Sustainability (and such)

Archive for the ‘CSR’ Category

CSR is dead.

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on December 6, 2012

Admit it:  We’ve been hearing the “CSR” death knoll for awhile now, that bleak march of an outdated effort.  And, according to a bevy of global experts at today’s Global Washington conference, it’s being replaced by PERSONAL Social Responsibility to better recognize our individual and collective interest in human rights and values.

I love this rebranding. (After all, corporations aren’t people, yeah?) We should be thinking of the actual faces attached to supply chains and such. Plus, increased corporate transparency is extinguishing smarmy greenwashing and other token efforts. Simply, the movement has expanded beyond slick reports to actual narratives, ranging from Northern consumers to the poorest of the poor who must survive beyond foreign aid.

Free of the corporate framing, we can more easily get to the nitty-gritty discussions of socially-oriented cultural, social and environmental business impacts.  Today, some of the best CSR insights came from a panel featuring Amir Dossal (Founder and Chairman of the Global Partnerships Forum), Raymond Offenheiser (President of Oxfam America), and my newest hero, Joe Whinney (Founder and CEO, Theo Chocolate).

“Companies aren’t just asking ‘How can we make profits?’,” says Dossal, but also, “How can we do good at the same time?” For Oxfam, it means a philosophical shift to trade show discussions and “quiet dialogues” with companies eager to move forward but not ready to go public with new social practices in “Globalization 2.0.”

Educate your consumers, argues Whinney, and they’ll pay higher prices for higher quality.  (In fact, he goes so far as to suggest USAID budget should be partially used to educate the global north in terms of responsible consumerism to pull future investment.)

For a great example of the new corporate leadership in terms of individual social responsibility, check out Theo’s Eastern Congo Initiative for organic and fair trade chocolate and vanilla.   It’s a daring business model for the private sector; that is, transparency and consumer engagement reigns supreme. And next time you hear about the latest CSR campaigns, smile just a little bit, because you’re already part of the cultural shift toward real change.

Posted in Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, Development, Public Relations, Sustainability | Leave a Comment »

Stand for Girls 2012

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on September 7, 2012

I love Global Washington for framing Washington as a global state; in fact, I’m not aware of an equally successful portal that convenes all the players — from the Gates Foundation to our little nonprofit, Global Spark — in one state’s global development sector.  Their newest initiative, Stand for Girls 2012, is a terrific example of an effective campaign that isn’t glitzy and demanding high energy/donations, yet builds a new audience.  Simply, $12 donations go to 10 recipient organizations that focus on economic empowerment, health, and education for women and girls.  There are also information-sharing strategies, such as a Seattle event on September 22, as well as  tips to network within our own communities on October 11, the Day of the Girl.  Click here for more information and FREE unique toolkits to use with house parties, religious groups, and education.

Why this important:  With traditional platforms and social media leverage, Stand for Girls is gathering steam as a best practices model of cause-related marketing and communication.  And the reasons are clear:

  • 800 women a day die in pregnancy or childbirth from complications that are often preventable
  • Women constitute about 70 percent of the world’s ultra poor, and women still earn less than 75 cents for every dollar men earn
  • Almost three-quarters of the 72 million children not enrolled in primary school are girls

Global Washington describes this as a way to help “women rewrite their story and change the world.”  Personally, I think this is one of the best values-led marketing efforts currently playing out.  Does it inspire you to donate $12 or think more about global women’s issues?

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PR and BP…sigh

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on June 30, 2010

Lots of PR experts are jostling right now to be relevant about the BP disaster.  (Q: What does BP, Tiger, and Toyota have in common?  A: They’ve ignored the critical steps of crisis communication.)   Tweetdeck is stuffed with advice such as to:  1)  remember immediacy, transparency, and honesty; 2) stop throwing $$ into tradition media  and3) quit stonewalling Anderson Cooper! 

Most agree that we’re missing the truly human side of this amidst critiques of BP as savior and destroyer.  But there are strategies:  Alan Weinkrantz and others would partner with Canon to hand out cameras for documentation, for instance.  And  BP should have set up a Wiki long ago so folks could have a place to harness their energy and good ideas.  (Plus set up the best practice of horizontal communication, giving up that fake pedestal of control and moving into collaboration that might just repair reputation.)

But how can we learn from this tragedy to make sure less voices are silenced and future action comes quicker?   For those of us in education, how might we make this lesson-in-progress relevant to students?  Let’s start NOW with being more open source  about everything from concrete clean-up ideas to broader issues of communication.  Let’s  recraft our syllabi to embed  sustainability and social responsibility.  Who’s up for more relevant case studies and long-lasting projects that go beyond awareness to action?

Posted in CSR, Marketing, Media relations, Social media | Leave a Comment »

What if the oil spill was over your town?

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on June 5, 2010

Not sure about the size of the BP oil leak?  Check out this map, which shows how the spill would cover your hometown area….

Posted in CSR | Leave a Comment »

Walmart’s Emerging Role in Sustainability Consulting

Posted by Nancy Van Leuven, Ph.D. on April 2, 2010

Posted in Corporate Communication, CSR, Public Relations | Leave a Comment »