Agricultural Labor in the U.S.: Why Do Workers Get a Bad Deal?

3p Contributor | Monday September 28th, 2009 | 0 Comments

This is the this is the third post in a series on the business of sustainable agriculture by the folks at Bon Appétit Management, a company that provides café and catering services to corporations, colleges and universities. To read past posts, click here.

By: Carolina Fojo, Bon Appétit Fellow

People picking the food we eat everyday have been chained up, abused, forced to work, and left without pay. The 2004 study “Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States” found that 10% of documented, forced labor in the US is in the agricultural industry. You can imagine how, hidden as it is, the modern slave industry—yes, slave industry—is not easy to track. So if 10% is the documented statistic, how many more are actually enslaved? And how many more are “merely” exploited?

As a Fellow for Bon Appétit Management Company, I will be looking into labor practices at the farm level this year. The problem has existed for a long time; what I want to know is: Why?

It’s More than Just Money.
One admirable response to this problem has been the “penny per pound” initiative by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). However, while “penny per pound” is certainly a good start, I see it in some ways as a Band-Aid to a larger problem. These workers are not exploited because they are paid low wages; they are paid low wages (or not paid at all) because they can so easily be exploited. So we can make sure to pay them, and pay them more—and we should, because poverty is no trifling thing—but unless we address WHY the system is such that people can get away with cheating their workers in the first place, we’re not really addressing the problem.

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Kansas City’s Green Impact Zone – A Vision for 21st Century Urban Renewal

3p Contributor | Monday September 28th, 2009 | 1 Comment

kc-green-zoneBy Andrea Buffa, The Apollo Alliance

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) had a vision for how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) could benefit the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri, where he served as mayor from 1991 – 1999. The city would create a 150-block “Green Impact Zone,” where federal dollars could spur the renewal of a poor and dilapidated area by creating a program to put residents to work weatherizing thousands of neighborhood homes.

“The key is we are investing federal money wisely and building an inclusive green economy strong enough to create jobs for residents,” Cleaver told the Kansas City Star in April.

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Carbon Footprint Verification for TV Set a First

| Sunday September 27th, 2009 | 1 Comment

A Taiwanese flat panel display maker has claimed to make the world’s first television set with carbon footprint verification. AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) announced last week it had completed carbon footprint verification for one of its 32″ LCD TVs according to standards measured by the United Kingdom Accredation Service (UKAS) PAS2050 Pilot Project.

Carbon Footprint Verification is the process of weighing the carbon impact of a product or service through its lifecycle. In the case of a television set, this would include the impact of the extraction of raw materials, manufacture, distribution, consumer usage and the eventual recycling or discarding of the TV.

Since there is no one internationally agreed standard for measuring carbon footprint, AUO’s claim is only as solid as the PAS 2050 standard. The actual measurement of the television’s carbon footprint was conducted by SGS, a global certification company, and the purpose of the UKAS project is to essentially certify the certifiers, like SGS, according to unspecificed “global standards.”

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How Can Companies Communicate Social Change?

| Saturday September 26th, 2009 | 2 Comments

communication-definitionBy John Comberiate

In today’s changing technological landscape, Shannon Herbert asks us, how do companies communicate their Social Change?  In her work at National Geographic as VP Integrated Marketing, she has found the answer in being a storyteller for their corporate mission “To inspire people to care about the planet”.  This is accomplished through four core steps: Have a Story, Partnerships, Inspiring and Engaging your Customers, and Evaluating your Results.

Have a Story

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Honest Tea’s Path to Social Change

| Saturday September 26th, 2009 | 1 Comment
Creating Social Change

Creating Social Change

By John Comberiate

At the Leadership for a Better World – Creating Social Value through Innovation Conference many speakers discussed the ideas around Social Entrepreneurship, how to communicate Social Change, and how large companies need to adapt to survive in a modern business environment.  Often lost in this discussion is the low level view of the steps it takes to make this happen.  Seth Goldman shared what this path looks like and the challenge of the decisions along the way.

