Where the Ladies At? In Search of the Female Entrepreneur

| Tuesday May 18th, 2010 | 5 Comments

In the same way ecosystems with high biodiversity have higher survival rates, businesses with high personnel diversity also fare better than those with one variety of employee. Increased diversity of employees results in a wider variety of thinking, more robust solutions to problems, etc.  In the same way, it’s not surprising that evidence has emerged that firms do better with women in the ranks. Evidence also surfaced that female fund managers outperform their male counterparts. In short, women and profit go together.

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Latest From The Yes Men: A Lab for Corporate Mischief

Leon Kaye | Tuesday May 18th, 2010 | 0 Comments

What do you get when you combine The Onion, Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update, and well, AMC’s hit Mad Men?  You get The Yes Men, a brilliant and often hilarious form of activism from Yes Labs that incorporates some of big corporations’ most effective tactics:  slick PR campaigns, well-groomed spokesmen, and mass publications.

Here’s how Yes Labs works:  for a typical activist project, a group wishing to spar with a corporation or large global organization will come to Yes Labs with a target.  That bull’s eye could be a large agribusiness firm, an institution that’s “too big to fail,” a poor government policy, or perhaps, a large energy company that preaches unfettered capitalism but socialized environmental cleanup.

Yes Labs then works with the group to develop a strategic plan for accomplishing its goals, trains as many people as necessary, and then monitors the project until completion.  The end game?  A public relations stunt so slick it appears heartfelt and as the real deal—in some cases, an activist will infiltrate the company or convince the media to run a story that will gain the company some great buzz—with often mischievous results.

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What’s It Like To Be a Sustainability Consultant? Interview With Julie Menter

Matthew Savage | Tuesday May 18th, 2010 | 1 Comment

By Matthew Savage

I recently interviewed Julie Menter, senior consultant at Blu Skye Sustainability Consulting. Blu Skye is a strategy consulting firm dedicated to introducing business to sustainable practices. She shared some great insights into the innovative, and sometimes misunderstood, world of Sustainability Consulting.

Julie has been at Blu Skye for a year helping clients use sustainability as a tool for business innovation. Prior to joining Blu Skye, Julie was a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the San Francisco office for three years, where she also started the office’s green team. Julie holds an MBA from the Ecole de Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (Paris, France). In her free time, she is a leader of the Net Impact San Francisco Professional Chapter.

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BP’s Long History Of Greenwashing and Accidents

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Tuesday May 18th, 2010 | 3 Comments

British Petroleum quit the Global Climate Coalition, the climate change denial group funded by the oil industry, in 1998, thus beginning its green marketing campaign. Two years after British Petroleum merged with Amoco and changed its name to BP Amoco, it shortened its name to BP. The same year, BP unveiled its new slogan, “Beyond Petroleum,” and a new logo. During the first quarter of this year, BP raked in $73 million, but only $700 million (less than two percent) were for alternative energy.

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Chinese Eager for Electric Cars, Survey Shows

| Tuesday May 18th, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sixty percent of Chinese who own a car or are planning on buying one would consider buying a plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicle, according to a new survey (PDF) by the Ernst & Young’s Global Automotive Center.

That percentage is “nearly five times higher than any other country surveyed,” including the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan, according to the accounting firm. In the US, 10 percent of consumers said they would consider a hybrid or EV.

Sixty-five percent of the 1000 Chinese surveyed also indicated a willingness to help pay for public charging stations for such cars.

The result suggest that, when it comes to automobiles, the Chinese may be ready to leap-frog over older technologies, in the same way cellphones have obviated the need for China to build out its telephone infrastructure.

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“Sustainability as Usual” Isn’t Good Enough

Saybrook University | Monday May 17th, 2010 | 12 Comments

The following is a guest post by our friends at Saybrook University’s Organizational Systems Program (a 3p sponsor) – designed for students who want to understand the nature of organizations, collaborative practices, and transformative change.

By Kathia Castro Laszlo, Ph.D
The recent ecological disaster caused by the BP oil spill shortly after Earth Day is a reminder of the gap between the sustainability talk and the sustainability walk. The past 10 years of environmental awareness and activism have led to needed attention and some changes. Good intentions such as moving “beyond petroleum” made it into corporate slogans, but when it comes down to practical commitments, responsible action is less attractive than doubling profits.

In the eyes of consumers and business people, green products and services are the solution to the world’s problems. They aren’t.

