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.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Strategic CSR - Global carbon tax

Over the summer, you may have noticed the EU's roadmap of how it plans to reduce its carbon emissions by 55% by 2030 (benchmarked to some point in the 1990s), a plan it labelled "Fit for 55." Central to that plan is the idea that the EU will impose a carbon tariff on imports from countries with lower carbon emissions rules than the EU (which, I am guessing, is all countries outside the EU). While there are plenty of geopolitics at stake reading between the lines, the enticing element of this tariff plan is its implications for a global carbon tax, as explained in the article in the url below:

"A global carbon tax is viewed by many economists as the most efficient approach to decarbonizing industry, but creating one has always seemed a political impossibility. A new European Union carbon border tax just might start to change that."

The key is the tax on all imports to the EU from countries with more lax standards on carbon emissions than the EU:

"The levy—called a 'carbon border adjustment mechanism,' or CBAM—is part of a wide-ranging package adjusting EU rules to meet new climate ambitions. The measure is intended to both level the playing field between foreign and domestic producers and cut the risk that local companies relocate outside the EU to avoid the bloc's stringent rules. As drafted, CBAM could open a path to a global carbon price by establishing a cost of carbon on some imports into the EU, one of the world's biggest markets."

The hope seems to be that the U.S. will join the EU by imposing a similar tariff (see here). This is partly because if the EU and U.S. have a similar approach, it has a better chance of affecting other countries, but also it would avoid the complicated eventuality of the EU imposing a costly tax on imports from the U.S. Another motivator, as with all tax proposals, is the opportunity to collect revenue. In this case, the U.S. would prefer to collect the revenue themselves, as opposed to allowing the EU to collect it instead:

"While that level of cooperation currently seems unlikely, the estimated €9 billion in annual CBAM-related income the EU anticipates by 2030 might tempt politicians to act so that they collect the cash instead of Brussels."

The proposed effect is broad – so much so that the commentary around the tariff is that it will affect, in essence, all industries and products:

"CBAM will target aluminum, cement, fertilizer, power, steel and iron. Companies from regions without similar carbon costs would need to buy CBAM credits for the verified emissions released in the production of their imports into the EU. The price will be linked to the carbon cost determined by the EU's Emissions Trading System, currently over €50 a metric ton."

But, again, the tantalizing prospect is that the effect will be global and, in essence, establish a global tax on carbon:

"A global carbon price remains a fanciful notion for now, but something resembling it could take shape if the EU's CBAM, like its ETS, sets an example for other regimes to learn from. Much depends on the ambitions of Washington."

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Europe's Carbon Prices Are Going Global
By Rochelle Toplensky
July 15, 2021
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final
B12
 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Strategic CSR - Uber/Lyft

The article in the url below reports on recent research that conducts a marginal cost-benefit analysis for each person that switches from a private car to only using a ride-hail company. The premise for the research was the promise that Uber and Lyft originally made to justify their business models:

"A decade ago, Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. charged into cities with a promise: By reducing personal car trips, ride-hailing businesses could both ease traffic and bolster the use of public transit. What happened was the reverse: A host of pre-pandemic research linked the rise of these services to sharp upticks in traffic and waning ridership on buses and trains."

The results were quite surprising. Even more surprising is that, even if all the Uber and Lyft vehicles become electric, that is still not going to tip the balance:

"Now a new study puts a price on the external costs that come with switching from a personal vehicle to one from a transportation network company (or TNC): about 35 cents per trip on average. And it finds that even a fully electrified fleet of ride-hailing cars may not fully mitigate the extra toll they exact on society compared to driving yourself."

Some detail about the study (see also, here):

"To determine the role that ride-hailing plays in generating these often-hidden effects, [the authors] simulated replacing 100,000 private passenger vehicle trips with TNC trips in six U.S. cities, using publicly available ride-hailing data from New York City, Austin, Chicago and the state of California. Through a review of other studies that have quantified the externalities of driving in general, such as local air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and traffic deaths, they approximated the dollar amounts that society saves or spends when travelers choose Uber or Lyft over their own automobiles."

Of course, there are some benefits, but the net effect is pretty clear:

"Ride-hailing helps on at least one front, the researchers found: air pollution. … But that benefit was undone by the negative impacts of deadheading, or the time in between trips when drivers are traveling passenger-free to their next pickup."

The overall result?

