Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#RBSNY: Driving the Movement for Responsible Business

CR Magazine plans to attend Ethical Corporation's Fifth Responsible Business Summit NY - an event focused on driving the movement for responsible business, CR, and sustainability execs to link purpose to profit.

The summit will take place March 27-28, 2017, at the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel, offering three focused tracks all shaped to uncover the real potential for CR to drive profit, accelerate growth and change culture.

CR magazine spoke with Krina Amin, head of strategy at Ethical Corporation, about the summit and what it means for sustainability and CR today.

CR: Why are events—like the Responsible Business Summit—important for CR professionals to attend today?

Krina Amin: #RBSNY will give the most senior networking opportunity possible. We lead our conferences with the newest ideas and case studies out there, and take pride in our in-depth research to pinpoint the brands that are doing the most impactful work to share their learnings. In our most senior line-up to date, we have the largest number of CEOs and leaders sharing their responsible business vision from North America's most inspiring and innovative brands.

CR: Can you explain how the summit will discuss how CR drives profit and shapes strategy? 

KA: We’re not afraid to talk about what doesn’t work as much as what does! Sessions are practical with live polling and interactive questions driven help you implement ideas into real life steps.

CR: How can CR accelerate growth, change culture and drive purpose? 

KA: Through effectively delivering the business case, gathering the right data and pitching this to the right people. Corporate fluff is not enough. CR need to evidence their work and show that this can help business profits and contribute to a holistic sustainable business model

Companies attending the event include Coca Cola, Heineken, HSBC, Salesforce, Bacardi, Oracle, The New York Times, Vita Coco, Dell, Adobe, Salesforce, Bloomberg, VF Corporation, and more. Topics include how to:
  • Use data innovation to make the business case: How PepsiCo’s senior director of sustainability reporting transforms data capabilities to drive the CSR agenda;
  • Secure funding for CR: Hear Metlife’s vice president of communications sells his findings to secure CR buy in and ensure the right senior people get the right message;
  • Accelerate growth through technology: How Fossil Group’s vice president and global head of sustainability turns environmental waste into new revenue streams in the latest circular economy opportunities;
  • Measure employee engagement: How Timberland engages employees with the right sell; and
  • Succeed in partnerships: PYXERA Global’s CEO judges a live 'Partnership X-factor' on how transformative partnerships can be.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Leveraging Community Relations Involvement to Build Leadership Skills

Upon graduating from the University of Florida, one of my bosses and mentors (Kathy Fleming), encouraged me to get involved in the community because it would help broaden my skills and experiences as a public relations professional. I got involved with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) shortly after our discussion.

So, when my first crisis management situation occurred at the Florida Museum of Natural History, I was prepared to deal with more than 150 police officers in riot uniforms, the museum’s leadership, and over 60 Native American Indian protestors who were led by Russell Means (American Indian Movement founder and “Last of the Mohicans” star). Without the leadership skills built as a volunteer, we might not have turned the protest around in a peaceful manner. Since then, I have made it a point to be involved with nonprofits nationally and internationally to expand my skills and understanding of various topics. The experiences and knowledge gained have been profound and eventually led to me becoming an HR and diversity leader.

Over the years, I have helped coach and get other people involved with non-profits and on boards. It has been amazing to watch them build their confidence by finding their voice and grow professionally as speakers, people leaders, project managers, and advocates on community issues. In addition, I have worked with companies to build community programs connected to corporate diversity, talent development, and community relations initiatives. Some companies didn’t realize— until faced with major employment or environmental challenges in their communities—the power of employee involvement and advocacy. While these companies had established relationships through their community relations offices, they had not connected their efforts with the talent management or diversity office but rather were relying only on senior executives for involvement.

Once the companies realized that by partnering with the talent or diversity offices they could tap a whole new group of volunteers and future leaders, it opened a new world of possibilities. By engaging employee resource group/business resource group (ERG/BRG) leaders or high potentials in nonprofit volunteer activities, these employees could develop leadership skills while making a difference in the community and advancing the companies’ philanthropic efforts. The companies not only benefited from the employees serving as spokespeople, advocates, or knowledge experts; the employees developed critical skills that were transferable into everyday management/leadership roles like diplomacy, speaking to groups, listening, managing large scale projects or organizational budgets, etc.

