Fun post for Friday: An interesting human behavior story from the Galapagos. Post Office Bay, on the Island of Floreana, has been serving as an improvised message board for travelers since the 19th century. Ships would periodically stop by and leave messages in the hopes that another ship might pick them up and take them to their intended destination in distant lands.
The definition of “eco-tourism” is hard to nail down. If forced to, I’d probably say something like: Eco tourism is any travel whose primary purpose is the enjoyment of nature in its wild state and upon which special effort has been made to minimize negative externalities – and maximize the positive ones.
As such, anything from a camping trip to the local state park to an elaborate international adventure would probably qualify. In terms of grander trips, the Galapagos is probably one of the more well known eco-tourism destinations. So what are the basic ways tour companies are minimizing impact? And how are they going above and beyond?
I’ve just returned from a trip to the Galapagos Islands that prompts my rare use of cliché superlatives like “amazing” and “once in a lifetime.” It was both of those things and plenty more. Naturally, looking at the Galapagos from a triple bottom line point of view made the whole experience even more complex and interesting. Over the next week or two, we’ll get into some of the details and stories. For starters, I thought a little background and introduction would make sense.
As our readers probably know, the Galapagos Islands are the sparsely populated volcanic archipelago 600 miles west of the Ecuadorian mainland made famous by Charles Darwin’s visit in the early 1800s. Rife with endemic species of wildlife, 97 percent of the islands are a tightly restricted national park. On the rest of the land are about 30,000 islanders making their living mostly through tourism and fishing.
At present, a limited number of tourists per year are granted the privilege of touring the islands on boats operated by one of several dozen tour companies that have been granted a license to do so. These tour operators follow a strict set of approved itineraries and make scheduled stops at designated landings where naturalists guide visitors on short hikes. It’s a system that, by and large, has proven quite effective at minimizing environmental impact, but questions remain about maintaining a viable economy for islanders as well as exactly how much tourism should be allowed to grow (if at all).
“To me, it’s about bringing the best people to the table with differing opinions to try to make sure that we’re always making the right business decision,” Sarah Endline, cheif rioter (aka founder and CEO) of Sweetriot, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“If you only have one point of view, I don’t feel like you’re going to get to the best solution.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Endline goes on to explain why diversity is important to Sweetriot — a certified women-owned business that sources its cocoa from Latin America — in this 90-second clip.
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, we spoke to thought leaders at the 2014 Net Impact conference. about what diversity means to them. We received all sorts of responses, from tips on diversity and inclusion management to personal stories and the business case for diversity.
For major multinationals like Best Buy, which operates more than 1,400 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, maintaining diversity and inclusion throughout an enormous staff presents both challenges and opportunities. For the electronics giant, taking diversity seriously means creating a welcoming environment for more than 140,000 employees, said John Hardy, field diversity and inclusion manager for Best Buy.
“We want to make sure that we create an environment that really allows people to bring their 100 percent selves to work,” Hardy said at the conference. “It’s really important that we have employees in our stores that understand our customers, from a personal level and from a professional level.”
Hardy, who manages Best Buy’s retail diversity and inclusion efforts, goes on to explain why diversity is important to the company — all the way down to the staff at its retail locations — this 60-second clip.
“At HIP Investor we rate investments on their overall sustainability, future risk and return, and a key element of every investment and company that you invest in is the diversity of its staff, managers, executives and board,” R. Paul Herman, founder and CEO of HIP Investor, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“What we find in investing is: The most diverse staffed companies tend to be the strongest performers, so they can make more money and have lower risk.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Herman goes on to describe how diversity is a part of sustainability — and how it can boost bottom-lines and investment portfolios — in this two-minute clip.
“Sustainability is a worldwide issue. It’s something that every person on the planet should be aware of,” Diana Sánchez, CEO and co-founder of Savvy – Marketing for Good, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis last month.
“And, well, the world is a diverse place, so when we talk about sustainability and diversity everyone should be involved to tackle the same issues.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Sanchez, who is originally from Mexico City, goes on to describe why companies should care about diversity and how it can help them with innovation and longevity.
As you may recall TriplePundit has developed a strong relationship with the folks at Masdar in the United Arab Emirates and we’ve covered developments in the UAE and the gulf region with great interest over the last three years. Now’s your chance to travel to Abu Dhabi to see what’s happening yourself.
Masdar has launched its third annual Engage Blogging Contest, which offers an excellent chance to visit Abu Dhabi, and of course, Masdar City, during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The winner will have an all-expenses paid trip to Abu Dhabi the week of January 19, 2015, and will be Masdar’s guest blogger during this important event that brings about 35,000 professionals from all over the world annually.
Here’s how to enter:
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since TriplePundit was founded. Since then we’ve built the site into one of the most well-read online publications about sustainability in business. That’s a big deal. We’re reaching 350,000 people a month with the message that business can be a positive force in solving the world’s sustainability challenges.
