Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Five Key Learnings for CR

Millennials are the most populous generation in United States history, with more than 90 million living in America today. Knowing this, companies are investing in winning over this generation. Research shows that millennials are concerned with corporate ethics, and companies are listening— in 2015 alone, 81 percent of Fortune 500 companies published sustainability reports.

While it’s great news that so many companies are focused on corporate social responsibility (CSR), it’s just as important to ensure corporations make evidence-based decisions to determine how to best serve their communities. For example, many companies currently require a “global day of service” for all employees. This approach is not effective. Not only does it disrupt the work day, it’s likely not providing the charity, non-profit or community-based organization the kind of services it really needs. A better model for engagement would be a company adopting a community-based organization and using a skills-based and capacity-focused approach. Imagine if their corporate employees could choose from a menu of support that highlighted which community-based organizations had the greatest needs and employees could sign-up based upon their expertise.

To ensure that companies make the best use of their CSR resources, Get IN Chicago recently made five key recommendations for violence prevention initiatives at community-based organizations. These learnings were designed through two years of research and data collection, to be used to combat violence and the systemic issues that lead to it. That said, what we learned can provide valuable insight to any company, large or small, currently executing or considering a CSR strategy.

1. Confirm the program actually addresses the needs of the group or risk population you want to serve. A CSR initiative’s success ultimately depends on the research and planning behind their charitable choice. At Get IN Chicago, our goal was to impact youth violence, but through research, we found that few violence reduction programs were serving acutely high-risk youth. For example, there are many different reasons someone may be at-risk. There’s risk of teen pregnancy or high school dropout. To impact violence, our organizations need to be engaging the acutely high-risk youth: those who are at the greatest risk for gun violence. Thus, our first step to impact was making sure our partners were working consistently with this population.

Distinguishing the group you intend to impact is essential when determining which partner programs are the best investment for your company. If a partner doesn’t directly benefit the cause or population that you’re looking to address, then you should re-examine your support. They may not be a fit, but more likely, they may need support in designing their screening process or engaging a vulnerable population.

2. Ensure the organizations you support have the capacity and capabilities to work with the people you’re trying to serve and collect quality data related to those services. When your company finds a charitable partner aligned with your chosen cause, ensure that the partner is equipped with appropriate resources. Get IN Chicago found that certain skills, expertise and operational upgrades were crucial for community-based organizations to be effective. Resources are limited; for sustainable programming, funding is often not only needed for services, but capacity building.

Companies can help organizations on the front lines with technical assistance to develop staff training, strategic planning, and financial management. In particular, strengthening program infrastructure can have a dramatic effect on program outcomes. Collaborations between community-based organizations and companies can also help build up the community overall by encouraging work to continue beyond the life of a particular grant.

3. Review if the program is delivering the correct dosage of intervention. We know that some companies use their CSR resources toward evidence-based programs. However, in practice, are these programs delivering the interventions as intended? Similar to medication, much evidence-based programming is only effective when delivered at the appropriate dosage, which varies by program and the participants’ risk level.

When a program is not implemented at the correct dosage, its chances of impact decrease. For example, many effective mentoring models require at least two 1-hour sessions per week. Even if organizations include effective mentoring models in their plans, their program might not be impactful if sessions only happen once per month. Maintaining a clear understanding of the dosage of interventions is key when implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of an evidence-based initiative.

4. Track programs from the start to improve outcomes and share success. Return on investment is crucial for the sustainability and continued impact of all CSR initiatives. We know that being able to determine the outcomes of a program is important to violence prevention work, but it’s equally important to any community-based program addressing social issues.

Programs should be designed to have measurable outcomes and tangible results. Incorporating evaluation into programs can help to strengthen what works and identify areas for improvement, but in order to do this, community organizations need to have appropriate systems for collecting and sharing data to document their efforts and monitor their impact. Companies and funders can support community organizations to evaluate success, improve their programs, and direct funding to what works.