If you are interested in helping to grow the leadership skills of your employees while having an impact in the community, the content that follows will help you get started. Here are some foundational steps you can take to help build high potential leaders through community involvement programs:

Who to Engage in the Discussion: You will want to form a small committee that consists of a senior executive sponsor and representatives from the talent management, community relations, and diversity office. These individuals can be part of your working committee. You will want to start with a small group of high potentials which will be matched to those nonprofit organizations the company is already committed to financially. It will be critical to match the employees to causes that they may be interested in as well. You can also look at engaging ERG/BRG leaders to serve on local nonprofits but my recommendation is that you start with a small group of high potentials and build from there.

Establish a Process for Selecting Candidates: There are three possible groups of employees to engage in community leadership roles. The three groups include:
a) Senior executives already in place but who could benefit from being involved with a community cause to soften their leadership skills;
b) High Potentials, these are the upcoming leaders in the company who have strong management skills but may need to develop in other areas like coalition building, influencing skills, public speaking or people management skills; and
c) ERG/BRG leaders who are in the frontline or middle management these people may not be identified as High Potential but show leadership skills.
For the most part we will focus in this article on developing high potentials because this is the group that could generate the highest ROI personally and professionally and the company has already determined they are the next generation of managers, directors or vice presidents.

Select the Nonprofit Partners and Assess the Financial Commitment: The community relations or corporate foundation needs to identify the non-profits that best align with the company’s core values and which will provide a stretch assignment for the employees to serve on the board or lead a project with. Identify seven to 10 nonprofits, these should be ones that the company already has a financial commitment of $10K to $100K+. The larger the non-profit the greater the financial commitment will be. I would recommend focusing on non-profits that you have a $15K to $45K financial commitment with and which the company has partnered with for at least two years. So, identify which areas you will focus on (i.e. education, human services, engineering talent, sustainability, etc.). Once you identify the organizations you are going to partner with you will want to engage them in a conversation to determine their board selection process.

How to Prep Individuals: You will need to prepare your candidates by briefing them on past donations and activities supported by your company. Get their input on what nonprofits they may be most interested in. You will need to match your candidates to the nonprofits and give the candidates an opportunity to connect with the nonprofit board. The employee/candidate needs to be prepared to also make a time commitment to the nonprofit by attending meetings and activities, as well as taking on an active role in the organization. From a corporate perspective, the company will need financially support the employee who accepts the board role, and provide guidance on what activities will and won’t be supported.

• What is ROI? What Goals Should You Set: There are two types of ROIs you should consider when trying to measure the success of the program. First, think about the leadership skills that you would like the employee to develop through his/her involvement in the nonprofit. Align these expectations with their performance goals. Secondly, think through the kind of partnership you would like to build with the nonprofit and the kinds of activities you will support. For example, if you are trying to increase the company’s number of minority engineers, then how will the relationship with the non-profit help you meet that goal or objective. Will you host events in partnership with the nonprofit; will you launch a mentoring program or internship program to attract more engineers? You will want to align your relationship with the nonprofit and HR objectives or business goals.

Sources: 
• Center for Nonprofit Management: http://www.cnm.org/ 
• Boston College Community Involvement Road Map: https://bc-ccc.uberflip.com/i/610740-community-involvement-roadmap
• Boundary Spanning Leadership Center for Creative Leadership: www.ccl.org/leadership/pdf/research/BoundarySpanningLeadership.pdf
• Nonprofit Leadership Development: A model for identifying and growing leaders within the nonprofit sector. Dewey & Kaye: http://www.deweykaye.com/assets/documents/DK_NonprofitLeadershipStudy.pdf 
• Boston College Studies and Resources on community involvement; http://ccc.bc.edu/index.cfm?pageId=2180 

 —Nereida (Neddy) Perez 

Neddy Perez is a principal of D&I Creative Solutions and an industry thoughtleader in talent management and diversity & inclusion. Visit www.linkedin.com/in/neddyperez or www.dicreativesolutions.com.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Private Sector Leadership and Green Bond Potential in Brazil

With the future of the Paris climate agreement increasingly tentative, momentum toward greenhouse gas mitigation will continue in other ways. New financial products, such as “green bonds,” which unleash market forces to protect the environment, have grown rapidly, and have great potential.

