years.  One is crowd source/user contributed data feeds.   Employee opinions about 110,000 companies come from Glassdoor, sustainability-oriented user ratings on 5,000 companies come from GoodGuide/ULE and more than 30,000 products and companies come from WeGreen, data on the brand value of 5,000+ organizations derive from Brand Finance, and 27 measures of risk on 32,800 companies, 7,000 projects, 5,300 NGOs and 4,500 governmental bodies come via RepRisk.  Some of these sources receive fees from investors, some are supported by donors, and some generate revenue from selling services such as job ads or consulting.

The second new source arises from the effort by major companies to improve the sustainability of their supply chains.  Engagement from a company’s supply chain is vital to meet announced sustainability goals (e.g., a 20% reduction in carbon use) or respond to pressure from social groups on water user, treatment of indigenous peoples, child labor, etc.  Using software systems from firms such as Source 44, OneReport, Credit360, Enablon, Eco-Vadis, CSRware, and others, large companies gather huge databases of sustainability data on their own operations and on their suppliers—many of whom are not publicly traded.  Industry organizations (e.g., EICC, The Sustainability Consortium, SEDEX, and Sustainable Packaging Coalition) help by providing standard questionnaires and by allowing their members to share data and supply chain audits.

When we add data from some of these new sources to the information we obtain from other more conventional inputs, we can rate almost 200 non-public companies and organizations.  The initial list includes companies such as Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Levi Strauss, S. C. Johnson, and TIAA CREF.  We also have partial ratings on McKinsey & Company, The US Postal Service, and Finnair.  As a group, our non-public companies have a respectable average rating (using our average user profile) of 55.5—seven points above the average for all companies of 48.5.

non-public companies

This good performance makes sense—the first non-public organizations to report are likely to be those who have good social performance and who want others to know about it.  We expect the next wave of smaller organizations and government groups to bring this average down—just as smaller public company scores lag behind those of bigger public companies.  We also expect the number of sources on non-public organizations to converge towards the average for publicly-traded organization of about eight sources.

Average Number of Sources

Non-Public Organizations

4.3

Publicly-Traded Companies

7.8

Would you like to help us further our cause by bringing you more non-public organization information?  If you would, please:

  • Reward non-public organizations who report—even if their scores still are not as good as we might like—by giving them your business and your attention.
  • Share ratings from non-public organizations with other non-public organizations.  We need to break down the organizational barrier that says “we are private so we don’t talk about these things.”
  • Encourage anyone who collects information to allow the groups they collect their data from to control their own data and to have the option of sharing it.  It is unfair for big companies to require their supply chain components to pay to gather and report data, but to not get further value from their work.

Our long term goal is to provide a CSRHub rating for any type of organization—public, private, or governmental—of any size, in any location.  To reach our goal, we need your help to encourage all organizations to report their social performance and to make available more of the data that has already been collected in various sustainability tracking systems.


Bahar GidwaniBahar Gidwani is a Cofounder and CEO of CSRHub. Formerly, he was the CEO of New York-based Index Stock Imagery, Inc, from 1991 through its sale in 2006. He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor Web site. Bahar holds a CFA, was a partner at Kidder, Peabody & Co., and worked at McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to both large companies such as Citibank, GE, and Acxiom and a number of smaller software and Web-based companies. He has an MBA (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and a BS in Astronomy and Physics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College. Bahar races sailboats, plays competitive bridge, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 7,000+ companies from 135 industries in 91 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.

 

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[fa icon="comment"] 3 Comments posted in Bahar Gidwani, Carbon Disclosure Project, credit360, CSR, GoodGuide, non-public companies, publicly-traded companies, privately- traded companies, Source 44, Uncategorized, WeGreen, industry organizations, Onereport, sustainability, NGO, social performance, software systems, Brand, Brand Finance, CDP, CSRHub, Glassdor, Global Reporting Initiative, GRI

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