This Week’s Reading, Writing, Links

DNVGL latest sustainability roundtable “The road less traveled: Pathways to Transformation”

What it all comes down to.

Revkin: Tracing @Pontifex’s Climate Plans for 2015

Thoughtful read for 2015 | Gus Speth: Building the new environmentalism

Good wrap-up & examples of Big Biz CSR leadership “Doing Good Is Good for Business”

Required reading: New Yorker story on graphene

READ-HUGE The “New Power”

Good News day decimates website’s readership

Monday feel-good: Jan 2007 NYTimes “Happiness 101” on positive psychology

Nice round-up of the 2015 climate action state-of-play

2014 good news: 5 Climate innovations

Good news for 2015 NJ solar

3 examples where US business leadership can step up for climate policies that help everyone

Level-headed editorial on why climate action is good for NJ citizens

NJ used to lead on climate action & we can again | OpEd

Graphene is on my 2015 innovation watch list…Wonder material could harvest energy from thin air

NJ ‘s future. Almost 7K UK properties will be lost to rising seas:

“We are capable of kindness, goodness, & generosity”

261 businesses already in NEW UN climate actions examples portal; share to make it 100x

Catholic Bishops Call For ‘An End To The Fossil Fuel Era’

Pope Francis emerging as global climate justice leader the world needs?

New site uses tech & socent for US resilience

Can “green” Pope break the climate deadlock?

The Secret Side of Business Sustainability

Encouraging biz & investors to phase from Fossilfuel->#renewables

Fracking reparations in W. Virginia

Catching up: Clifbar shared cocoa sources 12/3. Kudos 4 transparency, support to do more

2014 fave, highly sharable: 8 Steps to Becoming a Truly Sustainable Brand

LOVE. Sustainability Leadership | 3 new frontiers

2015 is the year we change this | The press has a problem reporting good news

Financial Success Now Requires Sustainability

Global Green Bond Sales 3x to $35B in 2014

Apple, IKEA, Walmart: 12 leaders in on-site renewables

Christmas Day in midcoast Maine. Merry & bright best wishes to you & yours

3 signals why 2015 is looking good

State-Based Climate Solution That Doesn’t Need Congress

Restored Forests Breathe Life Into  Climate Change Adaptation

Pope may call for 100% renewable at Vatican

Heads-up: will be big for 2015 | Grand Strategy Project

Beautiful “It’s not the last man standing who wins. But the first man who kneels. And plants his garden”

There is an invisible global army of people in big companies pushing for CSR

Monday cheers for Eudaimonia, a word for flourishing

DC passes sea level rise ‘tipping point,’ more cities to follow

SHARE: A $10m #Fairtrade grant shows exponential Biz for Good can happen more, in more places, faster

Collaboration! NetPositive: The Next Frontier of Sustainability Leadership

INSPIRING innovation, leadership & FUN |

I believe in a New Story about #BizforGood, about Business as an Agent of World Benefit…These folks do too

GREAT Business for Good innovation story | What if blood tests took a drop & cost pennies? Blood, Simpler

How more companies can do good while doing well

5 startups that could radically transform the world around us:

GREAT examples of Biz for Good in unexpected places | Using Entrepreneurship to Save the World.

Wonderful! Visual storytelling on culture of dialogue | AppreciativeInquiry

Business Takes a Decisive Leap: Breakthrough in Collaborating for Good #sustainability

“CVS Effect” Article Picked as 2014 Top Leadership Article on Sustainable Brands

I’m extremely proud to share that one of my “CVS Effect” articles was picked as the top leadership article for “Best of 2014 in Sustainability.”









It’s this one: The “CVS Effect” in Effect: Apple, Disney and Chipotle Step Up

Five major brands have just made news for decisions that buck the bottom-line mantra. Could this be momentum for the “CVS Effect”? Take a look and see if you agree. And note too how brands are joining with allies on these issues, while one brand — Chipotle — is potentially breaking major new ground. Keep reading…

ASBC Summit Attendees Chart Path and Policies to a Sustainable Economy

My latest for Sustainable Brands.