Green lawn care is great and carbon offsets are wonderful, but they are not fundamental change.  They are the next wave of consumerism and materialism, a little bit less bad, but still contributing to environmental and social problems. Many well intentioned social entrepreneurs are going out with new ideas while grounded in the traditional business mindset. This fundamentally unchanged “business as usual” mentality, disguised with a bright shade of green, is fueling limited solutions that exacerbate the problems they were hoping to address. Take for example energy bars wrapped in foil and shipped from developed countries to feed hungry children in developing nations. The carbon footprint, the waste, the limited nutrition, and the dependency on aid created by this “solution” are far from a systemic approach that would include restoring ecosystems to create right livelihood and a reliable food supply to feed people and nurture the human spirit to revitalize those communities.

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The National Restaurant Association: Green or Greenwash?

| Monday May 17th, 2010 | 5 Comments

How is it that an imaginary restaurant called “Green Wallace Wash” can get a Greener Restaurant certificate from the National Restaurant Association? Read on…

This story comes to Triple Pundit exclusively from TheGreenWashingBlog.com series “A Greener Shade of Greenwash”

Triple Pundit readers are sophisticated in matters of sustainability and the now overused term “green.” To a certain degree, that sophistication has “trickled down” to the great unwashed masses of consumers. There is greater awareness concerning problems of sustainability and the increasing vulnerability of environmental resources.

We all know that marketing to people’s fears, concerns, and desires is how business is done. There is no inherent ethical dilemma in this; it is an intrinsic aspect of human interaction. But problems arise when this process is manipulated through deception or false claims. This can mislead sincere businesses and consumers interested in sustainability, it can also provide a tool for the unscrupulous who are looking to use “green” as nothing more than a marketing ploy.

When green turns into greenwash

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3p Series: The Social Side of Sustainability

| Monday May 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments

Sustainability is a poorly defined notion. More often than not—and we’re guilty of this, as well—sustainability is talked about in environmental terms. Be it about a company’s footprint from its data centers or the methodology for reporting, we sometimes miss the other two aspects of the bottom line. What sort of pundits would we be if we didn’t look at the social side of sustainability?

Over the course of this next week, and into the rest of May, we’ll feature stories that have a positive impact on people—both here and abroad. The Social Side of Sustainability series will examine the entrepreneurs, organizations, and innovative ideas that foster sustainable growth in developing nations, as well as economic recovery here in the U.S.

As the global economy continues to falter, what role does social entrepreneurship play in development? What sorts of models are the most effective? And can those same models be applied to disaster-stricken areas like New Orleans in the same way as somewhere like Mumbai? Join us as we explore the people portion of the triple bottom line.

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Offering Sick Leave Benefits Has Benefits

Jennifer Hicks | Monday May 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments

It costs an employer 23 cents per hour per worker—on average—to provide sick time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.   Yet, 39 percent of workers in the private sector and 26 percent of those who work part time do not have any sick days. And, about two-thirds of people who earn $10.40 an hour or less don’t have sick days.

No federal mandate for sick timeHoliday party for employees at One if by Land, Two if by Sea

In fact, sick days are not mandated by U.S. law—although three areas have passed legislation in the last few years that make sick days mandatory:  San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C.

But, there are some companies—even small ones—that make sick time available to their workers because they care about running socially responsible businesses and about the health and well being of their employees.

One if By Land, Two if By Sea

One if by Land, Two if by Sea is a 38-year old restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village, known for its romantic atmosphere.  All its 65 employees are given sick time.  Officially, each worker gets three sick days per year, although Roseanne Martino, the restaurant’s general manager says that often that time is extended for people who need it. “Paid sick times represents less than 1% of our annual payroll,” says Martino.

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The Corporate Storyteller: Change Your Assumptions, Change the World

3p Contributor | Monday May 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments

By Elaine Stirling

We all know the old joke about the dangers of assuming: “To assume makes an a-s-s out of u and m-e.” Whenever we hear it, the joke is usually followed by a moment of awkwardness, while one or more of us tries to assume the appearance of . . . well, no assumptions.

As with most pithy sayings, it hides a core of truth. Assumptions do affect the basic unit of society, which is relationship, otherwise known as you and me. While I may be the most learned, enlightened creature in the room (hasn’t happened yet, but it might!), what I think about you will affect my ability to share the knowledge that could make life better for all of us.

When the best of our messages alienate, anger or otherwise fail to connect, despite good intentions, the problem may be at the core of our thinking and belief systems. These systems, like any good plumbing, are invisible. If I were writing this article in 1950, I’d continue the analogy of hidden assumptions with, “You don’t think when you turn on the tap about where your water comes from. You trust it’s going to be there.” In 2010, however, we do think about water, soil, and where our energy is coming from, so maybe we need to revisit our plumbing.

