Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to spend a day at the White House with 29 members of the Obama administration – including Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Hilda Solis, Secretary of the Department of Labor; Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality; and Greg Nelson, Chief of Staff of the National Economic Council – discussing why the externalities of business prevent real progress on sustainability and how full-cost accounting is a concept that’s time has finally come.
The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) barely two years old, and with its members represents more than 150,000 businesses. ASBC was developed to provide a positive voice for a sustainable economy and to counterbalance the old economy positions pushed by corporate lobbies, like the US Chamber of Commerce, The Summit was quite an amazing accomplishment as it has brought the ASBC the attention and opportunities typically reserved for groups of multinational companies.
We came to Washington to make a call for change – for a new economy.
Powerful news: A recent study proves that sustainable banks deliver higher financial returns than some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
A study commissioned by the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), compared the performance of 17 values-based banks with 29 of the world’s largest and most influential banks between 2007 and 2010. The 29 banks are defined as Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions (GSIFI) by the Financial Stability Board and often referred to as “too big to fail!”
The report concluded that values-based banks were twice as likely to invest their assets in loans, lending more than 70 percent of their assets during this period on average. The values-based banks also appear to be stronger financially with both higher levels of, and better quality, capital.
The sustainable banks analyzed in the report also delivered higher financial returns than some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
In October 2005, Walmart announced plans to transform itself into one of the greenest corporations in the world. Then-CEO Lee Scott called sustainability “essential to our future success as a retailer.” I visited with Lee Scott numerous times between 2005 and 2008 to discuss, evaluate and advise on Walmart’s sustainability strategy. Several years after Scott’s departure as CEO, something has gone seriously wrong.
On July 26, 2006, Fortune Magazine released a cover story on Walmart under the banner “Walmart Saves the Planet, well not quite…” identifying that something was going on at Walmart that very few believed or understood. Whether you believe Walmart is the devil incarnate or a cheerleader for what they are doing – the truth that lies behind their efforts lies largely hidden.
I believed and still believe, that no organization on the planet has more power or potential to very quickly effect positive social and environmental change than Walmart. More fuel-efficient trucks is easy low-hanging fruit, but when Walmart starts telling P&G to reformulate and redesign their products – we’re moving into uncharted territory.
In 2012, I resolve to be a better activist. Despite the fact that “The Protester” was recently named the 2011 Person of the Year, I hope we’re just getting started. I hope we’re awaking from the long, dark, inward-looking, me-focused sleep that began at the end of the 1960s as the Vietnam War came to a close. We thought we were awake. Occasionally involved. Making a bit of a difference here and there. But, as we shake off the stupor of four decades of hibernation, rubbing the sleep from our eyes, we begin to see what we’ve not wanted to admit, that things are deeply, or so very deeply, dangerously in peril.
All unhappy people are alike in that they negatively affect a business’ financial bottom line.
Several years ago, Gallup estimated that Americans who are actively disengaged with their work – almost 30% of all employees – are responsible for a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. This is in addition to what they receive in wages. These individuals actually have a “negative” effect on the companies for whom they work.
This post is the first in a series of articles by Jeffrey Hollender on cooperative businesses models, specifically from Mondragón, Spain
That Italian and Basque cooperatives have grown so large is somewhat a mystery since, unlike capitalist enterprises, cooperatives are not expansionist by nature… Capitalist enterprises tend towards growth because increased scale generally leads to greater returns for a concentrated ownership. To simplify, if a capitalist bakery owner has a bakery with ten workers each earning $20,000/year but generating $30,000/year of wealth, the owner reaps $100,000 per year ($10,000 “profit” multiplied by ten workers).
Contrast this with the economics of a typical worker cooperative. In a worker cooperative, those profits not reinvested are divided among the workers who generated the wealth. Assuming no reinvestment, in addition to her $20,000 salary, each baker would receive a $10,000 profit distribution at the end of the year.
Under a sunny blue sky cooled by an incessant breeze, Bologna, Italy, is everything one would expect from a moderately-sized Italian city: Endlessly wonderful food, sparsely spoken English, gelato to die for and a people in constant motion, except when at rest.