Posts Tagged ‘transparency’

“There are two things people want more than sex and money… recognition and praise.” ~Mary Kay Ash

For years companies have widened their nets to capture new talent. New BMWs, country club memberships, travel perks and other benefits have been used as incentives to attract new talent.  However, well-being benefits are becoming a “higher-value” to many young “millenniums”. So what does “well-being” mean to business? That varies to the needs of each corporation, its perception of the value for new talent and their contribution to the organization. It also addresses the needs of existing employees, as well.

The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Commission found the following objective measures necessary in measuring human well-being along the lines of the “eight key dimensions”: 1) personal income, consumption and wealth; 2) mortality and morbidity; 3) educational enrollment, graduation rates, years completed, standardized test scores and expenditure on education; 4) time spent on personal activities including paid and unpaid work, commuting, and leisure time; 5) measures of housing; 6) political voice (freedom of speech, dissent, and association) and governance (corruption, accountability, democracy, universal suffrage, and non-citizen rights); 7) social connections (volunteer work, civic engagement, and the amount, nature, and breadth of connections generally); 8) environment (econsystems health, access to environmental resources, individual exposure to pollutants); 9) personal insecurity (crime, accidents, natural disasters); and 10) economic insecurity (job security, illness and health issues, and global economic trends).1

Mark Kinver is an environmental reporter for BBC News. He recently wrote a thought provoking article about well being and discussed often overlooked employee well-being is not commonly considered a company benefit. I encourage you to read his recent article by following this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25682368

Footnote: 1 Sen, A., Stiglitz, J. E., & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. Paris, France: The Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.(pgs  41-44)


Building a bridge to benefits thumbnail

Owners, Executive and other Leaders are investigating a global world concerned about Sustainability, that type of understanding can be difficult to obtain. In early December 2013, I published my second book entitled “Building a Bridge to Benefits”. If you are interested in reading about the book or want to purchase copies today, here is the link to CreateSpace, an Amazon company, go to: https://www.createspace.com/4532590

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“Optimism is a good characteristic, but if carried to an excess, it becomes foolishness. We are prone to speak of the resources of this country as inexhaustible; this is not so.”  ~ Theodore Roosevelt, Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1907

Ethics and Stewardship are the fundamental moral principles that drive and mold your Core Assets. Your internalized ethics and commitment to Stewardship establishes a basis for your corporate culture. That culture provide the corporate guidance, direction and boundaries for acceptable behavior and limits decisions that are consider unethical, irresponsible or illegal in the communities which you operate. As previously discussed, Core Assets are interlinked with your culture and transform those values into actions and results throughout your organization.

Create a Vision, understand the elements and principles of Sustainability and how that would apply to your business. Your business is unique, it may be similar to your competition. Make it distinct and differentiate yourself from the pack. Integrating Sustainability will make your organization truly unique from end-to-end. It will you give you a better perspective, viewed through a lens that includes not only internal viewpoints, but external aspects of outside influences. As a leader of Sustainability you have a unique opportunity to lead your enterprise through a fresh Vision, based on Ethics, that is a Commitment to Sustainability. Your Core Assets will be driven by business values recognizing that Sustainability align to the needs of the present without sacrificing resources for future generation’s needs. It challenges your ideals beyond your brick and mortar walls and it is a role that legacies are made from.

In a real example, IBM reflects this approach. Based on a recent study from IBM, today’s CEOs are “learning while leading”. Of those surveyed, say their organization must exhibit three key characteristics: 61% must be “customer obsessed”, 60% want an “inspirational leadership”, and 58 % want “leadership teaming”. CEOs must differentiate their organizations.[1]
•    Today’s Customers are looking for Sustainability factors in your products.
•    Sustainability is a catalyst to move closer to all externalities and Suppliers would be a good beginning for that innovation.
•    Engage your employees to develop shared values. Allow your organization to collectively develop its core values.

