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DNVGL latest sustainability roundtable “The road less traveled: Pathways to Transformation” http://t.co/BCU4HrpkiB

What it all comes down to. http://t.co/ovjIQvKBPw

Revkin: Tracing @Pontifex’s Climate Plans for 2015 http://t.co/s8mY7WMBth

Thoughtful read for 2015 | Gus Speth: Building the new environmentalism http://t.co/zH7DO5Uhx5

Good wrap-up & examples of Big Biz CSR leadership “Doing Good Is Good for Business” http://t.co/FDXE5EygUV

Required reading: New Yorker story on graphene http://t.co/ZjfC79pwMI

READ-HUGE The “New Power” http://t.co/1ZTRW3NFZA

Good News day decimates website’s readership http://t.co/wioQbtcuyE

Monday feel-good: Jan 2007 NYTimes “Happiness 101” on positive psychology http://t.co/ydLtvbYQgT

Nice round-up of the 2015 climate action state-of-play http://t.co/pdE4c5Mvoj

2014 good news: 5 Climate innovations http://t.co/JOCeko6TDM

Good news for 2015 NJ solar http://t.co/EQsVmdXbsN

3 examples where US business leadership can step up for climate policies that help everyone http://t.co/Vgxe1ukkNP

Level-headed editorial on why climate action is good for NJ citizens http://t.co/yHjnd04kk3

NJ used to lead on climate action & we can again | OpEd http://t.co/Jzv3vz5rlc

Graphene is on my 2015 innovation watch list…Wonder material could harvest energy from thin air http://t.co/yJLfiw4QU5

NJ ‘s future. Almost 7K UK properties will be lost to rising seas: http://t.co/GSHudKOnrc

“We are capable of kindness, goodness, & generosity” http://t.co/dEGYsY5X09

261 businesses already in NEW UN climate actions examples portal; share to make it 100x http://t.co/lRZ1Yl3dHT

Catholic Bishops Call For ‘An End To The Fossil Fuel Era’ http://t.co/otmUrisjIx

Pope Francis emerging as global climate justice leader the world needs? http://t.co/4yvmThSvmB

New site uses tech & socent for US resilience http://t.co/uAJImmROWE

Can “green” Pope break the climate deadlock? http://t.co/DZ8tXEPOSh

The Secret Side of Business Sustainability http://t.co/YmSJxQmYV7

Encouraging biz & investors to phase from Fossilfuel->#renewables http://t.co/vYHbkS1DPi

Fracking reparations in W. Virginia http://t.co/uQMPqsDlLL

Catching up: Clifbar shared cocoa sources 12/3. Kudos 4 transparency, support to do more http://t.co/IYo1WjqVoI

2014 fave, highly sharable: 8 Steps to Becoming a Truly Sustainable Brand http://t.co/Yk0pO9Wrt3

LOVE. Sustainability Leadership | 3 new frontiers http://t.co/Rk9MAfpiQM

2015 is the year we change this | The press has a problem reporting good news http://t.co/aA3yaMpRrx

Financial Success Now Requires Sustainability http://t.co/0teYz7l7vA

Global Green Bond Sales 3x to $35B in 2014 http://t.co/5pbxIdFVOJ

Apple, IKEA, Walmart: 12 leaders in on-site renewables http://t.co/HY41yF8ilc

Christmas Day in midcoast Maine. Merry & bright best wishes to you & yours http://t.co/cn1dMYyBmY

3 signals why 2015 is looking good http://t.co/oXvS6nTq2J

State-Based Climate Solution That Doesn’t Need Congress http://t.co/PytjtRVirG

Restored Forests Breathe Life Into  Climate Change Adaptation http://t.co/05l1JMkwlC

Pope may call for 100% renewable at Vatican http://t.co/LPxoc0dztb

Heads-up: will be big for 2015 | Grand Strategy Project http://t.co/NH9l7ntSYT

Beautiful “It’s not the last man standing who wins. But the first man who kneels. And plants his garden” https://t.co/cw6mlI5ljM

