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Protecting What’s Irreplaceable With Guns...and Brands

[fa icon="calendar'] Dec 18, 2015 10:27:04 AM / by Carol Pierson Holding

By: Carol Pierson Holding

Several years ago, I visited the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya. Lewa’s owner’s goal is to set an example of how wildlife can be even more valuable as a source of tourism than for sale on the black-market, providing a model throughout Africa. I was there to assess potential branding opportunities. Virgin Air had committed to a corridor for migrating elephants. Lewa hoped there were others.

RhinosOne of Lewa’s initiatives is providing sanctuary for rhinos, an endangered species. The Conservancy took me to see to its community projects, from water pumps to schools to a visit with a baby rhino recuperating from a life-saving operation. All supported Lewa’s mission; all were inspiring.

But the talk I remember best was the one given by Lewa’s head of security. The ex-army leader opened his presentation with photos of a dead rhino, a large circle of dried blood on the top of its head where poachers had hacked off its magnificent horn to sell as rhino horn aphrodisiac.

The security chief went on to show how Lewa battles poaching with an army of sixty rangers trained in military communication and weaponry, some pictured holding semi-automatic weapons while riding across terrain in jeeps kitted out with sighting devices and machine guns.

These symbols of brutality were especially harsh after days spent in nature’s wonderland. But protecting what’s endangered is a war to stop criminals, and things inevitably get violent.

So it was a relief when I saw a photo of Brazilian soldiers standing on a clear-cut piece of the Amazon rainforest, holding machine guns, a show of force to stop the violation of forestry laws.

But just as bad as the local deforesters are the big agribusinesses and traders buying agricultural products grown on illegally deforested land and sold to American food companies.

In Brazil, most is bought by two American companies — beef for McDonald’s and soy for Cargill. Massive companies with massive demands.

Now Brazil has cut its deforestation by 80% from 2005 rates, well ahead of its original target of 2020. How? Yes with military enforcement. And even more effective, both American companies succumbed to pressure from the Brazilian government, its citizen-consumers, and most important, outrage from global consumers fueled by reports from environmental organizations. No big company wants to be caught breaking the law, and no big company wants to hurt its brand. After much negotiating, McDonald’s pledged not to buy beef from farms on recently harvested rainforest; Cargill pledged the same for soybeans.

Why did they capitulate? It wasn’t just local pressure, a liberal government and active eco-organizations bringing pressure to bear. Global brands were threatened.

Likewise Indonesia, home to the world’s third largest rainforest, has a 1999 Forestry Law requiring companies to get two separate permits before clearing forests. However, corporations circumvent these requirements, employing illegal logging activities where enforcement is lax and regulations are porous. To make matters worse, Indonesia’s timber industry is in part controlled by organized crime syndicates, often with the support of Indonesia’s military and police, subverting enforcement efforts.

But as in Brazil, global consumers are having a powerful role, exerting their will on food companies at the retail end of the food chain that starts with Indonesian palm oil. As reported by Reuters earlier this year,

“Rainforest Action Network’s ‘Snackfood 20 Scorecard’ monitors the implementation of deforestation pledges by companies that buy palm oil from major plantation firms for their products, such as PepsiCo Inc. , Kellogg Company and Kraft Heinz Company.

The speed and alacrity with which the major plantation companies began enforcing their ‘no deforestation’ pledges – which also apply to companies in their supply chain - caught both the national government and smaller growers by surprise.”

 

It’s exciting to see brands wield vastly more power than military-grade weapons.

As with all issues on climate change, stopping deforestation can only happen if all the players are involved. We need both carrots, from cash payments to farmers in compensation to fostering national pride in rainforests, and sticks, from armed soldiers on the local level to global brand pressure. The climate talks showed that agreement is possible across countries. Brazil showed how to get all players cooperating to solve challenges even faster than thought possible. Indonesia is building on that success. We might just get it done.

Photo courtesy of Martin Pettitt 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.

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[fa icon="comment"] 0 Comments posted in Cargill, deforestation, Uncategorized, Rainforest Action Network, Indonesia, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, rhinos, Brazil, McDonald's, no deforestation pledge

Sustainability Performance Benchmark for McDonald’s Corporation

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 17, 2014 9:00:32 AM / by CSRHub Blogging

 

CSRHUB Logo

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability metrics site CSRHub recently updated its ratings on McDonald’s Corporation and the 141 companies in the Hotels, Motels and Restaurants industry.  McDonalds’ overall rating currently is 54, down one point, after the most recent updates to their CSRHub page.

