The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

To sign-up to receive the CSR Newsletters regularly during the fall and spring academic semesters, e-mail author David Chandler at david.chandler@ucdenver.edu


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Strategic CSR - Sustainability

This is an article I have re-read many times. Each time I return to it I pick up a different idea or new perspective. This time around, the article drew my attention to the challenge it makes to the central focus of consumption within the capitalist model that has evolved in the West (Issues: Environmental Sustainability, p171):

“It is based on appetite, consumption and waste; they are not by-products but driving forces.”

Because waste is inherent to economic growth—it prefers us to replace our cars every three years rather than ten and to buy disposable products rather than ones we can re-use—and because resources are finite, it is essential that we learn to re-cycle more effectively in order for our current economic system to remain sustainable in the long run. Some CSR advocates see this fault in our economic model and call for a revolution. Strategic CSR, on the other hand, seeks to reform the system we have so that capitalism works to maximize both economic and social progress.

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006
http://www.sagepub.com/Werther/

The Prince and the great debate
Charles: right or wrong about science?
Andrew Marr welcomes the Prince's promotion of spiritual values and argues that, unwittingly or not, Charles has hit the key issue: money and markets
Sunday May 21, 2000
The Observer
http://www.guardian.co.uk/theobserver/2000/may/21/focus.news

Monday, April 27, 2009

Strategic CSR - Climate Change

The article in the url below offers a radical perspective that I found refreshing in its willingness to propose counter-intuitive ideas:

“Winning the war on global warming requires slaughtering some of environmentalism's sacred cows.”

The article covers ten “green heresies” that it argues need to be re-thought in order to maximize progress on the main goal—minimizing carbon-dioxide emissions:

“Live in Cities
A/C Is OK
Organics Are Not the Answer
Farm the Forests
China Is the Solution
Accept Genetic Engineering
Carbon Trading Doesn't Work
Embrace Nuclear Power
Used Cars — Not Hybrids
Prepare for the Worst”

Links to all ten “heresies” are on the article’s web page and contain interesting ideas and provocative suggestions. Typical is the claim that “A/C Is OK,” which is based on the argument that it is more environmentally-friendly to live in Arizona (where AC is a must) than in New England (where it is less of a necessity, but heating becomes much more important):

“When it's 0 degrees outside, you've got to raise the indoor thermometer to 70 degrees. In 110-degree weather, you need to change the temperature by only 40 degrees to achieve the same comfort level. … In the Northeast, a typical house heated by fuel oil emits 13,000 pounds of CO2 annually. Cooling a similar dwelling in Phoenix produces only 900 pounds of CO2 a year.”

Another interesting argument is that buying a second-hand car is more environmentally-friendly than buying a new hybrid:

“Pound for pound, making a Prius contributes more carbon to the atmosphere than making a Hummer, largely due to the environmental cost of the 30 pounds of nickel in the hybrid's battery. … If a new Prius were placed head-to-head with a used car, would the Prius win? Don't bet on it. Making a Prius consumes 113 million BTUs. … A single gallon of gas contains about 113,000 Btus, so Toyota's green wonder guzzles the equivalent of 1,000 gallons before it clocks its first mile. A used car, on the other hand, starts with a significant advantage: The first owner has already paid off its carbon debt. Buy a decade-old Toyota Tercel, which gets a respectable 35 mpg, and the Prius will have to drive 100,000 miles to catch up.”

The frightening thing, however, is that it might not make any difference what we do:

“The Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California, calculates that even if the US, Europe, and Japan turned off every power plant and mothballed every car today, atmospheric CO2 would still climb from the current 380 parts per million to a perilous 450 ppm by 2070, thanks to contributions from China and India. (Do nothing and we'll get there by 2040.)”

