Earth Day is an important date on the calendar that puts the spotlight back on the planet. However, as we all grow more interconnected around the world with a greater ability to have an impact -- both positive and negative -- it's equally important to recognize that the principles of Earth Day can't be ignored the other 364 days of the year.
Jason Inch likes "doing business by doing good." One of his most interesting ventures, for example, is a real estate play in Shanghai that isn't about making anybody rich. Instead, it exists to help China manage urban density while also empowering people to "work, meet, socialize, create, exercise, eat, drink and live multi-faceted lives."
No challenge derails managers from the goal of sustainability more than understanding what it means for an organization to really be sustainable. Some people think sustainability is all about environmental issues. Others see it in terms of the bottom line. And then, of course, there are people who use the term synonymously with corporate social responsibility and shared value. Business sustainability is none of these things. Rather, it is about time.
One year ago this week, a girl named Tahmina went to work. That morning, the Rana Plaza factory where Tahmina worked collapsed. She survived, but her supervisor and over 1,100 other workers were killed in one of the worst industrial disasters in history. We all want to know what we can do -- individually and collectively -- to prevent a future tragedy.
One year ago Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP), immediately halting all natural forest clearance across its entire supply chain. Specifically, we outlined four key priorities for 2014 to engage our broader industry and other sectors to help accelerate the realization of zero deforestation.
As we prepare for the holiday season, many of us are thinking about how we can be responsible consumers. The conflict in the Congo is fuelled and funded by minerals -- gold, tin, tungsten, and tantalum. Too often, these minerals end up in our cellphones, computers, and jewellery. Just as people can now give ethical diamonds, we should be able to give electronics and jewellery in good conscience.
Can a company truly be considered a good corporate citizen while taking money from taxpayers through corporate welfare? Corporate welfare happens when a government makes a political decision to use tax dollars to favour one company over another. While all of us understand we need to pay taxes to fund societal benefits like hospitals, schools and infrastructure, most feel government should not use our money to pick winners and losers in business by handing out grants to specific companies.
"Imagine if companies started thinking about the social impact they wanted to create in the world and tied it to bottom line performance. The potential impact could be incredible," explained Mr. Haid. As an example, he cites TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes for each one purchased or Warby Parker, which runs a similar model but for sunglasses.
Many people in Myanmar commemorated the 25th anniversary this September of one of the bloodiest crackdowns in the country's history. Western business should be encouraged to bring more socially responsible practices to Myanmar but should take critical measures to ensure that they not become part of the democracy-hindering problem rather than the solution.
B Corp Certification honours visionary business leaders that are coming together to use the power of business as a force for good. Through a completely transparent and fully measurable process, B Corp offers an umbrella of "trust" that has proven to be attractive to both entrepreneurs and consumers alike.
Ultimately, creating a Corporate Social Responsibility policy may seem like a daunting, distant proposition. But if your company is committed to upholding far-reaching and long-term sustainability standards, it's best to be clear about what that means and demonstrate that commitment by weaving it into your corporate DNA early on.
The Lac Megantic rail disaster is a terrible tragedy for the many who suffered loss. It is also an object lesson in why industries dominated by large corporations cannot be trusted to regulate themselves -- not even when there is nominal oversight by government. Corporations, when they grow large, go public, and take on professional management teams, devolve from being human institutions governed at least in part by genuine ethical constraints, into machine-like entities that are devoid of moral sensibility.
For the past forty years, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has focused much of his charitable work on the well-being of the individual within the community. It is an interdependent relationship, with both requiring sacrifices and allowances from the other. His Royal Highness has taken up this challenge by founding charities that focus on issues such as corporate social responsibility.
While not exactly a certification, like Fair Trade or the Rainforest Alliance, direct trade is really more of a loose concept: remove as many of the middlemen as possible and make sure the most marginalized and impoverished people in the coffee chain, the coffee farmers themselves, are given a bigger piece of the pie.
The shock felt by Canadians following the recent tragedy in Bangladesh shows that we, as a country, care deeply about the welfare of others. In the wake of this tragedy, the NDP has called for stronger corporate accountability rules. Action to strengthen corporate accountability for Canadian companies operating and contracting work overseas is well overdue.
Canadians are not sitting back any more and taking bad corporate behaviour. We may have arrived at a tipping point where increasingly Canadians who have been shoved, are pushing back. The RBC "fire Canadians" story broke on a weekend. By the start of the week, politicians had heard from constituents across Canada. Over in Bangladesh, a garment factory collapsed in Rana Plaza, killing more than 700. And just because a videographer caught a glimpse of a Joe Fresh clothing label and some editor put that on Canadian television, suddenly Canada's best-known retail leader, Galen G. Weston, was all over the media.
What is it about big corporate sponsors that they don't get that the hard sell just doesn't work any more and that they'd win over more customers if they just gave useful information instead of the sales pitch on how wonderful they are? Boring the audience does not win people over. So here's my tips to corporate sponsors.