5. Empower communities to serve their local youth. Communities that feel empowered become safer and are more successful at reducing violence, a strategy that Get IN Chicago has embedded into its work. But the underlying message here is universal: the more community members are inspired by and involved with a CSR initiative, the more effective the program will be.

For a community-based organization to meet their goals, success depends upon a community of engaged and empowered people. Fostering community collaboration and resident empowerment programs is a vital element to consider when measuring the success of your company’s CSR program.

As corporations continue to give back more and more every year, it’s important to make sure they’re doing it in the right way. These five recommendations are starting points for corporations, big and small, who are looking to make a difference in communities. Before you donate a large sum of money, talk to the communities and organizations you want to serve. Discover what they truly need and help them introduce evaluation to improve effectiveness and measurement to determine impact. Ask these questions and in addition to the dollar amount increasing, the amount of positive impact will also.

 —Dr. Toni Irving, public policy expert and executive director of Get IN Chicago.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Hit the Deck and Deck the Halls: A Story About USO Holiday Care Packages

Connie Avery is the aviation safety management system program advisor at FedEx Express. She write about how important USO Holiday Care Packages are to the troops.

Growing up watching old WWII shows with my father, I had the dream of becoming a military pilot.

I went to college at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and lived on campus, which was attached to the airport much like the FedEx facilities in Memphis. As a member of Air Force ROTC, my 5’3” stature was too short to fly, so I then looked to the Navy. I joined after college and became a helicopter pilot—fulfilling my childhood dream.

I was initially assigned to Keflavik, Iceland and then San Diego, Calif. In my first five years in the U.S. Navy, I visited England, Puerto Rico and had port calls in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Curacaos, Qatar, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Kuwait.

The travel was the adventure I had dreamed of – but the reality of being separated from home is the unvarnished truth. Connecting with family, particularly before email, was very difficult. The troops depended on cables for emergency news, and the USPS for routine mail. They lost touch with what was happening back home, for very long periods of time. That is why “Mail Call” always created a buzz. Every person on the ship would be anxiously waiting for that note from a loved one, or a package with necessities that were not available on the ship.

In the Persian Gulf during Christmas one year we had just received the last mail call before the holiday. Sometimes it would take a few hours to sort and distribute the mail, bringing the anticipation to a fever pitch. Our designated mail person arrived in the hangar with a giant box. Our chief recognized that it was a USO care package and knew it would be loaded with goodies. I am thankful for his wisdom to take charge of the situation as he assured equitable distribution of the reindeer noses and antlers. From there, the stockings were hung with care all over the helicopter. We decked the hanger with boughs of holly and trimmed the tree with the gifted decorations, as well as some lovingly created ones of military hardware spares.

While it was not home, the spirit was there. The gift pack provided a respite of holiday cheer in the otherwise monotonous conditions of underway deployment. My shipmates and I each were able to share among us our own holiday traditions and enjoy the whimsical fellowship of our manufactured cheer. It is with fond memories that I look on those times, with that special group of people—my first Christmas on a ship.

If you would like to send a message of encouragement to support our troops this holiday season, go to www.uso.org/message.

FedEx Cares is the company’s global giving platform through which FedEx will invest $200 million in more than 200 global communities by 2020 to create opportunities and deliver positive change around the world. Homegrown volunteers supplement and enrich these community investments.

—Connie Avery

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Look Inside: Target’s Journey Toward Better-For-You Living

At Target, customers (or guests) are at the heart of everything the company does. And now, more than ever before, access to better-for-you products is one of their main priorities. Healthy and sustainable living is a very personal journey, and guests want to take the best care of themselves and their families. They have a strong desire to make better choices and are concerned about what they put in, on, and around their body. They look to trusted brands like Target to provide options that will help them get there.

However, there are some things that can stand in their way—like a lack of access to better-for-you products, an inability to afford them, or a clear understanding of what they are. And that’s not OK. In Target's eyes, wellness and sustainability should really be accessible to all.

