Gambling is fun — the rush, the bright colors, the chance to press your luck and win big money. But let’s be honest. Vegas is often synonymous with excess — cash, sex, fashion, food and booze, which isn’t exactly sustainable. When you’re up, you’re up, and you can easily spend a month’s rent on party time. But at the end of the day, every tourist destination has effective ways of removing dollars from its guests’ pockets, and people are free to participate or leave their cash in the bank. There are plenty of vacation destinations, and over 39 million people choose Las Vegas for theirs every year — and 85 percent of them are repeat visitors.
Such is my dilemma with the gaming and hospitality industry. Casinos make people happy; they are a popular vacation destinations, and they are job creators (46 percent of the workforce in southern Nevada is employed in tourism). But casinos can also have plenty of negative economic impacts.
Nevertheless, every company on the planet can work to operate more sustainably and improve the community where it does business. Every company has many good people working at it too, and I’ve never met a member of a corporate sustainability team I didn’t like. Last week I got to meet the team at MGM Resorts, on the occasion of the Women’s Leadership Conference, sponsored by the MGM Foundation. The conference was a gathering of more than 800 women (and a few men), aimed at inspiring and motivating executives to move forward in their careers. While the conference had a few too many motivational speakers for my personal taste, I was clearly in the minority. Just take a look at some of these tweets from happy attendees:
Las Vegas — land of excess — seems like a strange home for corporate responsibility. But even casinos (or “gaming and hospitality companies,” as MGM Resorts prefers to be called) find value in looking deeply at social and environmental issues related to their operations. It makes sense since these are enormous operations. MGM Resorts employs 62,000 people at 23 resorts worldwide. Many of the 39 million people who visit Las Vegas annually will stay at an MGM property like Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Luxor, New York-New York or Circus Circus. That’s a lot of people descending on a desert property, with a huge potential environmental and social impact. But as I learned, MGM Resorts is deeply focused on both employee satisfaction and minimizing its environmental footprint.
Diversity, philanthropy, sustainability
MGM’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) program is focused on diversity and inclusion, philanthropy, and sustainability (the company’s word for environmental efforts). Diversity is a core focus and approximately 65 percent of MGM Resorts’ employees are minorities. MGM Resorts was the first organization in the gaming and hospitality industry to voluntarily adopt a formal diversity and inclusion policy in 2001, and the CSR reporting initiative grew out of the reporting efforts on that policy. Environmental efforts were added to the report in 2005.
The report is titled “Inspiring our World,” which is also the name of the MGM Resorts’ employee show. The Vegas-style production was developed by and for employees to “deepen the company’s corporate culture and motivate employees to excel in guest service while making positive contributions to the communities they call home, embracing diversity and being exceptional environmental stewards.” According to Phyllis A. James, MGM Resorts International Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer , the goal was to showcase the value of sustainability and share some of the big wins MGM Resorts had made in the world of sustainability. Unfortunately for us, the full video is unavailable online so we have to be content with b-roll.
The Inspiring Our World show is a fantastic example of using the company’s core skill set — entertainment — to both drive employee engagement and share the message of sustainability in a non-linear way. No one says CSR reporting needs to come through boring .PDFs full of graphs and charts (although they can certainly help). Wouldn’t it be incredible if MGM Resorts created a similar show in future reporting cycles to talk about their sustainability? That would win them some awards for innovation and certainly lots of press from the sustainability world.
Apparently Michelle Obama brought a four-month-old Sasha with her to an interview for the Vice President of Community and External Affairs at University of Chicago Hospitals, and she was only willing to take the job if it came with tons of workplace flexibility.
I’m working from home today with my own four-month-old (who is thankfully going on 90 minutes in what is usually a 60-minute nap), so this video struck home for me.
Two years ago I reported on an inspiring project kicking off in Mozambique: clean cookstoves, powered by locally produced ethanol made from locally grown cassava, sold neighbor-to-neighbor. CleanStar Mozambique attempted to tackle deforestation, land degradation, malnutrition, poverty, indoor air pollution and carbon emissions with one innovative initiative.
It appeared they’d thought of everything: The plan featured plenty of job development with a biofuel plant in the Sofala province, contracts with local farmers to grow cassava, a locally relevant marketing plan, and a pack of international investors to give the project a boost.
However, the project faced formidable challenges from the beginning.
Cyber security sounds awfully complicated, and, well, dashing, doesn’t it? The type of thing a hacker-meets-James-Bond fellow might do during the day to cover expenses while he builds the next BitCoin at night?
Symantec wants you — and the young people of America — to know that not only is this career path well-paying and approachable, but also, in many cases, it doesn’t even require a college degree.
