Eco-Coach

Green your life at home, work & play

New online tool helps businesses track impacts through their supply chain May 2, 2012

You want your company to improve its community and eco-image and along with that, you want to know what your suppliers are doing to spiff up theirs as well.  It can be a large investment of time to read through every company report – annual, sustainability, CSR – wading through the rhetoric, not to mention dozens of corporate rating and ranking lists of best and worst performers to find out.  But now there is a much faster way to get an understanding from multiple angles of just how responsible those companies are by using CSRHUB*.  This new service offers free and subscriber options for accessing social and environmental ratings based on a wide array of sources to achieve a more unbiased view of a company’s performance.

While still in development stages, CSRHUB has ratings for about 5000 companies worldwide so far.  The ratings are based on four scales – community, employees, environment, and governance.  Ranked search results by industry are based on your settings for the four adjustable scales depending on how you value each.  There are also special issues of concern (accessible with a paid subscription) to use in further filtering results, such as nuclear power connections, board diversity, and involvement with pesticides/pollutants.  Also with a subscription, users can save search results and export them in spreadsheet format.

The CSRHUB site is set up so that you can go directly to a particular company’s rating page or you can search for groups of companies by industry, region or data source.  They currently have over 130 sources that they access for data to consider when rating a company.  These range from the Calvert Social Index to EPA Climate Leaders list to Working Mother magazine’s list of mother-friendly companies.  The entry for each company (when accessing the database as a subscriber) lists basic contact information, their overall and individual scale ratings (based on your preference settings), sources of data that were used in determining their rating, ratings history (graphically by month), and optional reports to purchase.  There are also typically links to recent articles pertaining to CSR topics where the company was mentioned and even current job openings listed.

Access to the basic search and CSR ratings features are available without even registering for the service.  But by registering you get the added benefits of creating unlimited profiles and lists of companies.  These can be shared with other users as well.  Registering also allows you to post to their discussion forums.  For those who want more access to the large amount of data and ratings (segregated into 12 subcategories) on CRSHUB, subscriptions on a personal or professional level are available.  Personal level access can be purchased on a monthly or annual basis for as little as $8/month.  A chart of the features by subscription status is available.

And have no doubt that they embrace their mission fully—CSRHUB recently elected to become a B Corporation.  B Corp status is a relatively new legal designation for companies that do not want to be confined to the traditional corporate dictate of profit above all else.  Currently a handful of states have passed legislation to allow B Corp status with another handful considering such legislation.  From CSRHUB’s website:

B Corps use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  Unlike traditional corporations, B Corps agree to meet social and environmental performance standards, disclose their performance so that it is transparent, and include consideration of all stakeholder interests in their legal structure…. We are part of a community that intends to change the world and we need to show that we have whole-hearted dedication to our cause.

Since CSRHUB is still growing and expanding their database, they appreciate all feedback from users and potential users.  They want to hear from businesses and individuals about what CSR issues concern them most, which special issues are of greatest interest, how the data is being used, and how the site/service can be improved.  Here’s your chance to guide this data tool in a direction that helps save you time and gives you valuable information regarding your current and potential business partners.’

*We are not in any way affiliated with this tool

 

United Nations Launches Global Compact LEAD Program March 9, 2011

It is easy to mouth the words “sustainable development”, but to make it happen we have to be prepared to make major changes — in our lifestyles, our economic models, our social organization, and our political life.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

On January 28, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Compact LEAD program. This group of 54 companies is making a commitment to adopt ambitious sustainability roadmaps and demonstrate leadership in tackling global challenges. Global Compact LEAD is a platform created to increase environmental, social and governance performance, and set new corporate sustainability benchmarks.

Participating companies include Coca-Cola, Accenture, Intel, Daimler, Heineken, Nestle, and Siemens. Click here to view a full list of global participants. The companies have committed to implementing the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership. Created in 2010, this is a roadmap that outlines roughly 50 concrete actions that businesses can take to achieve greater sustainability.

The blueprint offers an action plan in three core areas: integrating the Global Compact ten principles into strategies and operations, taking action in support of broader UN goals and issues, and engaging with the Global Compact. The blueprint identifies best practices in each of these dimensions, and can be viewed in six different languages.

The LEAD initiative also includes collaboration among local networks in more than 90 countries. Participants will work actively with UN agencies, funds and programs. According to the UN website, the first two years of Global Compact LEAD (2011-2012) will be considered a pilot phase and allows for LEAD members to shape and refine the platform’s services and programs.

The 54 companies were invited to join the program based on a history of engagement with the UN Global Compact, either locally or globally. Since its creation in 2000, Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative and commits business to align their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.

For more information:

 

Federal Government is Becoming Greener October 8, 2010

A year ago, President Obama signed an executive order that set out guidelines for reducing federal government greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing energy and water consumption, reducing waste and engaging in environmentally preferable procurement.

This year, the White House organized the first external Green Gov symposium, hosted at George Washington University. The conference highlighted changes that the Federal Government and government contractors have been making and could be making to meet Executive Order  13514 requirements. At the symposium, it was announced that the White House will install solar panels on its roof, along with solar water heating, to show its commitment to environmental sustainability and the Executive Order.

It is clear from attendance at the three-day conference, which was larger than expected, and totaled over 1,200 people, over 60% of which were from Federal government agencies, that there is wide-ranging interest.  I was fortunate enough to be on a panel at the symposium with some accomplished government and non-government individuals who are very passionate about the environment and making a change at their respective organizations.  Participating in the panel as well as attending some of the sessions made it clear that, although the Federal government has had a tougher time gaining momentum on green initiatives because of its size, it is well on its way.

While many companies were represented, some are better known outside Washington circles than others. One of these is Verizon. James Gowen, Verizon’s Chief Sustainability Officer, described some of the changes Verizon has made to its supply chain, including improving its fleet management practices, increasing the amount of recycled content in its packaging, and asking its vendors (Motorola was discussed in this particular example) to conduct a life cycle assessment of their products. These changes have resulted in significant cost savings that have enabled Mr. Gowen to add more staff to focus on the sustainability initiatives. The message is clear – environmental sustainability brings cost savings, which is one of the messages that we at Eco-Coach have for our clients as well.

I could talk about quite a few other great case studies, but I will highlight one more here, and you can review some others at Planet Forward. One example within the Federal government that shows that ‘green’ is a security and risk management issue and can be bipartisan, is the US Army’s initiatives. The Army was the first Federal agency to issue a GRI, in 2007. The Global Reporting Initiative reporting standards are used by many large and medium-sized companies to report on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. One of the benefits of the report that was stated at the session was that those who prepared it could then better engage senior leadership in the effort.  Reporting also enables the organization to benchmark and track progress on specific initiatives, which is very useful from a cost perspective as well as for tracking greenhouse gas emission reductions.

While various government agencies are at different points on the path to sustainability, most of them have started and are making strides. As was stated by many at the conference, this will inevitably trickle down to government contractors, who will be asked what actions they are taking to make their organizations more eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, if they have not been asked already. This is significant since the Federal government is a large employer, and the changes could cause a positive ripple effect of sustainability throughout the local if not the national economy.

 

 
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