At Target, wellness and sustainability as two sides of the same coin—together, they have the potential to impact the broader well-being of the planet and people in a holistic way. To make sure it's doing its part, Target is committed to providing a greater level of transparency and traceability for guests, assuring products are sourced and made in the most ethical and responsible way possible.

From organic foods to beauty and personal care products made without unwanted chemicals, Target looks for ways to give guests the product options they want—and frankly expect—from them. They have come a long way, but there’s still a lot of work do.

Target is making progress on offering up more sustainable product options too. One big example: Sustainable seafood became high-priority at Target as they became aware of the broader depletion of seafood species around the world, the challenge between supply and demand, and the impacts of commercial fishing on the ecosystem. Since 2011, they have worked to ensure fresh and frozen seafood selection is sustainable and traceable. In fact, Target worked extensively with its partner FishWise to develop a comprehensive sustainable seafood program with stringent guidelines that the owned brand and national brand fresh or frozen seafood product must meet. What was born from these efforts was Target’s sustainable seafood guidelines, which are used in tandem with social compliance policies that help ensure products are produced ethically.

Today, Target is proud to have achieved its goal—100 percent—for owned-brand seafood products; when it comes to national brand products, 91 percent of them are sustainable, and they have worked hard to achieve full compliance across remaining products. But, in the meantime, thy have helped take the guesswork out from guests—who know they can easily find a wide range of sustainably sourced, affordable seafood in stores.

Sustainable seafood is only one piece of the puzzle. Target has also continued to curate new, ‘better-for-you’ products, providing more choices for guests, so they don’t have to make tradeoffs.

Beginning in 2013, Target unveiled Simply Balanced, a food collection that takes the guesswork out of eating well. It’s a Target owned brand that’s free of artificial flavors, synthetic colors, or artificial preservatives. In 2014, Target worked with other brands to make natural, organic, and sustainable products more accessible and attainable through Target’s Made to Matter program. The guest response was overwhelmingly positive, resulting in $1 billion in sales during 2015—demonstrating that what’s better for you and the planet can also be better for business.

Target's work goes far beyond food products. In 2013, the Target Sustainable Product Index (SPI) was introduced, developed in partnership with industry experts, vendors, and NGOs, to encourage ingredient transparency and a common language, definition and process for what makes a better, more sustainable product. They’ve focused first and foremost on human health and transparency. They since reduced usage barriers for vendors to participate and expanded the product categories to include cosmetics this year.

Target also is proud to lead the conversation around safer, more sustainable beauty and personal care products. In 2014, the company co-hosted a summit,during which key industry players discussed ingredient transparency and product sustainability within the beauty and personal care industries. Work continues today as they look to help guests make the best choices for themselves and Target knows that to truly make an impact, they can’t do this alone. It will take significant systemic change, but they are making tangible progress.

Living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle should not be reserved for a select one percent of the population, but accessible to people everywhere. It will take some time and require hard work, but each day, they’ll take steps toward securing a more healthy and sustainable future for guests. Each day they inspire and educate on better choices, and empowering others to make strides on their journey.

—Jennifer Silberman, Target VP of Sustainability & Wellness

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Q&A with Smithfield Foods: On Becoming First Major Protein Company to Slash Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Last week, Smithfield Foods announced an ambitious goal to reduce its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25 percent by 2025. This is a reduction of more than 4 million metric tons, which equates to removing 900,000 cars from the road over the next nine years. Stewart Leeth, Smithfield Foods’ vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer, spoke to CR Magazine about this commitment as well as what it means for the company, the industry, and its stakeholders. A Q&A is below.

CR Magazine: Why is this goal so important for Smithfield – what will it signify once it is achieved? 