"All told, switching from a private car to a TNC increased net external costs by 30% to 35%, or about 35 cents per trip. … In other words, even a fully electrified ride-hailing industry — the likes of which Uber and Lyft have both promised by 2030 — would not be enough to make up for the congestion and deaths created by the added TNC miles."

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


That Uber or Lyft Trip May Be Worse for the Planet Than Driving Yourself
By Laura Bliss
September 30, 2021
Bloomberg

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Strategic CSR - Welcome back!

 
Welcome back to the Strategic CSR Newsletter!
The first newsletter of the Spring semester is below.
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome.
 

The article in the url below should bring a smile to your face:

"A German court has ruled that a man who slipped while walking a few metres from his bed to his home office can claim on workplace accident insurance as he was technically commuting."

Not that breaking your back is something to smile about—more that it feels like the kind of story that makes sense given the last couple of years. Injury and pain aside, the story gets quite funny in its detailed analysis:

"The court noted that the employee usually started working in his home office 'immediately without having breakfast beforehand,' but did not explain why that was relevant to the case. However, later it said that statutory accident insurance was only afforded to the 'first' journey to work, suggesting that a trip on the way to get breakfast after already being in the home office could be rejected."

There was no mention of whether the man can claim his pajamas as a tax-deductible work clothes expense.

Hope you all had a good break and have a good semester.

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Fall on walk from bed to desk is workplace accident, German court rules
By Oliver Holmes
December 9, 2021
The Guardian
 

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Strategic CSR - The future

 
This is the last CSR Newsletter of the Fall semester.
Happy Holidays and I will see you in the New Year!
 

I try and keep the opening and closing newsletters of the term a little shorter, as things are just getting going or just winding down, and I figure you are all busy doing other things. The article in the url below makes this easy because it is about a photograph that has been shortlisted this year for the Prix Pictet prize in London. The nominated photograph was taken at a garbage dump in Senegal, which is named Mbeubeuss:

"The land on which it sits was once flat swampland. It began as a landfill site in 1968; today, it is a mountain of rubbish. It has accumulated so much plastic waste from the city that to reach it you have to drive on a road of compacted trash."

The article features an interview with the photographer, Fabrice Monteiro, so I'll let you read more into the photograph and how it came about, if you would like. For this newsletter, I think the photograph speaks loudly enough for itself:


As the photographer concludes:

"Across all I do, I'm interested in identity and how we separate ourselves from those we consider the 'other.' Throughout history, humankind has created an idea of the other in order to justify his or her exploitation. It is an idea that was central to slavery and colonialism. But it's also at the heart of our approach to the environment. Only because we see ourselves as apart from the natural world, or superior to it, can we continue to treat it this way."

For more environmental photography, there is a related story here.

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Fabrice Monteiro's best photograph: A spirit emerges from a rubbish dump in Senegal
By Edward Siddons
November 24, 2021
The Guardian

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Strategic CSR - Carbon trading

Over the summer, you may have missed the announcement that China's carbon trading scheme launched. The article in the url below makes the case that this is the most important attempt so far by the human race to address climate change. If countries like China (and the U.S.) do not act quickly, things might get out of hand. Given that we are finally seeing some activity in the U.S. (however belated and incremental), China (and India, and Brazil, and …..) needs to start acting, too:

"While the world has been focused on spacefaring billionaires over the past week, a big development for planet Earth has only merited moderate attention: On Friday, China's long awaited national carbon market started trading. How well that market functions could go a long way toward deciding how much chance the world really has to reduce the probability of worst-case climate scenarios. It also could end up being a key issue between China and the West. If the U.S. and the European Union conclude China is serious about tackling emissions, that could help spur more aggressive climate action in the developed world—and open up more space for a less zero-sum approach to relations in general."

This trading scheme is the potential answer to a carbon price in China, which should stimulate action, even if this opening salvo still leaves a lot of progress to go:

"So far, cautious optimism is probably warranted. But the price of carbon in China is still clearly too low, and the market itself still excludes key energy users like steel. Both need to change soon."

The article contained some interesting comparisons to make the point that the current price is way too low:

"The carbon market closed at 51.23 yuan, equivalent to $7.91, per metric ton on Friday according to Thomson Reuters. That is still well below prices in Europe, where a metric ton will cost you around $60, and probably below levels needed to really change behavior. For instance, ANZ Bank estimates that a 36 yuan per metric ton carbon price would only represent around an extra 5% operational cost for Chinese coal plants. And a 2016 World Bank paper found that reducing Chinese emissions in 2030 by 16% from their baseline estimate would require carbon prices rising to 157 yuan per metric ton by that date."

