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Voices of Challenge

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Climate

avatar Alisa Gravitz
Green America

Question: How do we incent consumers to take meaningful, positive action on the issue of climate change?

“The most effective way for consumers to take meaningful, positive action on climate change is to vote with their dollars. As the green movement grows and the economy tightens, consumers are becoming more discerning about where they spend their hard-earned money. Our work shows that consumers want to support companies whose values and actions align with their own, so companies demonstrating they are truly taking a leadership role around the environment and social justice will benefit from the support of conscientious consumers. Green America’s National Green Pages™ (http://www.greenpages.org) is a great resource to find businesses that have been rigorously screened for their environmental and social justice commitments.”

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Product

avatar Marc Gunther
Fortune

Question: Can one label adequately compare products' sustainability?

“This, unfortunately, is a ridiculously complicated question! I wish it weren’t so. Having said that, it would be great if companies should aim for a one-size-fits-all label for their products, ideally certified by an independent third party. It should take into account the overall responsibility of the company (a CSR rating) and a science-based lifecycle assessment of the product (carbon footprint, water usage, use of recycled material, etc.). It would seem to be to be possible, if not easy, to reduce all this to a couple of letter grades, A through E, with one for the company and the other for the product. Fortunately, smart people are already at work on this. I’m thinking of the sustainability consortium convened by Wal-Mart and the folks at UL Environment, among others. Let’s all wish them luck.”

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Factories

avatar Evaydee Perez
DR Consultant

Question: Which NGOs and local community partners have an effective track record of helping companies scale their efforts to improve the lives of factory workers?

“Companies have realized that complying with labor legislation alone is not enough to foster productivity and achieve sustainability. They have redirected strategies and managerial initiatives towards approaches that improve living conditions of workers and their families. In developing countries like the Dominican Republic, several NGOs like CIPAF are working with different free zone businesses to conduct research that aims to improve workers’ quality of life and to increase productivity. The transition from “research” to “action” is difficult, since changing cultural and thinking takes time, money, effort, and will. One local example of a company focusing on actionable change is Knights Apparel, which is working with residents of the Villa Altagracia community to increase wages and transform the community’s economy.”

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Service

avatar Craig Bida
Cone, Inc.

Question: How can companies scale engagement efforts to maximize the impact to their communities?

“There are two key things companies can do: 1) Focus for Impact: Companies often dilute their influence by tackling too much. Instead, they should carefully choose the impact they want to have, and leverage the power of scale by focusing their resources—like money, people and knowledge—to single-mindedly attack problems. 2) Search and Amplify: Often, great things are already happening in pockets within organizations. Creating flexible, digital, social platforms that enable collaboration can accelerate scaling of ideas and innovation. Companies MUST approach social investments with a scale mindset—leveraging their assets to deliver maximum impact and ROI. It’s all about doing more, with less.”

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Latest Comments

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Maryann Walker

Climate

“The best way for companies to get the word out about climate control is to be aware of and focus more on the markets they don't know about. You have to gear your marketing towards the people who don't know what you do or who you are and figure out a way to get their attention. It doesn't have to be anything big either. For example, Mac Cosmetics...” [Read More]

10/16/2012 | Comment

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Mark Newton - Vice President of CSR @ Timberland

Service

“In-kind service builds relationships and creates a shared sense of purpose and accomplishment. Perhaps its "old school" to simply donate cash - but accommodating service, while potentially transformative for both parties, can also tap the recipient org's resources. Jon, I like your idea of combining service with fundraising - what do others thin...” [Read More]

6/27/2012 | Comment

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Tracy Fuller - Haverill YMCA

Service

“The best way to scale an engagement opportunity is to best assess needs via local non-profits. We have been fortunate to have Timberland support our day camp for five years. The resource of having man hours provide spring camp cleanup, enables us to utilize resources that would have been directed towards facilities to now go towards scholarsh...” [Read More]

6/22/2012 | Comment

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Craig Bida - Executive Vice President @ Cone, Inc.

Service

“There are two key things companies can do: 1) Focus for Impact: Companies often dilute their influence by tackling too much. Instead, they should carefully choose the impact they want to have, and leverage the power of scale by focusing their resources—like money, people and knowledge—to single-mindedly attack problems. 2) Search and Amplify...” [Read More]

6/21/2012 | Comment

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Michael Nelson - Refuge Director @ Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Service

“Companies can scale their engagement efforts to maximize impact by spending time planning and coordinating with the receiving organization prior to the event. QWR never had a grand scale community service project before the 2008 Retail Boot Camp Community Service Event with Timberland. Due to the planning and 300 hours of work, we were incred...” [Read More]

6/21/2012 | Comment

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Jon Scott - Director of Corporate Relations @ Clean Water Action

Service

“5 key strategies: 1 partner with NGOs to select activities that connect employees with local causes, with your customers, and with other NGO supporters; 2 include a fundraising component/option so participating NGOs receive financial resources to advance their mission longer term; 3 include activities in which anyone can participate and where cr...” [Read More]

6/21/2012 | Comment

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Paul Hendricks - Global Greengrants Fund

Service

“Corporate engagement can create lasting impact within a community by ensuring that support reaches those in a community that are most directly in need, doesn't create inequities or disparities between groups within a community, and is used to address the most pressing socio-environmental issues the community faces, as identified by the community...” [Read More]

6/19/2012 | Comment

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Jonah Smith - Sustainable Business Director @ Allaince for Great Lakes

Service

“While there certainly is no one-size fits all answer, in general, companies can best scale engagement efforts to maximize the impact to their communities by first acting like really good investigative reporters…taking the time to do all the necessary due diligence that will both enable them to best understand their past, present and potential ...” [Read More]

6/18/2012 | Comment

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