Interesting quote from John Friedman on the Sustainable Business Forum — and a nice shout-out to the value that a ranking like Working Mother has:
I absolutely cringe when I hear people say that employees want to ‘feel’ valued. The fact is that employees need to ‘know’ that they are valued. The best way to demonstrate (rather than say) that the work they are doing is appreciated by their colleagues and important to customers is by showing them how their role fits into the larger picture. For example, the partnership between building materials company Lafarge and Habitat for Humanity International reconnected employees to the tremendous value that the products they helped create bring to thousands of people. In addition, a consistent theme running through Working Mother's annual list of Best Places to Work is that top employers treat their employees as their most valued assets by investing in their growth, engagement and satisfaction.
Turns out you can’t start a CSR program and hope your investors forget that your products don’t work, according to CB Bhattacharya, Daniel Korshun and Sankar Sen’s latest piece in the McKinsey Quarterly.
In fact, if your products are really failing then your efforts at implementing CSR will have a negative return. The researchers theorize that in cases of poor performance, investors tend to interpret the CSR programs as detracting from the company’s core business objectives.
Reflecting on this, I suppose it does beg the question: “are you a non-profit masquerading as a corporation,” or “are you a corporation masquerading as a non-profit?”
Graph geek that I am, really love the below:
From “The State of Environmental Communication: A Survey of PRSA Members,” Public Relations Journal Vol. 5, No. 1, Winter 2011
The quantity and the transparency of environmental communication is important for corporations and government organizations because they are judged by key stakeholders in part by their social responsibility including their commitment to eradicate any impact their processes or policies on the environment. Not only will greater environmental knowledge cause public relations professionals to produce a better communication product, but it may also allow them to lead the way to greater environmental performance within their organizations.
For those of us this past weekend who were toggling between the Dallas game and the Tony’s, you may have caught Brooke Shields’ F-bomb gaffe. As amusing as it was to watch the generally elegant Shields act… inelegantly, what I’ve always found equally stunning are those awardees who are capable of keeping calm and rattle off a slew of names to thank — everyone from their agent to their wardrobe dressers — while obviously shocked and excited by their win.
With that in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon how Dell’s Consumer group in the Philippines accepted the company’s #1 spot on the Newsweek 2010 Green Rankings by thanking… their customers for helping the company achieve such a high level of sustainability. Posted on the group’s Facebook page, they included a video, writing:
Dell fans, we’re honored to be awarded the #1 spot in the 2010 Newsweek Green Rankings, but we’re even more grateful to you, our customers, for helping us get there. Thank you for all the support! :-)
Dell’s corporate communications team also expresses their gratitude to their customers on their CSR page:
It’s always nice to be recognized for your efforts. Although Dell is honored to take the top slot in Newsweek’s Green Rankings for 2010 we also see this award as a reflection of your commitment to environmental stewardship.
Having customers like you who strive to be greener is what inspires us to continually find better ways to help you achieve more. The efficiencies that come from greener practices, products and services are so often the key to finding those better ways.
Kudos to Dell for a) localizing a global award and b) passing the award on to their customers — as someone who recently recycled an old Dell laptop, it felt nice to think that their customers had something to do with their very large, very public win.
It may sound old fashioned (you can take the girl out of Texas…), but it’s important to thank the people who have helped your success. Shields’ mistaken profanity may have been amusing, but at least it wasn’t cringe-inducing — forgetting to thank co-workers, spouses, or only mention one of three children.
Sustainability rankings may soon be forced to clean out their summer wardrobes as external agencies are pushing for a simplified and standardized mechanism to rank and evaluate companies.
Last week, Ceres and Tellus announced their global initiative for standardizing corporate sustainability ratings. Their initiative will be modeled on the already successful Ceres-Tellus Global Reporting Initiative, which has become among the most frequently relied upon standard for over 2,000 companies for corporate reporting on sustainability.
As someone who counsels companies on rankings — what to pursue, why and how — it’s a relief to know that someone is trying to reign in the free-for-all that’s emerged in the sustainability rankings space. Ratings and rankings are crawling out of the recycled-woodwork, each with their (deservedly) own perspective, which often translates to wildly differing methodologies. It causes confusion internally, as companies are engaging in a scavenger hunt to get the right information for each rating. Perhaps more concerning is the confusion it causes externally as there is little consistency among winners on lists.
In May of last year, Kevin Wilhelm and Alexia Diori of Sustainability Biz Consulting, wrote a series of stand-out articles trying to make some sense of what they aptly termed: Sustainable Rankings Craziness. Among their most interesting results:
- "When we compared the Newsweek Green Rankings to the Corporate Knights Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations, we assumed the lists would be nearly identical. They were not. In fact, only 19 companies made it onto both lists, and only five of the top 15 companies on Newsweek’s list even made it onto the Corporate Knights Global 100 at all. Those were HP (NYSE: HPQ), Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), State Street (NYSE: STT) and Nike (NYSE: NKE). Companies such as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT), Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI), Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) which all were in the top 15 in the Newsweek rankings failed to make Corporate Knights Global 100.”
- "Since sustainability is used as a holistic approach to examine an organization, we supposed that some of the most sustainable and greenest corporations would also turn out to be the best places to work. However, after comparing Fortune 500’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” against the Corporate Knights and Newsweek rankings, we found that only 28 made both the Fortune and Newsweek rankings, while only two made both the Fortune and Corporate Knights list: Novo Nordisk and Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS). This was a major surprise because in all the literature you read about sustainability, it is an accepted truth that “sustainable/green” companies are great places to work and their employees are excited to work there."
Actually, a note about comparing Newsweek to Fortune Best Places to Work Lists as it’s not quite apples to apples. Fortune Best Places to Work is an intensive application process that requires an employee survey. In contrast, Newsweek is decidedly easier for a company to complete, and is likely being completed in a different department than the department filling out the Fortune survey.
Either way, it will be extremely interesting to see how and if Ceres and Tellus are able to impact the awards, rankings and ratings world.