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

Leverage Sustainability Reports to Drive Performance

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

Sustainable Seattle



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


Bainbridge Graduate Institute

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



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.


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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Say yes! Turning ‘we don’t report’ into ‘we do’

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 19, 2013 10:58:23 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

Say yes! Turning ‘we don’t report’ into ‘we do’

Why more U.S. companies are publicly reporting on their environmental performance and what you can do to stay ahead of the trend.

Webinar: April 10, 2013
11am – 12 noon EST

“It used to be that only firms at the leading edge of sustainable business released environmental reports, but by 2012 a third of American firms had begun disclosing these facets of their operations, along with nearly 40 percent of companies globally.” State of Green Business 2013

The link between financial performance and sustainability reporting is growing ever stronger; companies that disclose their performance frequently outperform those which don’t. A rapidly growing number of companies are reporting on their sustainability efforts, if you are a business which doesn’t disclose you will soon be in the minority amongst your peers.

If you are thinking about preparing a sustainability report, this briefing will help jumpstart your efforts by explaining key issues you should consider, things not to do when reporting, and important benchmarking tactics. This webinar is especially aimed at medium and smaller sized enterprises that are looking to build internal capacity for preparing sustainability reports.

Click here now to sign up


11:00        The State of Sustainability Reporting

Bahar Gidwani: CEO and Co-Founder, CSRHub

  • Who is reporting and why?
  • Overview of key reporting frameworks


11:10        Sustainability Reporting Success Strategies

Lorinda Rowledge: Co-founder, EKOS International

  • Trust & Transparency
  • Trends
  • Essential elements to consider in preparing your first sustainability report
  • Lessons learned and tips for success

11:30        Benchmarking:  Find your focus and unlock best practices

James Salo, PhD.  Sr. Vice President Research, North America

  • Why benchmark and what can you learn by doing it?
  • Fast, cost effective approaches and case study examples

11:45        Discussion, Audience Q & A


12:00        Close          

About the Speakers:


Bahar Gidwani, CFA.  Bahar co-founded CSRHub in 2007.  Its goal is to increase access to corporate sustainability information.  He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor Web site.  He worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar holds both a CFA and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Lorinda Rowledge, Ph.D.  From a foundation of expertise in world-class management systems and lean production, Lorinda has focused for the last 15 years on helping companies use Sustainability/Corporate Social Responsibility as a key platform for business advantage, innovation, and positive impact in the world.  She partners deeply with executives, mid-managers, and cross-functional teams to design and implement strategy-driven programs that achieve performance breakthroughs and innovative solutions.  Lorinda co-leads EKOS Sustainability Reporting services, helping companies engage with stakeholders and communicate the story of their CSR impact and progress.

James Salo, Ph.D.  James is the senior member responsible for Trucost's research efforts in North America and coordinates Trucost's Advisory Panel. James has been the research lead for Newsweek's Green Rankings and many of Trucost’s environmental performance benchmarking projects.   James will review why companies benchmark and what value and insights companies gain from benchmarking their performance.

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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How Pursuing Sustainability Propels a Virtuous Circle in Business

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 11, 2011 12:56:43 PM / by CSRHub Blogging

By Lorinda R. Rowledge

What most captured my intellectual curiosity -- and feelings of hope -- in 2010 was the daunting challenge and tremendous opportunity inherent in engaging employees in and through sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

As part of a major EKOS project, I interviewed internal leaders at P&G, SAP, 3M, BT, Microsoft, Interface, Toyota, Eileen Fisher, and other companies about their approach, and reviewed hundreds of articles, research findings, webinars, and academic papers on employee engagement.

In the end, I was struck by a renewed -- and urgent -- sense of optimism, an emergent "reframed" worldview about the fundamental relationship between employees, companies, and society, and an exciting array of guidelines and best practices that can be customized to simultaneously drive business performance, engage employees, and accelerate the transformation to sustainable business.

Below I introduce some key "warp and weft threads." Over the next few months I will weave a tapestry with some colorful stories and in-depth analyses in a series of short articles.

One of our greatest business leadership challenges may be creating the organizational culture and social context that optimizes the collective intelligence and collaborative effort of the entire workforce -- both for organizational effectiveness and innovation in general, and for advancing transformation to environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable business.

