Why Spend Money on Being a Good Corporate Citizen?

(3BL Media/Justmeans) —The fifth edition of Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Summit in New York, was full of inspiration, encouragement for weary travelers on the road to sustainability, and a healthy helping of good old practical advice.

Baltimore Gas & Electric’s CEO Calvin Butler opened the event with the question that was probably ringing in most heads around the room. Why are we using money on being good corporate citizens? The next two days went a long way towards answering that question in a variety of convincing, sometimes familiar, sometimes innovative ways.

For Butler, it is both a matter of making a deposit in their reputation account and down payment on their commitment to make their community stronger. If nothing else the company has shown what endurance looks like after 200 years in business. It also helps that the investment banks the company works with, all want to know what they are doing about climate change.

Here are some other responses from Day One of the event.

The Ford Company Fund, having spent some $1.5B over the past 68 years certainly agrees with the sentiment, but for somewhat different reasons. For one thing, President Jim Vella says Millennials won’t stay without this kind of outlet. Sounding a grander theme, he cited the Ford founder who said you cannot have a sustainable company without a sustainable society. Among the many projects he described, the idea of building tiny houses for the homeless seemed particularly unique. Says Vella, doing nothing is “risking the future.” The world is demanding this.

Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, said that, “When businesses lead, it gets you away from that Democrat-Republican paradigm.” Reed encouraged the business leaders in the room to partner with cities as an effective and immediate way to sustain progress on climate action.

RBSNY Will Dig into CSR Potential & Purpose

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — Coming up on March 27-28 in New York is the 5th annual Responsible Business Summit produced by Ethical Corporation. This event will feature over 250 attendees with some of the world’s biggest names in CSR and sustainability. This year’s Summit is aimed to help businesses uncover the potential for CSR to drive profit, and shape strategy with empirical justification. To quote Willy Foote, CEO of Root Capital, “The Responsible Business Summit NY, is a powerful opportunity to advance the shared value conversation and, ultimately, contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

This is an opportunity for businesses of all stripes to find alignment between their core vision and those of others in the growing responsible business community.
Attendees will have the opportunity to network with and hear from leaders of organizations including: Google, PepsiCo, The New York Time, General Motors, Oracle, Wall Street Journal, Intel, Steelcase, and dozens more. You can see the complete list here.

Keynote topics will include:

  • Being a responsible business – what’s not to get?!
  • Climate change policy
  • How Investors and Companies can work together to achieve sustainable long-term growth
  • The Responsible Sourcing Journey
  • How to reshape business to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals
  • Implementing the CEOs vision into practice
  • Aligning Business Strategy Around Social Purpose
  • Creating a business of purpose
  • Leverage global brand presence to resonate purpose in local markets
  • The future for conflict-free supply chains

Three extended interactive workshops will be featured, on Supply Chain Transparency and Traceability, Human Rights, and Storytelling in Reporting.

Military and Business Leaders Alike Cite Costs and Risks of Climate Change

Conservatives have been reluctant to talk about or acknowledge the actual cause of climate change, because they fear that doing so will lead to action that will cost money. But despite their efforts to cast doubt on the reality of the issue, awareness is steadily  growing that not only is climate change real, but that over time, the cost of not taking action will far exceed the cost of actions being proposed.

Red state politicians and talk radio hosts continue to press the denial agenda, but among the more respected leaders in traditionally conservative areas such as big business and the military, the tone has shifted considerably.

According to the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), 60 major American companies from Google to Gap, have reported significant impacts to their business as the result of climate change. Business leaders are making strategic investments now, to reduce future risk. Says CDP President Tom Carnac, “Dealing with climate change is now a cost of doing business.”

Large companies with large supply chains are particularly vulnerable. In a new report entitled, “Major Public Companies Describe Climate-related Risks and Costs,” impacts are described confronting ten business sectors ranging from Consumer Discretionary, to Energy, to Industrial, to Health Care.
Over the three year period since the first report was issued, the average likelihood of physical risks, according to the companies responding, grew from 34% to 50%. And the fraction expecting to see impacts within the next 1-5 years also grew from 26% to 45%. Four of the top five assessed physical risk drivers remained the same over the three years. These were:

  • Changes in precipitation extremes and droughts
  • Major storms (hurricanes, cyclones,etc.)
  • Induced changes in natural resources
  • Uncertainty of physical risks

Sea level rise emerged as a top risk driver this year. The top 3 impacts also remained the same. These were:

  • Increased operational cost
  • Reduction/disruption in production capacity
  • Inability to do business

Other impacts included reduced demand for products and services, and increased capital cost.

Some specific examples include soft drink companies like PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple Group stating concerns over changing temperatures, unreliable crops, uncertain water availability and surging energy costs disrupting business and putting US$2.5 billion of their sales costs at risk.

Data centers are becoming more expensive to cool as temperatures rise.

Upcoming Conference to Discuss New Approach to Corporate Volunteerism

The 4th Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference will convene this Apr. 11 - 12 in Washington, D.C. Hosted by CDC Development Solutions, a nonprofit that designs volunteer programs for corporations, the event will bring together experts as well as companies like IBM, Merck, PepsiCo and SAP.

NYC Marathon Team to Raise Money for Kenyan Children's Hospital

A racing team in the upcoming New York City Marathon hopes to raise over $130,000 to support the construction of Kenya's first children's hospital. Sponsored by PepsiCo, the team will donate the money to Shoe4Africa, the nonprofit that has been raising money for the hospital since 2008.

Thousands of Events Scheduled for America Recycles Day

The 15th annual America Recycles Day is just six weeks away. The only nationally-recognized day dedicated to recycling, America Recyles Day will be held on November 15, 2012. Thousands of events will be held across the country to educate Americans about recycling and urge them to sign pledges to recycle and purchase products made from recycled materials.

New Research Models Carbon Footprint of Beverage Products

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), a coalition of leading global beverage companies collaborating to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage industry, announced yesterday that it has published new research on the carbon footprints of drink products across the European and North American markets.

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