[csrhubwidget company="McDonalds-Corporation" size="650x100" hash="c9c0f7"]

Please note, the Sustainability Ratings widget will continually update and show the latest ratings on CSRHub.

The average rating for the other companies in the Hotels, Motels and Restaurants industry increased one point to 53. You may see more information about McDonald’s at their CSRHub page here.

McDonald’s has a score of 59 in the Employees area, with help from a high score in the Training, Health and Safety subcategory of 66—above the average for this industry of 54.  The area with the greatest opportunity for improvement for McDonald’s is the Resource Management subcategory.  Here, McDonald’s gets a 43 —which is below the average for the industry of 49.

Some highlights of the progress that McDonald’s has made in the past year include:

  • McDonald’s USA First National Restaurant Chain to Serve MSC-Certified Sustainable Fish at all US Locations.
  • McDonald’s USA, McDonald’s Canada, and Their Franchisees Will Invest Over $6.5M in Agricultural Technical Assistance Program As Part of Efforts to Increase Coffee Sustainability.

See McDonalds’ Corporate Social Responsibility website here.

 


 

CSRHub ratings are on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest. To see more on how CSRHub creates a score and the CSRHub rating rules, visit here.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900 companies from 135 industries in 103 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 304+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. 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"] 0 Comments posted in corporate social responsibility, CSR, Uncategorized, sustainability, CSRHub, McDonald's, SRI

Use CSRHub for Stock Picks?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 14, 2013 12:02:01 PM / by Bahar Gidwani

By Bahar Gidwani

A recent post on TriplePundit compared two companies using CSRHub.

Thanks for looking at CSRHub, as part of your investigation. As you know, we bring together hundreds of sources of sustainability information on more than 7,300 companies in 93 countries. Our goal is to create metrics that will help improve corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Our site is not designed to help you pick stocks. It is designed to help you evaluate whether or not a company is transparent about its social activities, how well it treats its employees, whether or not it has taken steps to cut its carbon and improve its supply chain, and so on.

For instance, McDonald's has reported its social performance using the Global Reporting Initiative framework--Chipotle has not. McDonald's has won awards for supporting Hispanic suppliers, for its treatment of women managers, and it has joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Chipotle hasn't won these awards or joined SPC.

[csrhubwidget company="McDonalds-Corporation" size="650x100" hash="c9c0f7"]

At the same time, McDonald's product (e.g., its food), doesn't get good ratings for its sustainability from Better World (McDonald's gets a D- compared to an A for Chipotle). Both companies get decent scores on their human rights performance from Human Rights Campaign, but McDonald's has a more balanced board structure, that probably provides stronger oversight than Chipotle receives.

[csrhubwidget company="Chipotle-Mexican-Grill-Inc" size="650x100" hash="c9c0f7"]

From the above, you can see that if you want a more sustainable sandwich, you might choose Chipotle. If you want to eat in a place that  is friendly to Hispanics, you might choose McDonald's. We believe that improvements in sustainability will be driven by a wide range of factors--and a wide range of personal views. We try to give you the data you need to make your own decision about which company you want to buy from, sell to, or work with--based on what is important to you.

Our data probably won't tell you which stock will go up and which will go down. Stock prices--at least in the near term--are driven much more by earnings and other corporate news than by what score a company gets from a ratings source. However, we believe your personal choice of a Chipotle meal rather than a McDonald's meal--based on your understanding and knowledge of each company's corporate social responsibility performance--should eventually make a difference in how each company behaves. Our goal has been to allow you to make more informed choices. We hope we've achieved that and given you reasons to probe further and to learn more.


Bahar GidwaniBahar Gidwani is CEO and Co-founder of CSRHub. He has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA, worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to a number of major companies and currently serves on the board of several software and Web companies. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board. He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 7,300+ companies from 135 industries in 93 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 230 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. 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, Better World, Human Rights Campaign, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, Uncategorized, Triple Pundit, Chipotle, Global Reporting Initiative, Hispanic suppliers, McDonald's

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