Despite clear data showing employee engagement is a key factor in business performance -- with "high engagement" companies having higher operating income, revenue, earnings per share growth rate, retail sales, profit margins, customer retention, safety, and employee retention -- studies from major global research firms like Gallup, TowersWatson, and Blessing White find that only 20-30 percent  of employees are actively engaged, meaning the vast majority of the workforce are coasting at best, actively disengaged or destructive at worst. Enlightened executives are increasingly seeing employee engagement as one of the most pressing strategic priorities. For example, a study by the Corporate Executive Board found employee engagement was one of the top two priorities of human resource leaders for 2010.

The good news is that this need for innovation in and increased commitment to engaging employees is occurring simultaneously with the requirement of sustainability/CSR implementation for much deeper integration and more intense innovation.  The synergies between CSR and engagement set the stage for a step-leap improvement in response to both elements of this leadership challenge.

Proactively pursuing sustainability/CSR is a significant, largely untapped, solution for engaging employees' passion, initiative, and search for meaning and contribution in their work. Advancing employee engagement in and through sustainability can propel a powerful virtuous circle contributing to dramatically improved business performance and ever more legitimate sustainability breakthroughs.

Employee engagement drives improvements in business performance; sustainability/CSR drives increased employee engagement; engaging employees accelerates sustainability integration and innovation; sustainable business innovation drives both superior business performance and more positive impact in the world.

Both research and direct experience among the leaders underscores this synergy.

The latest Sirota and Hewitt research into employee engagement and sustainability indicates:

  • Employees satisfied with their company's sustainability performance (compared to those who are dissatisfied) are more highly engaged, feel their employers are more interested in their well-being, rate senior managers as having a stronger sense of direction, and feel their companies are more competitive in the marketplace (all factors central to employee engagement);
  • The vast majority of employees at companies with high engagement say their employer is socially and environmentally responsible.

Sustainability provides what most people in today's workforce, from baby boomers to Gen Ys, are looking for in their work:  deeper meaning and a sense of purpose, opportunities to contribute and make a positive impact on the world, work in an organization with a good reputation in the community, and opportunities to develop knowledge and skills and advance their careers.

With the increasing consensus that sustainability/CSR is a business imperative, and that improvements and investments in sustainability/CSR yield cost savings, increased corporate reputation and brand value, new products and markets, and innovation, the majority of Fortune 500 companies as well as many smaller organizations now have corporate responsibility programs and reports. Most, however, are also a long way from reaping the benefits of engaging employees in sustainability.

A recent study indicates CSR programs are not adequately communicated and implemented, finding 86 percent  of employees are NOT engaged by their company's sustainability programs, and over 60 percent of respondents want to learn more about their employers' and co-workers' sustainability efforts. Additionally, an IBM study of corporate leaders found that only 46 percent of companies engaged front line managers and just 31 percent  engaged employees on CSR objectives and initiatives. Further, even those companies leading in proactive implementation of sustainability/CSR face the challenge of deepening sustainability integration and innovation – into every functional area, every level, into daily work of all employees, globally, at a whole new scale of impact.

The exciting news is that the most proactive CSR leaders are pioneering innovative sustainability and engagement strategies that go beyond green teams and beyond the choir of initial adopters. What they are finding is that integrating engagement with sustainability is driving performance that is superior to what they had been achieving with either separately.

To make this happen, they are inspiring employees with a vision and sense of purpose. They are clearly articulating an integrative strategy and then designing aligned action. These leaders are building systems and platforms that facilitate innovation happening everywhere and sustainability becoming part of everyone's job. They are revolutionizing their leadership development and embedding CSR within programs at every level from executive to interns. They are leveraging social media and IT-enabled solutions to enroll tens of thousands of employees in designing new sustainability-inspired business models, product offerings, and operational improvements. And, they are evolving new approaches and models for volunteering and community investment, health and wellness, social intraprenuership, and community economic development.

The sustainability leaders are creating an engine of creativity and collective action, building mass momentum and unprecedented agility in pursuit of an inspirational mission. Their commitment to increasingly turning that virtuous circle is cause for hope:  for individuals, for companies, for society, for the planet.

Topics introduced here are described more fully in the 90-page report: "Igniting the Core: Employee Engagement & Sustainability."

Top image CC licensed by Flickr user homesbythomas. Inset image courtesy of EKOS International.


Lorinda R. Rowledge, Ph.D., is partner and co-founder of EKOS International, a strategic consulting firm specializing in world class management, strategy-driven sustainability, leadership development, innovation, and transformational change. She can be reached at lrowledge@EKOSi.com.

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