3p Contributor: Heidi Sistare

Heidi Sistare is a freelance writer who just completed the documentary writing and multimedia storytelling program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine. She holds a BA in Social Work from Warren Wilson College and has experience in non-profit management, community development, and planning for small businesses. Visit her website at: www.heidisistare.com

Recent Articles

Summary the Corporate Response to Bangladesh Disaster

| Thursday May 30th, 2013 | 1 Comment

Solidarity with BangladeshOn April 24, the Rana Plaza, located in a suburb near Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed upon itself—eight stories of iron and cement crumbled to earth killing more than 1,000 workers. The building was home to garment factories producing apparel for companies in the United States and Europe. A Time.com report names some of the companies that were producing goods at Rana Plaza, either at the time of the building collapse or in the past.

The safety plan

The Rana Plaza disaster comes on the back of other recent, fatal events in Bangladesh garment factories and global outrage about the event puts pressure on corporations whose products are manufactured in the country. In response, The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh is receiving more attention and support. Quartz has published a visual explanation of the accord, outlining the different roles of the groups involved: buyers (multinational corporations), trade unions and The International Labour Organization.

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How Can the U.S. Get More Women in the Boardroom?

| Thursday May 16th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Business DayIt was about this time last year that Facebook was heavily criticized for the absence of women among the seven directors on the board. And it will be a year ago this June that Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer now of Lean In fame and infamy, became the eighth member of Facebook’s board.

This is a small step for a high-profile U.S. company, and small steps seem to be the only kind we’re taking when it comes to gender diversity in the boardroom.

A GMI Ratings survey, 2013 Women on Boards, shows that, since 2009, the percentage of women on boards in the U.S. has risen just 1.9 percent. This is compared to a 3.3 percent increase in Nordic countries and a four percent increase in the rest of developed Europe. When you look at the percentage of women serving on corporate boards in the U.S. (as of 2011 this was approximately 16 percent among the Fortune 500 companies) and consider that alongside our slow growth compared to European countries, you have to wonder, what’s happening?

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Affinity Credit Cards: Do They Make an Impact?

| Monday May 13th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Working Assets Credit CardTwo weeks ago, TriplePundit.com ran an article about socially responsible credit cards. The article covered credit cards offered through Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) whose mission includes supporting economic development in low to moderate income areas. There is another type of credit card, affinity cards, that also link social benefit with credit-based purchases.

What are affinity cards?

Affinity cards are offered through partnerships between major banks and nonprofit organizations. Every time you make a purchase with your affinity credit card, your banking institution donates a percentage to the nonprofit partner.

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Where to Look for Socially Responsible Credit Cards

| Friday April 26th, 2013 | 2 Comments

creditcardsFirst, there was the banking collapse of 2008. Then, in 2011, tents popped up in Zuccotti park and the Occupy movement began. In the last five years people from all walks of life have begun to ask serious questions about how the banking system does or does not support people, communities, and the environment. Of course these questions didn’t begin in 2008 and they certainly continue now after most Occupy campers have cleared their sites.

For those of us who are concerned about the social impact of the companies we entrust with our money, it helps to have a guide for sorting through our options. There are many banking products to look at: retirement accounts, mutual funds, checking and savings accounts and credit cards. In 2008, TriplePundit ran an article about socially responsible credit cards. The article differentiated between affinity cards, which are cards issued by a major bank in collaboration with a particular non-profit, and credit cards that are offered through socially responsible financial institutions.

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Panera Bread Feeds the Hungry, and Markets Their Values

| Thursday March 14th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Loaf of BreadWe all know it starts with the bread. There’s so much to love about it: the smell, the warmth, the crunch on the outside and softness of the middle. Bread should be easy to market, given the number of bread idioms that pervade the English language: bread and dough can both mean cash, “bread and butter” are the basics and “breaking bread” indicates a shared meal. For the last thirty plus years, Panera Bread has grown a successful company that, as of December 2011, includes 740 company-owned bakery-cafes.

A new Panera Bread ad, launched in February, uses a Rube Goldberg machine to demonstrate a chain reaction of values, demonstrating that values are at the core of the Panera brand. The basic premise of the “Live Consciously. Eat Deliciously.” campaign is that delicious, wholesome bread inspired the company to ask two questions: (1) “Could we make food that lives up to our bread?” and (2) “Could we come together as a community and help feed people in need?”

