I remember an Economics term paper I wrote while studying for my MBA at McGill, where I proposed that the solution to the conflict between maximization of shareholder value and sustainable development is love, as opposed to self-interest.
I argued that self-interest creates diminishing returns and makes booms and busts inevitable because it works from the premise of scarcity, even if there is obvious abundance, which drives the need to maximize. Love is infinitely generative and works from the premise of abundance, even if scarcity is apparent. Love is inherently creative. Love is content with apparent scarcity and nothingness because it works from the invisible to the visible. Self-interest focuses on what exists and attempts to maximize it, for obvious reasons: All we see is all there is. Self-interest caps our intelligence while love uncaps us.
I left the MBA with the thought that without shifting to love, we are doomed. Our best solutions become weapons of mass or self-destruction where self-interest rules. I believe our greatest need is a heart shift from self-interest to love.
Apple’s recently released supplier responsibility report contains good news concerning conflict minerals. The report confirmed that as of last month, all “active, identified tantalum smelters” in the company’s supply chain were verified by third-party auditors to be conflict free. The report states that the company released a list of smelters and refiners in its supply chain whose tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold is conflict free “so it’s clear which ones have been verified as conflict-free.” The electronics industry only uses a “small percentage” of tin, tungsten and gold, according to the report. Apple will continue to require that its suppliers only use conflict-free verified tantalum and will continue to monitor its suppliers’ smelters.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the second largest African country, conflict minerals are often mined through forced labor, debt bondange or child slavery. Conflict minerals fund militias in the DRC who terrorize local populations. According to the non-profit organization, Walk Free there has been much progress to rid the electronics industry of conflict minerals. Intel announced recently that all of its new microprocessors will be made conflict minerals free. Intel CEO Brian Kraznich urged other companies to do the same. Perhaps much of the progress can be attributed to a section of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 (Section 1502) which requires companies to publicly disclose their use of conflict minerals from the DRC. The SEC adopted the rule in 2012.
When you’re snacking on Pringles or Pop-Tarts, you don’t want to be contributing to the destruction of orangutans’ homes.
That’s why Kellogg’s, maker of such iconic snack and breakfast foods, recently announced a new commitment to only purchasing palm oil that can be traced back to suppliers certified to protect forests, peat lands and human rights by the end of 2015.
“As a socially responsible company, traceable, transparent sourcing of palm oil is important to us, and we are collaborating with our suppliers to make sure the palm oil we use is not associated with deforestation, climate change or the violation of human rights,” Kellogg’s Chief Sustainability Officer Diane Holdorf said in a press release.
Made from the fruit of oil palm trees, the popular vegetable oil is used in a host of products including food, soap, cosmetics and biofuels. Nearly half of all packaged goods contain palm oil, according to Green Century Capital Management, an investment firm that manages environmentally responsible mutual funds.
Welcome to our series of interviews with leading female CSR practitioners where we are learning about what inspires these women and how they found their way to careers in sustainability. Read the rest of the series here.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Tina Morefield: As Director of Corporate Citizenship for DIRECTV, one of the world’s leading providers of digital television entertainment services, I lead our U.S. strategy for community outreach and charitable giving, which is focused on K-12 schools and STEM education, as well as employee volunteerism. In addition, my team produces DIRECTV’s annual report on Corporate Social Responsibility, which communicates the company’s Corporate Citizenship, environmental sustainability and people initiatives, and is aligned with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework.
I joined DIRECTV 15 years ago, starting my career in corporate communications. In 2004, I added responsibility for Corporate Citizenship and led a combined Communications & Corporate Citizenship team for seven years before focusing solely on Corporate Citizenship in 2011.
Tulane University announced on Monday that it would offer a $1M prize to any entrepreneurs, inventors or researchers that can come up with a market-driven solution to the “dead zones” that arise in the Gulf of Mexico, and elsewhere around the world, every year.
Dead zones are caused by hypoxia, a condition in which vast areas of water are depleted of oxygen and thus unable to support any marine life. In the Gulf of Mexico, the cause of these dead zones can largely be traced to the agricultural lands of the 33 states for which the Mississippi River is the main drainage point. Excess nutrients from fertilizer runoff and sewers enter the Gulf and cause a boom in micro-organisms like plankton and algae, which feed off of these nutrients. As these massive micro-populations die, the process of decomposition sucks the oxygen in surrounding water, killing other marine life that cannot escape the so-called dead zone.
When it comes to chicken, the truth isn’t so simple after all.
