Corporate conscience

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Corporate conscienceOn 1 May 2001 in Personnel Today Thesedays, companies that want to retain public favour and investment, and alsoattract the best employees, need to show they are ethically and sociallyresponsible. Mark Jansen reportsManyof the multinational corporations have philanthropic, social and environmentalprojects they can point to and thus declare themselves good corporate citizens.But are such projects mere window dressing or is there some real, hard evidencethat global capitalism is beginning to adopt a more human face? RobertRubinstein, head of Amsterdam-based organisation Brooklyn Bridge, is anoptimist who believes a profound shift is taking place. Brooklyn Bridgeorganises an annual international conference on “ethical investing”and its implications for corporations around the world (see further informationbox). Sponsors include the European Business Network for Social Cohesion, whichis funded by the EC Directorate for Employment and Social Affairs.Rubinsteinis convinced that multinational corporations are coming under increasingpressure to adopt a “triple bottom-line” approach to business –striving for high environmental performance and high social performance, aswell as high financial performance. A key source of this pressure is the riseof “ethical” and “socially responsible” investment funds.These are becoming more and more popular with personal investors in thedeveloped world and look set to grow further, particularly as these personalinvestors are increasingly being forced to set up their own pension fundsrather than rely on state provision. Companiesthat want a slice of this investment money will have to prove their social andenvironmental credentials: “Over the next five to ten years, you’re goingto see tidal waves of money looking for companies that are operating accordingto a triple bottom line,” Rubinstein predicts. He adds that as consumersbecome better informed, through the Internet and a broad range of other media,companies have become more anxious to maintain a good reputation onenvironmental or social issues. He claims that consumer hostility has forcedsome multinationals to get rid of their interests in nuclear power, tobacco anddam building, and adds that some banks now employ specialists to assess the “reputationrisk” posed by certain types of investment. Butit is another source of pressure cited by Rubenstein – the need forcorporations to attract the world’s best people to come and work for them –that is of particular interest to HR managers. “Qualifiedemployees can work anywhere they want to,” he proclaims. “And thereis a growing group of middle managers, future leaders and people of highpotential who want to work for companies that stand for something – notcompanies that rape and pillage the earth. The HR issue is extremelyimportant.” Thenotion that popular opinion is forcing companies to pursue social andenvironmental objectives with as much enthusiasm as financial objectives isobviously attractive. But others in this field are more sceptical thanRubinstein. John Weiser is a partner in Weiser-Brody-Burns, a Connecticut-basedconsultancy that helps both commercial and non-profit organisations toimplement social and philanthropic programmes. Past clients have included theBank of America.Weiseraccepts the argument that ethical investment funds are becoming more powerful.And he believes that some companies are responding to pressure from consumersto adopt “more ethical and socially responsible behaviour”. But heinsists that this movement is limited to those companies with high-profileconsumer brands – those that sell products and services to other companies,rather than the public, remain largely anonymous and are under no such pressure.Forexample, Weiser points out, the oil company Shell faced a public outcry when itproposed to sink its Brent Spar offshore oil platform rather than tow it backto the mainland for dismantling when it became obsolete. But the suppliercompany that built the platform for Shell remains anonymous and escapes publicpressure. Asfor the HR benefits of good corporate citizenship, Weiser accepts that a strongsocial and environmental record “could be helpful” for staffrecruitment and retention. “It can be helpful in motivating knowledgeworkers in particular – our understanding is that knowledge workers give youthe most output when they are inspired, captivated and feel aligned with thevalues and mission of a company,” he says. But to him it remains a fairlyperipheral issue: “There are lots of other ways to get knowledge workersexcited – like having indoor exercise areas and cafeterias. And the bottom lineis the compensation – if you get that wrong, these other issues won’t matter!”Ofthe three companies featured in our case studies – Nestle, Microsoft and autopartsmanufacturer Delphi – only Delphi reported that its corporate citizenshipprogramme had particular HR benefits. In Mexico, where Delphi employs around75,000 people, the company is actively involved in getting its employees intogovernment housing schemes. Staff turnover, which is high in many Delphiplants, is drastically reduced among staff who are homeowners. But bothMicrosoft and Nestle said that the HR benefits of their social programmes wereeither negligible or impossible to measure.NestleNestlehas around 5,500 employees and 16 factories in South Africa, making it thecompany’s biggest African market by far. The country has enormous developmentalneeds – poverty, illiteracy and unemployment are all widespread. Nestle SouthAfrica is involved in over 20 community development projects, often donatingmoney and sitting on the management boards of those that aim to providelong-term solutions to such problems.Onesuch example is Ecolink, a non-government organisation (NGO) which has taughtcommunities how to “harvest rainwater” with the use of guttering andwater tanks. Villagers are taught basic construction skills to build the watertanks with the aid of a reuseable iron mould. There is as much rainfall inSouth Africa as in England, but in South Africa, the rain tends to come all atonce. Four of these tanks can provide a school or a health clinic with waterall year round.Ecolinkhas also taught impoverished South Africans in some of the hottest parts of thecountry to grow their own food with the aid of “trench gardening”.This involves digging a door-sized trench, which is then partially filled withhousehold waste before a layer of soil is placed on top. The waste helps tofeed