The Resilient Investor: Interview with Michael Kramer

Scott Cooney | Tuesday February 24th, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Resilient Investor“This is the perfect time to reinvent ourselves”

Socially Responsible Investing has enjoyed a period of growth spanning back several decades that could be the envy of many other sustainable industries. Even during the economic downturn following the housing crisis of 2008, SRI kept climbing its ladder. Financial assets under SRI management now exceed $33.3 Trillion (or one in every six dollars in professional investment management), and they’re being used to influence corporate governance in ways that have lasting and measurable impacts.

And yet, there’s a sense that we’re not moving the needle fast enough. As SRI manager Michael Kramer explains in a recent op-ed on GreenBiz.com,

“Corporate disclosure of social and environmental performance remains voluntary, and commitments to significantly reduce carbon emissions remain few and far between, even as we continue to develop new fossil fuel resources. Meanwhile, in marketing and facile public discourse, sustainability has been significantly watered down, too often simply serving as a green patina atop business as usual. It’s time that we dig deeper.”

That watering down has led some to consider shifting the conversation toward “resilience” as opposed to sustainability. Kramer is among them. Kramer and his colleagues recently released a new book called The Resilient Investor. The book includes a chapter called “Weaning off Wall Street”, which is a particularly refreshing strategy I’d not usually expect from an investment advisor.

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Marine Stewardship Council Streamlines Standards

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday February 24th, 2015 | 0 Comments

seafoodThe need for sustainable seafood is great. Overfishing is a global problem with about 90 percent of the world’s fisheries either fully exploited, overexploited or collapsed. The world’s fishing fleet is operating at 2.5 times the sustainable level, and several key commercial fish populations have declined to the extent that their survival is threatened. That makes sustainability standards for seafood, such as Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), very important. And MSC has recently updated its Chain of Custody Standard.

MSC’s new Chain of Custody Standards are now “more streamlined, clear and accessible,” as a press statement puts it. The new requirements are designed to make it easier for restaurants, fishmongers and caterers to use them. Published on February 20, the updated Standards will apply to all MSC Chain of Custody audits from September 1, 2015 onwards.

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Assistive Technologies Bring Diverse Populations to Work

3p Contributor | Tuesday February 24th, 2015 | 0 Comments

visually-impaired-call-center-software-753x269By Terrel L. Bird

In 1989 the Harvard Business Journal published an article about technology bringing blind people into the work place. It stated that roughly 70 percent of blind adults were unemployed but that the advent of the microchip was slowly opening doors of opportunity for these individuals in the workplace, during a time with relatively few technology aides.

Fast-forward 25 years and the technological landscape has dramatically changed. Microchips are old news and other technological advancements have made employment easier for those with severely impaired vision. In fact, 37 percent of visually impaired adults are now employed according to the National Federation of the Blind.

A persistent challenge

While great strides have been made since 1989, finding a ‘home’ in the workplace for visually impaired adults — especially one where they can not only be accepted, but flourish, — remains a challenge. Sixty three percent of blind people in the U.S. are still unemployed, oftentimes held back by a lack of opportunity and workplace tools that can accommodate their disability.

An opportunity for corporate citizenship

As technologies become more sophisticated, and companies focus more attention and resources on corporate citizenship, the needs of this demographic are being addressed.

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PR Firm Edelman Ends Relationship with U.S. Oil Lobby

Leon Kaye | Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 1 Comment
Edelman, public relations, climate change, climate deniers, American Petroleum Institute, oil and gas, Leon Kaye

Edelman will cut its ties with API

Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm and arguably the force that has defined the global PR sector for years, will stop working with one of the most powerful business groups in the United States. According to the Holmes Report, Edelman has ended its relationship with the American Petroleum Institute (API).

Blue Advertising, a division of Edelman that had managed the relationship with API, will spin off from its parent firm and manage the account on its own. It is a gutsy business move for Edelman, on par with CVS deciding to stop selling tobacco products, since the Guardian has estimated that its relationship with API delivered as much as 10 percent of Edelman’s annual revenues. Meanwhile the firm developed a growing corporate social responsibility and sustainability practice, a profitable move considering more multinationals are cleaning up their supply chains while taking more action to address climate change. The result was the firm carrying on a balancing act of grooming its social responsibility practice while representing a controversial industry: a dance that was becoming more uncomfortable to watch over the past year.

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BP: Put A Price on Carbon, Let The Market Cut Emissions

Alexis Petru
| Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 2 Comments

BP Gas StationOne of the world’s six major oil and gas companies supports a global price on carbon – and no, this is not an early April Fool’s joke.

In the latest version of its annual Energy Outlook report, BP recommends that governments set a meaningful global price on carbon emissions to level the playing field for businesses and let the market choose the best climate solutions.

The report, which analyzes long-term energy trends and makes projections for global energy markets over the next two decades, predicts global carbon emissions will jump 25 percent by 2035, climbing by 1 percent a year. This estimate is a cause for concern, putting greenhouse gases on a trajectory that is significantly – 18 billion tons of carbon, to be exact – above the path scientists advise to limit the global temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the study notes.