There is also an issue with the penalties for noncompliance that have so far been discussed:

"Draft regulations released in January set a maximum penalty of only 30,000 yuan ($4,630) for not buying enough offsets. A more recent proposal from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment in March suggests a 500,000 yuan maximum."

Ultimately, the article is hopeful, for a very pragmatic reason:

"In the end the biggest reason for optimism is that Beijing needs the system to work. Policy makers have been trying for years to direct investment out of energy-consuming industries such as steel and into high-tech sectors—including green technologies—with mixed success. A real price on carbon is one obvious solution."

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


China's Carbon Trading is Up and Running, but it is a Mixed Bag
By Nathaniel Taplin
July 20, 2021
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final
B12

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Strategic CSR - Obituaries

I generally do not spend much time with the obituaries in The New York Times, although I know they are well-written and researched. I do tend to read The Economist's obituary, since they only publish one a week (and, like everything The Economist does, it usually has an interesting twist), but it is not a particular area of interest – something about looking forward, rather than back, I suspect. Anyway, the obituary in the url below caught my interest because it covers a number of issues that I care about (art as social commentary, the SCOTUS, constitutional law and, in particular here in the U.S., the death penalty):

"Six tacos, six glazed doughnuts and a Cherry Coke: That was the last meal of a man executed in Oklahoma in July 1999. Rendered in cobalt blue glaze on a white china plate the next year, it was the first in Julie Green's decades-long art project, 'The Last Supper,' which documented the final meals of death row prisoners around the country."

The motivation for Green doing what she did (and devoting her life to it), I think, is both noble and a searing commentary on this particular U.S. institution:

"To Professor Green, who taught art at Oregon State University, their choices put a human face on an inhumane practice. Some requests were elaborate: fried sac-a-lait fish (otherwise known as white perch or crappie, it's the state fish of Louisiana) topped with crawfish étouffée. And some were starkly mundane: two peanut butter cups and a Dr Pepper."

Green also had a clear goal in mind:

"She planned to paint the meals until capital punishment was abolished, or until she had made 1,000 plates, whichever came first. In September, she painted her 1,000th plate, an oval platter with a single familiar image: the bottle of Coca-Cola requested by a Texas man in 1997."

Ironically given the subject matter of her work, her death was a controlled intervention:

"She died a few weeks later, on Oct. 12, at her home in Corvallis, Ore., by physician-assisted suicide, which is permitted under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act."

For Green, the subject of her work, food, was central to the point of what she was doing:

"Professor Green was teaching at the University of Oklahoma when she read the details of a recently executed man's final meal in a local paper, The Norman Transcript. The menu's homeyness — those glazed doughnuts — and its specificity made her think of all the meals she had prepared and shared with her family. The man had committed a horrific crime, but his food preferences humanized him. 'I'm a food person,' she told The New York Times in 2013. 'I grew up with great cooks and great food. Food has always been a celebratory thing for me. That's part of why this whole thing is interesting to me, because of the contrast. It's not a celebration.'"

Part of her intention is to highlight the contrast in approaches across states to this relatively humane gesture that is part of such an inhumane process:

"Texas, which has executed more prisoners than any other state in the country (573 since 1976, including three men this year), no longer allows special meal requests; its menus are drawn from standard prison fare. But not all states are so rigid. In 2001 in Indiana, a prison granted an inmate's request to have his mother make him chicken dumplings in the institution's kitchen. Professor Green painted the word 'Mother' on the platter that pays homage to that meal. Another Indiana inmate told prison officials that he'd never had a birthday cake, so they ordered him one, along with the pizza he had requested, which he shared with 15 family members and friends in 2007. Professor Green painted a cake that bristles with candles."

In addition, she saw her work as an extension of the reason last suppers are published – to create a formal record of an act that is sanctioned by the state. And, of course because she was painting food, the canvas should be a plate:

"In 1917, a Montana man asked only for an apple. 'I have a bad taste in my mouth,' he was reported as saying. In Mississippi in 1947, two Black teenagers asked for fried chicken and watermelon before they went to the electric chair. Professor Green painted one ornate platter for each boy."

The photo in the article shows some of the hundreds of plates that Green painted. The description attached is pertinent:

"Julie Green in 2013 with some of the hundreds of plates on which she painted death row inmates' last meals. 'Andy Warhol said in the future the artist will just point,' she said. 'I paint to point.'"