and irrigate the soil and allows vegetables to be grown on top of the”trench”. Accordingto Nestle’s corporate affairs manager, Jacky du Plessis, who also administersthe company’s social responsibility programmes and sits on the boards ofvarious South African NGOs, three trench gardens can feed a family for a year. Nestlehas also provided funds for South Africa’s Earthcare programme, which has,among other projects, distributed polystyrene “wonderboxes”. Thethermal properties of these boxes allow South Africans to make drastic savingson the amount of firewood they use when cooking. This is significant in acountry where there is little electricity and people are forced to walkever-greater distances in search of trees to use as firewood. Inurban Cape Town, Nestle is supporting War Against Malnutrition, Tuberculosisand Hunger (WARMTH). This NGO teaches women how to run “communitykitchens”, which offer low-cost, nutritious, soya-based meals. Thetraining includes financial skills and the women running the kitchens areencouraged to make a profit, “so the more they cook, the more they profitand the more the community eats,” notes du Plessis. Sherecently met a woman who is using the profits from her kitchen to put her threechildren through school and herself through night school, where she is learningto read and write.”Ithink there’s a growing awareness that multinationals, in particular, need toshow a human face,” muses du Plessis. “In today’s world, you can nolonger say you’re a good company just because you put out good products andtreat your staff well. You have to be seen as a stakeholder in the localcommunity and play a part in solving local problems.”Asfor specific HR benefits, du Plessis is uncertain: “If you are showingyour human face, it has got to play a role in becoming a preferred employer.But how would you measure it?” She adds, “Even academic institutionsare running outreach programmes. We’re certainly not the only ones out there.All citizens, including corporate citizens, have to play a role.”DelphiDelphiAutomotive Systems is the world’s largest manufacturer of auto parts and hasaround 211,000 employees across the globe.  Manymultinationals have opened up manufacturing bases in Mexico in recent years,and Delphi is no exception, having opened 55 plants there since 1978. In fact,Delphi is now the second-largest employer in Mexico with 74,000 employees.Overthe past five years, Delphi has been working in partnership with local housingauthorities to help its production workers save up for and move into governmenthousing projects. Delphi employs special staff to help workers with theapplication forms; it also arranges for housing officials to come on-site toexplain the scheme to its workforce. In some cases, it has provided bridgingloans to help workers with their first down payment. Inaddition, thanks to a special agreement between Delphi and the housingauthority, the system of qualifying for this housing has been greatly speededup, with waiting times for Delphi workers reduced by up to 15 years in somecases. The company estimates that it will have helped around 8,000 of itsworkers move into government homes by the end of 2002. MichaelHissom, director of public relations for Delphi’s Mexican operations, says thecompany’s motives are simple: “We want decent housing for our employees,because it is the right thing to do.” However, he admits that theinitiative also has important HR benefits. Inmany Mexican towns, the influx of multinational companies has led to zerounemployment and, as Hissom notes, “It’s an employee’s market.” Sothe housing scheme makes Delphi an attractive company to work for. In addition,it promotes stability in the workforce – with jobs relatively easy to come by,Delphi has found that labour turnover in some of its plants can be as high as10% a month. “But we have found that among employees whohave bought homes,labour turnover falls to one tenth of one per cent a month,” explainsHissom.MicrosoftBillGates is one of the world’s biggest philanthropists, donating hundreds ofmillions of dollars to worthy causes through his personal Gates Foundation andalso via the company he founded, Microsoft.Oneof the general aims of Microsoft’s corporate philanthropy (as opposed to BillGates’s private donations made through the Gates Foundation) is the teaching ofIT skills to “disadvantaged groups”. Thisgoes on all over the world, from the company’s home state in the US to China toeverywhere else, and it aims to help these people improve their employmentprospects and thereby help the development of the communities they live in. Thecompany also provides free software and technical assistance to charitableorganisations.Yetwhile Microsoft teaches IT skills to disadvantaged people, international publicrelations manager Ricardo Adame says there are few strategic HR benefits:”We are not doing this so we can train people to become softwaredevelopers, which is our core business. “Wereally just train people to know how a computer works, how to do research onthe Internet and how to use computers to help run a business.” Headds, “It would be fair to say we’re reinforcing our reputation in localmarkets. It’s always been a part of company culture to give something back tothe community.”Furtherinformation –The Global Business Responsibility Resource Centre: www.bsr.org/resourcecenter–Business in the Community: www.bitc.org.uk–The United Nations Global Compact Network: www.unglobalcompact.org/gc/UNWeb.nsf/–Business Leaders Forum: www.pwblf.org/–Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: www.gatesfoundation.org–Microsoft: www.microsoft.com/giving–The Bank of America Foundation: www.bankofamerica.com/foundation/–Nestle: www.babymilk.nestle.com–Delphi Automotive Systems: www.delphiauto.com–Brody-Weiser-Burns consultancy: www.brodyweiser.comEthicalinvesting –Triple Bottom Line Investment (includes details of the 2001 conferenceorganised by Brooklyn Bridge, which takes place in Rotterdam on 18-19November):  www.tbli.org–UK Social Investment Forum: www.uksif.org–Ethical Investment Research Service: www.eiris.org–www.socialfunds.com contains manysurveys purporting to measure the social and environmental performance ofvarious companiesFurtherreadingConversationswith Disbelievers: encouraging companies towards greater social engagement, byJ Weiser and S Zadek, can be downloaded free of charge from www.zadek.net and www.brodyweiser.com Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Assessing the recovery of an Antarctic predator from historical exploitation