Dusk_at_U.S._Capitol,_Washington,_D.C._bannerThe American Sustainable Business Council’s (ASBC) third annual summit Nov. 13 and 14 in Washington, D.C. brought together 150 entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors and elected officials to discuss the state of play—and possibilities—for policies that advance a sustainable economy.Founded in 2009, ASBC is a national business advocacy policy organization representing over 200,000 businesses across the nation. ASBC works on a wide range of policy issues at the federal and state level, working to advance a sustainable economy by shifting markets and policies. ASBC raises up the voice, presence and power of business to create jobs, grow business and build a sustainable US economy.

“We invited our members here to Washington to discuss the business case and policies needed for a sustainable, just, prosperous, and vibrant economy,” said ASBC vice president and co-founder Richard Eidlin.

He explained that ASBC is a direct response to the presence of traditional business interests such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who spend hundreds of millions often advocating for policies that deter the economy from becoming more innovative, equitable and sustainable.  While claiming to represent the will of American businesses, especially small companies, these entities do the opposite. ASBC is working to ensure that other important voices in the business community are heard in Washington and the media.
Among the attendees were representatives from sustainability-focused retailers Earth Friendly Products, Ecco Bella, Greyston Bakery and Eileen Fisher.

Receiving the SUSTY Award from the American Sustainable Business Council is U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (right). Presenting the award is Rebecca Magee, EILEEIN FISHER.At a kickoff reception on Nov. 12, ASBC presented its Sustainable Policymakers Award, the “SUSTY,” for “exemplary leadership from members of Congress, administration officials and businesses.” This year’s awards went to U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and ASBC business member, New Belgium Brewing.

An overall theme that emerged over the summit was that the values at the core of a sustainably run business need to be reflected in the policies that govern how business operates, for workers, customers, and society as a whole. “This isn’t about the environmental case. This is about the business case — that the economy can be more sustainable and provide opportunity to a much greater array of Americans,” said ASBC co-founder David Levin in his opening remarks. “And in the process, a more prosperous economy is created. But it takes businesses speaking up to make that case,” added Levine.

Thursday’s mix of plenary and breakout sessions mirrored these priorities with discussions about pricing carbon, raising the minimum wage, supporting the growth of clean energy technologies, supporting the next generation of American farmers, tax reform, the growth of shared ownership business models like ESOPS and cooperatives, and a panel on conservative thought and sustainability.

In a broad-ranging, candid discussion about putting a price on carbon, the question seemed firmly on the side of when, not if. Emily Enderle, Chief Environmental Policy Advisor for U.S. Senator Whitehouse said that the Senator plans to introduce a carbon pricing bill in the next few weeks. Eidlin said that the ASBC will be advocating for a price on carbon going forward, citing that the “dialogue is beginning to shift.”

A panel on shared ownership business models included comments from U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah from Pennsylvania, who shared his support for employee owned businesses. B Lab’s policy director, Erik Trojian, noted that diversifying ownership is one way to ensure a company’s longevity. And in a measure of how embedded worker ownership is in the U.S. economy, “There are 29,000 cooperatives in the US – and many Americans belong to more than one,” said Michael Peck from Mondragon North America.

Another panel discussed the likelihood that movement on sustainable economic and environmental policy initiatives for the next two years is most likely to happen on the state and local levels. JR Tolbert, executive director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators pointed out three places where there’s traction and broad support for sustainable business policy: chemical reform (such as on phthalates and toxic flame retardants), solar, and a price on carbon.

“Solar is an issue where the right and left come together around energy freedom. This is where citizens can decide where their energy comes from,” he said.

On Friday, the day started early with a Women’s Working Group breakfast session to set priorities for the coming year of interest to women members, including access to capital and workplace initiatives such as Leave Insurance. The entire summit group then attended a several-hours-long briefing at The White House and spent the afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with over thirty elected officials and staffers from ASBC members’ districts.

Concurrent with the Summit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced $3 million in small business funding for green technology and research in eight states. On a Nov. 12 press call before the Summit began, McCarthy reiterated the agency’s commitment to strengthening economic growth, supporting sustainable businesses, and combating the impacts of climate change.

Speaking about the summit overall, Eidlin said, “Our members are demonstrating by the way they act that business can be profitable, environmentally responsible, and care about workers and their communities. There is no contradiction.”

Case in point is Naturepedic, a company that manufactures non-toxic, organic mattresses and bedding products in Ohio. David Anthony, director of corporate affairs, said, “As a small business, on our own we don’t have the money or the network to make effective change in Washington on the things that matter to us and our customers. So ASBC helps us have a seat at table to voice our concerns. Going to the White House and meeting with my senator is American democracy at its finest, made possible because we are associated with a strong group.”

