Meet Aman Singh

Joining Outstanding Faculty for Spring CSR Certificate Course
May 16th and 17th at Rutgers University Business School

On May 16th and 17th, the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Governance & Accountability Institute present the Spring 2017 CSR Certificate Program for corporate managers, not-for-profit and foundation managers, and others interested in career opportunities and advancement in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”), Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Sustainability, Philanthropy, Risk Management, Ethics, and related positions.

An outstanding faculty of professionals from leading CSR and sustainable investment organizations will lead the interactive discussions which are a feature of the course. For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet one of your course leaders:
Aman Singh, Editor-in-Chief, Futerra
Topic:  Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Communications”

 

 

 

 

 

A conversation with Aman:

Q:  How is your day-to-day work related to the CSR Certificate Program?
(AS)  At Futerra, our mission is to make sustainability so commonplace, it is normal. That means making sure every project we work on is logically sound — the strategy and research — and communicated in a way that combines the magic of creative expression and communication rigor. For me, as the editor in chief and head of content strategy, that means always being disciplined about connecting the dots between human behavior, business priorities, sustainability principles, CSR practices, organizational design, storytelling and sociology.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?
(AS)  I hope that it will be more of a conversation. As a former journalist, I have learned the value of asking the right questions and context. Now as we discuss corporate social responsibility and all that that encompasses, I hope that together we can understand and decode some of the key elements in successful storytelling, what it takes to be bold as well as where we can together lead our organizations given our current climate — social, environmental, economic and political – since CSR cuts across all these dimensions.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the CSR Certificate Program?
(AS)  The two most important elements of a Program like this is in the ability to gain a new network of confidantes and a renewed arsenal of skills. After all, as CSR professionals we are required to become skilled negotiators, facilitators and influencers — and this Program will hopefully help attendees renew their interest in working in CSR and how they can affect change regardless of their title or position while making them lifelong storytellers. And we must start at home – in our companies and in our communities.

* * * * * * * *

Career Background:  Aman Singh
Aman describes herself as a “Story Teller, Content Strategist and Sustainability Practitioner,” and is Editor-in-Chief at Futerra, a sustainability consultancy and creative agency in New York City.

An experienced journalist, she was the Editorial Director of CSRwire leading the company’s editorial operations and business development teams to deliver a digital platform that focused on engagement. Aman has written for multiple publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Triple Pundit, Bloomberg Business Week, and others.  She is a frequent speaker much in demand on the many topics of CSR and sustainable business practices, storytelling as well as career advice for professionals looking to make a difference through their resumes and related topics.

Aman holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from NYU as well as a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Delhi University. She also holds a Professional Certificate in Sustainability from the University of Vermont and is an IEMA-certified CSR Practitioner.

For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet Mary O’Malley

Joining Outstanding Faculty for Spring CSR Certificate Course
May 16th and 17th at Rutgers University Business School

On May 16th and 17th, the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Governance & Accountability Institute present the Spring 2017 CSR Certificate Program for corporate managers, not-for-profit and foundation managers, and others interested in career opportunities and advancement in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”), Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Sustainability, Philanthropy, Risk Management, Ethics, and related positions.

An outstanding faculty of professionals from leading CSR and sustainable investment organizations will lead the interactive discussions which are a feature of the course. For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet one of your course leaders:
Mary O’Malley, Vice President – Corporate Governance, Prudential Financial, Inc.
Topic:  “CSR Executive Fireside Chat
Featuring Mary O’Malley – Prudential, Jonathan Pearson – Horizon Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and Judy Young  – Institute for Ethical Leadership

A conversation with Mary:

Q:  How is your day to day work related to the CSR Certificate Program?
(MO)
  The CSR Certificate gives current and future practitioners a good grounding for their future success including opportunities to gain real world knowledge from leaders in the field. 

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?
(MO
I hope those that attend our session come to understand the great opportunities and real challenges that face change agents in this work. 

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the CSR Certificate Program?
(MO)
  Those who are successful in sustainability and CSR recognize that their work is a journey, not a destination. 

* * * * * * * *

Career Background:  Mary O’Malley, Vice President, Corporate Governance at Prudential Financial, Inc. 

Mary is a well-respected corporate governance executive with managerial experience in key areas:  sustainability, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and communications.  She has been with Prudential Financial for two decades, previously serving as VP-Environment and Sustainability (as global lead for environment, sustainability, board administration, and shareholder engagement); and as VP- Local Initiatives (responsible for Prudential’s outreach to local communities and employee community engagement worldwide).  Mary is a board member of the Center for Civic Responsibility, and chair of the audit committee.