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Interview: Innovation in the Fashion Industry

| Friday March 8th, 2013 | 1 Comment

ShannonWhiteheadShannon Whitehead is working to change the fashion industry. First, she started a sustainable clothing company for female travelers and minimalists and now Whitehead shares her passions as a sustainable fashion consultant, writer and speaker. She has appeared as a keynote speaker at the World Education Congress and a guest lecturer at San Francisco’s Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. In this interview Whitehead talks with us about how Patagonia is an “industry game-changer,” shares her advice for new entrepreneurs, “don’t be vanilla,” and describes how she encourages innovation in her own work.

Triple Pundit: First, can you briefly describe the kind of work that you do now?

Shannon Whitehead: I’m a sustainable fashion consultant. I work with designers, as well as established eco apparel companies, on marketing, social media, branding, sourcing and manufacturing.

3p: Can you describe {r}evolution apparel?

SW: I co-founded {r}evolution apparel, a sustainable clothing company for female travelers and minimalists. In 2011, we launched our signature piece the Versalette, one garment that can be worn over 20 different ways, made in the USA with 100 percent recycled fabric.

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Better World Books Continues to Innovate

| Thursday February 28th, 2013 | 0 Comments

better-world-books-logoImagine a company that takes a product from a waste stream, resells it and matches each sale with a donation to a person in need, all while raising money for literacy initiatives. This is Better World Books, an online bookseller offering print and eBooks. Talk about innovation. Wondering how one business creates and implements so many innovative practices, I spoke with John Ujda, vice-president of marketing and chief literacy officer at Better World Books.

TriplePundit: TriplePundit has published a number of articles about Better World Books but, for those readers who are unfamiliar with your company, can you provide a quick overview of what you do?

John Ujda: Better World Books is a social enterprise that brings products and information to consumers through online retail. Because of the social mission, Better World Books lets people align their purchase decisions with their values. So, purchasing books and eBooks through Better World books not only fulfills the need for the product but also provides a secondary impact in the form of donated books, support for literacy initiatives and reduced waste.

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New App Promotes Corporate Transparency

| Thursday February 14th, 2013 | 0 Comments

BizVizz CokeYou’re running around the store collecting last-minute Valentine’s day goodies: a box of chocolates, flowers, a Hallmark card. As your eyes scan the pink, red and gold heart-shaped boxes on the shelf in front of you, you stop to pull out your iPhone; maybe you have an app that will give you detailed nutritional information, an app that will allow you to compare prices with other stores, or maybe, you are looking for information about the company behind the brand.

BizVizz is an iPhone app that launched early this month. The app makes it easy for consumers to access financial information from some of America’s largest corporations. Users can view tax paid, money received in government subsidies and where the company sends their campaign contributions. At the time of launch, the application allowed users to view stats for 300 large companies and over 900 brands, and the list is growing. To use the app, you start by taking a picture of a brand: in the store, on television or at home. Once the app recognizes the image, users are able to view the company’s financial information.

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Encourage Innovation in the Workplace: Give Workers Free Rein

| Thursday February 7th, 2013 | 1 Comment

PollinateWe can’t plan for the social, environmental and economic challenges (or opportunities) in our future. The future, despite plans and predictions, is unknown. Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an author, speaker and leader in the fields of education, creativity and innovation. In his widely watched TED Talk, “Changing Education Paradigms,” Robinson asks; “how do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st Century given that we can’t anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week?” He goes on to show that the only viable answer is to design education around the goals of creativity and innovation.

Robinson’s question could just as easily be turned toward business. A recent report from MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group, “The Innovation Bottom Line,” finds five common practices among businesses that are profiting from sustainability initiatives. Two of these five practices are really different facets of innovation: “they’re prepared to change business models” and “they collaborate with people and groups outside their organization.” Triple bottom line businesses are innovators by definition, but what business practices encourage creative thinking and innovation on a daily basis?

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Libraries Bet on Coworking Trend

| Thursday January 31st, 2013 | 0 Comments


LibraryCoworking is hot. In a recent TriplePundit article, Lonnie Shekhtman talks about an inspiring example of coworking at The HUB. Coworking spaces are popping up all over the world, each with a specific set of services, targeted population, and physical design. The website, Deskwanted, allows workers to find coworking spaces in their city, and WNYC, a New York City public radio station, created a map of New York’s coworking locations.

Before the rise of coworking spaces, coffee shops with free wi-fi, and libraries were the de facto workspaces for the office-less worker. Now, some innovative librarians and enterprising libraries are redesigning their spaces to create their own, official, coworking environments. Meg Knodl, a Minnesota librarian and coworking advocate, developed a librarian position at CoCo, a coworking space with locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Knodl also educates librarians about how coworking can fit inside libraries.

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