Eidlin stressed the importance of making the voice of sustainable business heard in Washington and at the state level.

“The $4 billion spent in the recent election is a case in point. Most of the policies and programs pushed by that $4 billion were not in the interests of sustainable businesses and will not move the economy in a sustainable direction,” he said.

“When you show up as business leaders, that makes all the difference.”  Too often, those who claim to speak for business think that profit and the single bottom line are the only thing that matters. That’s why we say, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ It’s crucial that sustainable business leaders engage in policy, because if they don’t then someone else who doesn’t reflect their values will.”

This Week’s Reading, Writing, Links

JOIN: Complimentary sustainability webinar w/inspiring, solution-focused successes | Nov18 2-3 EST

SAP Severs Ties With #ALEC:

Personally heartened to see @Greenbiz @SustAbility convo on #lowfood #slowfood

Andrew Winston: New Big Think interview

UN Sec Gen advises pension funds to #divest from #fossilfuel #climate #actonclimate #CSR #socinv

See you there @ASBCouncil: Only one week until #ASBCSummit2014 kicks off – RSVP:

+1 Read @joconfino: “Making a profit is no more the purpose of business as breathing is the purpose of living”

RT @350: These next few years are a crucial window. If you’re a U.S. voter: Don’t stay home today. Vote. #climatevoter

How do we get more financial institutions to offer #greenbonds?

HuffPo covers Business as Agent for World Benefit w/insight from @dlc6David

Is this a big deal? Yes. “BofA Merrill Lynch launches #greenbonds Index”

MORE LIKE THIS PLS: “Set aside the quarterly financials and do something good in this world.” Rich Kylberg of @ArrowGlobal

That’s #leadership: “Talk about what you believe in, rather than what you do.” Rich Kylberg @arrowglobal

Mod @Sallyuren asked @Heineken’s Dickstein abt selling less beer as #CSR. Ans: “less, but over the long term, better” #SB14London

@MichDickstein offers his “What if?”:
all sustainable hops by 2020. Like it, thinking abt healthy soil & bees @Heineken_UK #SB14London Nov 04, 2014

THIS: Doing good–>doing well “The Greenest Companies Consistently Outperform Markets”

Jo Confino Q-ing Barclay’s Wheldon on exec bonuses w/Polman quote: “The reason banks need to pay so much money is bc it has no purpose” #sb14london

Proud to be on the Business Alliance for the Future team. Follow @BA4F #BA4F for breakthrough #collaboration & #collectiveaction news

Follow @ASBCouncil for more like this: Post-election: What sustainably minded business people want from Congress

@Billmckibben goes there. If you care about zombies & #Ebola, care more abt #climate @guardian: #IPCC:

@Guardian: IPCC: rapid carbon emission cuts vital to stop ‘severe’ impact of climate change

Global Forum Attendees Design ‘Flourishing’ Solutions to Real-World Challenges

My Sustainable Brands coverage of the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent for World Benefit.

On Thursday, the first full day of Flourish & Prosper: The Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit in Cleveland, Ohio, the morning’s plenaries and CEO panels explored how business can move beyond how social and environmental responsibility are thought of today, to a new mindset of “full-spectrum flourishing” where “companies prosper, people excel, and nature thrives.

By the afternoon, it was time to get to work. “Speakers give you seeds of ideas and food for inspiration. Now it’s time to get us going in a different direction,” said David Cooperrider, author and professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.

He invited conference attendees to split into eight smaller “design studios,” where each group used Weatherhead’s Appreciative Inquiry (AI) summit method and facilitation to design, and work on, a specific, real-world innovation challenge.

A similar process at past Global Forums has resulted in breakthrough developments. At the 2006 event, participants designed the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) with the UN Global Compact Office. PRME is a global network and framework for academic institutions to advance corporate sustainability and social responsibility. Launched in 2007 by Ban Ki-Moon, PRME signatories today include 500 leading business schools and academic institutions from more than 80 countries worldwide.

In each of the studios, attendees created an action plan for moving forward on a project or challenge, based on the dozens of ideas and work of everyone in the room. Attendees worked with facilitators to go from the brainstorming stage of collecting ideas (ideation), narrowing these ideas down into promising concepts, generating workable prototypes for discussion, and then into the final design phase with an action plan. After barely eight hours of work total, the teams presented draft — but tangible — vision statements, timelines and next steps on the main stage late Friday morning.