Much of that growth has been in developed markets. Over the past few months, however, Brazil has taken critical steps toward accelerating green bond growth, indicating a more active future for Latin America and developing countries in promoting market-based climate initiatives.

The U.S. is currently the largest issuing country to date, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative, with about 16% of the roughly $694 billion global market. Apart from major issuer China, developing countries have a very small share of issuance, with Latin America at less than 1%.

Itaú Unibanco, Latin America’s largest bank by market value, is working with partners to change this. They see enormous green bond potential for Brazil—and progress there could encourage other developing countries with similar profiles. Brazil has about 59 million metric tons of carbon stored in its forests, approximately 70% of Latin America's installed wind power capacity, and around 6 million hectares of responsibly-managed forests (certified by the Forest Stewardship Council).

Private sector leaders, such as Itau, are developing an ecosystem for green bond issuance to thrive. Itau Asset Management recently joined with a handful of other major banks operating in Brazil to sign the “Brazil Green Bonds Statement.” The statement, agreed by banks managing combined assets of nearly $500 billion, reflects its collective belief in the risk climate change poses to society and our commitment to foster a low-carbon economy.

As part of this initiative, Itau Asset Management will dialogue with other banks, with governments, and with international organizations to develop this market. They will also drive momentum toward the elements of a successful marketplace, including independent eligibility criteria for green bond issuance and increased transparency among issuers on the use of proceeds. Other key organizations in Brazil are also building support for the green bonds movement. Joint actions such as that of the Brazilian Federation of Banks (FEBRABAN), the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS), and the Climate Bonds Initiative, which launched the Guide for Issuance of Green Securities in Brazil, build awareness, support and encourage issuers.

Total green bond issuance in 2016 was at $81 billion, more doubling from the year prior, according to the Climate Bonds Initiative. By 2018, global issuance could reach $300 billion. As Brazil—and Latin America more broadly—build infrastructure around green bonds, and raise awareness, they will capture an increasing percentage of this market.

Educating investors—both retail and institutional—is critical. Environmental, social, and corporate governance issues are not just about philanthropy and citizenship; they are critical to the value of our investments, and thus the investment process. Responsible investing generates value for clients by identifying growth opportunities and reducing risk.

—Tatiana Grecco, Head of Portfolio Solutions at Itaú Asset Management

Monday, January 9, 2017

Clorox and AOL's Safe Water Project and 360 Video Partnership

Virtual Reality Brings Issue of Safe Water to Life in a New Clorox and AOL Video 

Safe water is foundational. Yet one in seven people in Peru do not have access to it. Around the world, approximately 88 percent of deaths due to diarrheal illness are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. Diarrheal diseases kill more children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined, making it the second leading cause of death among children under five years old.

However, unsafe drinking water still seems like a far-away issue for most people in the United States, where water safety is not typically an everyday concern. The good news is that emerging technologies like VR and 360 video present incredible opportunity for inspiring social good. Clorox is harnessing this power to bring the issue of unsafe drinking water to life.

Tackling the global issue of unsafe water can seem daunting and there are many clean water processes and infrastructures in place to solve this problem, some coming with large costs and multiple moving parts. However, there is actually a simple, cost-effective, scalable and easily adoptable way to kill bacteria and viruses in water—a few drops of bleach. Through The Safe Water Project, Clorox is leading an effort to address the chronic problem of unsafe water. The Safe Water Project’s bleach dispenser model provides a simple, affordable water treatment solution for use in areas where people collect water from an untreated, communal water source.

Clorox and HuffPost RYOT Studios partnered to create a 360 video allowing viewers to immerse themselves in a community in Peru that has benefitted from The Safe Water Project. As part of the experience, viewers are guided by one of the community leaders, Bernadina, and shown a surprisingly simple solution—using bleach to purify water. Clorox Bleach kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses in water like cholera, so it is a viable and important solution even for parts of the world that lack any infrastructure.

Since The Safe Water Project launched, there have been strong results, with more than 60 percent of community households treating their water with bleach and over 350,000 liters of water a day being purified.

Leveraging AOL’s network, which reaches more than 500 million global consumers, this short film, titled “Purely Peru,” showcases how VR can be used for global storytelling and social good. Through this partnership, Clorox and AOL are creating a fresh new dialogue around how brands can engage with their audiences about important issues.