This is an excerpt of my new book “Building a Bridge to Benefits”. Publication date is scheduled for November 2013 and is planned to be available on Amazon. More to come …
Jarvis Business Solutions, LLC
Contact Information
Email: Ralph.Jarvis@JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
Blog: http://horizons.JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
Web site: http://www.JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/corporatesocialresponsibility/

Lead Smart, Endless Opportunities when Sustainability is driven by Lean Six Sigma

[1] Leading Through Connections 2012 – IBM Corporation, pg. 15, Retrieved: 11 December 2012

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“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”  ~ Galileo Galilei

U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a small staff of 12 volunteer scientists who research Climate Change. They recently published another tome that questions their veracity. It also questions whether Climate Change is real, imagined, but essentially does not resolve that question at all. Its suggested (but unsubstantiated) impact on the environment, society and economic consequences is becoming an indicator for uncertainty rather than explaining real trends.

These assumptions and Climate Change is controversial since it is promoted by “beliefs” rather than measurable facts and metrics. The IPCC said; “scientists are 95% certain that humans are the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s.” Although there is no change in temperature for the last 15 years, yet that anomaly is downplayed in the report.

Why the disparity? According to the scientists, it is due to the ongoing understanding of climate change. The report made significant adjustments from its previous reports. For example:

  • In the 2007 study, the temperature range for doubling CO2 in the atmosphere was 2.0C to 4.5C.
  • In the latest study,  the temperature range for doubling CO2 in the atmosphere was expanded  to 1.5C to 4.5C.

Apparently they needed to expand the range of temperature to “fit” their models? Although this is cynicism, increasing the range in temperatures and assumptions affect predictions of sea level rise that will proceed faster, ocean warming, and other areas where warming is projected to continue in all scenarios. Here are some other areas where recommendations from the IPCC impact scenarios:

  • Rising Sea Levels
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Heat Extremes
  • Lower agricultural yields
  • Risks to Human Support Systems
  • Non-linear impacts tipping elements

So, where is the reporting Transparency in the study? It is public, right. But shouldn’t the IPCC stand on the same level of scrutiny that corporations are encouraged to provide? It stands with “scientist’s belief” that man has created the problem of climate change, yet recent IPCC models do not explain man’s significance on Earth’s climate.

What be other explanations? Here are a few examples: volcanoes in the lithosphere or hydrosphere, recent earthquakes that created an island off the coast of Pakistan that is made of methane infused clays, possible thawing of the permafrost and possible underestimate of the sun’s influence, especially with the recent large solar flares.

Predicting the Climate Change of our planet is a huge undertaking. Given this rather “flexible” notion to Climate Change, based on a dozen volunteer scientist’s “beliefs” and opinions. Why would executives give any credence to Sustainability? Executives make decisions on facts. And according to other sources, there are other significant megaforces that executives would recognize as a threat to their bottom line.

IPCC has been a target for promoting their own agenda, not the science. I would have thought that criticism could be minimized if they took a recommendation from their organization, the United Nations. Both the UN Global Pact and CERES have principles for BUSINESS. Why doesn’t the UN have principles for CLIMATE CHANGE? My suggestion is to read and become more informed. Here are a couple of recent articles that also question the recent IPCC publication:

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“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”~ Stephen F. Covey

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a framework and encompasses not only what companies do with their profits, but also how they make them, effectively. It does not replace your Strategic Planning system, rather it should be integrated into your existing one to address new business opportunities. It goes beyond philanthropy and compliance and addresses how companies manage their economic, social, and environmental ramifications. CSR also addresses relationships in all key spheres of influence: corporate values, the workplace, the marketplace, the supply chain, the community, and the public policy realm.

CSR is a coordinated and structured approach for business, government and non-profit transformation. It is not a marketing campaign on a “green” product. It is not only a facility’s managers duty, process or procedure. It is not only a Public Relations, Human Resource or Procurement job. It is not only about philanthropy for non-profit organizations. It is not only about community involvement like building a playground for your local park. Rather it is a framework that focuses a lens on the tangible benefits that can be garnered from Sustainability and how company’s work within the sphere of the community. Businesses responsibilities and their roles, throughout the industrialized world, have seen a sharp escalation in the social roles corporations are expected to play.

CSR is also a long-term commitment based on an honest strategic effort, results, best practices and driven by transparency to the public. It is interwoven with business strategies and engages with external organizations. It is about measurable transformation, internally and externally, that extracts tangible benefits. Sustainability is more than platitudes and recycling efforts, for recycling is a beginning. It should be able to show financial benefits directly relating to waste reduction, conservation, improvement of internal processes and engagement with externalities (i.e., NGOs, Governments, Customers, Suppliers, etc.).