The studios worked on:

  • Cities as centers of full-spectrum flourishing
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Transitioning to 100 percent clean energy
  • “Consciousness of connectedness” in the workplace
  • A “U.S. Grand Strategy” based on sustainability
  • New metrics for sustainability-as-flourishing,
  • Transforming the linear economy into a circular one, and
  • Showcasing businesses working for good, with Nobel Prize-like awards and recognition

In the renewable energy group’s report, spokesperson Matt Renner, executive director of the World Business Academy, shared the group’s plan to accelerate a pathway to a 100 percent renewable energy economy. The group proposed using existing technology based on micro-grid platforms, funded by a global energy bank.

The U.S. Grand Strategy project has been in motion for several years starting with a 2003 whitepaper commissioned by the Pentagon and authored by Patrick Doherty. The team is now housed at the newly launched Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western with co-directors Mark “Puck” Mykleby and Doherty. Their group shared ideas for engaging businesses, regions and citizens across the country to work on a U.S. grand strategy based on sustainability.

The final studio, “Showcasing Business as an Agent of World Benefit” opened with the inquiry to find ways to change the stories we hear about business and the world. As a whole, we mainly have negative ones that dominate our media and conversations. Instead, business can help elevate the larger, truly positive stories that are out there, but unheard, of companies doing well by being good for their customers, society, employees, and the environment. By sharing and scaling up these stories, “they can become known and become living reality in business and society,” said Cooperrider.

To this point, Harry Halloran, Chairman and CEO, American Refining Group and ARG Resources said, “People would be astonished to find out all the good things already happening in business.” (Halloran Philanthropies supports the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value at Case Western.)

Work on this initiative is already underway at Case Western and other institutions. Business students are conducting thousands of business leader interviews about innovations, breakthroughs, and excellence, using the Appreciative Inquiry method.

In the group’s report to the conference, they shared ideas for an online platform to house the stories, an app to share them, a MOOC, exhibitions, and global business awards.

While the conference concluded on Friday, the design studio work and all the connections made at the conference will continue, to create a flourishing world.

More about “full-spectrum flourishing” can be found in the new book, Flourishing Enterprise: The New Spirit of Business by Chris Laszlo, Judy Sorum Brown, John R. Ehrenfeld and others.

Moody-Stuart Challenges Global Forum Attendees to Collaborate to Eradicate Malaria

My Sustainable Brands coverage of the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit

UN Global Compact chairman Sir Mark Moody-Stuart used his time on the main stage at the Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit on Thursday to propose how business can join the global fight to eradicate malaria.

In addition to his role with Global Compact, Moody-Stuart also serves as the chairman of the IVCC Board of Trustees. IVCC is a not-for-profit public-private partnership that was established as a charity in 2005. The group’s mission is to save lives, protect health and increase prosperity in areas where disease transmitted by insects is endemic.

Moody-Stuart shared how IVCC is partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UKAID, USAID and Swiss Development Corporation to engage with major agro-chemical companies to bring three new antimalarial insecticides into production. “Innovation funders and business partners have brought us this far,” he said, but the project still needs $50-100 million to come to fruition.

Malaria seen a remote problem that’s not connected to business, but Moody-Stuart argued it’s not.

“Healthy employees, customers and communities are good for business,” he said.

The problem, as Moody-Stuart explained, is that people fighting to eradicate malaria need to rely on the continuing generosity of governments and philanthropists such as the Gates Foundation. And as the problem continues, they’re asked to do even more.

“Or someone else has to do the job. To me, it has to be done by companies in the affected areas,” he said.

Which is where his proposal came in, with the question: “Would societal benefits be enough to get companies to give a few million dollars a year to bridge the gap?”

Companies that contribute to the effort would be helping bring a solution over the finish line.

Malaria is one of the world’s most preventable illnesses and causes of death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malaria kills over 600,000 people each year and sickens over 216 million more. Increased prevention and control measures have reduced malaria mortality rates by 42 percent globally since 2000 and by 49 percent in the WHO African Region.

But these gains are threatened because of increasing resistance to insecticides that are used in life-saving sprays and bed nets. Similar to antibiotic resistance, the long-term effectiveness of insecticides relies on more than one kind and the ability to rotate them. But with a lack of human welfare funding on a global basis, these new insecticides are not being made.