The security software giant isn’t just getting the word out, it’s launching an initiative to educate young people and train them for the field. The Symantec Cyber Career Connection (SC3) launched yesterday to address the global workforce gap in cyber security positions.
This morning, President Barack Obama announced an initiative to tackle seafood fraud and illegal fishing in the United States. His announcement coincides with the Global “Our Ocean” conference convened by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In President Obama’s announcement, he referenced the negative financial repercussions of overfishing as one of the key reasons for the initiative:
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to undermine the economic and environmental sustainability of fisheries and fish stocks, both in the United States and around the world. Global losses attributable to the black market from IUU fishing are estimated to be $10-23 billion annually, weakening profitability for legally caught seafood, fueling illegal trafficking operations, and undermining economic opportunity for legitimate fishermen in the United States and around the world.
As Beth Lowell of Oceana noted in an earlier post, between 20 percent and 32 percent of seafood imported into the U.S. comes from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. “These pirate fishermen often use illegal gear, fish in prohibited areas or catch endangered and threatened species. Illegal fishing is a major threat to the worldwide fishing industry, undermining decades of conservation measures and provoking billions of dollars in economic losses.” Oceana sites traceability — that is, tracking seafood from catch to plate — as one of the key solutions to the global problem.
President Obama’s initiative starts with stronger guidelines and better enforcement of existing traceability standards:
Remember when people boycotted movie theatre popcorn because of the high saturated fat content of the coconut oil used to pop the kernels? Time marches on, and coconut oil becomes the latest health fad.
Trends come and go in the world of eco-cleanliness, too. Now that I’m out on maternity leave, my inbox and mailbox have become full of articles and resources on keeping my home and baby clean without caustic chemical agents. Or maybe they were always full of this sort of info, but now that I have a little one at home, I’m paying closer attention. But I digress. Water. I was surprised to learn in our baby care class that even organic, sensitive skin wipes are passe. All the cool kids are using a simple washcloth (disposable or reusable) and warm water to clean their baby’s booty. It makes sense, really. The alcohol in wipes can dry delicate skin, and let’s be honest, adults don’t soap up after every BM, so why should the babies?
The world of home cleanliness has it’s own player in the “water-clean” movement too: Steam cleaning is all the rage.
Please join us in person at Impact HUB San Francisco for our latest “Stories & Beer Fireside Chat” on Thursday, March 20th at 6:30pm when TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, will be chatting with Dan Fibiger of GAP Inc and Erin Decker of Salesforce.
In this chat, we’ll go behind the scenes with two seasoned sustainability reporters at major corporations. We’ll aim to ask and answer: How does sustainability reporting play out in the trenches? Erin and Dan will share tips and lessons learned. The chat will be valuable for anyone interested in bringing increased transparency to their organizations’ transparency or getting into the sustainability reporting field.
[LIVE VIDEO WILL PLAY BELOW ABOUT 7PM PST]
We are very pleased to announce the launch of a new article series – Sustainably Attired: Exploring the Lifecycle of Fashion.
Through this in-depth series, we’ll spend the next four months exploring the environmental and social impact of fashion. We’ll take you through the lifecycle of fashion: from the design phase, through material procurement and product construction in a factory setting. We’ll look at what it means for apparel to be “fair trade.” We’ll also take a peek inside the consumer’s closet and look at how consumer demand influences the industry. Finally, we’ll explore the leading second uses for worn-out garments and the future of the sustainable fashion movement as a whole.
This series comes to you with the support of lead sponsor Levi Strauss & Co., a company we’ve covered many times over the years for their decades of commitment to sustainable apparel. Levi Strauss & Co. takes multi-faceted approach to sustainability, highlighting consumer-focused initiatives like low-impact care tags as well as collections like Water<Less, Waste<Less and Wellthread that are as highly fashionable as they are sustainable.
The apparel manufacturer has also made headlines for their collaborative approach, working with organizations like the Better Cotton Initiative and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to support the sustainability of the apparel industry as a whole. We’re thrilled that they’ve decided to take the next step by supporting our editorial exploration of the topic.
gDiapers is a heartthrob product among sustainability-minded parents. The covers are stylish, and the inserts come in both cloth and disposable, which allows for some flexibility for times when cloth isn’t practical. The idea is that you can use cloth most of the time, and when you have to use disposable, the volume of the material that’s getting disposed is much smaller because you’re still using a reusable cover.
Unfortunately gDiapers has gotten their hand slapped by the FTC over claiming that their disposable inserts are actually compostable.