This is an excerpt of my new book “Building a Bridge to Benefits”. Publication date is scheduled for November 2013 and is planned to be available on Amazon. More to come …
Jarvis Business Solutions, LLC
Contact Information
Email: Ralph.Jarvis@JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
Blog: http://horizons.JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
Web site: http://www.JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/corporatesocialresponsibility/

Lead Smart, Endless Opportunities when Sustainability is driven by Lean Six Sigma

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Your leadership provides the vision for the future and encourages employee-led changes to improve procedures, processes and effective innovation for now and the future. Leading your people by empowering them with skills and knowledge is a critical success factor for sustainable transformation.   ~ Ralph Jarvis

Like any other form of transformation, Sustainability must be embraced by ALL stakeholders. Having years of Business, Government and IT Transformation experience, I have seen organizations present change as an elective – in that scenario, it is always a disaster in the making. Executives must be engaged. Middle management must be engaged.  All employees must be engaged and empowered. But all of this will only work if there is a clear Vision – for Sustainability is more like a cause.

Stakeholders need to clearly understand their role and impact on the company when they do not “own” their new responsibilities. Transformation is serious business and should be executed that way. This article is a good example of NOT thinking through the true business case for Sustainability …

FastCompany article:  3 Hidden Killers Of Sustainability Programs

Jarvis Business Solutions, LLC
Contact Information
Email: Ralph.Jarvis@JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
Blog: http://horizons.JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
Web site: http://www.JarvisBusinessSolutions.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/corporatesocialresponsibility/

Lead Smart, Endless Opportunities when Sustainability is driven by Lean Six Sigma

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Your leadership provides the vision for the future and enlisting employee-led procedures, processes and effective innovation for now and the future. Leading your people by empowering them with skills and knowledge is a critical success factor for transformation.

“”There should be a focus on integrated reporting of CSR and financial results, which could bring about an alignment of Sustainability with economic performance.”  ~ Fulvio Conti, Enel S.p.A.

CEOs see Sustainability shifting from a choice to a corporate priority. Sustainability leadership and culture embeds CSR into how employees and executives think about strategy and execution. Recent economic downturn raised importance of sustainability as an issue for top management to 80 percent[1].

[1] Aman Singh, New Survey: CEOs See Sustainability Shifting From Choice To Corporate Priority, Forbes,6/23/2010


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Theodore Roosevelt Memorial waterInventories can be managed but people must be led.” – Henry Ross Perot

In a recent sermon, my minster discussed colloquial use of the word “used”. He illustrated an example of its value two thousand years ago. In those days, it was common to use things and love people. Well, have we turned that meaning around and love things and use people? What has happened with our values in today’s new modern world?  Has humanity simply ignored stewardship principles for profit or is it a case where our high tech society is no longer linked to agrarian mores and values? So, in terms of Sustainability, has mankind placed to much emphasis on things without regarding the consequences to resources and ultimately our whole planet?

As Americans, we have that heritage reflected in what Theodore Roosevelt said over a century ago; “To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”

Perhaps it was better said almost 500 years ago, regarding changing the status quo:

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”  ~ Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1532)

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A recent political cartoon depicted Obama sitting in a chair. He is swamped by a pack of dogs, eager to receive his affection. The cartoon entitled “vicious media watch dogs” encapsulated the media industry’s criticism in biased reporting. Obviously these “vicious media watch dogs” are diverted from their mission, but we should put this in contrast with what has recently happened to executives at BBC and the decision by the Australian Broadcast Corporation to publicly post its transparency and Sustainability intentions clearly on their website.

Public Perception of Bias

Now, fewer Americans closely follow political news than in previous election years due to a perception of bias.[i] Sixty percent of Americans perceive a political bias, almost 4 to 1. With 47% those surveyed saying the media are too liberal and 13% saying they are too conservative. Similar results were report by Gallup in the preceding year.

Americans are clearly down on the news media this election year, with a record-high six in 10 expressing little or no trust in the mass media’s ability to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. This likely reflects the continuation of the trend seen in recent years, combined with the increased negativity toward the media that election years tend to bring. This is particularly consequential at a time when Americans need to rely on the media to learn about the platforms and perspectives of the two candidates vying to lead the country for the next four years.

Independents and Republicans drive this year’s decline in media trust. The 31% and 26%, respectively, who express a great deal or fair amount of trust are record lows and are down significantly from last year. Republicans’ level of trust this year is similar to what they expressed in the fall of 2008, implying that they are especially critical of election coverage.