The economic case for eliminating malaria can be found in the research that tallies the annual costs of death and illness due to malaria to governments. The Centers for Disease Control estimates the direct costs from malaria from drugs, illness, and premature death to be at least US$12 billion per year. As the CDC outlines, the cost in lost economic growth is many times more than that: “Costs to governments include maintenance, supply and staffing of health facilities; purchase of drugs and supplies; public health interventions against malaria, such as insecticide spraying or distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets; lost days of work with resulting loss of income; and lost opportunities for joint economic ventures and tourism.”

Businesses bear many of the same costs with lost employee productivity and costs to care for ill employees.

Dr. Nick Hamon, CEO of IVCC, remarked: “For companies who want to grow in Africa, now’s the time to get your brand out there with a small group of motivated companies who want to be part of the solution.” Hamon estimates that 5-10 companies contributing $1 million a year for 10 years would be sufficient to bring these three already-tested insecticides to market and make malaria eradication closer to reality.

As well as being the right thing to do, for companies who operate in areas impacted by malaria, this can also be seen as an opportunity for companies looking to grow and be seen as a human welfare leader.

“They can be a part of the solution right up front, with something we know is going to be successful,” Hamon said.

Global Forum Workshop Explores Brands’ Challenges & Opportunities for Flourishing in the Future

Global Forum Workshop Explores Brands’ Challenges & Opportunities for Flourishing in the Future

Flourish & Prosper: The Third Global Forum for Business as an Agent of World Benefit started Oct. 15 in Cleveland, Ohio with a full day of plenaries, CEO panels, and afternoon workshops. The conference’s aim is to move beyond how social responsibility and sustainability are thought of today, to a new mindset of “full-spectrum flourishing” and profitability.

At one of the conference’s afternoon workshops, WeFirst CEO Simon Mainwaring explored the branding challenges facing companies today from societal, technological and global upheavals, as well as the opportunities to adapt for a “flourishing” future.

He started by telling the story of how he was inspired by Bill Gates’ 2008 “Creative Capitalism” speech at the World Economic Forum. Gates called on business to help solve the world’s problems alongside government and philanthropy, by making “doing good” a part of how they do business.

Today, everyone with a computer in their hand now has the power to reach literally millions of people with a post, tweet, or photo. And as well, this access to information has created a generation of increasingly media savvy customers. “Social activism can rally likeminded people to either support or demonize your brand,” Mainwaring said. Mobile activism is on the rise, with apps like Buycott that let customers vote with their spending to support or reject brands and causes.

But reality is, says Mainwaring, “Consumers want a better world, not a better widget.” They’re looking to brands and asking “Are you part of the problem or the solution?” This thesis is backed up by consumer “preference for purpose” research by Edelman and others.

Mainwaring said that many companies didn’t want to necessarily want to talk about all the good things they were doing. But the world has changed. Consumers actively want brands to tell them what they’re doing to contribute to a better world.

“So the bar is raised and it’s no longer enough to have a good product—companies need to have a purpose as well,” he said.

The most iconic brands of the future will be those with the greatest social impact. More and more, leading brands that have been known for creativity are now leading with their corporate purpose.

Mainwaring offered advice for companies to start with their purpose and asking, “What’s the right thing to do? Does it tie into what our customers want?” And then, from there, to ask “How do we do it in a way that’s profitable?”

Brands that answer all these question are then able to distill their purpose down to one core property, like Coke’s “Open Happiness”, Starbuck’s “Shared Planet” and Nike’s “Better world.”

Another key takeaway from the discussion was that leading brands think of themselves as the celebrator, not the celebrity, of their customer community. An iconic example is Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign that celebrates everyday athletes.

An intriguing development is how purpose-led brands are using social media and customer relationships to lead social conversations that align with their company purpose and values. One example is Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz, who expressed the company’s support for same-sex marriage at a 2013 shareholder meeting. Chiptole has steered a national conversation about food and how it’s made with viral videos like The Scarecrow. And of course, Patagonia’s iconic 2011 Black Friday “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign that opened conversations about consumption and responsible purchasing.

Mainwaring also cited Tesla as an example of how far a brand can go to live from a purpose with CEO Elon Musk’s commitment to break away from fossil fuels. Musk’s company is doing that by making electric cars and unlocking Tesla’s patents to speed up production and adoption across the industry. So in that sense, Tesla is a “mission with a business,” instead of the other way around.