Mary holds the B.A. degree (American Intellectual History) with minority in communications studies/rhetoric, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She holds Certification in Corporate/Community Relations from Boston College. She was editor of the “Assets for Sustainable Growth” report in 2014 (Prudential’s 2013 Sustainability Report).

For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet Aarti Maharaj

Joining Outstanding Faculty for Spring CSR Certificate Course
May 16th and 17th at Rutgers University Business School

On May 16th and 17th, the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Governance & Accountability Institute present the Spring 2017 CSR Certificate Program for corporate managers, not-for-profit and foundation managers, and others interested in career opportunities and advancement in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”), Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Sustainability, Philanthropy, Risk Management, Ethics, and related positions.

An outstanding faculty of professionals from leading CSR and sustainable investment organizations will lead the interactive discussions which are a feature of the course. For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet one of your course leaders:
Aarti Maharaj, Executive Editor & Director of Communications at Ethisphere Institute
Topic: 
Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability Communications

A conversation with Aarti:

Q. How is your day to day work related to the CSR Certificate Program?
[AM] You cannot be partially responsible. Being a solid corporate citizen requires a day to day commitment to following one simple rule; do the right thing. That said, the simple rule is not always easy to follow. It requires integrity and often a willingness to sacrifice short term advantages gained through questionable ethics in favor of the long term benefits of doing business with transparent governance. Candidates for the CSR Certificate should understand that CSR must be embedded in their daily work. More than that, it needs to be part of your company’s overall business plan because now, more than ever, customers and potential investors are watching and they are not afraid to let you know when you have let them down.

Q. What can attendees expect to learn from your session?
[AM] Attendees will learn that CSR is a business enhancing program, not a series of one offs in search of sappy headlines. It is not a photo of an oversized check being handed to the local boys and girls club. While those things are important for our society, research demonstrates that consumers and investors require more if you are going to win their patronage. They are looking for sustained and business-relevant programs that are demonstrably beneficial to society as a whole. Attendees will learn the business benefits of a strong CSR program as well as the potentially damaging affects of neglecting your corporate reputation — especially as CSR-conscious Millennials strengthen their grip on the worldwide economic engine. 

Q. What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the CSR Certificate Program?
[AM] At the very least the CSR Certificate will enhance your CV or resume because more and more companies are waking up to the fact that CSR is no longer something you do with the extra money lying around after all other budgets have been filled. CSR is now table stakes. For many consumers it is required just for your business to have a seat at the table and that is not going to change anytime soon. CSR is not the wave of the future, it is the wave of right now, so it is wise to learn more and to become credentialed in this business function. It might make all the difference when seeking your next job or promotion.

* * * * * * * *

Career Background:  Aarti Maharaj
Aarti is Executive Editor and Director of Communications at Ethisphere Institute. This organization is a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices “that fuel corporate character, marketplace trust and business success.” Ethisphere has deep expertise in measuring and defining core ethics standards using data-driven insights that help companies enhance corporate character.

She covers ethics, CSR, compliance, risk, and corporate governance, and publishes extensively at Insights (you can read her work here:  http://insights.ethisphere.com)

An experienced print and television journalist, Aarti’s work has been featured in the New York Daily News and Business Insider. She was the Deputy Editor and Digital Content Editor of Corporate Secretary and Compliance Week magazines, respectively, as well as Associate Editor of OnWallStreet.

She holds a Masters Degree in Communications and Media Studies from Fordham University, and a Bachelor’s in Journalism, with Minor in Political Science.

For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet Bahar Gidwani

Joining Outstanding Faculty for Spring CSR Certificate Course
May 16th and 17th at Rutgers University Business School

On May 16th and 17th, the Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Governance & Accountability Institute present the Spring 2017 CSR Certificate Program for corporate managers, not-for-profit and foundation managers, and others interested in career opportunities and advancement in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”), Corporate Citizenship, Corporate Sustainability, Philanthropy, Risk Management, Ethics, and related positions.

An outstanding faculty of professionals from leading CSR and sustainable investment organizations will lead the interactive discussions which are a feature of the course. For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

Meet one of your course leaders:
Bahar Gidwani, CEO of CSRHub, and NY metro area Angel Investor
Topic:  Bridging the Gap: Sustainability vs. Profitability

A conversation with Bahar:

Q: How is your day-to-day work related to the CSR Certificate Program?
[BG]  We support around 15,000 CSR professionals, more than half of whom are located outside North America.  Our users include sustainability managers, consultant/accountants/lawyers and other advisors, academics, not-for-profit organizations, journalists, and activists.  We provide these users with aggregated sustainability ratings on more than 17,000 entities—public companies, private companies, government agencies, and not-for-profits.  Most of our users do not have formal training in sustainability.  They have had to learn the contents of your program through experience (and probably by making a fair number of preventable mistakes!).