On a broad level, Americans’ high level of distrust in the media poses a challenge to democracy and to creating a fully engaged citizenry. Media sources must clearly do more to earn the trust of Americans, the majority of whom see the media as biased one way or the other. At the same time, there is an opportunity for others outside the “mass media” to serve as information sources that Americans do trust.[ii]

Media Distrust of Transparency

News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

But now many of the country’s biggest media companies, which own dozens of newspapers and TV news operations, are flexing their muscle in Washington in a fight against a government initiative to increase transparency of political spending.

The corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism — NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Politico, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and dozens of local TV news outlets — are lobbying against a Federal Communications Commission measure that would require broadcasters to post political ad data on the Internet.

… political ad data is public by law but is not widely accessible because it is currently kept only in paper files at individual stations. The FCC has proposed fixing that by requiring broadcasters to post on the Internet details of political ad purchases including the identity of the buyer and the price. [iii]

Television stations by law must offer political candidates the lowest rates on ads. Broadcasters have argued that by making this information available online and not just at stations, it would hurt their ability to negotiate with other advertisers.

Advocates for the online disclosure rule have countered that the political ad information is already public by law and the measure would simply make the existing disclosure rules relevant for the Internet age. They have also pointed out that keeping paper files in electronic form should actually be more efficient for stations.[iv]

Guarding Trust and Brand

Although U.S. media seems to ignore transparency principles, executive commitment across the Atlantic is taking transparency seriously. Because of poor news investigation, BBC is taking transparency to heart by making executive changes.

Last week, George Entwistle, the director general of the BBC, was forced to resign after a wave of public criticism. In late 2011, Entwistle was the head of BBC television, and thus ultimately responsible for airing the tributes to Jimmy Savile. He had died in 2011 and allegedly sexually abused a number of underage female teens. Again, on November 12, two more editors were forced to step down at BBC as the investigation continued to report about allegations of sexual abuse against longtime star Jimmy Savile. [v]

BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten said on Sunday confidence had to be restored if the publicly funded corporation was to withstand pressure from rivals, especially Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, which would try to take advantage of the turmoil. “If you’re saying, ‘Does the BBC need a thorough structural radical overhaul?’, then absolutely it does, and that is what we will have to do,” Patten, a one-time senior figure in Prime Minister David Cameron‘s Conservative Party and the last British governor of Hong Kong, told BBC television.[vi]

Does Transparency Exist for the U.S. Media?

Full transparency is a litmus test for leadership’s commitment. Are transparency principles actually recognized by U.S. media corporations? If these executives are not supporting transparency, then the support for Sustainability is definitively in question. On the other hand, if the executives are supporting transparency, are media companies being influenced by external organizations that affect their decision-making, affecting business strategies or compromising ethical standards? Here are other issues that could abrogate transparency:

  • Do special interest groups drive media companies?
  • Does government regulations over campaign laws limit freedom of speech?
  • Are media companies politically engaged for one side over another and simultaneously taking revenues from both sides?

Conflict of interests is often investigated by news media regarding government legislation and business dealings. Results are breaking news worthy stories, possible convictions and perhaps new legislation that address the abuse. How is conflict of interests addressed within contemporary media companies? From a brand viewpoint, this would be risk to brand. Here are a few questions that recognize the impact on their customers, political affiliation or overlooking risks to brand:

  • Are media companies addressing their audience’s need for information to make educated decisions, such as voting?
  • Is there conflict of interests in balancing information from media companies with alignment to political parties?
  • Are media companies empowered by their audiences or do they manipulate them?
  • Are freelance writers held to the same level of quality and reliability than their staff journalists?
  • Are editors verifying content before publishing and are they effectively executing due diligence?

Unbiased fact checking that is nonpartisan, by nature, by balancing reporting objectively would improve media’s standing. In this case there is a prime example: The League of Women Voters use a standard of “neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.”

  • Do media companies embrace similar standards as the League for Women Voters?
  • Do media companies report on self-censorship?
  • Should media companies be held accountable for its perceived bias or keep ignoring it?
  • How do media companies exercise the right to freedom of expression for the individual?
  • As a media company, does it reflect cultural diversity through content for the entire population or is it selective?