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Julie Green, 60, Artist who Memoralized Inmates' Last Suppers, Dies
By Penelope Green
November 8, 2021
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
D7

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Strategic CSR - Sweatshops

Today's newsletter is perhaps appropriate for Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. – at least, appropriate for the traditional Black Friday that follows what is otherwise a relatively non-materialistic holiday. This video was introduced to me by a colleague as an insightful commentary on the fast fashion business model:


The video tells the story of a campaign to educate German consumers about the implications of their fast fashion purchases (#WhoMadeMyClothes). Specifically, the organization (which subsequently seems to have stopped operating) set up a vending machine advertising €2 t-shirts. When someone inserts their money, however, they are presented with a video profiling the people who work in fast fashion sweatshops and emphasizing the amount they need to be paid in order to generate the low prices western consumers pay/demand. At the end of the video, the consumer is then presented with the question, "Do you still want to purchase the €2 t-shirt?" and are given the option of donating the €2 instead.

The ploy is very effective – so much so that the organization reports that over 80% of the people who insert money into the vending machine end up donating the money instead of purchasing the t-shirt (see here).

It is a good story, but lots of reasons to question the donation stats that are reported (e.g., it is only 2 euros in a highly developed economy, moral shaming, etc., etc.). Most important, however, the video doesn't grapple with the most important question – what happens to these workers' livelihoods if people do not buy the t-shirts? In other words, what options do they have as alternatives to their current condition, however bad when judged from a western perspective?

The key issue for me in attempting to understand the conditions under which people accept employment elsewhere and then judging their choice is whether there was coercion involved. If so, that is a separate situation/discussion. But, assuming free choice, then it is most likely that the person who elected to work at the factory felt that this job was their best option, given their economic reality. In other words, that this job is adding more value for that individual than any other alternative option.

The other macro-level consideration in this discussion is the idea that all economies progress through phases and that the sweatshop phase is a necessary step along the road to greater prosperity. In other words, every economy that we think of as developed today, at one point went through a sweatshop phase. Think of the original outsourcing economies – Japan, Korea, etc. And, before that, think of the first countries to industrialize – the UK and U.S./Canada. How are all of those economies doing today?

The benefit that developing economies have over the first economies to industrialize is that they know what is on the other side of their sweatshop phase. In other words, they are likely to be in their sweatshop phase for less time than the earlier industrializing economies because they see what better looks like. None of this is to say that a sweatshop phase is good in an objective sense (in fact, I generally struggle with the idea of what good means in an objective sense), but it does suggest that we should think of such things as relative. Even, perhaps, that the sweatshop phase is a good thing in that it suggests the economy is developing and will someday leave that phase to move on to something more developed.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Strategic CSR - BRCC

Following on from Tuesday's newsletter, the article in the url below announces the public listing of Black Rifle Coffee Company (BRCC). If you are unfamiliar with BRCC, I wrote about it earlier this year (see Strategic CSR – Black Rifle Coffee):

"The article in the url below profiles Black Rifle Coffee – a roasting company in Salt Lake City that, I would argue, is just as good an example of strategic CSR in action as Patagonia. … While enacting a very different set of values to Patagonia and, as a result, appealing to a completely different part of the population, the point is that Black Rifle stands for something and that thing is highly valued by a specific market segment."

In the article featured in today's newsletter, the company is announcing its listing via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC):

"Black Rifle Coffee Co. is going public by combining with a special-purpose acquisition company in a merger that values the coffee seller focused on military veterans at about $1.7 billion, the companies said. Known for its pricier coffee and firearms-themed products such as its AK-47 Espresso Blend, Black Rifle is combining with the SPAC SilverBox Engaged Merger Corp. I. Black Rifle also sells branded apparel and produces digital content to promote its products to veterans and first responders."

While SPACs have a spotty track record and are often associated with dubious business propositions, what is interesting about this announcement is that the merger is positioning BRCC as a social enterprise:

"Founded by former Green Beret Evan Hafer in 2014, Black Rifle has capitalized on consumers' desire to shop at brands that support social causes. Mr. Hafer vowed in 2017 to hire 10,000 veterans after Starbucks Corp. promised to hire 10,000 refugees following then President Donald Trump's executive order barring more refugees from entering the country."