In all that time, we’ve built a phenomenal following and a phenomenal online resource. But with all our growth comes the inevitable need to spice up our online presence so we can keep the momentum going for all of you!
In return, this is one of those rare times we’re asking you, the readers to help out!
In a nutshell, we’ve launched a crowd-funding campaign to cover some of the costs associated with our re-launch. It’s a modest $10,000 goal, but it’s just what we need to bridge the gap for a re-launch some time in February and a great 10-year celebration.
With your help, we’ll be able to bring you better navigation, more resources, better readability, more in-depth coverage of new issues and more. To make it worth your while, we’ve got a host of perks and incentives designed to make your 2015 more sustainable and more productive. There are even perks designed for companies. If you’ve gotten value out of reading 3p over the years, now’s your chance to make a small investment in the future…
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, we asked thought leaders from all backgrounds to make the business case for diversity. Attracting bright young talent was one of the top reasons cited, so getting the student perspective seemed like a natural fit.
At the 2014 Net Impact conference, Mariana Negrao, an MBA candidate in Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program and VP of Communications for the CSU Net Impact Chapter, shared what diversity means to her:
“To me, diversity is being able to bring different sources of inspiration to the debate,” Negrao said. “I think it’s important because, especially with sustainability, it requires a lot of innovation. And you can’t really have innovative ideas if you’re not getting [them] from the overlapping of different areas of knowledge.”
In this one-minute clip, Negrao, a native of Brazil, goes on to make the business case for diversity and describe how a diverse workforce can drive innovation.
“It’s critical that anyone looking to be sustainable enact guidelines of diversity within their own organizations,” Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and founder of the Hult Prize Foundation, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis.
The Hult Prize, often called the “Nobel Prize for students,” is the world’s largest student competition and one of the world’s most prestigious awards for the creation of new social enterprises.
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Ashkar goes on to explain why diversity matters to the Hult Prize Foundation, which already counts students from more than 130 different countries as part of its applicant pool, in this 90-second clip.
“From a business perspective, we look at diversity as a way to help us make better business decisions, to make sure that we’re innovative,” Antoine Andrews, director of global diversity and inclusion for Symantec, said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“I like to use the term ‘insider’ and ‘outsider.’ We’ve all been in situations where we were either an insider or an outsider,” he continued.
“So, if you look at inclusion from that perspective — of how to help people get comfortable in environments, to be able to be a little bit more creative, to be able to challenge the status quo — really helps organizations get into a better place.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Andrews went on to describe his role at Symantec — and how he leverages diversity to help departments within the company become more innovative and recruit top talent — in this 90-second clip.
“One of the things that I find really interesting in talking about diversity, and in practicing diversity within my company, is: As you start to look at and try to define what the ‘value’ is, oftentimes you find that you’re having conversations that run parallel to the conversations that we have when we’re trying to articulate the business case for sustainability,” Laura Clise said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“What I think is really fundamental is that both are focused on the translation of and the impact of looking at corporate values and then linking that to value creation.”
Clise, who serves as director of external communications and corporate citizenship for Areva, moderated a panel on diversity and inclusion at the conference in Minneapolis last month. She even wrote a 90-second rap to kick things off. (If your day could use a boost, do yourself a favor and check it out here.)
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Clise talks about the difference between diversity and inclusion — and how anyone, regardless of background, can be an ally and an advocate for diversity — in the following clip.
“We need to build on the diversity efforts that we’ve been engaged in over the last few decades,” Deena Hayes-Greene, of the Greensboro, North Carolina-based Racial Equity Institute (REI), said at the 2014 Net Impact conference.
“I think we’ve done an effective job, for the most part, in changing the complexion of the people in organizations. I don’t know if we have diversified the realities of the people that work in there.”
Hayes-Greene serves as managing director for REI, an organization with a vision to “optimize institutional outcomes for everyone.” As part of our Talking Diversity video series, she goes on to describe sequential inequities that still exist in business and society — and what can be done to address them — in this two-minute clip.
The tech sector has come under fire recently for a lack of diversity in its workforce, particularly with respect to gender. Asheen Phansey, who heads up the Sustainable Innovation Lab at French software firm Dassault Systèmes, noted this issue at the 2014 Net Impact conference — saying gender diversity is “critical” for technology companies.
“As with most companies, we have a pretty unbalanced workforce that is predominantly male,” Phansey said. “Something that [Dassault] strives for from a business setting is first getting more women involved in our company, in everything from technology to management, and also looking to the percentage of women total to the percentage of women that are managers.”
“That’s important because there are a lot of qualities of how a female executive approaches a problem that tend to be, on average, different from how a male executive will approach a function.”
As part of our Talking Diversity video series, Phansey goes on to explain how gender diversity, as well as diversity of workplace function, come into play at Dassault — and why businesses both inside and outside the tech sector should care — in this three-minute clip.