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

WIRED MAGAZINE: 16.06.2008
Science: Planet Earth
Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green
In the age of climate change, what matters most is cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. That means rethinking everything you ever learned about being green.
http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/magazine/16-06/ff_heresies_intro

Friday, April 24, 2009

Strategic CSR - Green Consumers

The article in the url below contains some interesting highlights of the 2009 Conscious Consumer Report: Redefining Value in a New Economy, published by the branding consultancy, BBMG:

“23% of U.S. consumers say they have "no way of knowing" if a product is green or actually does what it claims. 49% look for "made in the USA" [in making purchase decisions]

Green benefits have increased in importance since last year, says the report:

• Energy efficiency (47% very important in 2008, 41% in 2007)
• Locally grown or made nearby (32% in 2008, 26% in 2007)
• All natural (31% in 2008, 24% in 2007)
• Made from recycled materials (29% in 2008, 22% in 2007)

• USDA organic (22% in 2008, 17% in 2007)

When asked unaided which companies come to mind as the most socially or environmentally responsible companies:

• 7% of Americans named Wal-Mart

Asked to name the least responsible companies:

• 9% named Wal-Mart

41% of Americans could not name a single company that they consider the most socially and environmentally responsible.”
Have a good weekend.

Dave
Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Consumers Want Proof It's Green
Jack Loechner
Thursday, April 9, 2009
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=103504
“Featuring new data and new consumer interviews, this year’s BBMG Conscious Consumer Report is designed to help companies better understand what’s driving consumer purchasing and how to close the trust gap to drive growth the innovation.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Strategic CSR - Earth Day

The article in the url below reports the results of a survey by the Pew Research Center that asked U.S. adults about their current “top priorities”:

“In the poll, … global warming came in last among 20 voter concerns; it trailed issues like addressing moral decline and decreasing the influence of lobbyists. Only 30 percent of the voters deemed global warming to be ''a top priority,'' compared with 35 percent in 2008.

''Protecting the environment,'' which had surged in the rankings from 2006 to 2008, dropped even more precipitously in the poll: only 41 percent of voters called it a top priority, compared with 56 percent last year.”

Clearly, whatever danger global warming presented 6 months ago, that threat remains the same today.

What has shifted is the situation of the people polled, which is likely to be correlated with their willingness to begin tackling the problem. Whether this shift is transitory (likely) or not, I think it demonstrates the importance of appealing to self-interest in searching for a solution. If people’s priorities can shift so quickly, determined by their perception of their individual economic security, then building the foundation for a solution on this perception of self-interest seems most likely to result in an implementable and sustainable outcome that might survive the highs and lows of the economic cycle.

Happy Earth Day!
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Environmental Issues Slide In Poll of Public's Concerns
By ANDREW C. REVKIN
779 words
23 January 2009
The New York Times
Late Edition - Final
13

Monday, April 20, 2009

Strategic CSR - PepsiCo

The article in the url below details the results of an attempt by PepsiCo to calculate the carbon footprint of a carton of its Tropicana orange juice:

“PepsiCo finally came up with a number: the equivalent of 3.75 pounds of carbon dioxide are emitted to the atmosphere for each half-gallon carton of orange juice.”

PepsiCo is one of the first U.S. firms to calculate a specific number for the carbon footprint of a specific product (although my recollection is that Timberland has also been doing this with its shoes for a while now):

“The list of companies that have taken steps to reduce carbon emissions includes I.B.M., Nike, Coca-Cola and BP, the oil giant. Google, Yahoo and Dell are among the companies that have vowed to become ''carbon neutral.'' PepsiCo is among the first that will provide consumers with an absolute number for a product's carbon footprint, which many expect to be a trend.”

The article reports, however, that PepsiCo is unsure whether or not to use this information in its marketing or product packaging. There are two concerns: First, whether consumers care about this information or are able to understand what it means: and, second, there is still disagreement about the methods used to calculate a product’s carbon footprint and what the specific number actually represents:

“Nancy Hirshberg, vice president for natural resources at the yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, said measuring a carbon footprint is a ''fabulous tool'' for pinpointing areas to reduce emissions. … But she said there were so many variables in determining a carbon footprint that an absolute number was meaningless as a marketing tool.”