first_imgThe recovery of whale populations from centuries of exploitation will have important management and ecological implications due to greater exposure to anthropogenic activities and increasing prey consumption. Here, a Bayesian population model integrates catch data, estimates of abundance, and information on genetics and biology to assess the recovery of western South Atlantic (WSA) humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Modelling scenarios evaluated the sensitivity of model outputs resulting from the use of different data, different model assumptions and uncertainty in catch allocation and in accounting for whales killed but not landed. A long period of exploitation drove WSA humpback whales to the brink of extinction. They declined from nearly 27 000 (95% PI = 22 800–33 000) individuals in 1830 to only 450 (95% PI = 200–1400) whales in the mid-1950s. Protection led to a strong recovery and the current population is estimated to be at 93% (95% PI = 73–100%) of its pre-exploitation size. The recovery of WSA humpback whales may result in large removals of their primary prey, the Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba), and has the potential to modify the community structure in their feeding grounds. Continued monitoring is needed to understand how these whales will respond to modern threats and to climate-driven changes to their habitats.last_img read more

Nurses launch Medicare For All ‘Barnstorm’ Actions

first_imgNurses launch Medicare For All ‘Barnstorm’ Actions The grassroots Medicare for All movement will ramp up like never before Feb. 9-13, during the Medicare for All Week of Action, as volunteers across the U.S. host 150 Medicare for All “barnstorm” mass organizing meetings to kickstart canvassing and grassroots lobbying in local communities throughout the country. “Nurses have been fighting for decades to win Medicare for All, so we are thrilled to see the movement for real health care reform in America expanding like never before,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), sponsor of the Medicare for All week of action. “The barnstorms are about harnessing that momentum and continuing to build it out even further, into every community, conversation by conversation, neighbor by neighbor—until the people’s will for Medicare for All becomes the political will to get it done.” What: Evansville, IN Medicare for All BarnstormWhen: Saturday, February 9th at 3 pmWhere: EVPL Central Library, Browning Rooms A & BSee map of 150 U.S. locations at medicare4all.org/actionsA recent Reuters-Ipsos poll showed 70 percent of respondents support Medicare for All. According to nurses, ground support has been unprecedented, with volunteers knocking on doors, crowd canvassing, and phone banking—identifying tens of thousands of Medicare for All supporters, from August 2017 through September 2018 alone. An organizing call for the barnstorms, featuring Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who will soon be introducing the new House Medicare for All Act; Senator Bernie Sanders, sponsor of the Senate bill; and NNU’s Castillo, was attended by thousands of people. With the impending introduction of Jayapal’s new House bill, nurses and activists say the barnstorms will focus on organizing to knock on doors, make phone calls to and otherwise rally the American public to lobby representatives for the bill’s passage. “Profiting off sick people is sick,” said Briana Moss, whose fight to maintain insulin for her Type I diabetes inspired her to host the Dubuque, Iowa barnstorm. “I know people with diabetes literally dying because they cannot afford their insulin. My grandparentsare too scared to retire. Having health care tied to your occupation holds everybody back. In what should be the greatest country in the world, there’s no excuse for this.”Allentown, Pa. barnstorm host Emily Hibshman, 25, says she is fighting for a future in which young people can fulfill their potential, rather than basing life decisions around aging out of family insurance at 26. She says she is committed to holding elected officials accountable.“I want people who support an incremental change in the existing system to think about who will be hurt by continuing to do that,” said Hibshman. “Any democratic politician worth their salt needs to get behind Medicare for All.  