Tag Archives: Timberland

Are Consumers Really Buying More Ethical Products?

It’s easy for a CSR professional and full-time ethical consumer (isn’t that an oxymoron?)  to get excited when a another credible study unleashes tantalising phrases including:

Purpose is the 5th ‘P’ of marketing‘ and

86% of global consumers believes that business needs to place at least equal weight on society’s interests as on business interests‘.

I want more than anything for Edelman’s 2010 Good Purpose Study to be genuinely representative of mainstream consumers but my gut feeling is that it probably falls on the optimistic side of the fence.

Ok, over 7000 consumers in 13 countries is a decent sample size, better than those of the 100 or so sized sample groups accompanying UK cosmetics TV commercial claims anyway, but I’d love to know more about the methodology before getting carried away quite yet. There has been a steady stream of similar information on consumer expectation and spending behaviour including this interesting recent report from Co-operative Financial Services and in other similarly themed reports, all despite the economic crisis harbingers of ethical doom. Continue reading

Haiti – Do Something

In today’s society we are at times over-exposed to extreme images and events through the media, now difficult to avoid, every day depicting neglect, violence, greed, disaster and impending doom. Too many people have become desensitized by this saturation of global plight and quickly insulate themselves with a shot of inane reality television to wash away any pangs of responsibility.

Let’s not forget the nightmare images we are seeing on television or through the internet are very real, not a tv drama and if anything are only a censored indication of the thousands of horrific stories evolving daily. Although distant in miles we should be united through our humanity.

Many of us in the blogosphere are fortunate to live in comfortable and secure circumstances. It is all too easy to take laptops, mobile phones and our other luxuries for granted, never mind clean water, medical attention, our families and our homes. Take one minute, close your eyes and imagine your home in ruins, your family missing and precious little practical help offering any respite at all.

Now do something about it.

There are many agencies already on the ground that need your help immediately. In reality all most of us can do is make a financial donation to a reputable cause, to begin to alleviate the suffering that the surviving people of Haiti are being forced to endure.

Many businesses are taking the initiative by offering direct financial support, products in-kind and making it easier for individuals to provide their assistance. If you own, manage or work for a business that wants to help (some may nned a nudge, don’t be scared, ask the boss, he can only say no, then ask him again, and again…), visit the UN Emergency Response for Business website for advice on the most effective way to offer your support. The Huffington Post has this great list of some of the bigger corporate responses so far if you need inspiration. Here’s the story from the Financial Times on the ‘Rush of corporate aid to Haiti’.

If you’re an individual, every donation helps, no matter how small, but please ensure you are choosing a reputable agency, as unfortunately there will be those out there looking to take advantage of the highly emotionally vulnerable. Stick with an organisation you know. Here’s a short list of good causes and what they do, that I’d vouch for to make sure your donation gets to where it’s needed most:

  • UNICEF  –  is deploying clean water and sanitation supplies, therapeutic foods, medical supplies and temporary shelter to Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. UNICEF will also be focusing on children who have become separated from their families to protect them from harm or exploitation.
  • CARE – plans to start food distributions using stocks of high-protein biscuits from CARE warehouses in Haiti. CARE has 133 staff who are on the ground coordinating with U.N. agencies and other aid organizations to gather more detailed information about the damage and will rapidly scale up response based on those assessments.
  • YELE HAITI – a grassroots movement that builds global awareness for Haiti while helping to transform the country through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment, supported by Timberland and Wyclef Jean.
  • DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS – provides independent, impartial assistance to those most in need. DWB/MSF reserves the right to speak out to bring attention to neglected crises, to challenge inadequacies or abuse of the aid system, and to advocate for improved medical treatments and protocols
  • SAVE THE CHILDREN – providing vulnerable children with health, education, protection and food security programs.

It doesn’t really matter which agency you choose, but it does matter that you don’t pretend that real people in Haiti aren’t just another TV show.

Vote for CSR!


“Hollywood has the Oscars. Broadway has the Tonys. Now Twitter has the…Shorty Awards”  – The New York Times

The Shorty Awards honour the best people and organizations on Twitter. These unique awards are for the Twitter community, by the Twitter community. Online voting is public and democratic, culminating in an awards ceremony that recognizes the winners in 27 official categories as well as those in brand new crowd-sourced ones.


About the Process

The second annual Shorty Awards nomination process has begun! In January 2010, the community is invited to nominate Twitter users for excellence over the past year. The awards recognize each content creator’s entire body of work, not just an individual tweet. Nominations are made by sending a tweet, whether it’s through this site or on Twitter.