Q: What can Rutgers course attendees expect to learn from your session?
[BG] There has been a perception that corporate sustainability is not directly related to corporate profitability.  We have done research that we believe shows there is a relationship between various aspects of sustainability and important drivers of business success.  We will share some of the reasons we believe these relationships have not yet been fully appreciated and show where further research could be done in the future.

Q: What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the CSR Certificate Program?
[BG] There is no clear career path yet for sustainability professionals.  While people talk about “Chief Sustainability Officer” roles—very few of them exist in the US.  So, sustainability professionals should be open to incorporating the tools they get from the program into general business practice.  Being aware of sustainability opportunities should help them advance their careers towards other “V level” and “C level” positions.  Once in these positions, they should be able to influence others in their management teams to share their interest in sustainability practice and bring its benefits into their organizations.

* * * * * * * *

Career Background: Bahar Gidwani
Bahar Gidwani
is Chief Executive Officer of CSRHub, co-founded by him in 2007.  The organization provides CSR and sustainability metrics to corporate managers, professionals and researchers.  These metrics are used to manage ESG, employment and community issues.  There are more than 17,000 companies monitored by CSRHub and the “big data” results are sourced from more than 500 organizations.

Before founding CSRHub, Bahar was CEO of Sonobyte Podcasting Voiceover Services; CEO of Index Stock Imagery; and Vice President, Kidder Peabody & Company.

Bahar holds the MBA-Marketing from Harvard Business School (where he was a Baker Scholar); and a B.A.- Astronomy and Physics from Amherst College.  He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations (securities analysis) from the CFA Institute (Levels I and II); also, the FSI designation from the Financial and Sustainability Initiative organization.  He is trained in Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting.

For more information about the course and to register, visit: http://bit.ly/RutgersCSR

SASB Positions — Critical Points Made In Commentary Published by Dr. Jean Rogers in the “IBD”

The “IBD” — Investors Business Daily — is an influential publisher followed by millions of investors, both in the print and on-line versions.  The former “daily” is now published weekly and the digital content with numerous tools and resources for the serious investor is a primary focus of the publisher, always available 24/7 for subscribers.  Founded in 1984 by former stockbroker William O’Neil, the publisher today offers investors a number of popular tools for market timing, fundamental and technical market analysis, and other approaches.  (Such as “CAN SLIM,” the founder’s approach to investing.)

What is important for us today is the publication in the IBD of powerful commentary by Jean Rogers, PhD, Founder / CEO  of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB).  (Our selection for your Top Story.)  Dr. Rogers responds to earlier published commentary in IBD that warned investors “against the dangers of infusing corporate accounting with environmental advocacy.”

In response, Jean Rogers writes — Could not agree more!  That is, she explains, SASB’s mission is to provide investors (many of whom are IDB readers) with material, decision-useful information capturing the financial impacts of corporate sustainability performance, and doing so in a way that is cost-effective for companies.  That may come as a surprise to the writers of the prior commentary, she says. (They seemed to position SASB’s work as adding to the “burden of regulation” facing public companies.)

It is large and influential investors who are the driving force behind the evolvement of the SASB standards — they are the parties who are increasingly demanding financially-relevant ESG data, explains Dr. Rogers.

Helpful note for dear IBD readers:  Jean Rogers points out for you that the PRI signatories represent about half of the Assets Under Management of global institutional assets (some US$60 trillion).  That’s the smart money to follow, we would say.  And the 2016 US SIF survey of asset managers adopting ESG approaches reached to almost $9 trillion in AUM — up 33% from two years prior.  More smart money to follow.

You’ll want to read Dr. Rogers’ commentary and share it with colleagues.  And do review the SASB standards for your company’s industry or sector if you work in the corporate sector.  As Dr. Rogers writes: “SASB work is to standardize sustainability disclosure. Its one agenda item is to help companies and their investors communicate more effectively about risk and opportunities they face in a constantly-evolving business landscape.” That certainly describes the year 2017, doesn’t it!

At G&A we’re big supporters of SASB, and we’re helping our clients review and consider SASB in their sustainability programs, materiality and reporting.  If you’d like to talk more about how we can assist your company in strategy setting for the SASB standards for your industry please contact us at info@ga-institute.com to set up a complimentary call with our team.