More specifically, the merger is enabling the company to validate this claim by altering its legal status:

"As part of the deal, Black Rifle plans to reorganize as a public-benefit corporation, meaning it will have fiduciary duties both to shareholders and social good. Many startups have become PBCs, with investors increasingly giving priority to companies' missions. 'We want to do well for ourselves and do good for our community,' Joe Reece, the SPAC's executive chairman, said."

Relating back to the comparison I made back in March with Patagonia, and given that Patagonia is also a public benefit corporation (since 2012), I am struck by how different the values and guiding missions of these two companies are, but how they are equally appealing to their specific set of key stakeholders:

"Today, about half of Black Rifle's roughly 600 employees are military veterans, a total that Mr. Hafer said in an interview he expects to grow after the SPAC deal."

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Black Rifle Coffee, SPAC to Merge
By Amrith Ramkumar
November 3, 2021
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final
B3

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Strategic CSR - Coffee

This week's newsletters will focus on the coffee industry. Today's newsletter addresses the sustainability (or lack of) of drinking coffee. Specifically, the article in the url below opens with the staggering number of cups we drink every day:

"World-wide, coffee drinkers consume some 2 billion cups of coffee every day; Americans alone drink close to 150 billion cups a year."

What is important about this, however, is the strain coffee puts on our supplies of fresh water:

"According to the Water Footprint Network, which measures fresh water used to produce consumer goods, each cup of coffee requires the equivalent of a 16-minute shower to produce, farm to cup."

As a result, the article argues that there is a greater push for coffee companies to advertise the sustainable nature of their particular coffee beans, and a greater demand among consumers for such coffee. The trouble is that there is also a lot of greenwashing in the industry, particularly around the use of the organic label, which is difficult to obtain and not particularly related to sustainable coffee:

"Many green-minded farmers don't have the time or resources to obtain organic certification. And that certification doesn't cover critical issues such as deforestation and habitat protection. Farming practices vary widely across the 50 or so coffee-growing countries, and unpredictable weather forces farmers to pivot to survive."

Instead, the article offers a more detailed definition of sustainable coffee, but without a clear understanding of how that can be certified and conveyed to consumers willing to pay for the assurance:

"If you want to buy conscientiously, it helps to understand sustainability as a cycle. For farmers to invest in best practices and equipment, they need long-term buy-in from companies willing to pay more for a planet-friendly bean. Money needs to go back into their communities to foster health and education. Roasters, too, need to reduce carbon output. And resources need to go to scientific research."

As a start, the article offers four coffee companies that cover one or more components of this process using benchmark practices.

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Cool Beans
By Aleksandra Crapanzano
September 25-26, 2021
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final
D7
 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Strategic CSR - Anonymity

The article in the url below is interesting because it is tackling online trolls. Specifically, it addresses the idea that allowing anonymity online increases the overall tension and amount of abuse that we see every day on social media:

"In early July, when England's soccer team lost the European Championship final to Italy on its home turf, the crushing defeat was followed by a torrent of racist abuse on social media directed at the team's Black players. … this episode renewed calls for tech companies to enforce identity verification for their users. A petition of the British government demanding that it make 'verified ID a requirement for opening a social media account' has more than 688,000 signatures. 'We have rights to free speech and association, but as real people, not fake people,' wrote Paul Mason, a columnist for The New Statesman."

Instead, the article questions whether online anonymity is even possible:

"After a decade in which online identity came under increasingly centralized control, in which various digital and offline identities were mingled, and during which personal data became a hot global commodity, control over one's identity is starting to look more like a threatened privilege than a right. To exist online is to be constantly asked to show yourself."

More important, however, the article reports research suggesting that anonymity (or, more likely, "pseudonymity" – the use of a pseudonym to mask our real identity) is not as obvious a cause of online abuse as people might think. First, the author reports research suggesting that anonymity online does not produce the behavior that is commonly attributed to it:

"In studies, for example, anonymous actors tend to be more, not less, sensitive to group norms. More than half of victims of online harassment already know their harassers. While there is scant evidence that 'real name' policies mitigate abuse, there is plenty suggesting that asking people to expose more private information can intensify it. Researchers have found that, in some contexts, the most aggressive commenters have been observed to be more likely to reveal their identities."

Second, the author makes the case that, even if being forced to engage online under our true identities would reduce online abuse for some, it would raise the prospect of real-life abuse for other, more vulnerable groups:

"Writing in response to recent calls for the end of anonymity, the journalist Hussein Kesvani reiterated concerns that compelling identifying information from the most vulnerable could leave them worse off. He also pointed to smaller but more universal losses. … Mr. Kesvani, who recently published a book on the online life of young Muslims, said his research subjects described anonymity and pseudonymity as ways to avoid the gazes of their families, to explore beyond their denominational communities and to socialize — in other words, more or less the same reasons any young person might desire privacy, online or off."