The 360 video is accessible across screens on the HuffPost RYOT app, YouTube 360 or through a VR headset; viewers can make a donation straight from their devices. Visit http://ryot.huffingtonpost.com/purely-peru/. Visit www.Clorox.com/TheSafeWaterProject to learn more.

—Gabriele Amtmann, associate director of marketing, The Clorox Company

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Corporate Responsibility: A 2017 Outlook

When it comes to the social sector, philanthropy, giving back, helping others, improving our communities and our planet—however it’s defined—we are seeing clear and positive trends. In 2015, charitable donations hit a record for a second year in a row at an estimated $373.25 billion, corporate giving reached $18.45 billion, an increase of 3.9 percent year-over-year (YoY), and employee participation in their companies’ community efforts has continued to rise, and last year reached 33 percent.

How will this story continue to unfold? Here are some predictions for 2017:

Profit + Purpose. We’re likely to see the acceleration of aligning corporate philosophies and sales goals to better meet the needs of underserved populations and to address major global issues, such as noncommunicable diseases, climate change, and poverty. Examples of this include CVS Health’s decision to discontinue tobacco sales, Subaru’s commitment to building fuel-efficient vehicles in eco-friendly plants, and Prudential’s focus on financially empowering underserved communities.

The Impact of Corporate Responsibility on the Bottom Line. Similarly, we’ll see greater investor interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, which will cause the C-suite to further incorporate corporate giving and employee engagement as core components of a strong business strategy. Not only is this the right thing to do, but studies increasingly show a direct link between CR initiatives and greater profitability, higher investment value, and employee recruitment and retention.

The Expanding Role of HR. The 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study found that 51 percent of employees won’t work for a company that doesn’t have strong social and environmental commitments, and that 74 percent are more fulfilled when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work. As such, CR initiatives will become increasingly integrated with HR efforts around employee recruitment, engagement and retention efforts. It’s critical that HR be able to communicate and present defined social programs and campaigns that both current and prospective employees can feel good about.

The Rise of Human Social Responsibility. Employees are increasingly looking for a greater diversity of options for giving back and supporting causes. Organizations need to listen to their employees more and take cues from them. It’s a shift in mindset from Corporate Social Responsibility to what corporate citizenship and philanthropy expert Rachel Hutchisson has coined as Human Social Responsibility, where organizations, as conveners of people, will take their lead from their employees and their individual human social contracts. This will result in more organizations looking for ways to support employees’ causes within the broader scope of their CR programs, incorporate giving and volunteering that employees do on their own time into these programs, and encouraging skills-based volunteering as a dual employee development and community investment tool.

Measurement, Storytelling and Breaking Silos. The importance of measurement will continue to grow in 2017. We will see continued demand for measuring and reporting the results of grants, community partnerships, and employee programs. Also, aligning results with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will gain more attention and will factor into storytelling, particularly with the growing importance of public-private partnerships in business. In the end, organizations must have the infrastructure in place to connect the dots on measurement, impact and storytelling across the entirety of their CR, Sustainability, PR, Marketing, HR, and IR efforts.

Technology. In order to facilitate more employee participation, build better partnerships and support increasingly robust reporting requirements, CR software will continue to grow in importance as a core enterprise technology need. To meet the demands of their stakeholders, corporations need a technology platform from which to organize their employee giving and volunteering, tie all of their disparate CR efforts together, measure and report on their efforts, and tell their impact stories. And just as the private sector has adopted cloud-based and mobile solutions to manage other aspects of the business, CR will continue to follow.

The notion of corporate responsibility has evolved beyond traditional “checkbook philanthropy”— where checks were written each year to disparate causes and organizations; employees likely didn’t participate in or even know about these donations; and no one ever knew what that money actually did. Today, CR is transforming to become results-based, impact-focused, and inclusive to engage employees in ways that are meaningful to them. Companies and employees want their efforts to have an impact, and they want to know what that impact is.

In the year ahead, we’ll see organizations diversify their CSR efforts to create stronger, more engaging programs. Measurement will be crucial to a company’s ability to share its impact story with the people and organizations they help, as well as their customers, employees, boards, investors and other stakeholders. And perhaps, these impact stories will even inspire greater participation in causes and campaigns that will help build a better world.

