Can CR Practitioners Save American Capitalism?

Sunday’s Washington  Post contained this great article by Steven Pearlstein “Can we save American capitalism?”

Pearlstein reviewed a range of recent books on economics and, through his conclusions, I believe he also offered a litmus test of the role of our corporate responsibility field, coming at it from the economists perspective.

“What’s been lost from American capitalism” Pearlstein posits, “is any sense of a larger purpose, of how it fits into and serves society…”   He draws a common theme from some of the books reviewed,  highlighting  the lack of what is variously called ‘social capital’, ‘civic capital’ and ‘civil …

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Pink Slime and the Downside of Consumer Movements

Stakeholder input is certainly an important part of corporate responsibility.

The prevalence of social media increases the impact of civil society and many are hopeful that consumer action will help drive sustainable behavior.

In this post, and others, I have expressed my doubts about whether consumers will put their purchasing power into action to support sustainability.

But even if they do, the activities of the last few weeks on pink slime make me question whether consumers,  on the occasions they are motivated to act for sustainability, even make the right decisions.

This blog from The Washington Post, is one …

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Sustainability Comes of Age

A couple of articles caught my attention last week. This blog post by Marc Gunther about the pros and cons of reusable shopping bags and this one in the Washington Post about the implications of the success of the Fair Trade movement.

In different ways, both indicate the need for an increasing maturity in our approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability as our programs take root and grow.    Initiatives that appear to be the right thing to do at a small scale, need to be revisited as they scale and the full implications become evident.

Marc identifies inaccuracies in the …

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What We Can Learn from A More Expensive Light Bulb

Last weekend, the Washington Post carried an interesting article about the future of the light bulb business.  Energy to produce light contributes a significant proportion of our carbon emissions. The proportion of energy in a traditional incandescent bulb that produces heat, when what we want from it is light, is much too high.

The article highlighted for me many of the key principles that we need to incorporate as we move away from disposable, energy intensive consumerism, towards a more sustainable model;

  • Per unit and up-front costs will often be higher for more sustainable products. Companies need to reset consumer
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Can ICT Help Society Address Non-Communicable Diseases?

Yesterday and today, a high level meeting of the UNs 65th session in NY addressed the issue of non-communicable or lifestyle diseases. Articles about these issues appeared in an Financial Times editorial yesterday and a full page in the Washington Post Health section today.

These non-communicable diseases; cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes alone account for more than half of the globes nearly 60M deaths each year. In most regions of the world that is more than HIV and malaria combined.

The four biggest causes of these deaths are tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, unhealthy diet and …

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It’s really a guessing game

Saturday morning, I read this quote in an article about the Japanese Earthquake in the Washington Post from Dave Wald of the US Geological Survey.

“It’s really just a kind of guessing game, and Mother Nature never really puts up with those guessing games”.

The article also referred to detailed measurement and analysis of the impact of the earthquake that was absolutely predicted to occur, but elsewhere in Japan.

I immediately thought of the book Black Swan by Nassim Taleb that I read recently – it is not just earthquakes where we get caught by these uncertainties – it is in every …

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Shards of Truth that Hurt

Chrystia Freeland wrote an article in the Washington Post on Sunday taking a crack at CSR by asking “What is BP’s Social Responsibility”.    In it, she argues that;

“many of the business disasters of the past 24 months have been facilitated by the mini-industry of corporate social responsibility — known as CSR by those in the trade — a fetish encouraged by the philanthropies that feed off it and funded by the corporate executives who have found that it serves their bottom line.”

Of course I, like many of the people who have added comments to the web site, …

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