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Read Seventh Generation’s CSR Report and Win $5,000

| Tuesday December 9th, 2008 | 2 Comments

svg_logo.jpg In July of this year, Seventh Generation released its 2007 Corporate Consciousness Report, a wrap up of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Named the Number One Best Company on Earth by the Better World Shopping Guide, the Corporate Consciousness Report discloses where they are on the “journey of sustainability” and how their employees and stakeholders are getting them there.
To celebrate the CSR Report, and citing the journey of sustainability is one that can’t be embarked upon alone, Seventh Generation launched The Sphere of Influence Contest. Announced with the report’s release and running until the end of the year, the idea is simple. Read the report, and then submit the best and most inspiring idea you thought they had. If yours is selected, you win $5,000 to make that idea a reality next year.


Regardless of its simplicity, a part of me wants to read into this contest in another way. As if Seventh Generation was trying to bribe people to read their CSR report. Or worse, find ways for people to pat them on their shoulder for doing good. After all, they’re not asking for people to submit their own ideas, but the ones that Seventh Generation already articulated. But that’s the cynic in me – in all of us – talking. What’s at the core of this is the dissemination of great ideas. Whoever had the great idea, Seventh Generation wants to empower an individual, a company, or some other type of organization to actually, hopefully make it a reality. That’s pretty cool.
Social Media in Action
Though the contest was initially announced in July, Seventh Generation has recently tried to encourage engagement using Social Media site JustMeans. In just more than a week that the contest has been up on JustMeans, there have been dozens of great ideas and discussions posted, which if nothing else, exhibits the incredible power that social media has for organizing and facilitating social action initiatives like this.
Here are some of the ideas people have already come up with*:
(*Original posters names or IDs have been omitted)
1) My idea consists of a nationwide kids’ clothing swap – An online presence where families can exchange their used kids’ clothing for the next size up or to clothe a new little one. There would be a system to the exchanges so that it will all be free, but fair at the same time. The only cost would be shipping so that families could save a lot of money not having to buy new clothing (especially in the beginning stages of an infant’s life). It would also teach and give families an opportunity to reuse old items while taking better care of the items that they do own so that they can pass them on to someone else in need.
2) While most companies say that they source sustainably, it is notoriously difficult to gather, evaluate, and confirm information about the practices of small companies in the developing world which provide raw materials. Many companies either avoid working with their supplies or ignore their subcontractors all together, disassociating themselves from a major part of their value chain.
Seventh Generation should create a standard for their supply chain scorecard and propogate it throughout the industry. Working with other sustainability assessment tools, a Supply Chain Scorecard would fit right into the balanced scorecard that many companies use. Increasingly companies are adding a new frame to their financial scorecards-the environment and sustainability.
3) What I find most inspiring about Seventh Generation and their CSR report is the idea of social consciousness. My idea to change the planet is to open a store for only locally produced items. This way, you can give local, artisans a change to put their items in a store, and help cut down on all the waste associated with shipping goods across the country. This simple idea, gives a city a sense of community and an outlet for creative people to sell their works. This store would not just be for artists in the traditional sense but also, bakers, writers, filmmakers, designers, and anyone else who creates something locally.
Check out the contest on JustMeans to see all of the other great ideas and let you us know which one you thought was best. Or, read the report and submit a great idea yourself!


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  • http://www.roughstockstudios.com Jess S.

    Your reaction to Seventh Generation’s attempt at CSR engagement is an interesting one. I can see where you’re coming from; in some sense, the contest is a form of bribery. All marketing is, after all.

    But having just written an advice-driven post on CSR/sustainability reports for smaller organizations, I’m inclined to see this contest in a different light. By soliciting feedback about Seventh Generation’s own actions, they are doing valuable research that may help drive the company’s decision-making process. There are tons of lessons they can learn from this, such as:

    Which of the company’s actions resonate with readers. This can help guide future plans.

    Which actions fell short. This can tell them both what their customers aren’t as concerned with, as well as where the company needs to strengthen its messaging to better communicate their own methods and/or results.

    Soliciting new ideas, which you’ve already addressed.

    …and so on. I think this is one of those examples of positive reinforcement – you can call it bribery and you wouldn’t be wrong, but the results can be incredibly valuable to both Seventh Generation and their customers.

    (And for what it’s worth, here’s my post on producing CSR/sustainability reports for smaller organizations.)

  • http://www.justmeans.com Martin Smith

    I work with JustMeans and would love to hear ideas on how to make this contest better and what functionality we should add. We are working on a number of similar contests with other companies and would love to get input on how users think we could crowdsource CSR strategy. Thanks for your input.