JUNE 2008 6/11/08The Koran as a Guide to Human Rights and Governance. The Caux Round Table and the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) have been studying the guidance for good government from the Koran (Qur’an). IIUM has published four resulting essays in book form: (1) A presentation of guidance in the Koran. (2) A commentary on the convergence of that guidance with principles of good governance in the Confucian and Western constitutional traditions. (3) An analysis of new research in neuro-science, genetics and evolutionary biology as it describes a natural inclination of the human person toward moral and responsible behavior. (4) A discussion of historic tendencies in Muslim states that may have fallen short of guidance in the Koran. Comment: The attempt to demonize the Islamic world on human rights fails for three reasons: (1) The Koran provides serious good advice on governance of countries and companies. (2) Customs, electoral, religious and judicial practices vary widely among "Islamic" countries. (3) The non-Islamic world has fallen short in adhering to its own standards.
6/7/08 Stores Overcharging for Milk, AM New York City. A report released Thursday by the City Council found that 86 percent of city food stores are gouging customers on the price of milk, with some places almost doubling the state-mandated amount. "While food prices are rising, it's incredibly important we make sure important staples, critical things to families like milk, are as affordable as possible," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D- Manhattan) The price of milk is regulated by a state law passed in 1991 to prevent retailers from selling at a price deemed "unconscionably excessive." The survey by the City Council says that stores charged an average of 40 cents above the mandated threshold. The law regulates the price cap on milk monthly, taking into account the size of the retailer and costs of production. The council called for more oversight and enforcement and raising awareness among consumers and stores. Also seeMost Sellers Break Milk Price Law (NY Post, Jun 6, 2008). Report: Majority of Sellers in City Are Overcharging for Milk (NY Sun, Jun 6, 2008). Comment: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates milk to ensure adequate minimum prices to farmers, reported on December 21 that milk prices rose by 23 percent in 2007, to a national average of $3.80 per gallon. (1) That is about the same as the price of gasoline. (2) The price of gasoline has since risen significantly. (3) But prices for milk appear to vary much more among stores (selling organic milk is one way that small stores can charge more than the cap) than the price of gasoline varies among gas stations.
6/5/08Green Jobs, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts. What kinds of jobs are needed to build a green economy in the United States? Six answers addressing global warming: (1) retrofitting of buildings with green features, (2) expanding mass transit, (3) designing more energy-efficient automobiles, (4) installing more wind power, (5) installing more solar power, and (6) creating energy from cellulosic biomass fuels. Most jobs associated with these six green strategies are in the same areas of employment that people already work in today, Comment: In addition to the continuing work at the basic level of extending green technology, many new jobs requiring different skills and training will be created in the areas of advising consumers, creating standards, monitoring compliance with standards, verification of adherence to standards and branding of products in these areas.
MAY 2008 5/23/08CSR Center. The CSR Center is an international, online platform for students of Corporate Social Responsibility. The Center touches themes such as corporate citizenship, governance issues, corporate social responsibility, et cetera. These themes are discussed, analysed and elaborated upon by students, young professionals, academics and other actors through papers, presentations and online discussions. CSR Center is more than just a database containing academic and practical knowledge. Through forums, user profiles, an internal user messaging system, event listings and a careers section, CSR Center positions itself as a truly interactive, global commuity for CSR researchers and professionals. Currently, CSR Center has over 800 active users and more than 400 documents in its database. We hereby invite you to register for free and take a look yourself! Also, we hope you will encourage students and colleagues to the the same! . Comment: This could be a valuable resource.
5/23/08How Chief Strategy Officers Think about Their Role: A Roundtable, McKinsey Quarterly. CSOs are cropping up in organizations of every size as companies struggle to balance their short- and long-term goals in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment. But the role’s relatively recent creation means that there are as many questions as answers. Comment: In the days before institutional investors started bird-dogging quarterly earnings reports, short-term goals were not so prominent. To some extent environmental and social concerns (and the failure of get-rich-quick banking) are bringing back attention to long-term investment and management principles.