There is an invisible global army of people in big companies pushing for CSR http://t.co/qRS7XSQrkh

Monday cheers for Eudaimonia, a word for flourishing http://t.co/9BDMR3lSbG

DC passes sea level rise ‘tipping point,’ more cities to follow http://t.co/LS4ZJp6GZL

SHARE: A $10m #Fairtrade grant shows exponential Biz for Good can happen more, in more places, faster http://t.co/3RiEnRQbCs

Collaboration! NetPositive: The Next Frontier of Sustainability Leadership http://t.co/1Sm6P4RAHl

INSPIRING innovation, leadership & FUN | http://t.co/jYhGeuQsTM

I believe in a New Story about #BizforGood, about Business as an Agent of World Benefit…These folks do too https://t.co/aI1fbqmqR6

GREAT Business for Good innovation story | What if blood tests took a drop & cost pennies? Blood, Simpler http://t.co/CAM79wHXsQ

How more companies can do good while doing well http://t.co/dSQCWleSzH

5 startups that could radically transform the world around us: http://t.co/J3t4IzVQv5

GREAT examples of Biz for Good in unexpected places | Using Entrepreneurship to Save the World. http://t.co/Mem4txFME3

Wonderful! Visual storytelling on culture of dialogue | AppreciativeInquiry http://t.co/Sx87XhFkuW

Business Takes a Decisive Leap: Breakthrough in Collaborating for Good #sustainability http://t.co/SHF66MUdn5

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.”

Bestof2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

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.

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.

My coverage of the Sustainable Brands New Metrics 14 Thursday afternoon workshop on adding context to sustainability goals.  (First half written by Tamay Kiper.)

A two-part session on Thursday afternoon explored sustainability context through examining the evolution of corporate sustainability goals, and case studies from leading companies proactively applying it to their goal-setting processes.

First, Sustainability Context Group co-founder Bill Baue — moderator of both parts — led a discussion on the state of corporate sustainability goals and equipping companies with practical advice on how to incorporate context.

Baue started by explaining the concept of context — which calls for assessing “the performance of the organization in the context of the limits and demands placed on environmental or social resources at the sector, local, regional or global level” — and raised the question: “Where are we now in sustainability and where are we going?”

Panelist Mark McElroy, founder & Executive Director of Center for Sustainable Organizations, further explained the necessity for Context Based Sustainability (CBS) in environmental goal-setting, as well as the need to turn to climate science for thresholds, to then devise a way to apportion them to organizations. A new CBS method, the MultiCapital Scorecard (MCS), which Ben & Jerry’s has just adopted, puts Trajectory Targets (interim goals) and Triple Bottom Line concerns in scope and assessing performance relative to both final (Sustainability Norms) and interim (Trajectory Targets) goals.

Next, Bob Willard picked up where his morning plenary presentation left off, further explaining The Future-Fit Business Benchmark — which defines the science-based, minimum acceptable levels of environmental and social performance that a company must reach if it is to be truly sustainable and fit for the future — and expanding on the 21 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for businesses. Social KPIs were divided into 5 categories (Employees, Community, Customers, Investors and Suppliers, & Partners) and Environmental KPIs included Energy, GHG, Water, Materials, Products, Waste and Land. A company’s Future-Fit performance on these KPIs ensures its environmental and social impacts do not contribute to the issues.

Andrew Winston, author of The Big Pivot, engaged the audience with the latest updates from the PivotGoals Data introduced at SB’14 San Diego in June, and emphasized that 75 percent of Fortune 200 companies now publicly share sustainability goals. Echoing McElroy’s and Willard’s insights, Winston divided these goals into two categories: Science-equivalent — what external thresholds would demand for some large part of the business (not the full value chain); and “Future Fit” compatible — moral, ethical, or based on a flourishing model, but not technically ‘science-based.’ Winston encouraged the audience to track companies’ sustainability goals online on PivotGoals.com, and feedback from the audience was to track these goals periodically to see if companies were successful meeting these goals.