Sustainability Accounting Standards Represent Market — Not Regulatory — Forces at Work
(Wednesday – April 26, 2017)
Source: Investor Business Daily – Today, approximately half of global institutional assets — about $60 trillion — are managed by signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which promotes the incorporation of sustainability factors into..

Cuppa Joe? Many of us love our morning coffee (“the Joe”), but we should think more about growers at the source…

Ah, that morning coffee — so delicious for many of us.  The products of the “coffee belt,” encircling the globe just north and south of the Equator, are made from a valuable commodity — the coffee bean. Harvesting those is a US$100 billion annual commodity, writer Jodyn Cormier tells us on the Care2 web platform, second only to the value of the oil market.  And yet…she writes that the average coffee farmer gets $1,000 per season for his/her work.

That, Cormier concludes, makes coffee an industry that is inherently unbalanced and unfair.  And then the writer focuses on Vega Coffee (Nicaragua), a “subscription-based” coffee company that helps farmers pick, process, package, and ship quality beans direct to customers.  The customer gets the coffee within 5 days of roasting, “direct from farmers’ hands to theirs.”

The company’s founder explains how this differs from many parts of the traditional value chain in reaching developed nation coffee consumers:  The family farmer typically sells beans to a cooperative, which sells to another or larger cooperative, and then it’s to an exporter, then to a roaster (the importer), then to a coffee distributor, and on to a roaster wanting Nicaraguan coffee…and then through middlemen to retail outlets…to customer.

The Vega firm has a roastery in Nicaragua, and local farmers are involved in the roasting process, packaging the goods for export to the USA (every two weeks).  Farmer-to-roastery-to shipment to US customer.  And women are encouraged to get involved in the usually male-dominated cultivation activities.

And what about climate change?  The views from the coffee belt in Nicaragua are shared in the top story (below) as well as many other fascinating views.  Conclusion:  Vega believes people (read: we coffee consumers) should not have to trade quality for sustainability.  And they are showing how it can be done.

Author Jordyn Cormier is a Boston-based freelance writer and “avid outdoors woman.” The Care2 web platform is known for its “member petitions” resources, such as saving the rainforest and protesting President Trump’s offshore oil drilling agenda.

Should You Have to Choose Between Good Coffee and Sustainability?
(Monday – April 17, 2017)
Source: Care 2 – Coffee as a commodity is worth $100 billion worldwide—second only to oil. And yet, the average coffee farmer makes a paltry $1000 per season (which is about $3/day), and that’s without taking into consideration drought or disease…

Hiring? Most Likely The Newbies Will Be Millennials — Is Your Workplace Ready — Is Your Company a Sustainability Standout?

The Millennial Generation — that’s men and women born in the years 1982 to 2004 (according to researchers Neil Howe and William Strauss).  This generation’s members are ages 17 to 35, and now said to be outnumbering the previously dominant cohort of the Baby Boomers in the workplace (BBers were born 1946-1964, some 77 million in all).

Consumer product marketers of course want to know what the Millennials value, what they are interested in, what information they need, what motivates to shop and buy.  And just as important and maybe more:  employers want to know more about the Millennials as they recruit them and bring them into their corporate culture. And keep them there!
One of the more long-lasting, familiar brands in Corporate America is Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP).  The company commissioned a report by Lightspeed to determine the attitude of Millennials and the relationship of corporate and brand values and corporate sustainability to them, in terms of recruitment — and workforce retention.

The resulting report:  Recycling in the Workplace: A Millennial View.  One important conclusion of the study:  To attract and maintain new employees, companies will be required to surpass the status quo and get serious about putting sustainability strategies into action. 90% of the generation, the authors concluded, identified sustainability as a crucial consideration when making career moves.

Sustainable Brands published highlights of the study — see our Top Story for more details.

And — if you have recruited members of the Millennial Generation, point them towards the Governance & Accountability Institute education courses to help them get up to speed quickly on sustainability, corporate responsibility, sustainable investing and related topics.  There’s more information on these offerings here:  http://www.ga-institute.com/training.html

Top Stories This Week…

New Study Cites Sustainability as Top Priority for Millennial Workforce
(Tuesday – April 11, 2017)
Source: Sustainable Brands – According to a new study by research body Lightspeed on behalf of Rubbermaid Commercial Products (RCP), a brand’s commitment to sustainability — or lack thereof — is an important concern for millennials and one which will…

And there is much more information of value in the Wikipedia definitions of Millennials and other generations (Gen X, Gen Y, BBers, and more):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennials

Corporate Responsibility – Sustainability – Citizenship: Is It In Jeopardy in the Trump-ian Years? Don’t Think So!

by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist – G&A Institute
April 17, 2017

The mid-1960s….the time of the wonderful beginnings of the modern era of Corporate Social Responsibility. Corporate Citizenship.  And then large corporations began backing off their prior commitments as new administrations came to power in Washington.