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

How Green Is My Orange?
By ANDREW MARTIN
1074 words
22 January 2009
The New York Times
Late Edition - Final
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/business/22pepsi.html

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Strategic CSR - WL Gore

The article in the url below reports on an innovative management structure at WL Gore, the successful maker of Gore-Tex:

“You would think it is a pretty tight ship. But no. "It's a very chaotic environment," declares Terri Kelly, the company's chief executive officer.”

The founders of the 50-year old firm created a structure that minimizes layers of hierarchy:

“The corporate hierarchy at Gore, such as it is, is almost completely flat. No one gets to tell anybody else what to do. Decisions are reached by agreement, not diktat.”

The result is a convoluted and sometimes unwieldy decision-making process. The firm’s executives believe, however, that what they sacrifice in terms of speed, they make up for in terms of buy-in throughout the firm to decisions that are made. As Terri Kelly, WL Gore’s CEO, explains:

“… you have to sell your ideas, even if you're the CEO. You have to explain the rationale behind your decision and do a lot of internal selling.”

According to the article, the result is an environment that is more meritocratic, with only those ideas that enjoy broad support progressing:

“In Gary Hamel's book, The Future of Management , he quotes a Gore associate, Rich Buckingham, who sums up the company's approach. "We vote with our feet. If you call a meeting, and people show up, you're a leader.”

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

The chaos theory of leadership
Marsh, Peter Stern, Stefan
1359 words
2 December 2008
Financial Times
London Ed1
http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto120120081556345506

Monday, April 13, 2009

Strategic CSR - Global Carbon Tax

The article in the url below by Ralph Nader and Toby Heaps outlines the case for a global tax on CO2 emissions:

“A tax on CO2 emissions -- not a cap-and-trade system -- offers the best prospect of meaningfully engaging China and the U.S., while avoiding the prospect of unhinged environmental protectionism.”

The authors argue that a cap-and-trade scheme is inefficient, potentially corrupting, and likely to be implemented unequally across countries:

“Because of the sheer scale of the challenge and the state of the hyperglobalized economy, we will need the same price on carbon everywhere, or it won't work anywhere.”

While generating the same goals as a cap-and-trade scheme, however, they argue that a global carbon tax represents a comprehensive solution that includes all countries and is consistent across jurisdictions. As such, they suggest it is more likely to achieve the intended outcome:

“An effective, harmonized tax on C02 emissions must stabilize the growth of atmospheric concentrations of GHGs by no later than 2020. The tax must also be adjusted annually, by a global body, according to this objective.”

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

We Need a Global Carbon Tax
By Ralph Nader and Toby Heaps
1291 words
3 December 2008
The Wall Street Journal
A17
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122826696217574539.html

Friday, April 10, 2009

Strategic CSR - Wal-Mart

The article in the url below signals an important development in Wal-Mart’s battle against allowing trade unions in its stores (Issues: Employee Relations, p118; Wages, p204):

“Wal-Mart, the US retail giant known for fending off organised labour in its home market, has completed collective bargaining agreements with unions in two Chinese cities.”

In the summer of 2008, Wal-Mart signed pay increases of 8% this year and next for all its employees in China:

“By comparison the average hourly wage in Wal-Mart's US stores, which are not unionised, has risen 12 per cent since January 2005, from $9.68 to $10.86.”

In addition:

“More than 48,500 people work at 105 Wal-Mart stores across China. All have been unionised over the past two years and their representatives are negotiating collective contracts with management.”

Have a good weekend.
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Wal-Mart signs 8% pay deals with unionised Chinese workers
By Tom Mitchell in Hong Kong
417 words
25 July 2008
Financial Times
01
http://www.clb.org.hk/en/node/100282

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Strategic CSR - Teaching CSR

The article by Stuart Hart of Cornell University in the url below contests the notion that issues of CSR and sustainability are becoming more established within the business school curricula (Issues: Ethics, p227):

“… in spite of the apparent surge in activity, little has changed within schools. Core courses continue to be organised along conventional functional lines - finance, accounting, marketing, operations, strategy - with little exposure to emerging challenges such as climate change, global poverty or inequity.”