Then Cynthia Cummis, Deputy Director of GHG Protocol at the World Resources Institute (WRI) introduced its science-based target-setting framework, which aims to raise the ambition of corporate GHG reduction targets to support a transition to a low-carbon economy and keep the planet below a 2-degree temperature rise. She then explained how WRI’s Sectoral decarbonization approach (SDA). — a sector-specific decarbonization pathway based on the 2ºC carbon budget, expected sector activity and mitigation potential — aims to engage the leading multinational companies to set science-based emissions reduction targets by the end of 2015, and demonstrate to policy-makers the scale of ambition among leading companies to reduce their emissions and act as a positive influence on international climate negotiations.

After a round of audience questions and a short networking break, Baue returned with a fresh set of panelists to delve into case studies from EMC, Cabot Creamery and Autodesk, detailing each company’s experience incorporating sustainability context into their efforts.

“We’re in transition from incremental goals towards more ambitious goal-setting that takes the larger context of ecological limits and social impacts into consideration,” Baue said.

Emma Stewart, Head of Sustainability Solutions for Autodesk, kicked things off the three reasons her company got into science-based goal setting.

“As an environmental scientist, I’d never seen the level of consensus and clear guidance that we have on climate science,” she said. Secondly, she found the current practices around goal-setting to be “ripe for disruption” due to short-term timeframes and guesstimate benchmarking that would “save the climate, but 39 years too late.” And finally, rising regulations expectations beginning to affect Autodesk’s customers opened an opportunity to be more responsive to their needs.

This analysis led Autodesk to build C-FACT (Corporate Finance Approach to Climate-Stabilizing Targets), a science-driven method for setting GHG emissions reduction targets against real-world limits, which Autodesk has since made freely available to all companies.

EMC’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Kathrin Winkler, spoke next about her company’s role as one of the first to set a carbon-reduction goal with the EPA climate leaders program. They hit that initial goal and then moved on to setting, and achieving, better ones for 2012, 2015, 2020 and 2050. Winkler described how the company has customized its glidepath for achieving its carbon stabilization goals, based on the C-FACT model, and cautioned that flexibility is key to meeting future challenges.

“The thing with absolute goals is that they kind of lock you into a mindset, and depending on what happens with climate science, business might need to do more,” she said.

Up next was Jed Davis, Cabot’s Director of Sustainability, who shared his company’s context-based sustainability journey as a nearly 100-year-old Vermont-based cooperative with 1,200 dairy farm families. He described the company’s sustainability motto — “Living within our means, Ensuring the means to live” — as a “straightforward way of baking in context-based sustainability that implicitly is about respecting some thresholds and limits.”

Baue and the panel then fielded inquiries from the room about how CBS and C-FACT can be applied to resources other than carbon (as Cabot is doing for water), material traceability, and for small businesses and cities. Stewart noted that the City of Palo Alto has just adopted C-FACT as its baseline target, as Autodesk customized the methodology for cities earlier this year.

Winkler shared another example of when context involves a company setting its own thresholds. Most hardware IT companies set goals for materials take-back in terms of tonnage, she said, but a better question to ask is: “How much are we getting back in terms of what we put out? Making e-waste isn’t the goal. The point is to create a closed loop. In this case, you set the threshold.”

The session closed with plenty of questions left to ask about ambitious sustainability targets and practice, but with a clear sense that setting real-world science-based goals is no longer just a possibility, but an imperative.

Sustainability. Green. Renewables. Resilience. These buzzwords seem to be popping up everywhere.

That’s because global climate change is here and now. As a coastal state, we’re already feeling the impacts of climate change because we’re vulnerable to storms, flooding and sea level rise. And, we know more is coming, based on research not only from global organizations like the IPCC but NJ’s own Climate Change Impacts Report.

Big businesses are already getting ready, spending millions of dollars on hardening their infrastructure and reevaluating where their raw materials come from and how they get produced.

But what about smaller businesses, especially right here in the Garden State? Here’s five great NJ sustainable business resources for small business owners.

1. Got 5 Minutes? Grab some ideas from this “Go Green” guide just for small businesses from the NJ Small Business Assistance Program.

