3p Contributor: Cindy Mehallow

Cindy Mehallow is principal of CRM Communications, a woman-owned sustainability communications consulting practice specializing in corporate social responsibility reporting and stakeholder communications. GRI-Certified in sustainability reporting, Cindy has produced award-winning sustainability reports for Fortune 500 clients in a variety of industries.

Recent Articles

Four Leaders Share How to Manage Sustainability Metrics

| Thursday October 3rd, 2013 | 0 Comments

chainEfficient metrics management for stakeholders at every point in your value chain

By Cindy Mehallow

Just as baseball is a game of statistics, sustainability is a field of metrics. But, unlike the venerable stats by which fans track their favorite team’s performance, the metrics used to measure an organization’s non-financial performance present a churning assortment of evolving standards. At the recent Sustainable Brands “New Metrics of Sustainability” conference, speakers from SAP, Bridgestone Americas and other organizations threw participants a few life preservers to help them stay afloat in the sea of data.

SAP and SEDEX: Platforms for product compliance requests

SAP Senior Vice President of Sustainability Tom Odenwald described his company’s Product Stewardship Network which suppliers can use to manage the onslaught of product compliance requests from their customers.

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Where Sustainability Reporting is Headed: An E&Y and GreenBiz Survey

| Friday January 27th, 2012 | 0 Comments

While at the GreenBiz12 Forum in New York earlier this week, I got a sneak preview of the findings of the new Ernst & Young and GreenBiz Group survey of trends in sustainability reporting. The soon-to-be-released survey validates much of what I’ve seen firsthand in my work preparing sustainability and corporate responsibility reports for Fortune 100 companies in various industry sectors.

There’s been no slowdown in the number of reports being produced, despite the poor economy, noted John DeMelis, a sustainability assurance partner with Ernst & Young.  DeMelis kicked off the standing-room-only breakout session by noting the links between the rise in sustainability reporting and drivers such as cost reduction efforts, growing investments in sustainability, an increasingly strategic approach to sustainability efforts, and intensifying calls for accountability. The report also revealed growing concerns around validity of the data contained in sustainability reports (more on that later).

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The Big Thirst: Water Woes and What to Do About Them

| Thursday October 6th, 2011 | 1 Comment

“The golden age of water is over,” asserted Charles Fishman, author of “The Big Thirst,” as he shared a sweeping view of global water usage with participants at the recent Commit!Forum in New York.

Fishman presented alternating stories of dramatic progress in water management and accounts of worsening access to clean drinking water as he described our changing relationship with this most basic of commodities.

Golden Age Gone
Fishman barraged the audience with fascinating and sometimes frightening statistics about water availability from around the globe, including:

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Six Great Resources for Corporate Responsibility Professionals

| Tuesday October 4th, 2011 | 1 Comment

For the first time, I had the opportunity to attend the                                                                                  
Corporate Responsibility magazine’s Commit!Forum.
Held in New York, it attracted nearly 600 corporate
responsibility professionals, consultants, representa-
tives from NGOs, a few investment analysts, and others.

There were some familiar faces at the in the seats next
to me and on the panels, as well as many new faces.
Interacting with all these like-minded folks always
rekindles my enthusiasm, enlightens me on the latest
thinking and broadens my perspective. And, it acquaints me with new resources. For those of you who weren’t lucky enough to attend the conference, I’ll share six resources that every CR professional should know about: 

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It Began with a Tomato: Engagement Lessons from Florida’s Tomato Land

| Wednesday September 28th, 2011 | 0 Comments

What began as the quest for a fresh, juicy, flavorful tomato culminated in a landmark labor rights agreement
which is transforming the lives of agricultural workers in the heart of Florida’s tomato land.  Along the way we can learn lessons in stakeholder engagement.

I had the opportunity to speak privately with Cheryl Queen, VP of Corporate Communications for Compass Group North America, to learn the details of this story which she shared recently at the Corporate Responsibility magazine’s Commit!Forum 2011: Good Business Makes the Difference in New York City.

For a bit of background, you should know that Compass Group is the world’s leading food service provider to college campuses, public schools, business cafeterias and events such as the US Open. Throughout the US and Canada, Compass Group North America has more than 175,000 associates in 48 states, ten provinces, and two territories.  Their parent company, UK-based Compass Group PLC operates in over 50 countries with 428,000 associates worldwide. So when Compass Group buys tomatoes, they buy a LOT of tomatoes – 8 million pounds each year in North America alone.  Hold that thought.