The relationship of large corporations to the general society (i.e., the rest of us) has long been of interest to me. My career has been an exciting journey through up and down cycles of clear demonstration of corporate social responsibility, corporate citizenship, environmental responsibility, by large corporations…and at times, and at times, a clear lack thereof.

The news has mostly been very positive for the past two decades about CSR and sustainability — and corporate citizenship. Will this continue in the months and years ahead?

This of course is a question on the minds of some as the Trump Administration and the Congress continue to at least verbally assault the New Era of Enlightenment of the corporate sector.

Corporate-Society relations — this is something I closely monitor and am involved with daily in our Governance & Accountability Institute work, of course. And the progress made, or at times lack of progress, is a subject area that I have often commented on in my writings over the years since the 1960s.

* * * * * * *

Consider:  U.S.A. – Industrial Powerhouse of the Postwar Era

The publisher of Time magazine (Henry Luce) commented that the 20th was the “American Century,” in great measure thanks to the fantastic production of the United States corporate community.

The nature of the post-World War II economy was firmly set in place by the production prowess of the war years (1941-1945), when the United States of America was the “Arsenal of Democracy,” with fantastic output of weapons and war materiel by large companies. (Ford Motor stopped making cars and instead made B-24 bombers; General Motors turned out tanks, with innovative transmissions that became best-selling features on post-war autos, etc.)

The rapid military buildup helped to lift large U.S. manufacturers and their tens of thousands of workers out of the dark days of the Great Depression era and into renewed prosperity. A “military-industrial” complex thus arose that continued through the decades onward to today. The great American middle class was set firmly in place after the war and the world’s greatest consuming economy was created in catering to the needs and wants of the population.

Because American and British bombers had devastated the factories of Germany and in other European countries, and American bombers the manufacturing facilities of the Empire of Japan, the U.S.A. dominated postwar [world] trade, for many years accounting for fully half of global trade flows.

* * * * * * *

Civil Rights in Focus

Despite the broad and inspiring progress made in uplifting American families to middle class status, not all “boats rose” on the rising tide of progress.  The benefits of Corporate America were not evenly enjoyed.

The relationship of the corporate sector, and of the public sector, and the nation’s African-American population, was over the years problematic. There was discrimination in hiring, in training, in promotion, in access to goods and services; the African-American community steadily lagged behind white peer groups.

The sweeping Civil Rights Act of 1964, followed by The Voting Rights Act of 1965, set in place public sector commitments to change things, to open up opportunities in employment, in access to college education, to affordable home mortgages, and more.

Of course, not all American citizens welcomed the changes; particularly in the American South, there was pushback and protests and defiance of Federal anti-discrimination laws. (Including the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Ed, which seemed to assure equal education for all citizens.)

* * * * * * *

The Rise of Civil Unrest in the 1960s

With rising civil unrest in the inner cities, filling with African-Americans in the Great Migration north, there were riots in 1963 and 1964 in Birmingham and Savannah; in Chicago and Philadelphia; with both whites and blacks involved, battling each other, and more often battling police.

In 1965, there were riots in Los Angeles (the “Watts” neighborhood), 4,000 people were arrested, 34 people were killed, hundreds were injured, and tens of millions of dollars of property damage resulted.

The year 1966 brought unrest to Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland (“Hough” neighborhood) — 43 disorders in the U.S. in all. More people died; the National Guard was mobilized; more protests were in store for the next year. And in Spring into Summer 1967, there were riots in Tampa, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Newark and Northern New Jersey, and Detroit.

The Report of The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (issued March 8, 1968) noted: The summer of 1967 again brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them, shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation. The worst came during a 2-week period in July, first in Newark (N.J.) and then in Detroit.

Said the authors. this is our basic conclusion: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.

Reaction to the disorders has quickened the movement and deepened the division. Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American life; they now threaten the future of every American. (end quotes).

* * * * * * *

An important irritant: the increased involvement in the war between North and South Viet Nam — a conflict in which young men of privilege (attending Ivy League schools, for example) could skip military service while a high proportion of African-Americans would be drafted and shipped to the war zone.