In February, the nominees will be narrowed down to five finalists in each category. Winners will be determined by a combination of popular vote and by the members of the new Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts & Sciences.


Ok, lets cut straight to the chase. I want people to vote for CSR. I’m not going to complain if you want to vote for me, but this is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of great work and great people across Twitterland that have added real energy to the CSR agenda.

My favourite CSR Twitter people during 2009 worth considering for your vote are as follows:


@davidcoethica – smaller businesses & sport expert and all round CSR believer

@elainecohen – insightful & humourous csr reporting expert and chunky monkey fanatic!

@fabianpattberg – great news, opinion and online forum

@realizedworth – Chris Jarvis – top CSR and corporate volunteering  expert

@timberland_jeff – Jeff Swartz (Timberland CEO) – inspirational business leader who exemplifies what CSR can (& should) look like & accessible via Twitter!


Now click on the box below and vote for them all and any others you deem worthy of a Shorty and then get your friends to do the same!


CSR is Powerful Stuff

Responsible Business Summit – Day 2



My first session from the three available at each time was titled ‘Convince the board to increase investment in corporate responsibility’. Like most, and it was the best attended of the three on offer, practitioners and advocates are always looking for any insight into selling the business case for CSR and this appeared to be a good place to start the day. ING Group’s Manager of Business Ethics, Arnaud Cohen-Stuart delivered an good example of dealing with an investment package (connected to a company that produced landmines) that had ceased to fit ethically with the Group’s position and how this process was managed. Not exactly sticking to the question but worth listening to none the less. Acciona – nope, quite a few in the room hadn’t heard of them either – gave an overview of  their ‘cheese for CSR’ as they matured (couldn’t resist it) from a traditional construction company to a producer of renewable energy. The presenter, Juan Ramon Silva from Acciona had one of those titles that scares the hell out of me, as Head of CSR and Marketing. Poor Andrew Marshall-Roberts (do you need a double barrelled surname to get on stage today?) from Standard Life had become separated from his slides and recovered remarkably well from his mind map and actually delivered what the brochure had initially suggested. In particular he focused on the need to understand the invidual people that make up your board and the personal drivers that inform their decisions. How often we forget that those inhabitants of  the ivory towered bastions of capitalism actually have real lives and emotions too, it’s just hard getting past their moats.

The lack of a double barrelled surname obviously spurred moderator Jo Confino of The Guardian into enthusiastically taking the panel to task, and refreshingly steered the Q&A into a challenging debate around the role of a CSR Exec. Poor Arnaud was on the ropes for a short time following a question from Gerd Hofielen of Apropo-Global. Gerd asked why there appeared to be a disconnection between the CSR activity within ING and the very publicly visible mistakes made by the  financial side of the business. It briefly raised the point around how far should / can CSR Execs push the businesses that pay them? Arnaud had probably earlier lit the fuse for this thread with his statement that “CSR is not an internal NGO”.

It was at this point in the Summit’s proceedings that Mark Line from Two Tomorrows (as also did Simon Propper from Context Group later on)  inquired about the apparent difference from the topics advertised in the conference brochure and the content of the presentations (or should I say almost pure adverts in a couple of cases) given. The general nodding seemed to reinforce the unspoken agreement from the rest of the audience.

Session 2 was one of a number around the topic of supply chain management. This was always going to be a more gentle 60 minutes than the first but it delivered a truly motivating demonstration of the new exciting strategic partnership between Starbucks and Fairtrade. With senior executives from both organisations displaying such unity it was heartening to see figures stating that 100% of UK & Ireland espresso will be Fairtrade by the end of 2009 and a commitment to double Fairtrade purchases in the same time frame. A representative from Nestle appeared to enjoy pointing out just how small Starbucks’ percentage of the total coffee market was in a valid question relating to guaranteed market prices to producers but couldn’t take the shine from what was an excellent demonstration of robust values and partnership.

virgin_media“Embedding Corporate Responsibility in your company: your guide to making money from your ethical strategy.” was next with Novo Nordisk predictably impressing all, KPMG advocating a more integrated approach in a very KPMG way but the star of this show was Virgin Media. As relative newcomers to the formal CSR strategic world their approach definitely followed their company ethos. Bold, direct, innovative and a touch of anti-CSR establishment describes Stuart Poore’s presentation of their ‘CR Manifesto’. The other presentations were excellent but Virgin’s was exciting and definitely had an edge by focusing on very direct organisational issues it was clear that they wanted to steer their CSR journey in their own boat, which I, for one, found refreshing. I’m sure the contemporary and energetic graphics played their role and why not play to their strengths? The thought of Virgin bringing their marketing arsenal to bear to promote an evolved version of CSR in a similar vein to their current ‘Powerful Stuff’ marketing campaign could inject new impetus into an often staid strategic agenda.