Stewart Leeth: As the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor, Smithfield Foods faces unique environmental challenges while also having the opportunity to make a positive impact on a large scale. Therefore, it is important that we take a leading role in sustainability efforts that balance the global demand for protein with environmental concerns. For that reason, it is important for Smithfield to establish its goal to reduce GHG emissions.
Additionally, there is a business value to achieving this goal. The steps to reduce GHG emissions help our business operate more efficiently. We’re helping grain farmers make better use of fertilizer application, we’re using energy more efficiently at our facilities and we’re better tracking our product shipments—these are just a few examples of how we are saving the company both time and money.
By reaching our goal, we’re sending a signal that the private sector is willing and able to take a leading role in addressing pressing environmental concerns. For a company of any size, it’s important to remember that small changes all along a supply chain can create a significant impact.

CR: Can you talk more about what specific actions you are taking in your supply chain to reduce GHG? 

SL: This commitment impacts operations across our supply chain, on our farms, at our processing facilities and throughout our transportation network. In our grain supply chain, we are collaborating with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to improve fertilizer efficiency and soil health, which will reduce nitrous oxide emissions from grain farms. We were honored with the opportunity to present on this topic at the 2016 Commit! Forum.
On our hog farms, we’re incorporating renewable energy and reuse projects that utilize technology, such as anaerobic digesters and lagoon covers. We plan to install these technologies on at least 30 percent of our farms. We will also continue to adopt measures that improve animal efficiency, resulting from improved feed conversion and productivity while reducing carbon emissions.
We will continue to improve energy efficiency at our processing facilities by upgrading refrigeration, boilers and other equipment. Technology upgrades will optimize our logistics network, allowing us to better manage our animal and product transportation while reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

CR: Do you think this effort will inspire others to create their own environmental sustainability goals? 

SL: At Smithfield, our first priority is to achieve our GHG reduction goal. However, we hope that others are inspired by and can learn from this project.
Aside from project specifics, our collaboration with EDF is a concept any company can benefit from and replicate. A collaboration between the world’s largest pork company and a leading nonprofit organization may appear to be an unlikely match. However, making a significant, lasting impact requires you to look outside your comfort zone to develop innovative strategies and form creative partnerships.

CR: Why is the partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund vital to meeting this goal? 

SL: To achieve an ambitious GHG reduction goal like ours, it is vital to collaborate with environmental experts. EDF served as an adviser in the development of this commitment. Additionally, Smithfield is currently collaborating with EDF to create a more sustainable supply chain by helping grain farmers improve fertilizer efficiency and soil health. This project plays a key role in helping Smithfield meet its GHG reduction goal.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Top 10 Issues that will Frame Corporate Responsibility in 2017

Every Dec. 10, to mark human rights day, the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB), publishes a list of the top 10 business and human rights priorities for the coming year.

IHRB’s annual list aims to assist businesses, governments, and civil society organizations to determine their strategies for responding to some of the biggest human rights challenges anticipated over the next 12 months.

The human rights challenges expected in 2017 reflect a stark shift in social, political and economic drivers at the global level. At risk is the erosion of an international system upholding human rights protections and the rule of law, which can impact societies, economies, and businesses.

A difficult truth that has become very clear in 2016 is that we have really all failed, those of us who have been working on human rights issues around business for the past 15 years, to communicate the relevance to wider society.

This new era of growing nationalist, populist, and protectionist politics has dramatically changed the rhetoric behind forthcoming economic, trade, and investment agreements between nations, behind leadership to level global supply chains, behind refugee strategies, behind legal accountability mechanisms for business, and more.

And the rights implications are enormous. Basic protections for the workers and communities are at risk, which will be eroded if perceived as barriers to new jobs and reinvigorated economies.

More fundamentally, the extreme inequality we see in the world today represents both a cause and a result of a global failure to uphold basic rights and human dignity. These types of rights impacts drive inequality. At the same time, unequal societies are more likely to pose challenges to rights protections.

The human rights movement faces a difficult future in 2017, and it is up to all of us—civil society, governments as well as businesses—to champion the issues people care about and make human rights relevant to peoples’ daily lives.