3. Got 15 Minutes? Sign up for free webinars, resources and networking opportunities from the American Sustainable Business Council.

3. Got a few hours? Schedule a free NJ Clean Energy Program energy assessment. Attend the next New Jersey WasteWise Business Network meeting on Nov. 13.

4. Got some time after work? Drop in to you town’s Environmental Commission or Chamber of Commerce to talk with people in your community about energy efficiency, recycling, renewable energy, and whatever else is on your mind.

If your hometown or the town your business is in is part of Sustainable Jersey’s program, check out their programs to go green, save money and make your community a great place to live.

5. Got a day+: Join the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s new Sustainable Business Registry that provides resources and recognition for businesses that adopt sustainability practices.

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can meet with a NJ Small Business Development Center sustainability consultant for free, one-on-one Pollution Prevention and Sustainability help.

These resources can help you make sure your business stronger than the (next) storm, but that’s just a beginning. Really, being a “sustainable business” is just what small business owners have always done: save money on energy, make less waste, create new ways to serve customers better than your competitors, and contribute to your community’s wellbeing.

Being a sustainable business owner is all about doing business today so all of us can thrive tomorrow. It’s about helping people, places, and businesses be better in every way, for all of us.

Catch The Economist article called The New Green Wave. I appreciate that CSR’s future includes license to operate in a changed world http://t.co/SFOnzjpNmD

RSVP: Sept. 18 NJ Sustainability Summit. Focus on small biz success & leadership http://t.co/VbELob2eXj

+1 for Hamilton Nolan’s response to sky-fell-oh-well WSJ carbon tax op-ed. Count me in for climate action hope http://t.co/iKkYDAL3g5

Good read: How sustainability leaders hold steady over the long haul http://t.co/HDcvdwW1CN

NJ sits on sidelines while our neighbors fight for our health & safety in EPA lawsuits http://t.co/PnCgRBvry3

GREAT explainer: Stop Trying to Kill EPA’s Carbon Rule http://t.co/PnCgRBvry3

US Resilience Project offering a “How-To” biz resilience workshop 9/16 at NJIT http://t.co/nY3n5VjfE4

Breath of fresh air for CSR: no-smokes leadership–here’s to better health. Kudos CVS Health http://t.co/n3qudMwljT

Glad NYT is adding a climate editor. We need more biz sustainability reporting. http://t.co/Wk7V9tDjP0

Dave Roberts is back! http://t.co/aF7pgcAvuT

Big idea for a big problem but how real? Via FastCompany: Secaucus testing solar-power commuter pods http://t.co/4baYnwgoPI

Rising tide lifts all boats so paddle hard RT @chrisleewilson The key to success is to focus on the needs of others.

What’s next for “responsible business”…my susty convo w/ Christine Bader for Earth People Media http://t.co/KaVMMB9Cnb

New Jersey PACE’s Sept. 4 press event & plan to power AC’s economic recovery w/ clean energy http://t.co/QuQILDpIo3

Listen in: @ASBCouncil & @GinaEPA Sep. 4 to discuss #climate policy & #smallbiz http://t.co/e1yNMRd3dU

Fall is Prime Planting Time

September 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Claire Sommer in Greener Living - (0 Comments)

Here’s an essay on making the most of the growing season still ahead.

Don’t put away the shovels and trowels just yet. Warm days without sizzling heat make for perfect planting days. Whether you plant fall lettuces to be enjoyed now or bulbs for spring—get out and enjoy your garden.

Plant new vegetables

If fall vegetable gardening is new to you, it’s a great way to edge into new gardening skills with low risk. Homegrown fall greens are a wonderful complement to hearty autumn meals.

The easiest bet is to let someone else get them started for you. Calls around to see if your local garden center has  fall lettuces and vegetable starts.

For seed growers, there’s time still for fall lettuce and radishes that are ready for harvest in four to six weeks. Major online retailers like Burpees.com can get seeds to you quickly. If you are using leftover seeds from spring planting, sprinkle seeds generously to ensure a good germination rate. Keep fall seeds well watered.

