Companies are increasingly becoming aware that the business case for corporate social responsibility has grown beyond environmental sustainability and social impact to include positive workplace culture and employee well-being as values necessary to remain competitive in a rapidly changing economy.
Although it may seem counterintuitive for a company to discourage consumers from buying its products, we have seen this strategy work in brands’ favor in the past — Patagonia’s “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign resulted in an overwhelming positive response from consumers who took extra time to learn about the brand’s mission before making a purchase. Now, one company with a notoriously controversial product is attempting to pivot its business model to be more socially responsible — and marketing directly to consumers during this transition.
Just one year after its launch, The Soulfull Project — a mission-driven startup dedicated to making high-quality, nutritious food more accessible to those in need — has pledged to donate one million servings of its signature, nutrient-dense hot cereal to food banks across the country over the next two years.
The rise of craft beer is a major success story. Yet, the industry is reaching an important crossroads. A new study highlights major risks ahead — meaning continuous growth and success cannot be taken for granted. Meanwhile, there’s a great opportunity to find a new ‘sweet spot’ for growth and sustainability.
The festive season is once more upon us. Perhaps you will raise a glass or two, and enjoy your favourite beer. You might go for one of the many mass-produced beers on the market, or maybe you will opt for something different, and a little more ‘crafted’ — a bright golden IPA, perhaps?
Despite the emergence of new carbon-capture technologies and campaigns spinning fossil fuels as a saving grace, there’s no denying that coal is on a downward spiral. Companies that refuse to recognize the resource’s link to climate change and begin embracing alternatives stand to do more harm than good to the future of their business. B.H.P.
Change Your Shoes, an international campaign working towards a more equitable and sustainable footwear industry, has published a new report providing an overview of best practices in the shoe industry in an effort to encourage progress on workers’ rights.
A key ingredient in everything from beauty products to detergents and even ice cream, palm oil is an important commodity that generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. However, unsustainable palm oil production practices are the root cause of considerable environmental and social risks. Efforts to address issues such as deforestation and human rights violations are on the rise as a result of increasing pressure from consumers and investors, as well as a growing awareness of the threat inaction poses to future business, yet a sustainable palm oil industry is still a long way off.
Craft beer has taken off over the past five years, with the industry now boasting over 6,000 craft breweries in the US alone, 700 of which opened in the past year. In order to continue this momentum, Anheuser-Busch (A-B) has launched Elevate, a new initiative that aims to take craft brewing to the next level by creating a stronger, safer, more sustainable category and raising awareness of its craft beer and cider brands.
The face of the U.S.’s workforce is undergoing a vast and rapid change as an estimated 10,000 baby boomers retire each day. With nearly 4 million people calling it quits each year, this silver tsunami is creating a personnel gap that is being felt by a broad range of industries.
“The most important resource a customer, coffee brand or even the roaster has in the coffee industry is the relationship with a farmer,” said Thrive Farmers’ co-founder and chief sustainability officer, Ken Lander, from his small coffee farm tucked away in the village of San Rafael de Abangares, Costa Rica.
At COP23, the largest cocoa-producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, announced far-reaching frameworks for action with leading chocolate and cocoa companies, including Cargill, General Mills, Hershey, Mars, Mondelēz International and Nestlé, to end deforestation and restore forest areas.
Just weeks after 12 C40 mayors signed the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration in an effort to curb air pollution and improve the quality of life for urban dwellers while tackling climate change, the mayors of 25 pioneering cities have pledged to develop and begin implementing more ambitious climate action plans by 2020 to deliver emissions-neutral and climate-resilient cities by 2050.
Corporate sustainability goes far beyond carbon emissions and water efficiency. Workplace gender equality is quickly catching up to science-based targets and circular design in terms of the elements crucial for building businesses that can compete in a rapidly evolving economic landscape that values social and environmental responsibility.
The international Fair-Trade Town movement encourages authorities, corporates, retail outlets and community groups to promote fair trade and spread understanding of fair-trade concepts across its sphere of influence. Over 1,800 towns have been recognized worldwide. Japan may well lag other countries in the movement, but it does have three registered fair-trade cities — Kumamoto, Nagoya and Zushi — and has added its own, sixth requirement to the five core standards for fair-trade town status outlined by Fair Trade Towns International.
Stella McCartney has long been an advocate for responsible, sustainable fashion and was one of the first high profile labels to put forth products that struck the perfect balance of aesthetics and ethics. Unfortunately, as a luxury label, the brand is out of reach for a majority of the masses. Affordable alternatives do, however, exist yet the marketing of responsible threads has largely focused on claims — organic, Fair Trade, etc. — rather than the clothing’s sartorial appeal, representing missed opportunities to connect with consumers.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has released a special edition of its Annual Report, describing two decades of driving change on the water. More than 400 fisheries, landing 14 percent of global marine catch by volume, are now engaged in the MSC program. MSC Chain of Custody certification has been granted to 42,320 sites and in the last financial year, consumers bought 730,860 tons of MSC labeled seafood, in a market worth $5.6 billion.
The Sustainable Development Goals seem to be on everyone’s mind as of late, with new initiatives and reports related to the 2030 Agenda turning up almost daily. Just last week, GRI announced that it was developing a common framework for measuring and reporting business progress and impacts on the SDGs and the University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership released a report highlighting the benefits businesses can reap by delivering on the SDG agenda.
“Sell by,” “Use by,” “Display until” and “Best before” food labels intended to inform consumers about food quality and safety frequently come under fire for their lack of clarity and confusing terminology that contributes significantly to the colossal food waste problem — one that costs families up to $29 billion annually in the United States alone. However, little concrete action has been taken to address the problem.
This is an excerpt from Rise Up: How to Build a Socially Conscious Business, released this week from Elevate Publishing.
Purpose-driven companies regard employees as their most critical resource, one to be nurtured and sustained rather than exhausted and played out like a mine with a short-term life expectancy.