Perhaps more controversially, the author also argues that we already adopt different norms and standards of behavior in the many different facets of our real world lives:

"Of course people might want to construct a new identity [online], out of sight of, say, teachers or co-workers. In this context, asking why someone might say or do something online that they wouldn't in person is as absurd as asking if they'd act the same way in front of their closest friends as they would in front of their parents."

And, then there are developing norms within certain communities where even the concept of your 'real' name is complicated:

"In 2014, during a push to enforce a 'real name' policy across its platform, Facebook found itself directly at odds with transgender users, among many others, for whom chosen names were a condition of using the platform safely, or at all."

Evolving technology, however, threatens to render much of this discussion moot, in a way that is not reassuring:

"Today, it's hard to overstate just how thoroughly connected a typical internet user's various identities — legal, chosen, assigned — have become. … Facial-recognition technology threatens to tie together all of our identities, everywhere and always."

In other words, while you might be able to 'mask' your true identity in one forum, the idea that everything is connected and someone always knows who you are, is a reality that does not seem far away.

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


Rethinking the Divide Over Psudonymity Online
By John Herrman
August 1, 2021
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
ST9
 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Strategic CSR - Natural capital

This four-and-a-half minute video illustrates the inertial nature of many of our systems that challenge those who want to think differently about a problem. Specifically, it discusses the value of natural capital – assigning a dollar value to a natural resource:


In this case, the individual being interviewed (and the group he represents, the Property and Environment Research Center, or PERC) seeks to raise money to bid against corporate interests in the market for natural resources. The main example provided in the video is in Bozeman, Montana, where the state wanted to sell a forest for logging rights. Instead, the local community, which was opposed to the decision and wanted to preserve the forest, raised sufficient funds ($400,000) to outbid the logging company in the auction and secure the forest for the length of the 25-year lease.

What is interesting about the video, however, is that what happened in Bozeman is illegal in much of the U.S. because, and get this, "federal agencies don't consider conservation to be a beneficial public use." In other words, because traditionally the state looked to corporate interests to cultivate natural resources, various legislatures passed laws that make the purchase of such land for conservation purposes illegal. In other words, the winner of the auction has to develop the land, fell the trees, extract the oil, etc., and cannot elect to preserve the resource, even if they are willing to outbid all other suitors in a competitive bidding process.

Sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction. Certainly, it would be difficult to make this stuff up.

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Strategic CSR - Urinals

Yesterday, I watched an online lecture by Richard Thaler who is promoting his new book, Nudge: The Final Edition. In introducing the lecture, Thaler defined his area of expertise as "choice architecture." In the process, he listed several examples of good designs and bad designs. The good designs are examples of effective nudges that promote positive choices/behavior, while the bad designs are examples of ineffective nudges that do not have the same options or behavioral results. Among the effective nudges he listed was a fascinating example from The Netherlands:


For those of you who do not see this view often, it is a housefly printed onto the bottom of a urinal. Because it draws the user's attention, they tend to focus more on what they are doing. The results, as explained in the article in the url below, are striking:

"In the early 1990s, the story goes, the cleaning manager at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport was trying to reduce 'spillage' around urinals. He settled on etching small, photorealistic images of flies on the urinals, right near the drain. The idea was to give people something to aim at."

Why a fly, you ask?

"Flies are small and annoying and a little gross but they're not scary like say, a spider, which might discourage people from using the urinal at all. As Aad Kieboom, the Schiphol Airport manager who oversaw the introduction of urinal flies, [explained that] 'a fly may have unsanitary connotations, but that is exactly why nobody feels guilty aiming at it!'"

And, as I said, the results were pretty amazing:

"And aim they did. Kieboom reported an astonishing 80 percent reduction in urinal spillage after introducing the flies. He estimated this resulted in an 8 percent reduction in total bathroom cleaning costs at the airport. Since then, urinal flies have begun showing up in restrooms all over the world."