Supermarket giant Kroger Co. faces a potential class-action lawsuit for allegedly deceiving consumers about farming practices with its “Simple Truth” brand of chicken products. A consumer in California filed a suit against the company earlier this month at a Superior Court in Los Angeles and is seeking class-action status, reported Reuters.
The suit alleges that Kroger deliberately misled consumers with labeling on its Simple Truth chicken products that claimed the animals were raised in a “cage-free” and “humane environment” when in fact, the case claims, the chickens were raised under standard commercial farming practices that involve packed pens and electrocution before slaughter.
No finance director likes a wasted asset. But not everyone is as adept at spotting one as Luke Marion. Marion is FD of the Oxford Bus Company (OBC), and the asset in question is a roof over its main depot.
It might be doing a good job keeping the buses dry, but Marion reckoned it could work harder. Vast, sprawling and–crucially–south-facing, it struck him as the ideal site for a massive photovoltaic (PV) plant. The roof could accommodate a system with a peak performance capacity of 140 kilowatt-hours–enough to produce a quarter of the company’s total energy needs. At a stroke, Marion realized this could both cut his company’s bills and help achieve its carbon target. But the upfront costs–around $250,000 (or £150,000)–“just didn’t stack up.”
Which is where the Low Carbon Hub came in. Set up by community renewables expert and sometime government adviser Barbara Hammond, the hub helps local companies and communities develop renewable installations for community benefit.
This month we focused on sustainability in the fashion and apparel industry, and explored sustainability trends in fashion throughout the lifecycle: from the cotton fields all the way to the landfill. In the expansive scope of sustainability, how do brands decide where to focus and how to prioritize? How effective are their efforts for people and the planet?
TriplePundit’s Founder, Nick Aster, took an hour or so to chat with with Paul Dillinger, Head of Product Innovation for Levi Strauss & Co and Eve Blossom, Founder of Lulan Artisans. The entire conversation can be viewed here.
Released in July 2012 by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Higg Index is a sustainability measurement tool that allows apparel companies to measure the impacts of their products across the value chain. Late last year, the SAC–a trade organization comprised of brands, retailers and manufacturers–announced an updated version of the index reflecting 18 months of development effort.
The SAC represents companies totaling nearly 40 percent of the apparel and footwear market, Executive Director Jason Kibbey told TriplePundit, and the index is already being widely adopted at all levels of the value chain, so its reach and relevancy is clear.
As more companies jump on board, could the index inspire industry-wide sustainability standards? And what would this mean for the future of sustainable apparel?
Here’s an interesting point about corporate social responsibility: Major companies can choose to lead the charge, or if they neglect to do so for too long, the democratic process may step in and do so for them on terms the companies may not particularly like. Right or wrong, this is the situation faced by many low-wage employers in the U.S. following President Barack Obama’s call to raise the minimum wage.
There are, however, examples of fast food and retail companies out there that strive to pay a fair wage. And they show that companies can indeed pay more and do well. In-N-Out Burger, a fast food chain in California and the Southwest, starts its employees off at a wage of $10.50 an hour. Moo Cluck Moo, a small fast food chain based in Canton, Mich., starts employees out at $12 an hour and ratchets up the pay to $15 an hour after 60 days. So what about McDonald’s? Or Burger King? Or Long John Silver’s for that matter?
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez makes a good point. If In-N-Out Burger can do it–remain profitable and still provide what has arguably been deemed a superior product–why can’t McDonald’s? Say’s Perez, “I find it a remarkable notion that McDonald’s can’t afford to pay an increase in the minimum wage but In-N-Out Burger can.”
Imagine pulling into your driveway and charging your car by parking on top of a charging system that uses a magnetic-resonance technology and does not require the vehicle to be plugged in.
What seems like a scene out of a science fiction movie, is now being tested by Toyota in Japan in three households with plug-in electric Prius hybrids. The wireless charging technology for plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles may be just a couple of years away from domestic use for auto consumers, but the infrastructure will need more time to catch up before it is widespread in commercial facilities, such as parking garages.
Toyota has been working on this technology for several years in cooperation with WiTricity, an MIT spinoff that has relationships with Audi and Mitsubishi, and Volvo is also working on a wireless charging system.
This wireless system could simplify electric vehicle charging by making the process more convenient and straightforward for drivers. It could be a game-changer for electric vehicles by serving as a universal charging station, solving the problem of having multiple plugs for different car models. In addition, it could trim down charging time to a mere 90 minutes for the plug-in hybrid Toyota Prius.