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The Human Side of the Spill

RP Siegel | Monday May 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments

BP announced yesterday that it has successfully placed a narrow pipe into one of the leaking risers, which is allowing some portion of the spurting oil to be collected, perhaps the first good news since the explosion occurred, nearly a month ago. At the same time, CBS 60 Minutes aired the story of whistleblower Mike Williams, the last man to safely leave the Deepwater Horizon as it was engulfed in flames, who described a series of safety incidents over a period of four weeks leading up to the disaster that revealed a pattern of willful neglect by the company in their haste to get to the oil.

Also, over the weekend came reports that the chemical dispersants injected deep underwater had kept large quantities of oil from coming up to the surface, resulting in enormous underwater plumes which could explain the substantial discrepancy in the estimated quantities of leaking oil between those original reports of 5,000 barrels per day, based on satellite images taken at the surface and more recent estimates based on sub-ocean video which claim that between 56,000 and 84,000 barrels per day were leaking.

It might be months or even years before the impact of these chemicals becomes clear. The EPA authorized these deep water injections despite concerns over the adequacy of testing in situ, under the conditions under which these injections are being made.

Global Green produced a video in which several Gulf Coast fishermen are interviewed about the prospects for the future, given the level of contamination that seems to have impacted the Gulf to this point. “I don’t have type A blood, I have type saltwater,” says fisherman Robert Campo who runs a marina with his father in Shell Beach, LA. “My family’s been at this for four generations. This is going to make hurricane Katrina look like a drop in the bucket.”

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CBS Acquires Environmental Advertising Firm EcoMedia

| Monday May 17th, 2010 | 0 Comments

CBS Corporation announced Thursday it had acquired Ecomedia LLC, an organization that brings together private advertisers with public projects to improve the environment.

The EcoMedia model takes part of the money that would be used to buy traditional advertising and uses it to help fund green initiatives, like solar panels on school rooftops or energy efficiency improvements to municipal buildings. The advertisers generate goodwill with communities and local governments, while also accruing carbon offsets, and spurring green investment.

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The Climate Bill’s Big Corporate Backers

| Monday May 17th, 2010 | 3 Comments

Every piece of legislation has its own set of winners and losers, which means every piece of legislation has its own set of self-interested parties backing it. The new Senate climate bill, despite its planet-saving goals, is no different.

After the American Power Act was introduced last week by Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, dozens of major corporations and trade groups stepped up in support (the NRDC’s Pete Altman has a nice starter list of companies and coalitions backing the bill).

Whatever their altruistic motivations, the fact is many of these companies stand to gain financially from the APA’s passage, in some cases substantially.

For instance, a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, which would be introduced nationally in a limited way under the APA, would make many low-carbon power sources like natural gas much more competitive with coal on price, and thus much more profitable.

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Negative Therapy Pressure Systems: Simple Medical Invention Could Improve the Lives of Millions

Jennifer Hicks | Monday May 17th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Zurovcik inventionA $3 device may just help wound patients with limited access to medical personnel heal faster.  And, there are about 55 million people in developing countries who could eventually benefit.

Negative therapy pressure systems

Negative-pressure therapy is relatively standard in the U.S., but the devices are relatively heavy, require a power supply to function and rent for about $100 a day. The devices are often used for burns, diabetic foot ulcers and bed sores and other hard-to-heal wounds.

They’re basically vacuum-like devices that use negative pressure or suction to help cells regenerate. They also reduce the number of times the wound dressing needs changing—important in areas such as Haiti whose medical staff has been overburdened by dealing with victims of the earthquake.

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Microfinance USA Conference Launches This Week in SF

3p Contributor | Monday May 17th, 2010 | 0 Comments

By Bryan Stubbs

If growing from a regional to a national conference over the course of a single year is any indication, next week’s Microfinance USA conference (May 20 & 21 in San Francisco) is sure to attract plenty of attention.

Concentrating primarily on domestic microfinance, it “will bring together investors, policymakers, social entrepreneurs, practitioners, small business owners, and curious individuals to explore how microfinance produces jobs, increases incomes, and creates opportunities to build stable and sustainable communities.” A host of industry veterans will be speaking including Martin Eakes, founder of Self-Help, Premal Shah, president of Kiva, Janie Barrera, founding president and CEO of ACCION Texas-Louisiana and Peter Bladin, executive VP of programs and regions for the Grameen Foundation.

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