People want it. If you’re not behind it, you need to get out of office.”Nurses say they have been blown away by the massive response to the call for barnstorming events, and are heartened to see everyday people stepping up and joining the movement.“The health care and insurance industries may be able to buy politicians and the media, but they will never be as persuasive as our thousands of volunteers,” said NNU Copresident Jean Ross, RN. “We’re going to put intense pressure on Congress members to sign on as cosponsors of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 and for key House committee members to bring the legislation to hearings. In honor of our patients who have paid the ultimate price in this deadly system, we know we can’t wait any longer – and together, with all of the working people and allies standing up this week and beyond, we will see that Medicare for All makes it across the finish line.”Our Revolution is sponsoring and Medicare for All Indiana will hold an event on Saturday, Feb. 9th at 3 PM in the Browning Room at Central Library to discuss Single Payer Medicare for All. The recent election demonstrated that health care is a high priority for Americans. In addition to sky rocketing drug prices, soaring premiums and increasing out of pocket costs, health care costs are also hurting businesses trying to provide coverage for their employees. Medicare for All, in one form or another, is popular among Democrats, Independents as well as Republicans. It is time to join the rest of the industrialized world in providing affordable and effective medical care for all our citizens. Join us for a discussion and planning session to explore Medicare for All proposals. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Dick Connolly at [email protected] LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Hudson County CASA is seeking volunteers

first_img× HOBOKEN – Learn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. The next information session will be at Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St., Hoboken on Tuesday, July 25 at 7 p.m.Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.For further information, visit www.hudsoncountycasa.orglast_img read more

The tax reform bill is bad for almost everyone

first_imgDear Editor:The tax reform bill believe is very exciting and who doesn’t want more money in their pocket. However, the devil is in the details. Former President’s Ronald Reagan, both Bush’s and Barack Obama had similar ideas with gov’t support of banks, insurance co’s, and car companies. Only the car company executives weren’t reported as giving themselves raises and bonuses after the US gov’t used America’s tax dollars to save them from extinction. I say no to the current bill unless the tax reform bill is re formed.Regards, Pam Moorelast_img read more

Mercosur Approves the Creation of a Fund to Support Family Farms

first_img The countries that make up Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay) decided in Brasilia to set up a joint fund to strengthen family farms, in an initial amount of around 50 million dollars. The fund, approved during the fourteenth Mercosur meeting dedicated exclusively to this topic, will be destined for activities to support and strengthen family farms, particularly through the concession of small lines of credit. The representative of the Mercosur Family Producers Organizations, Alessandra Lunas, highlighted the decision to create the fund because “it’s necessary to invest in people who produce food. We can’t allow there to be millions of people in the Mercosur countries suffering from hunger.” Meanwhile, the Argentine agriculture minister, Julián Domínguez, said in the meeting’s opening address that it is necessary that “the public and private sectors work to support” family farms because of their enormous capacity to produce food. In the view of the Brazilian minister of social development, Marcia Lopes, it is fundamental that “governments be bolder” in designing and adopting strategies to “defeat the plague of hunger,” and she added that supporting family farms is one such path. For his part, José Graziano, the representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Latin America, noted that there are fundamental issues that need to be resolved in the fight against hunger, particularly the acute problem of agrarian reform. By Dialogo November 22, 2010last_img read more

