November 26, 2009

To which degree do you act responsibly?

"Sustainability is not an option, sustainability is a must."

We need to think about sustainability as innovation – not as compliance and regulation, Mr. C.K. Prahalad, the World’s # 1 business thinker also says in this video, from which the quote above is. An identical message comes from Towers Perrin. In its Global Workforce Study, Towers Perrin found that Corporate Social Responsibility, which can range from “going green” to supporting local charities, is the 3rd most important driver of employee engagement overall. Searching for information about companies that act responsibly, I came across, for example, Campbell Soup Company, Pictet & Cie, and MyC4.



Campbell Soup Company
Reading this Knowledge@Wharton Article, I learned that, by far, the easiest "sell" for Corporate Social Responsibility remains environmentally based improvements to operations, because they can be shown to save money for a company. According to Mr. Dave Stangis, Campbell's vice president of corporate social responsibility (CSR), sustainable packaging for frozen food, condensed soup and cracker cartons is expected to save Campbell more than 500,000 pounds of packaging materials and almost $1.5 million. In addition, a freight optimization program is designed to eliminate more than 1,700 trucks in the Campbell network and save more than 225,000 gallons of fuel.



Pictet & Cie
Recently, I learned about the Prix Pictet, a price which is sponsored by the Geneva private bank Pictet & Cie. I read here that the Prix Pictet is the world’s first prize dedicated to photography and sustainability. It has the following mandate: To use the power of photography to communicate crucial messages to a global audience. The goal: Art of the highest order, applied to the immense social and environmental threats of the new millennium. Glancing through the shortlist 2009, I stumpled, for example, upon the photos of Ed Kashi titled "Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta". By the way, did you know that 80% of Nigeria’s revenues come from oil production – and that only 40% of Nigeria's population has access to electricity? And for those with access to electricity, it's available just 4-8 hours per day. I read that in this Knowledge@Wharton article.


MyC4
In this 4 minute video, Mr. Tim Wang of MyC4, an online marketplace that connects you directly with African entrepreneurs, who lack capital to develop their businesses, asks why Corporate Social Responsibility should be something that is reserved for companies. Mr. Wang mentions that he thinks everybody should be involved. For EUR 5, you can – through MyC4 – play an important role in getting the businesses of African entrepreneurs to flourish. To watch a 3 minute guide about how to invest on MyC4, click here.


At a Kalaidos University Forum seminar today, Ms. Marcella Linn explained, for example, that people can get involved not only by donating money – but also by assisting with knowledge as well as, for example, helping out do practical volunteering work.


During my search for information about how individuals, i.e. you and I, can get involved in acting more responsibly towards the environment and towards our fellow world citizens, I came across these 4 examples:


Example # 1: SHARE FOR SMILES
Via brainfloor.com, an open innovation platform that I encourage you to try out, I came across SHARE FOR SMILES. SHARE FOR SMILES is a non-profit organisation that partners, for example, with the Philipp Lahm Stiftung. One of the initiatives, I read about on the site, is the Africa Calendar 2010, which you can buy by via SHARE FOR SMILES. Buying the calendar you support projects in South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, and Ghana, I read here. You can see the photos in the calendar on Flickr.


Example # 2: Big Warm-up
Via this posting, I came across Big Warm-up, an effort to help make the holiday season warmer for the homeless people in the Boston area. On the site, you can get information about in which stores across the United States of America you can donate a coat and warm a heart.


Example # 3: FixMyStreet
Another interesting initiative to engage people is FixMyStreet, a internet tool through which any citizen can – by reporting a problem using, for example, text and photo – help keep the environment clean.


Example # 4: TIXI
Living in Switzerland, I have experienced that many people help out as volunteers on a variety of occasions and events – thereby helping other people have a good time, i.e. increasing the quality of life. Examples are sports and cultural events. Some time ago, I came across TIXI, an innovative social responsibility initiative. In cars sponsored by, for example, individuals, companies, and foundations, volunteers drive people with disabilities from A to B. The price to get from A to B with TIXI is set at the same level as what is costs going with bus / tram / train.


What do you do to act more responsibly? When you think about this question, consider also what’s behind the things you buy at the supermarket. In this regard, I came across this 30 second movie at buyresponsibly.org.


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