5/12/08.Does Being Ethical Pay? (CSR and Branding: Premiums and Discounts), Wall Street Journal. (The WSJ makes this link good for nonsubscribers for one week only.) REWARD AND PUNISHMENT: What consumers were willing to pay for a pound of coffee based on what they were told about the company's production standards Ethical standards . . . . . . . . $9.71 Unethical standards . . . . . . . . 5.89 Control (no information) . . . . . 8.31 Source: Remi Trudel and June Cotte Mr. Trudel is a doctoral candidate in marketing at the University of Western Ontario's Ivey School of Business. Dr. Cotte is the George and Mary Turnbull faculty fellow and associate professor of marketing at the Ivey School. A MATTER OF DEGREE: How much consumers were willing to pay for all-cotton T-shirts based on what they were told about the proportion of ethical production 100% organic cotton . . . . . . . $21.21 50% organic cotton . . . . . . . . 20.44 25% organic cotton . . . . . . . . 20.72 Unethical behavior* . . . . . . . 17.33 Control (no information) . . . . 20.04 *Production harms environment ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: Consumers with high ethical expectations of companies doled out bigger rewards and punishments than consumers with low expectations. What each group was willing to pay for a pound of coffee based on production standards: Consumers with high expectations: Ethical standards . . . . . . . $11.59 Unethical standards . . . . . . . 6.92 Consumers with low expectations: Ethical standards . . . . . . . $9.90 Unethical standards . . . . . . . 8.44 Comment: It is valuable to have evidence of the market value of ethics and CSR. Michael Hiscox has conducted similar research at Harvard, using actual consumer choices (the danger with estimates of what a consumer would pay is that consumers often behave differently when spending real money). Prof. Hiscox had similar results. The next step for this kind of research is to test with products from factories or farms that are certified to labor, environmental or fair-trade standards, and Prof. Hiscox has begun such experiments. APRIL 2008 4/19/08-4/20/08Nestlé chairman keeps his eye on the future, International Herald Tribune. Peter Brabeck is a 64-year Austrian, a Nestlé veteran who just relinquished his chief executive role after 11 years. The new CEO and President is Belgian Paul Bulcke. Interviewer Karina Robinson is senior editor of The Banker. Nestlé Corporate Business Principles make clear that the company wishes to behave responsibly in marketing infant formula; activist NGOs continue to monitor the issue. All About Nestlé (pdf , 595 kb ). September 21, 2007. New Nestle CEO will stick to current strategy, Reuters. Under Brabeck, Nestlé was quick to seize on healthy trends that favored diet and sport foods, customised hospital nutrition and mineral water. Comment: Coca-Cola, Pepsico and other large food and beverage producers are also racing to develop more nutritious offerings. A good switch, whether the result of CSR at work or simply old-fashioned profit maximization.
4/10/08 Agency Execs Explore Green Strategies, AdAge. Speakers Warn IAA World Congress Not to Antagonize Cynical Consumers. Consumers are increasingly interested in green marketing initiatives, but they are also quite cynical, the International Advertising Association's World Congress was told yesterday. That provides new opportunities for improving brand equity and engaging consumers -- but also lots of risk in getting it wrong.
JUNE 2008 6/6/08 (HuffPost Green) John Tepper Marlin: Green Building News - USGBC to Accredit LEED Certifiers - Two Cheers! Last week it went unnoticed in the Mainstream Media, but it was very big green news. The U.S. Green Building Council announced that starting next year it will abandon certifying green buildings to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Instead, it appears that it will make its sister certification agency into an accreditation body to license certifiers. That's good news because it means the backlog of applications for certifications has some chance of getting cleared up. USGBC gets great credit for making the LEED standards by far and away the most widely used U.S. green-building ratings. But success has generated a backlog of applications for certification, raising questions about a possible gap between hope and reality. After four years of the LEED program in New York City at the end of 2007, there were 15 LEED certifications, or one for every 20 of the 294 registrations in the pipeline. So developers are putting up billboards saying they are "pursuing" a particular level of LEED. More.
6/4/08 (HuffPost) John Tepper Marlin: Green Banking, Good Banking. Yesterday I listened to Jack Brennan, CEO of the trillion-dollar Vanguard Group, pioneer in low-cost mutual funds and people's capitalism. He got me thinking that if the great Senator Carter Glass was the main force behind a financial structure that served us well from the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933 to 1999, then Phil Gramm was the Samson who tore it down and left a war zone. What Brennan said that made me think was: "Vanguard is guided by three principles - respect, patience and humility." I asked him at the end: "These are unusual, value-heavy words. Do you have ethical issues with the subprime loan-CDO era?" "Yes, I do, we do," he said, "That's how we see it. Vanguard didn't own the CDO stuff." It makes sense to me. I expect more financial brands will be jumping into the morning-after post-CDO era by positioning themselves as the anti-CDO, the long-term sustainable partner. When the city mice have just been gobbled up by fat cats before the eyes of their country cousins, the country mice will be eager to return home. More.
MAY 2008 5/23/08 (HuffPost Living) John Tepper Marlin: Free Biking in Paris.May is Bike Month NYC, according to Transportation Alternatives, so it's a good time to report on a trip up and down the Seine with my wife Alice using the Velib' ("Velo-libre" or "free bike") system. This is the less-than-a-year-old brainchild of the socialist Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe. Paris has more than 230 miles of well-marked cycling lanes and the Velib' has been a big success with more than 20 million trips as of this month, or 70,000 trips per day. At this pace, by the first anniversary on the day after Bastille Day, July 15, the Velib' will have attracted an amazing 25 million trips. To add our two more trips to the counter, we first buy a Velib' map, sold at any newsstand. The Google map of Paris has its green arrow pointed exactly to where we decide to join the Seine from the north. We decide to start with the bicycle route on the north (right) bank of the Seine headed east, ride this until the Seine-side bicycle path ends (it goes north), then cross over the Seine and take the bicycle path west on the south (left) bank to the Branly Museum. . More.