Hart takes his argument a step further by implying that this is not simply a case of oversight, or even ignorance, but is a more conscious effort to gather the credit for appearing to respond to the increased importance of CSR today, without instituting any fundamental changes:

“The truth is that the apparent "greening" of business schools is a form of "greenwashing". Even the most highly ranked of such programmes consist of a few dedicated faculty and support staff. Rather than being integrated into the fabric of the business school, sustainability initiatives "hang off the side" of the existing academic edifice. High-profile donors may draw attention to these programmes, yet few have penetrated the entrenched interests of the function-based senior faculty.”

Backtracking slightly from this attention-grabbing claim, Hart suggests there is, in fact, hope. He argues that CSR classes are “among the largest enrolment electives in many business schools” and that it is relatively easy, given the will, to integrate these issues within existing core courses. The real hope for the future is the demand for CSR classes Hart sees from existing students and the growing realization by firms that CSR is an issue they need to take seriously. It is this bottom-up demand that Hart envisions dragging business schools reluctantly into the twenty-first century.

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Sustainability must be integral to schools' DNA
By Stuart Hart
634 words
13 October 2008
Financial Times
London Ed1
15
http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto101320080535335879

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Strategic CSR - IT

The article in the url below demonstrates the extent to which the revolution in communications technology, twinned with the increasingly wired, online world, is empowering individual stakeholders (Chapter 1: Globalization and the Free Flow of Information, p20; Issues: Stakeholder Relations, p138):

“Filling that void is the Hub (hub.witness.org), a video-sharing Web site launched by ex -- rock star Peter Gabriel to empower people to document and publicize unseen atrocities. Now in beta, the Hub allows anyone around the world to submit clips to a central site where its target audience of activists can connect and take action. … Since launching in December, roughly 12,500 videos have been posted on the Hub.”

Although still most evident in terms of political issues, it is easy to imagine how this technology can extrapolate to every-increasing vigilance of corporate activities in a way that drives CSR further up the agendas of corporate executives:

“"Once everyone has a camera inside a mobile phone, the issue is about creating a place where people can upload footage safely and make connections with people who might further their cause and their campaigns," … The site also lets users comment on the content and eventually will host discussion groups, online petitions, and interactive maps.”

What is important is the education of individual stakeholders (in particular, consumers) so that firms are fully incentivized to change. This message is apparent in the article in the second url below:

“For some reason, though, retailers haven't figured out how to inspire customers to buy, say, organic cotton. It's bad marketing. If consumers knew how many chemicals it takes to grow and manufacture conventional cotton goods -- how it affects our water, food, air, and our risk of cancer -- maybe that would change. In a crowded marketplace, it is an unexploited competitive advantage.”

Take care
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

In Your Eyes
Peter Gabriel's human-rights group embraces social media. A YouTube for unseen atrocities.
From: Issue 130
November 2008
Pages 80-82
By: David Kushner
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/130/in-your-eyes.html

The Sad Life of the Eco-Shopper
Why rhetoric is more plentiful than products at America's largest retailers.
From: Issue 130
November 2008
Page 92
By: Melanie Warner
http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/130/green-business-the-sad-life-of-the-eco-shopper.html

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Strategic CSR - The Business Case

The article in the url below demonstrates the fragile nature of CSR in today’s business community:

“For many MBA students a "green" personal life is more important than working for a company with environmentally friendly policies - at least for now.”

Firms and executives who remain to be persuaded by the business case for CSR will take this article (and other similar articles I have read recently) as evidence that all they have to do is wait out the storm:

“More than 75 per cent of respondents state that a company's environmental record and commitment to sustainable business practices is likely to be a greater factor in their employment considerations once they are more established in their careers.”

In other words, a willingness to shelve difficult choices for short term personal gain suggests not much has changed in terms of the danger for firms (at least in terms of employee retention) that ignore CSR.

Have a good weekend.
Dave

Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006

Sustainability not a priority for students
By Rebecca Knight
475 words
9 June 2008
Financial Times
London Ed1
13
http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto060820081615293816