* * * * * * *

Corporate Sector Response

After passage of civil rights legislation, companies doing business with the Federal government were required to meet certain requirements; state and local governments had to come in line with affirmative action (such as set-asides in hiring for members of minority communities).

As the rules-of-the-road of the Federal civil rights statutes were set in place, both government agencies and America’s largest employers began to change their strategies, practices and policies to match the law of the land. This was not always easy — and certainly was not met with universal acceptance in many quarters of our population.

As the corporate community adjusted, G.A. Lloyd, a respected director public affairs/ community affairs manager at Humble Oil and Refining Company became an active public speaker on the changes taking place.

He wrote a small booklet: The Human Side of History (published 1967 – 16 pages) to help to educate his corporate community colleagues in the business sector on the changes taking place. He delivered a delivered powerful speech at University of Houston and around the Southwest, in late-December 1967, a time when I had been appointed as the “citizenship officer” of my employer, American Airlines (so I was paying close attention).

The Great Progress Made in the Private Sector

Mr. Lloyd advised us that “…leadership socially-conscious companies business organizations” such as those encouraged in the day’s electric utility industry association) were striving to make a difference. (Was this the beginning of modern-day “corporate social responsibility”? Perhaps.)

The corporate functions involved included public relations, community affairs/ community relations and philanthropy.

His employer — Humble Oil Company – in November 1967 was reacting very positively to key government action: passage of the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act

The chairman of the board of his company, M.A. Wright, in October 1967 said: “The business community’s involvement with social problems must take a new look. In the search for solutions, they must bring into play their leadership and analytical capabilities. They must devise new and better approaches to existing public programs. Businessmen have no practical choice but to insist social problems be given the same analytical treatment that business uses in solving its own problems. ”

There were three outstanding business attributes and resources to bring to bear, the common wisdom told us: the three E’s of education, employment, environment.

G.A. Lloyd was busily telling business and academic audiences, “poor youths” were being put to work in the NASA Manned Space Center in Houston, Texas; 187 youths were recruited, paid a wage and provided training (“learning skills” was important).

Note the accepted language of the day: They were “economically-deprived boys and girls” from families of “the hard core unemployed,” and the objective was to keep them from falling into poverty as they grew up. They learned to type, run duplicating machines, operate machinery, and learn about electronic equipment.

The community-based programs that they were recruited from included: Job Fair; Junior Student Trainee Program; Job Opportunities for Youth (“JOY”); Vocational Education Program; and Back to School Youth Opportunity Campaign. Buses picked the students up, brought them to work and back home.

By the year 1967, Lloyd informed us, some 348 U.S. insurance companies had agreed to invest $1 billion to upgrade U.S. “slums” (concentrated primarily in major U.S. cities).

And more good news:

U.S. Gypsum (building materials) bought or optioned tenement buildings in Harlem and a handful in Cleveland to rehabilitate.

Smith, Kline & French (the Philadelphia pharma) rehabbed buildings in its neighborhood and sold them to the local housing authority.

Hallmark Cards in its home city of Kansas City planned over the next 16 years (that would be to 1983) to invest more than $100 million in rehabbing a “run-down” 85-acre area.

Polaroid (then based Cambridge, Massachusetts) established a “job clearing house” and invited colleagues in from more than 700 Boston-region firms to hire “underprivileged Negros” sans high school diplomas to earn that diploma on company time and expense. Companies responding supplied interviewers at the clearinghouse.

Met Life in New York City was recruiting new employees through The Urban League and social service organizations and put them through a 13-week training course. This process includes a “culture fair test” (no details provided).

Pacific Bell & Telephone dispatched African-American and Spanish-speaking recruiters out to barber shops, pool halls, beauty parlors and “where ever people meet” to identify potential new employees. Those selected were given training to develop skills; 18 of the first 20 men and 21 of the first 22 women became full-time employees.

Jobs Now (operating in Chicago) helped street gang members and those with minor criminal offenses to get local employers to look at candidates that had been on the straight-and-narrow for at least six months. High school diplomas were waived.

For his company, Humble Oil, applicants with low math and “chemical comprehension” (knowledge) were provided with lower entrance qualification testing and given training. (“They were educationally-deprived,” he noted. (In those days before self-service at gas stations the company was training minority men for jobs as service station driveway salesmen at the pump in Newark, New Jersey; Baltimore; and Los Angeles, working with local job development agencies.)

What did all of this mean for the people and communities involved?