— Jamie Serino, director of marketing, MicroEdge + Blackbaud

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Responsible Reporting: Five Tips for your CSR Report in the New Year

Currently, companies are compiling data and information for their 2016 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports. Here are five tips to get the most value, and to manage risk associated with CSR reporting. These tips will also help embed CSR thinking into all levels in your organization.

Here are the five tips reviewed in this here:
1. Determine what is material for your organization
2. Don’t stop with materiality
3. Compare your reporting parameters with other companies’
4. If you can’t support it, don’t report it
5. Use this year’s gaps to plan for next year

1. Determine what is material for your organization. Materiality is now an essential part of CSR reporting. Within just the last five years, this push came from Global Reporting Institute, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board—and even the Securities and Exchange Commission. Materiality has been used in financial reporting for decades; even so, there is still some disagreement (including between auditors and their clients) as to what is “material.” There are several standard risk management frameworks that provide guidance on identifying highest risk areas. Two frameworks are ISO 31000, or COSO’s Enterprise Risk Management framework. Service providers may claim to have the unique way to determine materiality. However, there is no single, “correct” way to perform materiality analysis for CSR reporting parameters. Use an approach that incorporates standard risk assessment principles. As with any other emerging issue, this will be revised over time, so just make sure you document what you did, and your rationale for doing so.

2. Don’t stop with materiality. Materiality is a concept that allows organizations to focus on what matters the most. The challenge with materiality as applied to CSR is: material to whom? Many CSR materiality discussions are driven by the needs of the investment community. One prominent framework proposes six to eight CSR parameters as being “material” for inclusion in financial filings. Does this mean that companies should not report on other parameters?

Other issues can still matter to key organizational stakeholders. Some CSR issues may include regulatory requirements, with information already a matter of public record via reports submitted to agencies. Some CSR parameters can enhance an organization’s reputation. Other parameters could be standard practice for some key stakeholders. For example, an organization with locations in some cities may be expected to have programs that encourage ridesharing or cycling to work. A company with any presence in drought-stricken Southwest would be expected to conserve water. If the organization does not include these parameters in CSR reports, it can send the wrong signal to prospective employees, neighbors, or other key stakeholders.

3. Compare your sustainability reporting parameters to other companies’. Investors and other stakeholders are comparing your CSR reports to other companies’. Shouldn’t you? Organizations can learn much by reviewing CSR reports of financial peers to see what they report on, and how much detail they provide. Many CSR performance issues are now being embedded into requirements of the supply chain. It is also useful to compare your CSR report to those of key customers. You can select other companies to get traction with the executives who provide you with resources. If there is an executive at your company who is relatively new, compare your CSR report to the one of their prior company. The C-suite should want their new organization’s CSR report to be at least as good as the company they just left.

4. If you can’t support it, don’t report it. Stakeholders use the social and environmental information in CSR reports to help them make many decisions, such as: whether buy or sell your stock; whether to add or retain you as a vendor; or whether to work for your organization. These decisions can have direct financial impact on your organization. Other consequences can include how easily you can obtain permits to expand operation, or effects on your brand’s reputation. Stakeholders can find out if you report data that is incorrect or unsupported. Media can provide coverage, and social media is quick to spread opinions about these errors. The rigor of data collection and management for CSR information doesn’t match that for financial reporting. After all, financial reporting has a head start of several decades! There are valid reasons for data inconsistencies and errors: different units of measure; different reporting periods; or simple lack of data. Reporting invalid data is worse than not reporting data at all.

5. Use this year’s gaps to plan for next year. It is common to want to present only the good stuff in CSR reports. It’s also common to present only the good stuff to senior management. This can backfire on your CSR program. Most CSR reports are signed by an executive. Use this as an opportunity to get the resources you need for next year. Nobody has all the CSR data and information they would like for their CSR reports. Many stakeholders respect companies that are candid about their performance, including areas where they have fallen short. Senior management respects candor, too. Don’t hide the gaps. Consider the risks they pose to your organization. Develop a plan to address them, and estimate the resources you’ll need. When you get the sign-off on this year’s CSR report, ask senior management for what you need for next year’s CR efforts—so you can return with a more robust CSR report next year.  

—Douglas Hileman, CRMA, CPEA, President, Douglas Hileman Consulting LLC. www.douglashileman.com.