These issues are top of mind for me, as my husband and I are expecting our first child in March, and, y’know, hoping for the sweet young thing to be low-impact, environmentally speaking. We looked at gDiapers pretty closely but ultimately decided against them because, while the flexibility is cool, the inserts are more expensive than full disposable diapers, even the hippie ones. Cloth vs. Disposable is one of the first decisions any new eco-parent has to make, and the internet is chock full of resources for helping new parents sort out the environmental implications of their little darlings. But I digress…
gDiapers clearly understands that there are many expectant parents currently weighing these issues with a solemnity only expectant parents can muster. Of course they geared their marketing toward making their product seem as environmentally friendly as possible. However, it looks like they may have taken things a little bit too far…
Tempers have risen in the SF Bay Area over the past few months due to sky-rocketing rental costs (the average cost for a 1 bedroom in the city was $2800 this past July). The cost increases are attributed to an influx of well-paid tech workers, many of whom actually work outside the city, down at Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple or one of the numerous other tech companies that litter the Silicon Valley peninsula. Increased demand for housing among well-paid tech workers plus stagnant supply means rising costs, and boy have they risen.
The tensions have a natural focal point in so-called Google busses – private busses that cart tech workers down to their jobs every morning and back again in the evening. These busses conduct their pickups on public streets and at public bus stops and the sheer volume of them slows down traffic flow and regular public transportation for the rest of the city. Most recently, protesters blocked a bus from departing and smashed a window in frustration.
Now, it’s not fair to blame these sweeping economic forces on the individual workers – who wouldn’t take a great job in a great city with great pay if they had the skills? Terrorizing individual workers who bus to work (the busses are a great decision from an environmental standpoint) is a decidedly bad response to the rising economic pressures, but the protesters do have a point. The rising rent costs and crowded public streets are benefiting corporate entities outside the city by providing their workers with a great place to live. These companies are headquartered outside the city limits, minimizing their tax burden in the area they are impacting. That means they aren’t held liable for the constraints on public services caused by the systemic influx of their workers.
However, those corporate entities who claim to be good corporate citizens have a responsibility to respond proactively. Here’s why this is a classic corporate sustainability issue.
While we love bringing you the daily news, it’s always a special treat here at TriplePundit to take a deep dive on a core issue in our work and bring you a variety of stories on that specific topic. Here are the series we ran which brought in the biggest traffic, a sure sign for us that we’ve struck a nerve. Click through and check out some of the posts!
We Ask, They Answer: Women In CSR, a 3p interview series
In January 2013 I penned a post spotlighting 35 women in CSR that have been doing great work across all industries. The response was remarkable, with hundreds of shares and dozens of people commenting to share the names of women we missed.
We wanted to delve deeper into the story of women in CSR. We launched this series of interviews, edited by Andrea Newell, with leading CSR practitioners in order to understand what makes these women tick and how they found their way into sustainability careers. Learn about what inspires these women and gain insight into how to craft your own career path. The insights in these interviews are valuable to anyone in CSR and sustainability.
2012′s Hurricane Sandy made climate change and the economic impacts of storm intensity an issue for all of 2013 and the collapse of the Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh brought the issue of human rights into renewed focus for American clothing buyers.
Both tragedies made it clear that we need sustainable principals now more than ever, but they also raised the consciousness of global citizens to this need.
On the corporate side, the Global Reporting Initiative released the G4 guidelines, which brought renewed focus to the issue of materiality for corporate sustainability reporters.
Here on TriplePundit, where we cover sustainability every day, you were captivated by many stories great and small. Here’s a select few of the ones that brought the house down:
Monsanto is a company whose name is not without controversy in sustainability circles. Nevertheless, the sustainability efforts of Monsanto are one of our favorite late-night debates here at TriplePundit HQ. We may disagree on some fronts, but there is no denying that feeding the residents of our increasingly populated planet will be a big challenge, especially in a warming, water-constrained world. As one of the biggest players in agriculture, Monsanto deserves a seat at the sustainability table to share their perspective.
Novozymes, on the other hand, is a company with the deepest of sustainability credentials – the company even uses integrated reporting to ensure that sustainability performance and financial performance are judged simultaneously; the company even ties sustainability performance to financial compensation. Will this new partnership improve Monsanto’s sustainability credentials? What about the effect on Novozymes’? Let’s take a look.
Levi’s latest creation – the Wellthread Docker – launched during BSR last week to lots of press due to the line’s sustainability cred. It’s no wonder. The line’s designers challenged themselves to consider sustainability from the first moment of the design process, which led to some stark innovations in product durability, materials, and manufacturing. This remarkable feat is a great example of embedded sustainability, rather than that troublesome “bolt-on” sustainability that so often plagues companies that are trying to do the right thing.
What interested me the most about Wellthread is its focus on both environmental and social innovations. I wanted to hear more about how Levi Strauss innovated to improve workers’ well-being. So, I sat down with Levi Strauss & Co VP of Global Sustainability, Michael Kobori, to get the full story on the social side of Wellthread and other Levi Strauss products.