Highly effective. What is great about this design, and why Thaler gives it as much prominence as he does in his book, is that there is no compulsion involved and no options are denied, yet the outcome is beneficial. In other words, it is a great example of design and, in Thaler's words, effective choice architecture:

"Take the case of airport urinals. If you're looking to reduce spillage you could, say, institute a policy prohibiting bad aim, and hire attendants to enforce the policy by handing out fines to violators. But this would be expensive and contentious, as well as hugely intrusive into one's bathroom time. The flies do the same work as overbearing restroom attendants without any element of forced coercion. They make it easier for people using the urinals to make the right choice."

For those who are interested, here is an interview with Thaler on NPR about his new book: https://www.npr.org/2021/07/27/1021438772/nudge-vs-shove-a-conversation-with-richard-thaler

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


What's a urinal fly, and what does it have to do with winning a Nobel Prize?
By Christopher Ingraham
October 9, 2017
The Washington Post
 

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Strategic CSR - Artwash

The article in the url below reviews an art show at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Specifically, the show is titled Automania and studies the car as a piece of art; it is up until January 2022:

"In 1974 Andy Warhol bought himself a two-tone Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow — brown roof, black doors — custom-ordered from London. It didn't matter that Warhol had no driver's license. For some a car is more than a vehicle, and in 'Automania,' the Museum of Modern Art's engine-revving summer show, the automobile appears as an art object all its own."

For the art critic writing the review, however, while he can appreciate the show's artistic elements, he takes issue with its timing given the current discussion around the car and, more specifically, its fuel source:

"Of course it's the cars that are the main attraction of 'Automania.' Although, in a week when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that 'warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia,' a show devoted to the personal motorcar feels a bit like one devoted to lethal poisons."

The author's favorite car in the show (1 of only 9 cars actually on display) is the VW Beetle:

"If, however, you asked me which auto says the most about the culture of its time and ours, it's the VW Beetle, parked upstairs, where it's shown with a 1950s film reel from the assembly line. Properly called the Type 1 Sedan, the small, aerodynamic 'people's car,' designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1938, responded to Adolf Hitler's challenge to German industry to develop an inexpensive ride for a family of four. It would become, after the war, the world's best-selling car, and a motor – quite literally – of West Germany's economic miracle."

But, this reflection causes the author to take MoMA to task for its long-standing relationship with VW:

"In a wall panel the curators mention the Beetle's 'inglorious origins,' though there is more recent VW unpleasantness this show and catalog do not discuss. Over the last decade, MoMA has enjoyed more than a million dollars in support each year from Volkswagen – a company that admitted to equipping 11 million cars with illegal software to cheat emissions testing, and then lying to investigators about the scheme."

Specifically:

"While one VW division was violating the Clean Air Act, another was putting its name on MoMA programming that would boost its civic credentials — notably 'Expo 1: New York,' at MoMA PS1, a Volkswagen-funded ecological showcase from 2013 that in retrospect looks like an egregious act of greenwashing. 'Volkswagen is das Auto, and MoMA is das Museum,' Martin Winterkorn, then its chief executive, said pithily in 2015. He is now facing criminal charges in the U.S. and Germany, though he has long contended that he was unaware of any wrongdoing."

The point, of course, resembles the criticism that has been levelled at the Sackler family (and the museums that have gratefully taken their donations) for their stewardship of Purdue Pharma (and the opioid crisis in the U.S.). The author digs deeper:

"Yet even after one of the largest corporate and environmental scandals in history, Volkswagen's American subsidiary remains MoMA's 'lead partner of education.' It supports PS1's public programming, which took place for nearly a decade in a Volkswagen-branded geodesic dome (finally retiring it in 2020). The museum has a traineeship program known as the VW Fellows, who appear in Volkswagen promotional materials and even get to visit the car plant in Wolfsburg. And Volkswagen of America underwrote the restoration of the Beetle in 'Automania,' which the museum initially acquired in 2002."

But, it is MoMA's attempt to justify its ongoing relationship with VW that pushes the author to refer to a term I had not seen before – artwashing:

"And really, this might all be so much inside-philanthropy, except that the organizers of 'Automania' explicitly discuss polluters' interest in art in the catalog and the museum's online magazine. In both, Kinchin writes about the corporate practice of 'artwashing, a by now well-established branding strategy practiced by the polluting fossil fuel industry.' The curator singles out Shell, which commissioned English artists to make posters of the bucolic English countryside; it also mentions Mobil, whose art philanthropy in the 1970s and 1980s was the subject of Hans Haacke's institutional critique, and recent demonstrations against BP's sponsorship of London museums."

It is the hypocrisy that grates the most:

"For MoMA to criticize Shell, Mobil and BP for 'artwashing,' and then to ignore the criminal polluters still supporting its own museum, takes a real brass neck."