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Is Arnold Schwarzenegger a Renaissance Man in the Green Fight?

| Saturday September 26th, 2009 | 1 Comment

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is geared up for the green fight, Reuters reports. The actor-turned-politician recently told sources he’s ready to use his resources – whether they be political or Hollywood-related – to help the Obama administration succeed in creating a more sustainable world. His comments underscored both the U.S.’s role in the worldwide green movement and Schwarzenegger’s own stance on global sustainability.

According to the Reuters report, Schwarzenegger, who is arguably the biggest environmentalist in the Republican Party, has called Washington out for not taking more of an aggressive role in combating global warming. Rather than quarrel with other countries about climate change, the U.S. should set an example, he reportedly said – pointing to his own state’s aggressive climate change policies. (Interestingly, Schwarzenegger reportedly plans on vetoing two pieces of renewable energy legislation, which would likely improve the state’s economy by requiring that 33 percent of utility companies’ electricity come from alternative energy sources by 2020 [most of which should come from in-state energy providers]. He reportedly plans on mandating the changes through an executive order instead.)

Schwarzenegger will be forced out of office in late 2010 (per term limits), but he does not plan to quit the fight then. Rather, he plans on remaining available for the green movement, whether as a global “green” ambassador, Hollywood actor, or Obama administration official.

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Seth Goldman, Honest Tea: Take Risks, Be Honest

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

honest-tBy Deepa Janakiraman

Seth Goldman, a social entrepreneur based out of Bethesda MD, kicked off the Center for Social Value Creation Forum at Smith School of Business with the right spirit.

Goldman, after his MBA from Yale, worked at Calvert group for couple of years. Calvert group is a socially responsible investment company that invests clients’ money in companies that add social value to their return. At Calvert, Goldman realized his passion for being a socially responsible entrepreneur and decided to pursue his dream.

He called his professor at Yale to discuss his business idea making “less sweet” beverages. Together, they came up with a concept of “Honest Tea”. Seth mentioned in his speech today that at that time he thought “Tea” was the most important part of the name and realized later that the “Honest” part is what’s still keeping the business flourishing. The social value he and his partner see in their product is the production and distribution of natural beverages and the preservation of the health aspects of tea during the bottling process.

Goldman went on to describe the years it took to build distribution channels for his product, culminating in a partnership with Coca Cola.

They key takeaways from the morning? – Start by doing only things that resonate with you, pay attention to honesty and transparency in business relationships and don’t be afraid to take risks,. His speech inspired the crowd to do something better.


Deepa Janakiraman is an MBA student at Robert H. Smith School and works at Booz Allen Hamilton as an associate. An avid traveler and photographer and writes travel blogs at

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Thomas Schelling: A Marshall Plan for Climate Change?

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 3 Comments

marshal-planBy: Scott Shuffield

The global warming debate is over.  Now the argument moves to solving the crisis of climate change.  Though often referred to in the context of “global warming,” the issues of climate change don’t just involve “warming” around the world but rather a general instability that could lead to innumerable negative externalities.  

During the Leadership for a Better World forum hosted by the Center for Social Value Creation, Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate and economist who helped shape the Marshall Plan, spoke on the institutions needed to cope with climate change.

First off, a little background information from his talk:

1.    “Developing” countries will be hurt the most by climate change.
2.    The cost of food will go up and the poorer countries will suffer more than richer countries.
3.    Agriculture makes up a large part of many developing countries’ economies.
4.    Developed countries cannot solve the problem of climate change without the help of developing countries.

After outlining these few points, Schelling presented his ideas on bringing a “Marshall Plan” to climate change.  He insisted that the developing and the developed countries (like China and the U.S.) should not communicate directly, but through an intermediary.  Affairs between the two countries are already so muddy that a mediator is a necessity.  The mediator could be an existing institution like the World Bank, but the issue is so large, that a new group may need to be created to serve as the climate change negotiator.