Work in a few handfuls of compost to your spot or pot to add nutrition to summer-spent soil. Try container plantings that can be moved around to capture the most sunshine.

Between the seeds I started last month and transplants I picked up locally, I have enough to fill in spaces vacated by faded cucumbers and squashes. This weekend I planted red and green leaf lettuce that can be cut and enjoyed a little bit at a time, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens and good-sized Chinese cabbage.

The pole beans I planted in early August are six feet tall and in full flower, providing needed shade for the foot-high snow pea vines growing up among them.

If you can’t find fall vegetable starts near you, be sure to let your local garden center know for next year.

Plant new trees and shrubs

Major plantings like trees and shrubs are significant investments in time, money and space. If you are planting yourself, talk through your choices with the experts at your local garden center or landscaping service.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension offers two helpful brochure: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs and Tree Problems Caused by People in the Suburban Landscape.

My fall plans include replacing a boring yew with a New Jersey-native flowering and berrying shrub. The job is small enough that I feel confident I can do it myself.

Plant spring bulbs

Planting spring bulbs in the fall is an optimistic act. There’s plenty of time and selection of spring bulbs available at local garden centers and from mail-order retailers.

Plant summer garlic

Garlic is one of the nicest, easiest crops to grow and is vastly superior in flavor to supermarket garlic. Buy garlic bulbs that are specifically meant for planting in the garden. You’ll only have to make this purchase once since next year’s planting cloves will come from your first harvest. Choose “hard neck” varieties if you want delicious spring scapes. Amend your garlic plot with compost and plant according to directions. If you plant in the next few weeks, your garlic will be a few inches tall before the ground freezes hard.

The summer harvest season is all about taking, so think about fall as a time to give back by planting something new.

My latest for EarthPeople Media and the wonderful Anna Clark.

Baders-Book600x350

Putting “Responsible Business” Out of Business

Christine Bader’s book The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: Girl Meets Oil offers hope and practical advice for anyone trying to stimulate meaningful change in our multi-stakeholder, shareholder-beholden, profits-focused world. Doing this kind of work is hard, but then again, pretty much anything worthwhile usually is.

The book tells Christine’s story of working with BP before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and then with a United Nations effort to prevent and address human rights abuses linked to business. In addition to her own “Corporate Idealist” story, the book profiles other outsider-insiders who are working for positive change from within major corporations. The book concludes with a must-read Corporate Idealist Manifesto that makes room for morality as well as the business case.

I first met Christine at the 2014 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego this past June where she was a panel moderator. At lunch one day, we started talking about the role of human rights in the CSR conversation and then continued our conversation later by phone. We started our call by talking about how strange it is that “Responsible Business” is a category at all.

Why do we accept that as the default?” said Christine. “It’s like saying, ‘Some of my money is in socially responsible mutual funds.’ But what does that mean the rest of my money is in? I think the whole mission is actually to make the ‘corporate idealist’ label and ‘responsible business’ redundant.”

From there we talked about collaborations, how human rights can add structure to the CSR conversation, and what’s ahead for the world’s Corporate Idealists:

Claire: I’m interested in the business collaborations that are starting to pop up in our world like We Mean Business, the new Risky Business Report, and everything that BSR is doing. What do you see coming for the CSR world in the near future? Do you believe that business will be able to affect US policy in the next four years?

Christine: Well, I mean business has always impacted policy in the US, and I think that some would argue that business has too much influence over policy in the US. But you’re asking a slightly different question, which is can business influence policy for the better?

In the US, certainly I think it’s clear that business does have the capacity to influence policy. And so, yes, I think that business standing up and saying climate change is important and we need policy can actually spur regulators to act because sometimes they’re reluctant to act because they assume that business wants nothing less than more regulation. But actually that is not the case. What business wants is consistent regulation and predictability. And right now business does not have that on the environment or on corporate responsibility more generally.

So, I’m not at all surprised that there are coalitions of companies calling for legislative action on climate change because they need certainty to be able to invest at the scale that we need them to and want them to.

Claire: Are you aligned with any of these coalitions or collaborations besides BSR?