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Mount Polley Mine: ‘Indigenous Law’ Will Now Be Enforced

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 6 Comments

The negative effects of extractive industry operations on indigenous communities have been obvious for quite some time.

Studies show that the rights of Native communities are often at risk in such settings, especially when hydraulic fracturing and other crude oil-related developments are being operated on or near their lands.

What is often less reported however, are the dangers that Native peoples face from overlooked mechanical or structural failures where materials or waste compounds are stored in remote areas.

Mount_Polley_Mine_site_NASAMount_Polley_Mine_dam_breach_2014_NASA

Images from NASA showcase the contaminated water that surged from the bright blue retention basin into nearby lakes when the mine collapsed.

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Target to Double “Made to Matter” Organic and Sustainable Product Brands

Leon Kaye | Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 1 Comment
Target, Made to Matter, organic, Leon Kaye, sales strategy, cheap chic

Target store in West Hollywood, CA

The past year has been a roller coaster for Target, with fallout over the infamous data breach, the closing of its stores in Canada and growing pressure to raise wages in the wake of Walmart’s recent announcement. But the company’s sales and its stock have rebounded, and compared to other retailers, employees have been relatively satisfied with the company’s work culture. And its customers may become more intrigued by Target’s increase in its “Made to Matter” product line, which includes a variety of brands that are made with organic and sustainable ingredients.

Made to Matter launched last year, with the roll out of iconic brands including Burt’s Bees, Annie’s Homegrown, Clif Bar, EVOL, method and its own private label product line. Last Friday, Target announced it would almost double the number of brands from 16 to 31, and the company expects sales from these labels to reach US$1 billion in 2015.

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Nestlé USA to Eliminate Artificial Flavors and Colors

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 2 Comments
Nestle

Nestlé Coffee Crisp

Nestlé USA recently announced it is removing artificial flavors and artificial colors from all of its chocolate candy products by the end of this year. Over 250 products and 10 brands will be free of artificial ingredients. By mid-2015, products featuring a label that declares “No Artificial Flavors or Colors” will start appearing on store shelves.

Nestlé USA plans to replace artificial flavors and colors with ones from natural sources, and cites several examples. In the Butterfinger candy bar, annatto, derived from the seeds in the fruit from the achiote tree, will replace Red 40 and Yellow 5. In Crunch, natural vanilla flavor will replace artificial vanillin.

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Organic Valley Targets Bros In New Ad

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 0 Comments

Organic FuelOrganic produce is better for our health and the environment. What’s not to love about a farming system that eliminates toxic herbicides and pesticides? One company wants to tout the benefits of organics in a humorous way. That company is Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based organic farmer co-op. Humanaut has produced a faux public service announcement (PSA) for the company called “Save the Bros.”

Save the Bros uses the stereotypical muscle man who lives to go to the gym to get across the message that organics are better and so is Organic Valley’s Organic Fuel drink. The Save the Bros campaign also has a website that touts Organic Fuel. It mentions that the drink has 26 grams of protein, organic milk and is free of GMOs, toxic pesticides, synthetic hormones, and artificial sweeteners. That is all great, but there is a big problem with Organic Fuel: it is loaded with sugar, 26 grams to be exact. Dietary experts have linked the regular consumption of sugary drinks with the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over one-third of all U.S. adults are obese.

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Will Corporate Social Responsibility Adapt or Die?

Marc Stoiber
Marc Stoiber | Monday February 23rd, 2015 | 5 Comments

Marc StoiberI recently launched a book that mapped out the disruptive global trends today’s companies needed to futureproof themselves against. The book in turn launched a stream of conversations, each person describing yet another sector, company or movement in need of futureproofing.

I did not, however, expect Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), itself a force disrupting the status quo of business, to be added to the list.

It was Wayne Dunn, Professor of Practice in CSR at McGill and President of the CSR Training Institute, who first described CSR’s ailment to me. In his words:

CSR is often somewhat ghettoized inside corporations, off playing in a sandbox of its own at the margins of the business.

Much of the reason for this is that the CSR professionals (myself included) have not done a good job of helping corporate divisions like Finance, Engineering, Operations, R&D, etc. to understand why CSR is important for them.

 Recent research lent credence to Dunn’s assertion, underlining that all was not well in the CSR camp.  Despite widespread adoption of CSR in business, little meaningful progress has been made across a range of metrics. Greenhouse gas emissions, for example, have grown nearly twice as fast over the past decade as compared to the past 30 years.

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3p Weekend: 10 ‘Role Models’ Walk the Runway at NYFW

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday February 20th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Budding designer Carrie Hammer made headlines with her debut runway show this month, 'Role Models, Not Runway Models.'

Budding designer Carrie Hammer made headlines with her debut runway show this month, ‘Role Models, Not Runway Models.’