Media and Sustainability

Australian Broadcast Corporation is a good example of applied transparency outlining their Sustainability initiative, goals and sharing those details with the public. Taken directly from their web, they define Corporate Responsibility as:

The ABC is committed to Corporate Social Responsibility and aims to deliver content with integrity, diligence and transparency and acts in the interests of the Australian community. This responsibility ensures the ABC focuses on the impacts of its decisions and business activities on society, the marketplace, and the environment. The ABC is committed to fulfilling its objectives across all business and broadcasting activities in a manner that is ethical, financially responsible, manages its impact on the environment and people, and is beneficial to the community.[vii]

In addition, ABC approaches Sustainability with general accepted tools for reporting their progress, the GRI:

The ABC utilizes the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework in the preparation of its Sustainability Report. GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework provides a common language for companies and organizations to measure and report their Sustainability performance. The framework relies on key reporting principles of transparency, inclusiveness, stakeholder engagement and materiality.[viii]

In contrast, most American media corporations emphasize “green” initiatives and banal slogans like “generalize their concern for the planet”, “that strives to use its power and reach for the public good”, “has earned the distinction of being a public trust”, “while identifying opportunities for energy savings and innovation”. Most American media corporations do not document transparency or indicate usage in their annual Sustainability Reports or websites. Why is transparency not given visibility?

Is GRI the answer?

As a mechanism for promoting integrity and accountability, Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI’s) project is both worthwhile and timely. The discussion to be had is not about the legitimacy of GRI’s objectives but the practicalities of how these are to be accomplished.

It is difficult to see us arriving at a commonly accepted definition of what it means for a media company to be environmentally, socially and financially sustainable. But if anyone can come close to such a compromise, it is bound to be the GRI.[ix]

The Media Supplement’s additional commentaries and Performance Indicators, developed especially for the sector, capture the issues that matter most for media organizations:

  • Ownership structure
  • Transparency on decision making processes and public policy
  • Editorial independence
  • Financial assistance and advertising revenues from governments and non-government sources
  • Freedom of expression
  • Approaches to the creation and dissemination of content
  • Use of paper and inks [x]

Does the GRI ensure transparency or Sustainability? No, it is only a tool for those companies truly committed to Sustainability. However, adopting this tool is a part of your best practices and is based on fact gathering in your organization. Dr. Peter Drucker once said, “what gets measured gets done.” When a company publicly discloses Sustainability data and goals, measures its progress, then its much more likely to attain those goals.

Transparency, a Lens to Sustainability

Transparency is a lens to examine the core values of an organization. It is insight to corporate mores. Are there barriers and reluctance to publicly share and be transparent? Is it corruption, is it ashamed of poor business practices, or does it have a poor business reputation in the community? In contrast, is it open, is it responsible, is it engaged with the community and clearly listens to its constituents? What transparency should be:

  • Executive Commitment is a long-term journey with Transparency, Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. It is a leadership role and resolves redefinition of their organization to create an environment that weaves new principles into their corporate culture.
  • Accountability is ownership of responsibility, including a sense of fairness.
  • Ethics is doing the right thing for the right reason. There are many definitions as to what ethics encompasses:

the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation;
decisions, choices, and actions we make that reflect and enact our values;
a set of moral principles or values;
a theory or system of moral values; and/or
a guiding philosophy.[xi]


The U.S. media appears to broadcast a “green” initiative in their organizations without true transparency. A strategy that ignores transparency is reminiscent of the old TV commercial; “where’s the beef?” It appears to be “green” in name only without sharing transparency strategies, objectives or data.

Sustainability is not an expendable marketing campaign; rather it’s a refection of benefits established with honest strategic effort, results, and best practices. It must be imprinted into your corporate culture, it should be a long-term commitment and be transparent to the public. It must be interwoven with business strategies. It must engage and build relationships  with external organizations. Sustainability is about measurable transformation, internally and externally. Sustainability is more than platitudes and recycling efforts. It should be able to show financial benefits directly relating to waste reduction, conservation, improvement of internal processes and engagement with external publics (i.e., NGOs, Governments, Customers, Suppliers, etc.).