Christine: I’m part of the Global Network Initiative, which is the voluntary initiative by Google and Microsoft and Yahoo! It was created by them, and a few other companies have joined since working with human rights groups, socially responsible investors, and some academics, which is the capacity that I’m a part of that. And I’ve been involved with others over the years like the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights when I at BP and the Business Leaders’ Initiative on Human Rights when I was working for the UN Special Representative on Business and Human Rights.

Q: Do you see any shifts happening in the industry for better business practices?

Christine: Yes. I think that these collaborative initiatives are really powerful. And I think they are really a positive trend. I really am heartened to see that companies realize that these are noncompetitive issues. At the beginning of the Global Network Initiative, seeing Google and Microsoft and Yahoo! get into a room with human rights groups was quite astounding. The extractive industries are sort of used to it because that’s part of their business. They’re fierce competitors, but they’re also joint venture partners in a lot of places around the world.

For the tech industry, it’s been interesting to see them on the same journey to build trust and recognize that these issues are noncompetitive, and that it behooves them to work together and to work with human rights groups. I think it was tough because a lot of tech companies are founded on the premise that they are all about free expression and changing the world. For them, it was new to say, “What do you mean we have problems and present risks to users? That’s not our intent.”

And of course it’s not their intent. But there are risks in many of their products and services. And so, to see them come around to collaboration with human rights groups has actually been really heartening. I think that’s really positive. I think companies and everybody else are understanding that these big issues will not be tackled by any company alone, and that collaboration is really the way forward.

Claire: Any predictions about what may be ahead for breakthroughs?

Christine: I think that it will be really interesting to see how the the role of human rights in this conversation evolves in the next few years because the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in 2011 was a really big milestone. It was the first time that there was multi-stakeholder, global consensus on the human rights responsibilities of corporations.

I think that it’s a really helpful framework for companies to use because there is a universal declaration of human rights that was agreed more than 60 years ago by the international community. It’s helpful because there is no universal declaration of sustainability or CSR. And I think that’s where a lot of the frustration with CSR emanates from because companies have to kind of figure it out for themselves.

Claire: Where do you see openings or possibilities for companies to bring human rights more into the CSR conversation?

Christine: One of the things that I’m doing right now is facilitating a human rights working group for BSR. This is a few dozen member companies across industries who come together every couple of months to talk about how to integrate human rights into their companies. And I don’t think any of them have human rights in their titles. But they know that this is important and that it’s helpful and that the guiding principles are now an expectation of stakeholders.

Claire: How are you getting the message about being a corporate idealist out, in addition to speaking at industry and CSR events?

Christine: One important way is to speak at business schools. And when I go, I’m not just speaking to the Net Impact club or sustainability varsity team. Second is the writing that I’m doing in the general media, that I hope serves some of that purpose as well. The ones for The Atlantic have totally caught fire. And I’ve been a guest a couple of times on a BBC World service show called Business Matters.

Claire: How can we help people move past the blocks of not wanting to think about things like child labor or human rights abuses?

Christine: A couple of the people who I interviewed who work in the supply chains said that there are a couple of different stages to their work. The first one is building awareness of issues like child and forced labor in their supply chains.

The second stage, which is perhaps more important, is getting their colleagues past wanting to say, “Oh my God, there’s a kid there. Cut and run.” It’s their job to try to explain that running from the situation will actually make it worse for the children. I think we’re all trying to figure out how to move into the next phase, which is addressing root causes.

Claire: Well, it’s incredibly helpful because that really diagnoses the problem and gives you a chance to fix it for good.

Christine: I think a lot of people are coming to recognize that having a multinational company in a developing country can help shine a light and help bring good practice.

Claire: What else can Corporate Idealists do to help their companies be better?

Christine: Know that sharing the stories of the people and communities that a company affects is part of your job. So many people that I interviewed talked about how important it was for them to get out in the field, for them not to lose sight of the workers in the factories and in the communities. And then bring those stories back into headquarters. I mean spreadsheets are important, but they only get you so far. Whether it was telling stories or bringing in photos or arranging senior executive trips out to the field, it was so important to bear witness. That’s when people really get it.

