This Week's CSR Round-Up

Elaine fills in for Megan on the weekend CSR round-up with passion J

Energy legislation: green jobs or no jobs ?

"We cannot be afraid of the future" says President Barack Obama as he urges the Senate to pass the far-reaching energy bill approved by the House of Representatives this week. The bill will curb greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050. 83% is some challenge. But not everyone is happy at the prospect of a clean energy economy. Not everyone wants to drive around in a small hybrid or compost organic waste in their back yards. The major critics are highlighting the great potential for lost jobs as traditional energy-intensive industries decline. So it seems to boil down to lose your job or lose your future. But no-one can deny the bold focus of this new energetic (no pun intended) President and his determination to save the planet.

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy – another tool for investors

In the light of the US energy legislation, perhaps this new family of investment indices which link financial performance to carbon emission levels will gain greater appeal. Transforming the carbon footprint of any business requires long-range vision and near-term action. Sustainability-driven investing is a multi-trillion $ industry. Based on the successful Carbon Disclosure Project and its Leadership Index ( ), these new indices add another set of numbers to the sustainability investor and analyst toolbox. The real question is, who needs more indices? At present, the main challenge seems to be to move beyond rough positive/negative screening based on limited data to a deeper understanding of the way Companies strategically approach environmental risk assessment and impact management.

World’s First Solar Gas Hybrid Power Plant Launched in Israel

I couldn’t resist including this tidbit from my country, Israel. The main problem with solar power is that you can't guarantee it's always there when you want it, and usually, just when you plan to take a shower, you find that a few clouds have interfered with your hot water supply. So the breakthrough of hybrid technology to create a power stream even when the sun has not provided a consistent flow of energy, by using bio-fuels or natural gas, makes this a relevant cleantech solution for many communities and, possibly industrial units.

What do Stephen Spielberg, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Ruth Madoff have in common?

Yes, you guessed it. They all got burned by Bernie. Madoff's 150 year sentence made all the headlines this week. "Legacy of shame", "$65bn fraud", theft, money laundering, victims, lost savings and other such catchphrases were on everybody's lips as 9,000 victims relived the sheer scale of Madoff's deceit and destruction as he was rewarded with a maximum sentence. And now that Bernie is doomed to a future behind bars, the next thing on everyone's lips ought to be the way we prevent such abuses happening again.

work for nothing or work for them – employee engagement at its best – or worst

Some might say it is the ultimate in Corporate Responsibility, others might say it's an embarrassing and desperate attempt by corporate management to get employees to make unprecedented sacrifices to stay in a job, or get management out of a hole. Both BT, the UK telecoms giant, and BA, the leading UK airline carrier,

asked employees to work for nothing in order to help their respective Companies ride the storm. And as if this wasn't enough, BT went further by encouraging employees to "volunteer to work in like-minded businesses" (i.e. competitors). BT calls this an innovative way to retain employees and avoid compulsory redundancies. And whilst there are significant upsides to this, the questions remain: how many Company Directors and Senior Execs are themselves going without pay (and bonuses?), at what point does loss of pay or "voluntary" transfer become an abuse of labor rights, and how do these plans fit into the long term business recovery strategy? But on balance, if I worked for BT or BA, I guess I might prefer to have the choice ahead of receiving an invitation to the unemployment office.

From CRO to CEO ? Only if you show me the money

Can Corporate Responsibility Officers or Sustainability Executives rise to the ranks of CEO? Chances are slim, it seems, as leadership of sustainability seems to imply lack of business acumen or attention to improving sales charts. Ah well. This too will pass. I am prepared to believe that the CRO's will demonstrate that understanding Triple Bottom Line dynamics places them in a better position to lead corporations than those who have been trained to put profits alone at the top of the agenda.

The end of the glossy CR report?

3,000 CR reporters every year and the debate about the best ways to report, the ways not to report, and why bother at all to report, continues to rage. An analysis of what is wrong with CR reporting and the fact that they are boring everyone other than those writing them, does not explain the fact that report issues are increasing year on year, report awards and rankings are gaining in popularity, reporting frameworks are continually being developed and the reporting industry is going from strength to strength. Even in these days of credit crunch, the general view is that reporting will stand its ground. shows over 1,000 reports issued already in 2009. So what's the root of all this discomfort? Are reports trying to be all things to everyone and ending up being nothing to no-one? Or is it possible that we are focusing too much on what isn’t and forgetting to appreciate what is?

Going out for dinner ? Try this new portable restaurant.

The ultimate in eco-dining. A portable restaurant, solar powered, made with recycled or re-used materials and best of all, it just pops up wherever you want to eat. Of course, if you want to go back next week, you had better make sure it's not be portabled off to somewhere else.

And to end up this review, a quick look at this week's reporters. A small selection of CR reports published in the last 7 days include:


the Swedish low-price everyday quality furniture retailer, whose CEO feels a bit frustrated.

SAB Miller :

the brewery who makes a difference through beer .

Marathon Oil:

the Texan oil company who lives its values.


the French cosmetics giant whose report is BBR (bleu, blanc, rouge) (reference to the discriminatory way L'Oreal recruits sales hostesses, for which the corporation was fined €30,000 this week by the French courts)

Banco Bradesco:

The Brazilian "Bank of the Planet"

Coca Cola Hellenic:

the Greek Coca Cola bottler who pronounces a clear "no" to abandoning sustainability programs.


the US telecoms company who is "doing the work that makes a positive impact on people"

Wishing everybody a great week ahead full of good work ! and thanks to Megan for letting me fill her slot this week.

elaine cohen