Take care
David

David Chandler
© Sage Publications, 2020

Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 
Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/
The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/


At MoMA, Love of Cars Cuts Two Ways
By Jason Farago
August 13, 2021
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final
C11

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Strategic CSR - Recycling

The article in the url below contains some rare positive news on the recycling front. Specifically, it reports on a Maine law, passed over the summer, that seeks to shift the cost of recycling to the companies that produce the packaging:

"Recycling … was a headache for municipal governments even in good times. And, only a small amount was actually getting recycled. Then, five years ago, China stopped buying most of America's recycling, and dozens of cities across the United States suspended or weakened their recycling programs. Now, Maine has implemented a new law that could transform the way packaging is recycled by requiring manufacturers, rather than taxpayers, to cover the cost. Nearly a dozen states have been considering similar regulations and Oregon is about to sign its own version in coming weeks."

The difference is where the burden for funding the recycling lies – not on the commodities market, as previously, but on the firms that previously benefited from the externalized costs of cleaning up the packaging they created:

"Essentially, these programs work by charging producers a fee based on a number of factors, including the tonnage of packaging they put on the market. Those fees are typically paid into a producer responsibility organization, a nonprofit group contracted and audited by the state. It reimburses municipal governments for their recycling operations with the fees collected from producers."

Although these laws are potentially ground-breaking in the U.S., they are not new, or even particularly innovative, when you consider where other countries are on this issue. What they are, however, is effective:

"Nearly all European Union member states, as well as Japan, South Korea and five Canadian provinces, have laws like these and they have seen their recycling rates soar and their collection programs remain resilient. … Ireland's recycling rate for plastics and paper products, for instance, rose from 19 percent in 2000 to 65 percent in 2017. Nearly every E.U. country with such programs has a recycling rate between 60 and 80 percent, according to an analysis by the Product Stewardship Institute. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, America's recycling rate was 32 percent, a decline from a few years earlier."

Of course, that does not mean they are popular with the firms that are now being expected to clean up the mess they have been making:

"In Maine, the packaging industry supported a competing bill that would have given producers more oversight of the program. It also would have exempted packaging for a range of pharmaceutical products and hazardous substances, including paint thinners, antifreeze and household cleaning products. One of the industry's main objections to the bill that ultimately passed was that it gave the government too much authority and left the industry with not enough voice in the process."

No doubt, the authors of the bill might have noted that this was the whole point of the exercise, since self-regulation has clearly not been sufficient to produce meaningful action:

"There are concerns that a growing market for plastics could drive demand for oil, contributing to the release of greenhouse gas emissions precisely at a time when the world needs to drastically cut emissions. By 2050, the plastics industry is expected to consume 20 percent of all the oil produced. The oil industry, concerned about declining demand as the world moves toward electric cars and away from fossil fuels, has pivoted toward making more plastic — spending more than $200 billion on chemical and plastic manufacturing plants in the United States. Vast amounts of plastic waste are exported to Africa and South Asia, where they often end up in dumps or in waterways and oceans."


The result is what has become known as extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs for packaging products, and they can be extensive:

 

"In Maine, packaging products covered by the law make up as much as 40 percent of the waste stream. … [Maine is] requiring producers to cover 100 percent of its municipalities' recycling costs. Oregon, by contrast, will require producers to cover around 28 percent of the costs of recycling, with municipalities continuing to cover the rest."


And, encouragingly, some companies are seeing these legislative efforts as an opportunity to innovate, whereas previously they might have resisted or simply passed on the additional costs to customers:


"Some major consumer-product companies have begun voicing support for policies like these. In 2016, Greenpeace obtained internal documents from Coca-Cola Europe, which depicted extended producer responsibility as a policy that the company was fighting. In a sign of change, this spring, more than 100 multinational companies, including Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Walmart, signed a pledge committing to support E.P.R. policies."


Take care

David


David Chandler

Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation (5e)

© Sage Publications, 2020


Instructor Teaching and Student Study Site: https://study.sagepub.com/chandler5e 

Strategic CSR Simulation: http://www.strategiccsrsim.com/

The library of CSR Newsletters are archived at: https://strategiccsr-sage.blogspot.com/



Maine Law Could Help Revive Recycling

By Winston Choi-Schagrin

July 23, 2021

The New York Times

Late Edition – Final

B1, B3

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/climate/maine-recycling-law-EPR.html