A Kaleidoscope of Corporate Responsibility on a Page

The front page of last week’s Washington Post is an executive tour of the landscape of issues in the world of trust and corporate responsibility. Three of the four headline stories cover issues that are directly relevant to our field.

“Regimes’ Web tool made in the USA” describes the apparent discovery that equipment made by Blue Coat – a leading provider of Web security and management (a company that I’ve blogged about previously ) has been used by autocratic states to censor web sites and monitor the communications of dissidents. Similarly to  how companies are increasingly held accountable for activities …

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As One Chapter Closes, Why Not Read a Few More? CSR Perspective in an Ebook

I recently took on a new role at BT heading up our environmental sustainability strategy under the title of a program called Net Good; more about that another time.

The change has been an opportunity to take stock of what I have done with CSR Perspective over the four years I have been both writing my own posts and inviting guest posts.   Looking back I have identified some common themes and with a bit of retrospective thought, I like to think I even have a hierarchy and some logical progression.  Because of the nature of a blog, these themes and …

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Watching the Water Run Out of the Tub and Other Analogies: Making the Challenge of Sustainability Tangible

Last week in London I delivered a presentation on sustainability to about 120 middle and senior managers from within BT.  Afterwards we explored climate change, at the new and very impressive Atmosphere Gallery  in the Science Museum.

Recently I have taken to introducing my presentations using the measure of how many planets worth of resources humanity is using and how that number is growing.   If you are not familiar with it, this web site from Global Footprint Network explains the concept.

Another analogy I like to use to illustrate the concept is a bathtub with water running in from the tap …

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Getting Serious About CSR: How Sustainability is Vital to Business and Society

Recently, I was interviewed by The Blue Marble, a new publication and online community that was launched in collaboration with Eco-Schools and Keep Britain Tidy.  The September issue focused on different aspects of sustainability from solar powered Big Belly rubbish bins to the sustainability of the world’s fisheries and how to engage teenagers in the sustainability movement.

My interview starts out with fairly typical questions about what sustainability is and why it matters to business, I was interested in the turn that the questions took towards the end, exploring some of my favorite topics related to how to balance …

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A Pioneering Approach to Carbon Footprint Measurement

A couple of months ago BT was asked by the European Commission to participate in a pilot test to measure the carbon footprint of ICT products.  BT formed a consortium with Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco to test out BT’s wholesale internet solution.  Using the same protocol that BT employed to assess the carbon impact of the ICT solutions it is providing for the 2012 Olympic Games being held inLondon later this month, the three companies set about establishing best practices for measuring the carbon footprint of communications services and growing a low carbon economy.

In this podcast Gabrielle Giner, a program …

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Chinese Urged to Spend More…….and Less !

The juxtaposition  of two articles in the Washington Post this Saturday says everything about our the most important dilemma we face in sustainability.

Chinese urged to spend more, save less

This article on page A11 calls on  the Chinese to spend more and increase consumption in an effort to spur the global economy.

“Indeed, Batson suggests that the present slowdown could promote a much-heralded rebalancing of China’s economy, away from reliance on increasingly unproductive investment to a healthier consumption-driven model.”

U.S. cut its carbon emissions in 2011 — but China erased the gains

And only a few pages later in …

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Facing Similar Challenges in Business and Local Government

Earlier this month I attended a workshop at Verge DC to discuss the recent Citystates paper by SustainAbility and GreenBiz and sponsored by Ford.

It was a fascinating discussion, including a number of city sustainability practitioners from across in the wider DC metropolitan area.

What struck me the most were the similarities between the challenges faced by city managers and the challenges faced in business.  Here are a few examples:

1)      Short term thinking.  Some of the city representatives referred to the challenges of planning cycles that, at best, align with the time between elections.  Of course we have similar …

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Retraction: A Place for Truth and for Fiction

I posted this blog last week introducing the similarities between The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and a This American Life show broadcast in January,  purportedly about the Foxconn factories that make Apple products in China.

The very next day, on March 16th, in this show, This American Life retracted the January show because the main report upon which it was based contained numerous fabrications.

I had planned to write a follow up post this week identifying the many similarities between This American Life’s report and The Jungle; migrant workers, poverty traps, collusion between government and industry, …

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Mr. Daisey and The Jungle: Intersections and Juxtapositions

Earlier in February I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  I collect old books and had recently bought myself a first edition copy from 1906.

The Jungle is an expose of the appalling conditions in the Chicago meat packing industry in the opening decade of the last century. Told through the eyes of the proud patriarch of an immigrant family from Lithuania, it was a classic of its time and an enduring classic of CSR literature.

Thank goodness we have safeguards in place now and are beyond that. Or are we?

Partway through reading the book, I found myself in the gym …

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My Misrepresentation of Bruntland’s Definition of Sustainability

The commonly used definition of sustainability that comes from the Bruntland Commission is predominantly inter-generational; “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

I recently considered the apparent unfairness that future generations are covered without mentioning the needs of the overwhelming numbers of people in today’s population who don’t have enough.  I wondered what ethical approach created this prioritization.

However, I just read Wikipedia’s description of the Bruntland Commission and see that the commission intended two key concepts, the other of which is “in particular the …

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