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Stakeholder Engagement: Collaborating for Bottom Line Benefits

| Wednesday June 22nd, 2011 | 0 Comments

This post is part of a series on Stakeholder Engagement sponsored by Jurat Software.

By Cindy Mehallow
“Do companies compete over CSR?” asked Tim Mohin, corporate responsibility Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), as he addressed a session at the recent Responsible Business Summit sponsored by Ethical Corporation.  When a only a few conference participants ventured a tenative “yes,” Mohin supplied the answer: “They sure do!”

Companies vie for top billing on Newsweek’s 2010 Green Rankings, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and a host of other green rankings. High scores can pay off with enhanced reputation, attention from investors, and interest from values-driven prospective employees.

Despite this competition, Mohin urged meeting participants to consider the value of “collaboratition,” a term he coined to describe a judicious blend of collaboration and competition among industry sector peers.   As a semiconductor design innovator, AMD has good reason to be wary of its high tech rivals, but that didn’t stop Mohin from endorsing the value of teaming with industry peers and partners to advance sustainability initiatives and even benefit the bottom line.

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Is One-way Corporate Responsibility Reporting Dead?

| Friday June 10th, 2011 | 5 Comments

Last week I attended my first Ethical Corporation conference — their first Responsible Business Summit in New York.  Since most Ethical Corporation conferences are held in Europe, I welcomed the chance to just hop on a train (and subway) and attend one in my backyard.  An impressive line-up of speakers from Microsoft, PepsiCo, GRI, Bank of America, BNY Mellon, P&G, Maersk, BASF and other CSR leaders addressed an equally impressive assembly of environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) practitioners, some consultants and a handful of vendors.

All in all, it was an auspicious gathering that promised to – and did – deliver some of the latest thinking on corporate social responsibility, particularly the process of “Embedding Sustainability” which was the conference theme.

As a consultant who helps companies develop their CSR reporting strategy and produce CSR reports, I was particularly interested in those sessions which dealt most directly with trends in non-financial reporting. So, when I saw the session titled “Is one-way corporate responsibility reporting dead?” I made a beeline for that room.

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Embedding Sustainability: How Xerox Does It

| Monday June 6th, 2011 | 2 Comments

How can companies ensure that sustainability, corporate citizenship, and corporate social responsibility, stick in a business?  It’s the hardest task facing sustainability managers today, according to Ethical Corporation’s recent report “How to embed sustainability across different parts of your company.”  In that report, 50 leading companies felt that their biggest challenges were: performance measurement, internal reporting, external reporting, partnerships and collaboration, and community engagement.

I heard sustainability leaders from Xerox, ING and Henkel share how they’re driving sustainability through their organizations at the Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Summit 2011 in New York earlier this week.  For two days, I learned from top practitioners and conversed with sustainability practitioners from a diverse array of companies around the world.  Perhaps because of the conference sponsor’s U.K. roots, the meeting had a distinctively international flavor, which made it all the more interesting.

Patricia Calkins, Global Vice-President, Environment, Health and Safety for Xerox, outlined four steps her company uses.

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Banking on Employee Engagement in CSR

| Monday June 6th, 2011 | 0 Comments

What’s your road map for advancing CSR? If it doesn’t include employee engagement, chances are you won’t get far.

BNY Mellon‘s corporate social responsibility agenda calls for fostering an engaged workforce, community investment and environmentinal sustainability. But employee engagement definitely drives the other two goals, according to R. Jeep Byrant, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs Officer for BNY Mellon.

Bryant outlined four fundamentals for strong employee engagement in corporate social responsibility in his presentation at the Ethical Corporation’s recent Responsible Business Summit 2011. Speakers and participants from around the globe gathered  in New York for two days to explore best practices for embedding sustainability in their organizations. Not surprisingly, employee engagement surfaced as a sine qua non for advancing a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda. Bryant shared four proven techniques successfully used at BNY Mellon. 

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Universities Embrace GRI Sustainability Reporting

| Sunday January 2nd, 2011 | 6 Comments

Sustainability reporting has become de rigeur among thousands of companies as well as a majority of the Global Fortune 250, but now even academic institutions are beginning to follow suit and issue their own non-financial reports. Earlier this week, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announced the release of its third University Sustainability Report  prepared in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 framework.