  • They got a job – and a salary. And were trained.
    Dignity and self-respect was restored.
    They were able to buy an affordable home. With an affordable mortgage.
    There were less people on the welfare rolls.
    More minority youth were able to attend college. And become professionals.
    There was less potential for civil unrest – the riots of recent past years.
    Neighborhoods could be rehabilitated.
    It was good for business — especial for the private sector.  Major companies and small businesses would prosper.
    Entrepreneurial businesses gained a good foothold.
    These were optimum results at minimum cost, as some experts observed.

* * * * * * *

Hedley Donovan, Editor-in-Chief of Time magazine and one of the most influential of American journalists, observed that it was good business to apply the same creative radicalism used to create good, and sometimes great, products, into create “good” and “great cities.”

* * * * * * *

Importantly, a manager of public relations at giant DuPont (one of the dominant industrial firms of the era), advised that a major objective of American business should be “public service,” not just pursuit of profit. That is, public service through new or better products for the benefit of humankind…the objective is “just making money” was not sufficient, in his view.

Even in those faraway days there were many men (mostly men) who had stopped looking for work and too much unemployment concentrated in minority communities.  American corporations tried to do their part to change this situation.

This was all good news, of course, but there were changes in the wind.

* * * * * * *

As a long-time student of the Corporate-Society Dynamic, I have concerns that with the election results of November 2016, there might be backsliding in the efforts of Corporate America to be “better citizens,” and to continue to “do well by doing good” in terms of benefiting the American and global societies.

We shall see. The early signs are very encouraging. So far, this is not a revival of the actions of Richard Nixon presidency. Even though then-President Nixon encouraged adoption of the Federal Environmental Act and created the US EPA, his dog whistles to the business community helped to bring about an end to much of the above described good works of many major companies.

With the rise of right-leaning political leadership, the era of “Neutron Jack” Welch at General Electric would become the model for other CEOs. Slash and burn, chop away at R&D budgets, get rid of people, concentrate on profits and not people.  And please Wall Street. Not the many Main Streets of America.

Good news:  We have not yet seen a repeat of the rhetoric of Professor Milton Friedman as he so eloquently stated in The New York Times Magazine of September 13, 1970: The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits. (You can read that essay here: http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html)

In case you have not read the piece, the summation of the essay was: “…the doctrine of ‘social responsibility‘ taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. It differs only by professing to believe that collectivist ends can be attained without collectivist means. That is why, in my book Capitalism and Freedom, I have called it a ‘fundamentally subversive doctrine’ in a free society, and have said that in such a society, ‘there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.’ ”

We have come a long, long way from those positions as stated by a respected academician of his time. This is so very long ago in today’s corporate rhetoric on corporate citizenship.

What will the future hold? We’re closely watching the Trump Administration and the Congress to hear the dog whistles and see the signals perhaps being quietly sent to the business and investing communities.

With all the progress being made by “universal owners” (the all-important independent fiduciaries of our time), and wide-awake NGOs and other key stakeholders, I don’t think we’ll have a Nixon-ian and Ronald Reagan type of backsliding. Not just yet. That’s the good news.

Your thoughts?

Accountability Demonstrated by This Bank Board? Wells Fargo Directors Clawback $75 Million from 2 Former Execs

April 10, 2017

by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist – G&A Institute

We often hear about bank industry un-accountability; is this the beginning of a turn toward greater accountability?  Time and actions taken will tell us…over time.

The Board of Directors of Wells Fargo has clawed back $75 million in compensation from two former executives — the CEO and the head of retail banking.  That’s a drop in the bucket to some governance experts and consumer protection advocates, but it’s a good sign that corporate accountability is being demonstrated by at least one bank board.

Former Chair/CEO John Stumpf gave up $41 million in comp when he resigned last October; he now is ordered to pay back an additional $28 million.

Former head of retailing Carrie Tolstedt gave up $19 million in comp, and now will lose $47 million in stock options.

This after a 6-month investigation ordered by a handful of independent board members and conducted by the Shearman & Sterling law firm. The bank has paid $185 million to date in regulatory fines.

Some 2 million (!) fraudulent accounts were opened in customer names to inflate sales claims (the retail banking operations were overseen by Tolstedt).  More than 5,000 employees have been fired, accused of participation in the scheme, which went on for more than a decade.

Wells Fargo is one of the “Big Four” commercial banks of the USA.  The familiar red stage coach hustling across the western prairies is the symbol of the venerable institution, founded in May 1852. But today’s bank is the result of the merger of the old Wells Fargo & Company with Norwest Bank back in 1998.

Strumpf joined Northwestern National Bank (banking arm of Norwest Corporation) in 1982 and had risen in Norwest operations / then the combined company over the years, becoming CEO in June 2007 and adding the board chair title in January 2010.