One of the morning’s CEO panelists, Chris Killingstad , president and CEO of Tennant, was at the workshop. He offered his perspective on leading from his company’s brand values of creating a cleaner, safer, healthier world. Tennant makes chemical-free indoor and outdoor cleaning solutions that use 70% less water, are environmentally inert, and drastically reduce workers’ exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace.

But it’s not always an easy sell with the pressures of quarterly earnings expectations. “Investors increasingly get that we’re running the enterprise of the future, but they say we’re are only going to give it so much time.” And he added, “you’ve got to have courage” to keep leading from an unshakable commitment to a company’s values and doing work that’s good for the world as well as the bottom line.

#NewMetrics ’14 Panel Explores Data-Derived Solutions to Top Global Supply Chain Risks

My coverage of the Sustainable Brands New Metrics Friday afternoon workshop on top global supply chain risks.

It’s Friday afternoon at New Metrics ’14, and next on the agenda is a workshop offering data-based insights and recommendations on top global supply chains risks from specialists in the field.

The conversation was co-led by Andrew Savini, Manager of Supplier Management & Audits at Intertek, and Mark Robertson, Head of Marketing & Communications at Sedex, who shared their companies’ data analyses of supply chain risks and real-world experience.

To illustrate the scope and scale of the supply chain risk ecosystem, they offered this quote from global beverage company Diageo: “At Diageo, we talk about 70,000 suppliers and third parties, spread across over 100 countries of the world. When multiplied by the number of sub-suppliers in the supply chains, you get in to hundreds of thousands of people impacted by our global supply chain, so it’s vital to prioritize the key areas.”

Starting off, they gave an overview of CSR supply chain key events in the past 10 years, from labor issues at Levi’s and the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, to legislation, regulations, the proliferation of standards in the late 1990s, and the role of NGOs.

Data is the key to measuring progress towards responsible sourcing, they said, which they defined as the process of purchasing goods and services without causing harm to, or exploiting, humans or the natural environment.

On to risks, they shared the top 10 performance trends that audits around the world are picking up globally – fire safety, health and safety management, level of overtime hours, environment, management systems, machinery, chemicals and worker health/first aid/accidents, building/site maintenance and benefits/insurance – as well as how they look when sliced by China, Bangladesh, the United States, and by industry.

Not surprisingly, more mature industries such as food factories tend to perform better overall, due to years of scrutiny and regulations. By contrast, electronics factories have a way to go because of growth and increasing production.

A key supply chain risk is whether suppliers have controls or evaluation procedures for subcontracted work. In the case of Rana Plaza, many suppliers didn’t know their manufacturing processes were subcontracted to an over-burdened building with locked exits. Globally, audits find that 2 out of 5 suppliers do not have these controls in place, with the number being nearly 4 out of 5 in Taiwan.

A brighter story is the case of the global frequency of adequate fire-fighting equipment — only 1 out of 10 facilities fail at this measurement. This indicates that many years of codes of conduct and auditing have positively influenced fire safety practices.

They then did a deeper dive into labor issues in Cambodia, and showed how signs of the labor unrest that broke out in early 2014 could be discerned in earlier factory audits. A year before labor strikes took place, Cambodia’s overtime rate was 1.5 times more than the global average, signaling that workers were approaching a breaking point.

The conversation moved on to solutions and the case for multi-tier transparency. According to a PwC & MIT study, globally, only a third of companies are actively seeking transparency below Tier 1 in their supply chain. This is a problem because the highest risks and most issues are found deeper down (in the case of a garment’s supply chain, Tier 1 is the assembly, Tier 2 is the mill and Tier 3 is the cotton farm).

Intertek research backs up the case for companies to take on deeper levels of transparency – 40 percent of Intertek audit requests from global clients have something wrong with the audit request entity, and 70 percent of brands in a recent Intertek survey admitted their organizations would most likely lack the capability to trace back to production.

Externally, the drivers for improving supply chain risk management are compliance and traceability. The first, compliance, is fueled by regulations and legislation, investor pressure and consumer pressure. Pressure to improve traceability stems from the reality that in a connected world, issues become news in seconds.