That puts the school in elite company, as one of just five universities with a report listed on the GRI website.  UMass Dartmouth broke new ground last year when it became the first university in the world and the United States to release a self-declared A-level sustainability report according to the GRI’s G3 guidelines.

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Serious Gaming: Games that Can Change the World

| Wednesday November 17th, 2010 | 0 Comments

This is the second of two posts on serious gaming and corporate social responsibility. Part 1 discussed Teaching Sustainable Values through Serious Gaming.

By Cindy Mehallow

In my first post on gaming and sustainability, I discussed the growing use of online and video games to teach sustainable values and drive behavior change. A growing number of business leaders, academicians and government officials believe that so-called “serious” gaming has the potential to help achieve the systemic change that society needs to reach its sustainability goals.

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Employees Get Involved in Social Media at Nokia

| Monday November 15th, 2010 | 4 Comments

by Cindy Mehallow

When organizations use social media, it should be all about listening and having a two-way conversation.  That’s a radical departure from traditional corporate communications and marketing which rely primarily on talking to an audience, rather than engaging with them.

That was the message I heard repeatedly at the Justmeans “Social Media, Technology and Change Conference” in New York recently.  As a communicator who helps companies tell their sustainability stories to their stakeholders, I’m always interested in learning how other companies are successful using new technology to advance their sustainability agenda.  The panelists at the “Listening to and Engaging With Customers and Employees” did not disappoint.

Nokia’s Social Media Agenda:

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Teaching Sustainable Values through Serious Gaming

| Tuesday November 9th, 2010 | 5 Comments

This is the first of two posts on serious gaming and corporate social responsibility. Part 2: Games that Can Change the World.

Are you a Farmville addict?  Does your son spend hours playing World of Warcraft? While you and millions of others play on-line games to have fun, an increasing number of business leaders, government officials and academicians want to tap the popularity and power of on-line and video games to create serious games that spur players to solve problems, learn and change their behavior.  They believe that serious gaming has the potential to help achieve the systemic change that society needs to reach its sustainability goals.

Speakers from Deloitte, Advanced Micro Devices and E-Line Media shared their vision for the future of serious gaming at the recent Justmeans “Social Media, Technology and Change: The Future of Stakeholder Engagement” conference in New York.

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The Future of ESG Investing and Disclosure

| Tuesday November 2nd, 2010 | 0 Comments

By Cindy Mehallow

Green actions and rhetoric are no longer sufficient to maintain a strong reputation as a sustainability leader. Companies which fall short in disclosing their ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance will bear increasing consequences as investment analysts, shareholders and stakeholders demand greater transparency.  That was the clear message I heard from two of the top voices in ESG investing and reporting who spoke at the Just Means “Social Media, Technology and Change” conference yesterday in New York.

Michael Muyot, founder and president of CRD Analytics, spoke from his experience in developing the SmartViewTM Platform, a methodology which drives the new  The Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders as well as the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability 50 Index.  The G1000 ranking includes companies which are publicly traded on a major global exchange, have a minimum market capitalization of $1 billion USD  — AND have published a sustainability report with a full year of ESG data. The SmartView methodology relies on 200 individual qualitative and quantitative performance metrics composed of traditional financials, as well as ESG data.

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CSR Reporting: When is Enough, Enough? Views from Intel and Merck

| Monday April 19th, 2010 | 0 Comments

This is the third column in a three-part series on CSR Reporting.

Producing CSR reports requires a substantial investment of time and money. Is all the work worth it? I was surprised by some of the answers I heard during a panel on CSR reporting at the recent Financial Times Conference “Investing in a Sustainable Future.” Panelist responses ranged from firmly committed (Intel), enthusiastic (the Global Reporting Initiative), skeptical (Merck & Co.), and selectively supportive (California State Teachers’ Retirement System – CalSTRTS).

Merck takes a step back

I was surprised when Merck’s Director of Corporate Responsibility, Maggie Kohn, announced that Merck will not be publishing a CSR report this year. Instead, it will take some time off to reassess its reporting activities. Kohn intends to seek additional stakeholder input, identify short-, medium- and long-term metrics for the company and explore different methods of reaching stakeholders.

“When is enough reporting enough?” queried Kohn. “When you’re trying to please everyone and in the process pleasing no one.”

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