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Paul C. Light on Social Entrepreneurship – Learning What We Don’t Know

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 2 Comments
social entrepreneur

Social Entrepreneur

By John Comberiate

Speaking at the Leadership for a Better World – Creating Social Value through Innovation Conference, Paul C. Light set out to define what it is to be a Social Entrepreneur.  Lack of clarity in the term often creates conflict between groups that feel they have been promoting social values throughout their existence and others who see it in the narrow context of treating a problem instead of solving it.  Paul defines it as “Innovative activity designed to solve an intractable problem” and has come to this definition by researching myths around the Entrepreneur, the Idea, the Opportunity and the Organization.

Read on…

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Rosabeth Moss Kanter Speaks about “ValueCorp”

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment
SuperCorp by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

SuperCorp by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

By John Comberiate

As mentioned by Scott Shuffield this morning, during the Leadership for a Better World, Creating Social Value through Innovation Conference at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, DC, Rosabeth Moss Kanter spoke about the ideas behind her book, SocialCorp.  The book focuses on what is needed for large companies to remain competitive in a global and rapidly changing business environment.

Start with a Sense of Purpose as well as a Business Strategy

Anyone who has seen the 1999 classic Office Space knows what it is like to have a company mission statement.  Large companies need a concise focus in order to build a Business Strategy that will generate profits and be competitive.   Rosabeth spoke on how large companies need to take the next step, expanding on that idea to include a sense of purpose and value to guide what they believe and using it to create your business strategy.

Creating a new kind of Conversation with Employees

In order for large companies to adapt with the changing business environment, Rosabeth says they need to start a new type of conversation with their employees.  She quoted Sam Palmisano from IBM saying that “Business is the last Monarchy”.  At IBM, he took steps to break through this by setting up a program that invited their workforce to converse about what they liked about their mission, Innovation that matters, and what change they wanted see.  The employees overwhelmingly responded, and the culmination of their voice lead to the addition of ‘for our company and the world’ to their mission, showing how the employees connect to making a difference in the global environment. Click to continue reading »

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Thanks to Triple Pundit’s Sponsors

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

We’re lucky to have some really great sponsors here at 3p. In the case of the many organizations and companies we work with, we’d choose to support regardless of the nature of our relationship. By sponsoring, these organizations invest in our ability to continue to publish great content and continue to build the 3p movement.

EDF LogoThe Environmental Defense Fund Innovation Exchange is continuing to evolve into an invaluable resource for businesses. You’d swear that there was a catch, since you rarely expect great resources like the Innovation Exchange without someone trying to sell you something, right? But the EDF partners with businesses, doesn’t take a dime in return, then open-sources the IP for all to share. You’ll also notice that the content on the Innovation Exchange is Creative Commons licensed, so share it all you want, as long as you share the credit with them. Check out the EDF Innovation Exchange Blog and their Twitter for more. Thanks EDF!

Give Something Back Business Products

Give Something Back Business Products is an 18 year old business products company that is a veteran in the world of businesses created to make things better. Founders Mike Hannigan and Sean Marx literally copied the Newman’s Own model… sell products we all need and use frequently, like office chairs and recycled copier paper, and invest more than half of their profits back into the community (they’re a Bay Area company, so many of their clients request that they donate to Bay Area organizations like the San Francisco Food Bank). And the kicker is that their prices are competitive with the rest. They’re a founding B Corporation and their client list includes most of the companies you likely know and love. Thanks Give Something Back!