Did you know that Mars (the chocolate company) helped sequence the cocoa genome? Here it is: http://t.co/yQbaCefW0I

And Chinese Pres Xi Jinping too. Obama to Attend Sept UN Climate Event in NY. http://t.co/WwmrpPVYNA

NJ Nessie. This story has legs. Or doesn’t it?: Anaconda Possibly in Lake Hopatcong http://t.co/qefXJ0l7OY

Coffeebreak: Inspiring 15-mi vid w/ Levi’s Paul Dillinger. A Top 10 #SB14sd talk for me. http://t.co/jMCgCSWWz3

+1 for John Friedman’s thoughtful comment on Guardian Sust Biz green rankings piece. http://t.co/s2Oj4zoWXP

Great share! 8 Strategies To Strengthen Quality Of Yr Twitter Comm http://t.co/ZwX0DQdK3V

By me: Run a $100 Million 3BL Company for 5 Yrs, in Just 3 days. http://t.co/ObjM40RNiI @USCCFbiz4good

Read the new NJPACE newsletter: NJ biz & towns can fund conservation & renewables http://t.co/KZwBof1NDR

Millenials who care about #CSR issues, will also drive biz change, says Intel’s #CR head Jacobson. #CSR14

Intel’s Jacobson says B2B having big impact on #CSR right now because people are putting pressure on biz to do more #CSR14

Appreciate Renny Ponvert Management CV offering ethical, fiduciary responsiblity, long-term, & focus on ppl running the biz #CSR14

Renny Ponvert Management CV says his co focuses on good governance as “invisible hand” that drives good #esg & on to good returns #CSR14

AllianceBernstein’s Giuliano noting that E & S impacts can have diff time horizons with investor goals compared w/G. Interesting #CSR14

Surprised so small: #SRI mutual funds acct for 2% of long term assets under mgmt, per panel speaker | 2nd Annual #CSR14

Exclusionary fund design alone give returns at or below benchmark, but integrating #esg boosts average returns | 2nd Annual #CSR14 Summit

Hearing how investor community is integrating & considering #csr &#esg | 2nd Annual CSR Summit @snet_Indexes @thomsonreuters #CSR14

+1 for inspiring sustainable tech solutions from @WayneVisser http://t.co/mHlOSRkSE8

By me: Businesses Standing Up 4 #Climate Policy http://t.co/fk0nwAcdLP

How to track corporate action on #climate change http://t.co/ct9W2ilMOa

Skimp on #csr = leaving value on the table MT @AndreaLearned: @SSIReview The Upside of #CSR http://t.co/TqfLPZxwCY

“Modeling Complex Systems Is Really Hard” Grats for smart ppl like @Katenrg & journo @jeffspross http://t.co/nMx8TsbjJU

“Daring to live the lives we know we could.” Incisive, cutting, acidic insight by @umairh https://t.co/Io93Sn2xCC

By me. Why #sustainability requires #leadership training http://t.co/tHY7dEGIFm

Fascinating science. 1st-of-its-Kind Map Details Extent of #Plastic in 5 #Ocean Gyres http://t.co/B3MKJiwNwh

This matters because #carbon #divest is a morals issue: World Council of Churches #FossilFuels announcement http://t.co/PjAauF0DQX

MT @chadbolick Dusty piece on biz and society feels 10 y/o no mention of #sharedvalue? http://t.co/6L5mIMn8PE

How much do I love that Bittman talks #externalities: The True Cost of a Burger http://t.co/60J4D314nB

Motivating Corporations to Do Good http://t.co/6L5mIMn8PE

Great ending: If you’re not interested in long-term success, maybe you aren’t really a stakeholder. http://t.co/IWSDedD4ho

“Because it’s the right thing to do” +1 MT @AmanSinghCSR Companies & This #Sustainability Thing http://t.co/RnIQeF4PWN

VERY helpful explainer on where NJ gets its power today & future issues http://t.co/1YSM5ZbcnP

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