US, Guatemala and Honduras strengthen narcotics fight

first_imgBy Dialogo August 31, 2012 GUATEMALA CITY – Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of the U.S. military’s Southern Command, (USSOUTHCOM) said the coastlines of Honduras and Guatemala have become hubs in the trafficking of narcotics from South America into the United States. “Key arrival points in Central America are the northeast coast of Honduras and then the Pacific coast of Guatemala,” Fraser said. “We changed our strategy to be more persistent … to see if we could have a bigger impact on trafficking organizations.” USSOUTHCOM, which is in charge of heading combined military missions in Central America and the Caribbean, recently deployed 171 Marines and four helicopters to Guatemala. The move was in conjunction with Operation Martillo, an international mission that gathers Western Hemisphere and European nations in an effort to curtail illicit trafficking routes on both coasts of the Central American isthmus. U.S. officials said 90% of cocaine from South America that arrives in the United States is routed through Central America, as Mexico-based cartels have established a presence throughout the region. “These criminal organizations will continue to shift their operations and we will have to shift ours,” Fraser said. “As we put pressure along their routes, they will be making some changes, but we don’t know what those will be.” Fraser met with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez on Aug. 29. [Reuters (Guatemala), 29/08/2012; Prensa Libre (Guatemala), 30/08/2012]last_img read more

The ultimate brand experience

first_imgConsumers experience your brand in a number of ways: through their research related to a particular need; through the purchase process; through your customer service in person, online, or by phone; through their use of your product or service; through your presence in their environment; and through word of mouth.Traditionally, the main consumer experience occurred at the point (or place) of purchase. Today, much of that experience continuum has shifted online. In spite of the increasing reliance on digital channels (or perhaps because of it), consumers have high expectations of their physical interactions with brands. They’re not just looking for good service and attractive, functional retail design – they’re seeking an experience that is memorable and meaningful.Apple stores are a great example of how brands can offer in-person experience value to consumers. They’re not just a place to buy a product, they’re a place where consumers can interact, experience, learn, share, and feel like part of a community. The stores are consistent but unique, and they’re a seamless extension of other aspects of the Apple brand experience. People go there not only to make a purchase or receive service, but also simply to experience the brand. continue reading » 22SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

Instagram strategies that really work for credit unions

first_img 13SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr I recently attended The Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The Forum hosted over 1500 professionals in the financial sector for a 3-day conference, of which, I attended several breakout sessions on various topics…one session in particular is top of mind for this blog.On day 2 of the Forum, I attended a breakout session about one of the nations largest Banks ($125 Billion in assets) that grew their revenue using social media.  I was curious to hear their Director of Social Media speak on the subject to see what her findings were, and their overall strategy for success.  One thing that was shocking to me about her presentation, was when she said her Bank wasn’t on Instagram.  When an audience member asked why, the Director of Social Media responded with “our Bank likes to take their time when deciding which social media platforms we should be on, and I’m not so sure where Instagram is going to go.”  I can understand her response, but I respectfully disagree with her…and here’s why:Don’t wait.  Run!As we know, most credit union member populations are aging.  With over 700 million monthly active Instagrammers, the platform’s primary age group is 18-29 years old (aka millennials), which is the perfect market for credit unions to target to grow their membership. continue reading »last_img read more

Tioga County accepting cloth mask donations for residents needing them

first_imgHome Central Owego: 151 Central Ave, Owego, NY 13827 Home Central Candor: 309 Owego Rd, Candor, NY 13743 Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.Sunday: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (WBNG) — Following a New York State mandate to use face coverings in public, Tioga County officials are making sure every resident has access to a mask. If you would like to donate or pick up a mask, you can visit the following locations: The County is accepting donations at Home Central locations in Owego and Candor. Before donating, officials are asking for masks to be washed and placed in bags. If you are picking up a mask, officials say you should wash the mask as an added precaution. “Wearing a mask does two things. It protects the person you’re speaking with, and if that person is wearing a mask, their mask protects you. It’s a safety precaution, it’s a way of staying healthier,” said Sauerbrey. “People began to say they could sew them. We decided that we should encourage the community to make masks,” said Tioga County Legislature Chair Marte Sauerbrey. County officials say if residents can work together, it will keep the community much safer. Both Home Central locations are open the following hours: Officials are stressing that wearing a mask is not only mandatory, but also a necessity. Masks will be given out on a first come, first serve basis, and will only be available as donations come in.last_img read more