The graveyard shift at the end of my Day 2 fell to Timberland and Caterpillar on yet another supply chain topic. The title was aimed to stir debate but failed. “More scandals in 2009 if budgets are slashed?” never really ignited the proceedings as the discussion around cutting CSR related budgets had been covered comprehensively throughout the Summit. The majority of those presenting were definitely saying that budgets were not being cut disproportionately to other cost centres, with some saying they had seen no change in available resources regardless of economic climate. A final gasp question nearly fanned the flames when the presenters were asked about how they would select which suppliers would lose work as global demand drops, but like so many times before the answer was the same, we’ll stick to our ethical / environmental / sustainability policies as values don’t change. Some suppliers will inevitably suffer. Best price is always key just not always the decision maker.

Overall it was a great Summit. Like always there were great figures from the CSR and Sustainability world, with inspiring and educational speeches and displays. The audience numbers may have been a little down on last year but the agenda has evolved and will continue to do so with an albeit slow but inevitable determination.

Next year post-Copenhagen should be worth the ticket alone.

Click here for the summary to Day 1 of the Responsible Business Summit 2009.

Boots, Bankers & Chocolates

Responsible Business Summit – Day 1

Timberland EarthkeepersIn the first plenary Timberland CEO, Jeff Swartz (complete with suit and corporate boots), IKEA CEO, Anders Dahlvig, Eurostar CEO, Richard Brown, The Economist Executive Editor Daniel Franklin and Accenture’s Head of Global Strategy, Mark Spelman, all presented their individual perspectives to the question; “can responsible business save the reputation of capitalism?” Jeff S stole the show, and not just because of the boots. He charasmatically delivered an honest and self-deprecating appreciation of current consumption demands and realistically achievable sustainability targets in the shorter term. Look out for second-hand Timberland baby shoes! Anders, in a typically Ikea fashion raced through the retailer’s excellent practice, from pushing to far exceed many global standards to impressive UNICEF partnership. The discussion really opened up though with audience questions around focusing on economic growth as a business model, already wasted time against environmental targets, the inadequacies of political delivery and some specific core operational problems such as the need for shoe boxes, use of leather, transport of all products and all wishing they had begun their sustainability journey many years earlier. Hindsight was never so wished for.

Green and BlacksThe second plenary was the match of the day for me. Shell’s UK Chairman, James Smith was scheduled in alongside Craig Sams, President & Founder of Green & Black’s. James took to the stage with what looked like a PowerPoint that looked a little rough around the edges, the centre and the back to be honest. If anybody from Shell’s marketing dept had been near it they need shooting not sacking. The crowd where then given a by-the-numbers defensive presentation of Shell’s sustainability statistics and more than a handful of Adam Smith quotes to reinforce the business case for CSR. Shell just came across overly pragmatic rather than optimistic or hopeful for the future with an air of baby being weaned off milk. I’ve never seen Craig Sams orate before but his Green & Black’s story was told with passion and confidence. I described the session via Twitter (#rbs09) to be like watching David give Goliath an ethical spanking. James Smith is obviously a talented and traditionally raised businessman but Craig Sams’ values based motivation provided a palpable high ground no oil exploitation based organisation could hope to scale. They are two completely different companies in every way but the irony was that Mr Sams latest biochar adventure with Carbon Gold may very well potentially be on Shell’s future shopping list.

The afternoon breakout sessions I attended saw good, if a little off topic, almost generic CSR presentations around employee engagement from Alliance Boots, Transport for London with EDF Energy emerging well on specific content on show. Again the Q&A opportunity opened up more of the kind of information the audience were expecting on employees. Great practice was in abundance but I think we were all hoping for a little more innovation to be shared.

The final session had potential for greatness with the Head of CSR for the troubled Royal Bank of Scotland on the panel. The BBC’s Yogesh Chauhan gave a sound overview of their Outreach programme as part of this ‘Maxmise the benefits of your community efforts’ session, as would be expected from a public service broadcaster. I would like to congratulate Andrew Cave from RBS for a highly professional, open, honest and engaging presentation of a battered financial institution’s CSR and community investment activities. It was refreshing to hear that the same programmes are as relevant now as they have ever been to a bank that all but collapsed. Andrew also made an interesting observation that “CSR wants to be given the same priority as every other area in the good times but asks for special consideration when things get tough?”. Has CSR really evolved?

Bring on Day 2.