IHRB’s Top 10 Business and Human Rights Issues for 2017 are:

• INEQUALITY: The business role
• GIG ECONOMY: The rise of Internet-enabled work
• REFUGEES: Setting strategies with business
• TRADE DEALS: Upholding human rights in a new era
• SUPPLY CHAINS: Leveling the playing field
• INFORMED CONSENT: The realm of big data
• FREE SPEECH: Responsibility in the age of social media
• CONSTRUCTION WORKERS: Building the world’s infrastructure
• AUTOMATION: Preserving workers’ rights

The Top 10 in its entirety is at www.ihrb.org/library/top-10/top-ten-issues-in-2017.

 —John Morrison, chief executive, Institute for Human Rights and Business

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

CR Magazine's 2016 Sustainable Gift Guide

It's gift-giving time, and we at CR Magazine would like to wish our readers Happy Holidays! In keeping with the spirit of the season, and also remembering our dedication to corporate social responsibility, we would like to encourage you to buy gifts that are not only valued by your loved ones, but are good for the environment as well.

Below we have an overview of some of the most sustainable gifts that you can purchase, and don’t forget to reuse your wrapping paper also!

Alter Ego Fair Trade Chocolates


This chocolate is from organic trees in the Peruvian Amazon and Ecuadorian Coast, and cacao beans from the base of the Andes Mountains. Pur Projet, the cooperatives, and Alter Eco plant the trees and use organic farmland. The fair trade product is then made in Switzerland by chocolatiers.

Bambeco Adopt an Italian Olive Tree


This new program lets customer adopt an olive tree in a region of their choice, supporting artisans and the farming industry. Growers will harvest the olives from the tree and create the olive oil, sending the recipient three 16.9 oz. containers in April. 

Bedol Water Clock


The Bedol Water Clock generates its own energy with electrodes that convert ions into a current that powers the clock. Users just need to add water. A built in memory chip ensure the time is accurate.

Crate and Barrel Magnetic Wall Bar


The wood used by Crate and Barrel is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and harvested from forests that are responsibly managed and economically viable. Renewable acacia wood is one of the sustainable woods the company uses in its products.

Grow Organic Biodegradable Pots

Biodegradable pots are made out of sustainable container planters. Seeds can fill newspaper pots, expanding Jiffy peat pellets, cow pots (composted cow manure), or coconut fiber pots. They can then be planted in the ground.

Mo Cases Suitcases

These suitcases have been given many green awards. The shell of the case is made of vulcanized fiber (cellulose), recyclable, and very environmentally resistant. It’s lighter than aluminum, dust and waterproof, and it comes with organized dividing bags inside. 

Sara Bella Upcycled Recycled Handbags

Sara Bella Upcycled makes hand-crafted bags of recycled materials that are durable, washable, and functional. The company has saved more than 70,000 plastic bags from the landfill while creating the items. They can also make custom designs.

Smartglass Recycled Jewelry


This handmade jewelry features recycled glass, gold, brass and silver. All jewelry is designed by a renowned artist. In June 2006, Smartglass created a line of jewelry with Coca-Cola signature bottles.

Three by Three Desktop To-do Board


This to-do board comes with either a dry-erase or chalk surface and eliminates paper lists. The Bamboo and chalk boards can sit on the counter with a stand and are made of sustainably-harvested engineered wood from New Zealand.

Voltaic Systems’ AMP Solar Charger


The Amp Solar Phone Charger is small and portable. It has four times the power and twice the battery storage of most solar chargers in the market, and is No. 1 in the Best Solar Phone Charger List on Top Ten Reviews. It provides mobile and tablet charging without electricity. 

Wooden Widget Hoopy Bike


The Wooden Widget Hoopy Bike can be built by the user from a plan using purchased or salvageable parts and wood. It can be customized to the rider and the completed bike is only 20 lbs. and can hold up to 440 lbs.