What this means for companies is that transparency is expected, the “bare minimum” is no longer acceptable, greenwashing will be called out and criticized, and companies need to know where the next Rana Plaza could be.

The session wrapped up with their advice for what executives should keep top of mind.

Robertson said that sustainability leaders are looking to “not just meet regulatory requirements but go beyond compliance. That starts with protecting workers and doing more around benefits [such a providing a living wage] or training.”

As well, forward-looking companies are harnessing the power of Big Data from government datasets and news sources, expanding traceability beyond Tier 1 and forming collaborations with NGOs and other business leaders.

#NewMetrics ’14: TD Bank, Intel, CA Technologies, WeSpire Share Employee Impact Case Studies

My article about the Friday afternoon Sustainable Brands New Metrics 14 workshop on employee engagement case studies.

Rounding out the final afternoon of Sustainable Brands’ New Metrics ‘14, Susan Hunt Stevens, founder & CEO of WeSpire, led a candid, data-rich conversation with representatives from TD Bank, Intel and CA Technologies about their employee engagement programs.

“These three people are doing really amazing work not only in employee engagement, but more importantly, connecting employee engagement to broader business value and key HR metrics,” Stevens said.

She explained that WeSpire technology helps global companies engage their employees in sustainability and responsibility initiatives — she said WeSpire customers have saved over $1M while reducing their environmental footprint in waste, water and energy, since July 2013.

But the real win comes from more engaged employees and seeing that as a real value. She said that disengaged employees cost companies an estimated $450-550 billion in lost productivity. Looked at this way, sustainability isn’t just a department goal but a business driver of overall success. When employees get engaged at work with social and sustainability initiatives, you can measure the impact in overall productivity and results.

Starting off, Linda Qian, CSR Communications Manager at Intel, shared her company’s “cherries and pits” — successes and misses — experience with a global employee recycling program. This was one element of Intel’s overall program that offers options for employees at all stages of the sustainability continuum from “light green” to “dark green.” Notably, she said that Intel ties compensation to sustainability metrics. For this year, the bonus metric was tied to the global recycling rate.

The team picked recycling because it was a goal that everyone could contribute to by changing their behavior.  The biggest learnings, or pits, came through a bumpy program rollout and unanticipated employee pushback. But the cherries, Qian said, were that, “The ability to engage all employees in a tangible way does have positive results. We did see an overall reduction in waste produced and increased recycling.”

Brad Peirce, VP of TD Environment at TD Bank, next shared that his company seeks to be “as green as our logo” with leadership in protecting critical forest habitats, greening the urban environment, and a commitment to climate action through renewable energy. In addition, the company believes that engaging employees in these issues helps attract talent, enhance the brand and increase productivity.

Peirce said the bank has found that employees were at different stages along the continuum of green, with some superstars such as an employee named Tim Little, whose passion for talking about TD’s environmental initiatives turns customers into advocates. The challenge was to engage more employees in this way. The solution was the online “Green Pledge Challenges” with seven simple, measureable actions.

To make it go viral through the company, they added game elements and enlisted the support of senior execs and middle management to report progress weekly by lines of business in a friendly competition.

In less than six weeks, 40 percent of bank employees took the Pledge and the number continues to increase.

“We learned a lot from our data about where employees need to do better and how to help them,” Pierce said. “The pledge became a proxy for us to understand our company better, and for employees to see through a different lens that their individual actions add up to collective impact.”

Finally, Andy Wu, Principal of the Office of Sustainability at CA Technologies, discussed how his company measures whether its sustainability programs and initiatives have a positive impact on employees.

In 2011, the company launched numerous employee engagement campaigns, including a Good to Green Game and video vignettes, a Green Teams pilot that expanded in 2012, and the CA Sustain program in 2012. It also added a question to the annual employee survey, asking whether CA Technologies demonstrates its commitment to global sustainability of the environment and our communities.

Over the past two years, the program’s results show increasing employee engagement towards the company’s sustainability commitments. Favorable responses on the 2013 employee survey have jumped from 76 percent to 84 percent. And survey results for Green Team locations were even better in 2012, showing an 89 percent favorable response versus 82 percent favorable for the company overall.

Going forward, Wu said CA Technologies is looking at ways to run studies and separate sustainability from other factors that employees care about. And he noted the partnership role that the Human Resources team plays, saying: “HR has been very helpful in identifying some of the issues we have and how sustainability aligns with retention and satisfaction.”