Consider the consequences. If they do not change and continue building risk to their brand that could have a financial impact, address the issue and establish self-governing principles or risk government regulations that could have political ramifications, as well. Will American media industry choose self-censorship and turn to using transparency to demonstrate accountability and commitment to fair reporting, regardless of complexity or will it continue to erode trust and foster a perceived agenda that is biased? Are U.S. media companies approaching distrust by betting against public backlash?

Look at the well thought out approach in Britain and Australia. In Britain, the decision will rest on the benefits garnered by BBC’s courage to change course for the right reasons. They acknowledge that the hard earned trust of the public is fundamental to British citizen’s presumption to encapsulate integrity in daily news broadcasts. It also shows that ABC has spent considerable time in understanding Sustainability and publicly sharing their strategies. Both BBC and ABC demonstrate clear examples of commitment and responsibility driven by Sustainability.

So, will U.S. media recognize benefits of presumption of transparency like their media cousins, or will it be business as usual, based on continued distrust and potential for public backlash?

[i] Lymari Morales, U.S. Distrust in Media Hits New High, Gallup, September 21, 2012; Retrieved: 10 Nov 2012
[ii] Lymari Morales, Ibid.; Retrieved: 10 Nov 2012
[iii] Justin Elliott, Big Media Lobbies Against Transparency, ProPublica, Apr 23, 2012; Retrieved: 10 Nov 2012
[iv] Justin Elliott, Ibid., Apr 23, 2012
[v] Peter Jukes, Two More Resign as Savile Fallout Continues at the BBC, The Daily Beast, 12 Nov 2012
[vi] Michael Holden and Kate Holton, BBC Head Says Broadcaster Must Reform Or Die, Reuters, Nov 12, 2012
[vii] Australian Broadcast Corporation, http://www.abc.net.au/, Retrieved: 16 November 2012
[viii] ABC, Ibid., 16, November 2012
[ix] Christian Toennesen, Can the Global Reporting Initiative help restore faith in the media, The Guardian, guardian.co.uk, July 2011
[x] Global Reporting Initiative, http://www.globalreporting.org; GRI provides sector guidance for the media industry, enabling media companies to measure and report their sustainability performance. Retrieved: 10 Nov 2012
[xi] From “Creating a Workable Company Code of Conduct,” 2003, Ethics Resource Center

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An expert group of practitioners and commentators looks at prospects for CSR in 2012, published by CSRwire Talkback, written by Dr. Michael Hopkins and coauthored with Mr. Martin Summers and Dr. Adrian Payne.

Every year, MHC International‘s annual CSR & Sustainability Update expert group meeting looks at the prospects for CSR in the coming year in the context of changing trends and themes in the corporate, social, political and economic spheres. Now in its sixth year, the group is comprised of a range of CSR practitioners and commentators.

1. Trust in Brands, Companies & Sectors

2. Trust in Governments

3. CSR Continues to be Redefined

4. Demand for Greater Transparency, Disclosure & Non-Financial Reporting

5. Social Media‘s Role in Sustainability & Corporate Change

Here are the details to the group’s top prospects for 2012: http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/301-csr-sustainability-in-2012-5-trends


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I recently received an email from a cousin of mine. She often sends stories and jokes that would interest me.

This was an anecdotal story about ethics, honesty and integrity.

The author is not known but the lesson discussed should make any CEO consider that their core values are one of the most valuable assets in their business.

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, “It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. “The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. “I am going to give each one of you a SEED today – one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.”

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.

By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn’t have a plant and he felt like a failure.

Six months went by — still nothing in Jim’s pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing.  Jim didn’t say anything to his colleagues, however, he just kept watering and fertilizing the soil – he so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection.

Jim told his wife that he wasn’t going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room.

When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful – in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the CEO. “Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!”

All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, “The CEO knows I’m a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!”

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed, Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, “Behold your next Chief Executive Officer! His name is “Jim!” Jim couldn’t believe it. Jim couldn’t even grow his seed. “How could he be the new CEO?” the others said.

Then the CEO said, “One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead – it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!”

  • If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
  • If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
  • If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
  • If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment.
  • If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.
  • If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
  • If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

Think about this for a minute. Now, don’t you agree Transparency needs to have a SEED of integrity as a foundation to your Sustainability approach? Can you see how its absence could produce poor business decisions that could dramatically impact your legacy? Have you considered the impact to the financial markets, too? If you plant integrity, you will reap an abundance from its benefits. It’s an idea worth thinking about …

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

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