With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business

Carrie Hammer graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a degree in economics, and began her career as an advertising sales executive. At her new job, Hammer set out to dress for success, but she felt stifled with the limited options of fashionable professional clothing for women.

After years working in corporate advertising, Hammer left in 2012 to start her own company, Carrie Hammer, a custom dress line for professional businesswomen. The premise behind her brand is that “clothing should be made to fit the woman, and not the other way around.”

Hammer made headlines with her debut runway show this month, ‘Role Models Not Runway Models,’ which included powerhouse women from CEOs and entrepreneurs, to the first model with Down syndrome to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.

This week we tip our hats to Hammer for her bold choice — and to her beautiful ‘role models’ who turned heads on the runway and kept us inspired.

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Walmart to Increase Wages to $9 an Hour for 500,000 Workers

Mary Mazzoni
| Friday February 20th, 2015 | 0 Comments
Jesse Lopez, 27, an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers, holds a sign during a 2012 protest at a Pico Rivera, California Walmart.

Jesse Lopez, 27, an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers, holds a sign during a 2012 protest at a California Walmart.

Walmart announced earnings on Thursday. Between fourth-quarter figures for earnings-per-share, comp sales and revenue was a stunning announcement: The retail giant plans to increase wages for 40 percent of its workforce, some 500,000 employees.

The move will bring wages for hourly associates up to $9 per hour by April, $1.75 above today’s federal minimum wage, the company said. The following year, by Feb. 1, 2016, current associates will earn at least $10 per hour.

This is huge news for the company, the largest private employer in America, which has faced mounting pressure from employees and advocacy groups to increase wages. It was the target of a slew of protests last year that culminated in demonstrations at 1,600 Walmart stores on Black Friday. The company has also taken flak for holding canned food drives for its own employees. And a 2014 study estimated that Walmart workers cost taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance like food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing.

So, is the big-box giant long bemoaned as the poster child for unlivable wages finally turning over a new leaf? 

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Is the ‘Uberization’ of the Economy Sustainable?

Raz Godelnik
| Friday February 20th, 2015 | 1 Comment

UberAlthough it’s probably too early to offer candidates for Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year, I’d like to suggest uberization as the word for 2015.

According to Oxford Dictionaries the Word of the Year should “reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.”

Now, my argument for the Oxford’s selection team is that in 2015 we see a shift from focusing solely on the phenomenon of Uber to a broader discussion about uberization, which could be described as utilizing the Uber business model in different sectors (from healthcare to real estate and food delivery).

I’m not sure if this is a winning argument, but with or without the recognition of Oxford Dictionaries this seems a good time to have a look at uberization and more specifically at the question that is of more interest to this space: Is the Uber innovation model others are so eager to adopt sustainable?

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Crude Oil Spills Prompt New Questions About Safety

Jan Lee
Jan Lee | Friday February 20th, 2015 | 0 Comments

crude_oil_train_accident_royluck

The derailments of two cargo trains earlier this week are prompting questions about safety precautions for North America’s rail systems. They’re also spurring debate about whether crude oil shipments have a place on the rails that pass through America’s small towns.

More than 60 people were evacuated from their homes in the small town of Montgomery, West Virginia, after a CSX train carrying crude to a refinery derailed and caught fire. One house was destroyed, and the town’s drinking water was contaminated by an oil spill.

Less than 48 hours earlier, another oil train traveling through eastern Canada burst into flames when it derailed in a forested area near Timmins, Ontario. The fire was still burning late this week.

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Modernist Icon GM Technical Center Undergoing a Gradual Green Upgrade

Leon Kaye | Friday February 20th, 2015 | 1 Comment
General Motors, GM, Technical Center, Detroit, Warren, Michigan, architecture, mid century, Modernism week, LEED, green building, Leon Kaye

One of the Interiors of the GM Technical Center in Warren, MI

When it opened in 1956, General Motors Technical Center was lauded as a place where “today meets tomorrow.” The 710 acre complex in Warren is home to 61 buildings and a 22,000 acre lake, cost about $US100 million to build and symbolized America’s and Detroit’s industrial might, innovation and optimism. When it opened, over 5,000 leaders in engineering and science came for the dedication ceremony and over 180,000 people visited the Center over the next two days. Designed by Eero Saarinen, whose work also included the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport in New York, designed what is now recognized as one of the largest modernist architectural masterpieces in the U.S. As noted during a talk Triple Pundit attended at Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the Technical Center is a leading example of mid-century architecture in Michigan, where much of this shift in design has much of its origins.

For the most part the Technical Center looks the way it did almost 60 years later. Some of the original interiors were lost, but for the most part this “Versailles of Industry” is still intact and screams more of a Mad Men than Chevy Volt vibe. The Center still is the locus of GM’s research and development and is the work address for 19,000 employees. While the function of the complex has not changed, the complex is slowly undergoing a green upgrade reflective of what more 21st century employees are seeking in their work environment.

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