Thanks for being part of our community in support of business done better. If your business could benefit from becoming a more visible part of the 3p community, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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Business Not As Usual: Apple Polishing; Footprint Verification, & More

John Laumer | Friday September 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments


  1. Apple has responded to years of NGO pressure tactics by posting life cycle inventory (LCI) study findings on its website. Such studies generally offer low business value and generate little consumer interest outside a small audience of the most eco-savvy. (Anyone seen peer reviewed, published evidence that  life cycle inventory contributes to a business bottom line?) This is mostly about corporate image backup. See Apple Adds More Environmental Impact Information to Website for a full discussion. This particular apple seems unlikely to roll far from its tree; though others may elect to cultivate a green image in more effective, ways.  I’m rating business significance fairly low – a scale explained at the bottom of this post – as U1/C3
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What Makes a Business “Social”?

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 0 Comments

social-businessBy: Scott Shuffield

“Service to society, guided by well-articulated values, is not just ‘nice to do’ but an integral part of the business models for companies.” – from SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Years ago, Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM, told the board of directors that he wanted to invite all 400,000 IBM employees to a WebChat allowing them to discuss IBM’s values and take account of the employees’ opinions. A prominent member of the board stood up and asked, “Isn’t this socialism?” Some people might expect that reaction and even argue that such a venture isn’t acceptable, not Rosabeth Moss Kanter.

As Kanter argued during a forum held by Center for Social Value Creation (a part of the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland), a sense of purpose beyond monetary compensation motivates people and will even increase a company’s profit. When IBM’s Palmisano asked employees to contribute to the direction of the company, it allowed them to put a stake in the business and allowed their emotions to get involved. Kanter suggested that the culture Palmisano created at IBM helped it fare better than most during the recent global financial meltdown.

But just asking employees for their input won’t suffice to inspire innovation. After asking for their input, IBM made sure to actually do the good things their employees recommended. For example, when a new plan for using idle computer power to create a supercomputer came from IBM’s research and development, the first thing IBM did was make it public (a.k.a. free!). Creating, IBM invested in a program that allows people like researchers to access a supercomputer to do advanced calculations that would take years on a single computer. It’s a really cool concept and I encourage you to check out the site.

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Maryland’s Smith School Launches Center for Social Value Creation

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 1 Comment

By Deepa Janakiraman


Two hundred and fifty students, industry experts, entrepreneurs, professors and social value creators came together at Ronald Reagan Building in Washington today for the grand launch of Center for Social Value Creation (csvc) at Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Dean Anand introduced the center with a comment that “In the business school we have a responsibility to create responsible leaders”. Although he commented the school is a little behind in starting the center, he promptly recognized that the students and faculty are already creating social value by many means -Especially via involvement with Net Impact, Smith School Energy Club, CIBER, Green, sustainable and social corporate responsibility clubs and more.

Today’s forum on leadership for a better world will be covered by three current University of Maryland students here on 3p, check back for updates throughout the day.

Deepa Janakiraman is a MBA student at Robert H. Smith School and works at Booz Allen Hamilton as an associate. An avid traveler and photographer and writes travel blogs at

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Zumbox Is Not Another BS “Paperless” Mail Option. Here’s Why.

| Friday September 25th, 2009 | 29 Comments


Zumbox video captureI have to admit, when my friend Rob Reed of Max Gladwell first told me about Zumbox, the “Paperless Postal System,” I didn’t get it. How was it different then, say, Earth Class Mail and other digitized mail services? How many of the many companies I get mail from would actually participate?

So when I again heard from Rob about some big Zumbox news this week, I remained skeptical. Then I watched a brief video on their site, and it all made sense: For every physical mailing address in the US, they’d created a digital Zumbox as well. When you sign up, they send one physical piece of mail that you use to verify your address. Then here’s where the difference is:

Most non personal mail sent to you typically starts as a file on a computer somewhere.  It gets printed, put in an envelope,  then shipped via the postal service to your mailbox. With Zumbox, that file goes directly to your Zumbox account, bypassing printing, scanning, and mailing it. All those resources, energy, and time are saved.

But who’s using it? As of this week, the Mayors of San Francisco and Newark New Jersey are.

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