Fenton Weekly Good Business Update

We all celebrated Veteran’s Day this week and here in New York, the annual parade was right outside our windows.  Given that my late father was a WWII naval officer, I couldn’t help but be pleased with the recent outpouring of corporate recognition and support for what, at times, seems like a forgotten community.  A number of major companies including Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines and JCPenney, stepped up to provide millions of dollars for job-training programs for returning soldiers and vets.  Details on Wal-Mart’s program are described here.

I couldn’t help but chuckle this morning when I reviewed Elaine Cohen’s blog, “CSR in Six Words.” So much confusion & debate exists surrounding the definition of Corporate Social Responsibility that this satirical look makes for a worthy and humorous read.  And while on the topic of excellent blog postings, take a look at Fabian Pattberg’s “What companies should aspire to in terms of Sustainability / CSR best practice” – a person can certainly dream, can’t she?

Speaking of dreaming, going forward, FTSE 100 companies could be forced to ensure corporate boards consist of 40% women. The U.K.’s former business minister,  Lord Davies, is looking at a range of options to tackle the glass ceiling that very much still exists today.  What are your thoughts on this controversial approach?

One article that I’m going to save as a resource and recommend to all CSR communicators, ran in the Guardian’s Sustainable Business Blog: “How to communicate sustainability.” The post provided key recommendations on how to communicate the message correctly and highlighted the good work of the British retailer Marks & Spencer, (who was represented in force at last week’s BSR 2010 Conference in NYC).  Also called out were GE’s Ecomagination and IBM’s Smarter Planet campaigns for their authenticity and ability to stay positive without over-embellishing.

Smart Planet showcased Starbucks sustainability efforts in its interview with Ben Packard, the coffee purveyor’s Vice President of Global Responsibility.  Packard explained how sustainability aligns with Starbucks’ mission, from coffee bean to recycled cup.

On a slightly more negative point, a disappointing read was “Has Green Stopped Giving. The article pointed out that over the last few months, sales have begun to slow in categories such as green cleaners and grow in not-so-sustainable ones like bottled water as shoppers decide they may not be worth the tradeoff.  Having recently attended the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch in Los Angeles, reading that the sales of plastic disposable water bottles were increasing, did NOT leave me smiling.  Essentially, our thirst for the stuff, is damaging our planet and much of the plastic waste is ending up in our oceans where it never fully breaks down.

On the reporting front, I was thrilled to see that even in our dim economic times, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has seen an increase in companies filing sustainability reports.  The firm’s study asserted that such reports have “become critical to a company’s credibility, transparency and endurance.” However, while most companies now post CSR information on their websites, PWC mentioned that “Canadian and US companies continue to lag behind companies in other regions when it comes to producing a report.”

For anyone who missed Thursday’s New York Times, please save this link to review the special section, “Giving.”  It’s a keeper and full of articles concerning some of the latest trends and issues in philanthropy.

For those who reside in New York City, mark your calendars for next Thursday’s Global Conference for Social Change at the U.N.  Speakers will be representing organizations such as GE, Stonyfield Farms, DoSomething.org, Nike, Coca-Cola and more.

And now a shameless plug: for anyone who attended BSR last week and happened to miss the informative 60+ interviews conducted by the Fenton SHARE team, I encourage you to grab a bowl of popcorn and fire up your browser.  The team captured some excellent insight and commentary from the CSR executives attending the major conference.

Have an outstanding and sunny weekend.