So — he was not a “newbie” perhaps not always familiar with the culture of the merged bank operations. His action seriously tarnished the reputation and brand value of the “stagecoach bank” founded so long ago by Messrs Wells and Fargo.

With this action, the Wells Fargo board of directors takes an important step in addressing the cultural woes of the merged bank.

As The Washington Post writer observed, this is an attempt to demonstrate that banks can hold themselves accountable (and so avoid regulatory action for mis-behaviors).

The new CEO?  That’s Timothy Sloan, who was the former COO and therefore the supervisor of retail bank head Tolsteadt!  The board members have all been re-nominated for re-election this year.  Let’s see how “accountable” shareholders think the board has been when they vote their proxies.

Culture — it’s all about culture!  Culture — good or bad – is the ultimate determinant of outcomes!

 

The SDGS – Are You Tuned In, Aligning Your Company’s Strategies, Operations, Performance, Actions? 2030 Is Just Around the Corner!

Gaining momentum in the global corporate sector, among sovereign governments and institutional investors — the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”).  After reaching agreement in September 2015, the countries of the world adopted goals to end poverty, protect our planet and ensure prosperity for a greater number of the world’s population through a universal agenda for action (with 169 specific targets under the wonderfully-aspirational broad goals).

The nation-states of the United Nations are now busily adopting the SDGs to address their issues, some broad and experienced by many nations, others more specific in impact on the country.  The goals include climate change-related issues; the growing scarcity of natural resources; adoption of absence of, new technologies;  continuing growth of cities at the expense of rural areas; water, water, water; reducing poverty; empowering women…and more.  The SDGs are in force out to year 2030 with many milestones between then and now.

There are 17 major categories of goals and 169 specific targets within these, for attention by all sectors of society out to year 2030.  Are you on board?  Your company or organization?

Matthew Yeomans (founder of Sustainly, and author of the annual Social Media Sustainability Index), writes for Sustainable Brands on the opportunity for organization leaders to align their efforts with the SDGs to work with governments, NGOs, and other companies to address the challenges through a commonly-understood framework for engagement and action on the issues (inherent in the 17 goals).

Aligning the company with the SDGs could help companies in key areas:  for marketers, or corporate communicators, the actions taken could be embedded in a campaign for customers (consumer, business, public sector).  The corporate storytelling could bring data and metrics to life and help guide customers to the company’s core sustainability reporting that might otherwise be overlooked or disregarded (perhaps thinking, is this reporting just PR?).  The SDG focus could help to underscore a company’s serious commitment, authenticity and transparency regarding actions on the SDGs.

Author Yeomans provides brief examples with Wal-Mart Stores (addressing poverty, women empowerment), Pearson’s (quality education for all) and Stella Artois (clean water).  Highlights are in the Sustainable Brands post and there’s a link to more information at Sustainly.

The G&A Institute team has been focused on the SDGs and helping our corporate clients to better understand and “adopt” material goals and the targets and key performance indicators under the broad goal, those that can be more “naturally” aligned with the adopted corporate mission and overall strategy and implementation of the corporate sustainability journey.

For example, Goal 6 is to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”  How to do that?  We help corporate managers understand the “natural” alignments available to them within the goals/targets, and explore ways to “adopt” the goal and make it an integral part of the company’s sustainability journey.  What are the KPI’s that will matter? What are the “water issues” of importance to the company and its stakeholders?  What can the company do to address water availability, water use in products, waste water, protection of public water supplies, making water supply more secure in the communities in which it operates?  And more….

What are the data sets and metrics that will help the company to adopt operations to the goal(s) and later make the storytelling about all of its progress a more compelling tale? What are the important stakeholder relations to begin, or to enhance if a relationship exists?  What are the natural alignments within the industry or sector that can form a collective approach (perhaps through trade association) to address critical issues?  What is the ROI for the company?  How to determine these and then measure progress (or lack of)?  And finally, how to build the progress into the various reporting schemes, including the company’s GRI report?

If you need more information on these aspects of the SDGs for adoption by your company, please let the G&A team know.  We’d love to set up a call to discuss SDGs with you!

Click here to read more about G&A service related to SDG Alignment.

An important resource for you:  The Post-2015 Development Agenda:  Goals, Targets and Indicators

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Why You Should Align Your Brand’s Sustainability Efforts with the SDGs
(Thursday – March 30, 2017)
Source: Sustainable Brands – The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (aka Global Goals) are viewed by most in the sustainability community as the biggest opportunity yet for the world to shape a new and better way of doing business while shaping a…