Calories and sustainability issues aside, would you eat at Chick-fil-A despite the publicly anti-gay positions of its owners? Would a corporation’s discriminatory employment policies deter you from buying shares in it? Millions of Americans have changed their consumer habits based on whether they perceive corporations to be behaving in socially responsible ways. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with John Wilson, the Head of Corporate Governance at Cornerstone Capital Group, about the how the fight for LGBT equality has seeped into mainstream corporate America. They discuss the religious roots of the corporate social responsibility movement, talk about how religion and progressive values are squaring off in North Carolina’s civil rights battle, and contemplate the impact of the most profitable company in the world being led by a proudly gay man.
The environmental impact of any business enterprise depends on the specific environmental conditions and challenges that exist where that enterprise is doing business. So a dairy in Vermont, where the water tables are high but solar energy is more intermittent, will have a different set of environmental factors to consider than a dairy in dry and sunny Arizona. In other words, sustainability planning is context-specific. Today we talk with Sea Change Radio founder Bill Baue who consults in sustainability planning with businesses around the world. He explains sustainability context, discusses why commerce should be driven by stakeholders rather than shareholders, and points to Volkswagen as an example of what can go wrong when profit dominates good sense and stewardship.
It’s that time of year, again: the season of giving…or at least the season of buying. When you’re perusing the shelves, be they virtual or actual, what matters to you? Beyond price, quality and value what about knowing how the company that made this product treats its workers, the extent to which production depletes natural resources, and what impact this product has on the environment? Many of us care about these things in the abstract, but it would be awfully arduous to research all of that while we are out there trying to get our shopping done. If only there were an app. But there is! Continue reading
This week’s guest on Sea Change Radio, Andrew Winston is a sustainability consultant and author who is working to make big corporations understand that they have just as much of an obligation to the planet and community as they do to their shareholders. He and host Alex Wise discuss what Winston dubs The Big Pivot, the need for these large corporations, just like many countries, to use science-based goals to reduce their carbon footprint, embrace renewable energy, and to develop a green strategy that is much more than just window-dressing.
Last week on Sea Change Radio, we spoke with Stacy Mitchell, a researcher and author who believes that Walmart’s sustainability efforts over the past five or six years have only disguised, not improved the tremendous detrimental effects caused by the world’s largest retailer. This week, we hear from a business and sustainability reporter who has a different perspective on Walmart’s green campaign. Marc Gunther thinks that while Walmart still has a long way to go to become a truly responsible corporation, the company’s work in this area represents important steps in the right direction. Gunther and host Alex Wise discuss the parallels of Walmart and Apple’s supply chain troubles including slave-like labor conditions in China, and look at the Walmart situation from both a management and consumer perspective. After hearing both Stacy Mitchell last week and Marc Gunther this week, Sea Change Radio invites you to draw your own conclusions about this retail giant.
Walmart. What does the name of the world’s largest retailer evoke for you? Do you think of its reputation as a poor employer and its anti-union tactics? Do you lump it in your mind with other large corporations who worship profit at the expense of environmental and social justice? Or perhaps you’re among those who respect Walmart’s more recent initiatives to improve its environmental impact, cut back on energy use, and reduce packaging. Today on Sea Change Radio, we begin a two-part series in which we speak with two writers for whom the name Walmart evokes very different things.
This week, host Alex Wise talks with author, researcher and advocate, Stacy Mitchell who recently published a 6-part series for Grist on Walmart’s sustainability efforts. Mitchell believes that the company’s purported efforts to improve its sustainability profile are mostly window dressing, a ploy to change the media narrative of Walmart’s poor track record without actually changing its overall negative global impact. Next week we will hear a contrasting opinion from reporter Marc Gunther who’s written extensively on Walmart, as well. Gunther is more impressed by the company’s sustainability efforts, believing that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good, and that when a giant like Walmart makes moves toward environmental responsibility it is worth taking notice. But first, our discussion with Stacy Mitchell.
Good Guide is a web-based index that scores products from food and beverage to apparel and appliances on their health, environmental and societal impacts, allowing consumers to be truly informed. Good Guide also has a mobile app, so you can literally scan the barcode of the product that interests you, see how it rates, and be directed to products in that category with the highest ratings. This week on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Dara O’Rourke, co-founder and chief sustainability officer of Good Guide.
Corporate social responsibility or CSR. What is it, exactly? The Wikipedia entry says “The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for a company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment…and members of the public.” Sounds really good. But not everyone involved in this sort of work embraces the term CSR. Today on Sea Change Radio we’ll talk with Carol Sanford who believes her approach to responsible business is distinct from CSR. And, for those of you who are long-time listeners, you’ll be happy to hear from our second guest, Bill Baue, CSR pioneer and Sea Change Radio Founder. Baue provides a thorough overview of what CSR is and could be, and speaks to why some consultants pushing the business sector to be more mindful of its environmental and social impact don’t use the term CSR.
Our guests this week on Sea Change Radio talk about the development of green luxury, and suggest that products that are both luxurious and sustainable may be an important trend. First, Sea Change Radio host, Alex Wise, speaks with Dr. Jem Bendell, a sustainability professor, consultant and author. Next, Alex talks to Beth Gerstein, the Co-founder and Co-Ceo of Brilliant Earth, a socially responsible jewelry company.
Green luxury. The two concepts seem diametrically opposed. We usually equate sustainable lifestyle with one involving sacrifices – driving a smaller car, turning down the AC, or reaching deeper into our wallets to buy pesticide-free fruit. And we think of luxury as something involving “no sacrifice.” But ever-increasing consumer awareness and demand, coupled with product innovation has led us to the dawn of the green luxury age. One in which sacrifices can be minimal. Continue reading
Ceres CEO Mindy Lubber talks about the goals for the conference as well as an overview of some of the key issues facing the Corporate Social Responisibility (CSR) field. Dorjee Sun of Carbon Conservation explains how this carbon offset project developer is creating carbon markets by protecting forests through their reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) program. Canadian activist Maude Barlow talks about the role of corporations in the world’s water supply and reports on the climate justice summit from Cochabamba, Bolivia. And Steve Fludder of GE talks about his company’s ecomagination initiative.