Monsanto continues to stand its ground against disclosing information about the costs associated with the genetically modified crop (GMO) industry. On Jan. 28, Monsanto shareholders, at the urging of the company’s board, overwhelmingly defeated two resolutions that would have increased transparency about Monsanto products.
One resolution, re-filed by Harrington Investments Inc., called for the board to issue a report detailing the financial risks and operational impacts related to certain GMO production. The issues included the costs of “seed contamination of non-GMO crops” and “damage to farmers’ reputations, livelihood and standing in the community” resulting from lawsuits that have ensued with neighboring farmers.
John Harrington, CEO and president of Harrington Investments, charged that the board “increasingly keeps stakeholders in the dark, about the true financial risks of GMOs … The corporation spends an incredible amount of shareholder money to prevent American consumers from knowing the extent to which it controls our national food supply.”
Sports are very much a part of my fabric. My father played college football at the University of Southern California, and my grandfather played and coached football in the National Football League. I have been active in sports since the age of five, both as an athlete and coach. I worked for a youth sports education nonprofit called Positive Coaching Alliance for my MBA summer internship and am currently working part-time for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders with hopes of parlaying the position into a full-time role with the Raiders or another professional sports organization after graduating with my MBA.
Because sports are such a big part of my life, I often draw upon business and leadership examples from the sports world. Therefore, you can expect no different from me when articulating how my approach to supporting women in business and leadership has changed over the past semester, largely motivated by my involvement in Professor Kellie McElhaney’s Women in Business class at the Haas School of Business.
I have been familiar with the story of Jackie Robinson for a long time, but it was not until I recently watched Warner Brothers’ “42,” a cinematic portrayal of Robinson’s story, that I realized how much this film resonates with me in terms of my approach to supporting women in business and leadership.
Wesley “Branch” Rickey, played by Harrison Ford in “42,” was an innovative professional sports executive, best known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing African American player Jackie Robinson in 1947.
President Barack Obama is moving ahead to increase fuel efficiency standards. While speaking at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland this week, President Obama cited the advantages of the fuel efficiency standards he put in place for both cars and light-duty vehicles, as well as heavy-duty vehicles.
Obama said that he is directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) to set the next phase of fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by March 2016. In 2011, the Obama administration set the first new standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks which take effect this year and last until 2018.
The standards require combination tractors to achieve a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2018, and require heavy-duty pickup trucks, vans and vocational vehicles to achieve a 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions by 2018.
Obama pointed out that although heavy-duty trucks only account for 4 percent of all the vehicles on the highway, they are responsible for about 20 percent of the carbon emissions from the transportation sector. They are also responsible for about 20 percent of on-road fuel consumption and haul about 70 percent of all domestic freight. The first phase of standards saves an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and reduces American oil use by 530 million barrels of oil, or more oil than the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia in a year.
When Spiezia Organics founder Amanda Barlow stood in front of a conference hall full of skincare industry delegates and ate a mouthful of one of her own beauty creams, it was to make a salient point: If what you put on your skin is not clean and natural enough to eat, then you shouldn’t be putting it on your skin–the body’s largest organ.
When you consider that propolene glycol is commonly used in a plethora of beauty products found on the shelves of the biggest supermarkets, her point hits home even more powerfully. Propylene glycol is used as an anti-freeze in helicopters, is banned in France, has provoked serious allergic reactions to people with eczema and can cause liver and kidney damage.
Santa Barbara: Apr 2 – Apr 4 ECO:nomics The Wall Street Journal’s celebrated ECO:nomics conference brings together global CEOs, top entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and environmental experts for discussion and debate about the most critical issues. Register here.
San Diego: Apr 24 – Apr 27 Social Venture Network Spring Conference SVN conferences convene and connect influential, innovative business leaders, impact investors and cultural entrepreneurs to create an experience where attendees can share the ideas and resources they need to succeed and grow. Register here.
New York: May 13 – May 14 Shared Value Leadership Summit For business leaders and problem solvers who see exciting market opportunities at the intersection of business goals and societal challenges, the Shared Value Initiative is the leading community shaping research, partnerships, and practices. Register here.
Southern California: May 19 – May 21 Fortune Brainstorm Green As the premier conference on business, sustainability, and green investing, Brainstorm GREEN delivers fresh thinking, actionable solutions, and unparalleled opportunities to build top-level relationships. Register here.
San Diego: Jun 2 – Jun 5 Sustainable Brands 2014 Discover what happens when brand strategists & designers connect with sustainability teams to drive innovation. 20% discount with code NW3pSB14sd. Register here.
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