Corporate Culture Meets Sustainability: Getting the Right Blend

April 2005 Volume III Number 2

Net Contents
I. Network Presentation
Key Learnings
Perspectives

II. What’s New

III. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
The Concept of the Network

I. Network Presentation

  • Companies need to consider their culture when implementing CSR programs?? and look for ways to integrate ?? NEW programs that blend with and build on current practices.
  • Communicating CSR goals and policies to all employees is essential, but companies may need to use different approaches and materials with different groups of employees.
  • Supply chain management is a KEY area for CSR initiatives. Companies need to be sure their suppliers ARE ON BOARD WITH THE COMPANY’S CULTURE AND understand NEW CSR POLICIES.
  • Companies have a great opportunity to implement social programs in COMMUNITIES where they DO BUSINESS. Partnering with non-governmental organizations can be a GOOD way to do this.

Perspectives

Moderator: Ann Goodman, EXECUTIVE Director, WNSF.

Speakers:

  • Robyn Smith, TK, Colgate-Palmolive.
  • Megan T. Campbell, Director, Green Coffee, Starbucks.
  • Lisa Sandberg, Director of Communications, H&M.

Robyn Smith, TK at Colgate-Palmolive, shepherded the company’s first CSR report, “Living Our Values for Sustainability” into existence in 2004. According to Smith, Colgate-Palmolive is “generally a soft-spoken company, so this was really a big thing.”

Although COLGATE HAS not always widely published ITS commitment to CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR), THE COMPANY has been exemplifying it for many years. COLGATE IS proud of strong governance by ITS board and senior management and ITS collection of “best place to work” and “most admired company” awards.

In 1987, Colgate?? adopted a Code of Conduct, which is updated regularly. The most recent version was released in 2004. This code exemplifies the company’s commitment to ethical practices and governs its relations with stakeholders. It is published in TK languages. A copy is given to ALL employeeS, who must acknowledge in writing that they’ve received it. The company also operates a Code of Conduct Hotline where employees or other stakeholders can anonymously report cases of possibly unethical behavior.

Colgate??’S current CSR initiatives built on the COMPANY’S CODE OF CONDUCT AND core values that were already in place, INCLUDING: caring, global teamwork, and continuous improvement. Smith emphasized the importance of leveraging the programs and TERMS?? already in place and that people are ?? comfortable with TO INTRODUCE NEW CONCEPTS, LIKE CSR.

In contrast with Colgate??, Starbucks is much more outspoken about ITS CSR commitment and initiatives. ??SAID Megan T. Campbell, Director of Green Coffee: “We’re not ABOUT being a soft-spoken company. That’s not who we are.” In fact, Starbucks prints its mission statement on the back?? of its business cards.

Campbell SAID it Was fairly easy to integrate CSR into THE COMPANY’S casual, high-energy environment. She paraphrased the mission statement as “hit our numbers and live our values,” and said that people take that mission seriously. The company offers a program called “Mission Review” that provides a venue for any partner (as all Starbucks employees are called) or customer to discuss things they think the company is not doing right.

Starbucks recently released its fourth annual CSR report, entitled “Striking a Balance.” The report emphasizes WHAT Starbucks is doing to balance fiscal, social, and environmental responsibility. Although THE COMPANY has a history of publicly sharing ITS CSR commitments, STARBUCKS IS continually trying to improve. “We reserve the right to get smarter,” says Campbell.

H & M’s business concept is “fashion and quality at the best price.” ??Communications Director Lisa Sandberg SAID many people think ?? low-cost means ?? the company is not concerned with social and environmental issues. However, H & M, a Swedish company, is deeply rooted in a European approach to business that emphasizes respect, ?? environment, and corporate social responsibility.

H & M established a Code of Conduct in 1997, one of the first companies in its industry to do so. Sandberg describeD the Code as ?? a reflection of the company’s values. The company does not own any ?? factories, but it requires its suppliers to abide by the Code. Suppliers seem to be taking it seriously. “They think we’re tough,” Sandberg says, “but they appreciate the changes we’ve helped them make.”

H & M employs a team of nearly 40 full-time auditors that verify, usually in unannounced visits, that suppliers are abiding by the code. Sandberg says that the company has had to reduce THE number of ITS suppliers as ?? standards have gotten higher. H&M’S SUPPLIER BASE HAS SHRUNK BY 200 TO 700 in the last two years, AND IN INDIA ALONE THE BASE HAS SHRUNK BY 20 TO 50 SUPPLIERS.

In the United States, most H & M employees work in the 78CK retail stores. The company is redoubling its efforts to share its CSR initiatives with THE STORES, including training programs for 3,700 employees.

Like Colgate?? and Starbucks, H & M produces a CSR report. The newest version is planned for release late this month. THE COMPANY also includes CSR information in ITS annual report.

II. What’s New

If you wish to attend, please RSVP at http://www.wnsf.org/events.

III. The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future
The Concept of the Network

The Network provides a forum for business and professional women to congregate, reflect, and act on the converging issues of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. Through meetings and simple electronic support tools, the Network aims to facilitate the exchange of experiences and best practices on these vital workplace issues. By creating a new network of executive women, the Network seeks to improve responsible practices in workplaces; sensitize corporate culture more generally to issues of sustainability and social responsibility; and encourage a public commitment locally, nationally, and internationally to sustainability principles.

The Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future is a 501c3 organization. GIFTS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE.

For more information, please contact:

Ann Goodman, Acting Executive Director Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future Please direct inquiries to: info@wnsf.org

Board of Directors:

CHAIR: Joyce LaValle, Senior Vice President, Interface Inc.; Muni Figueres, formerly of the Costa Rican Foundation for Sustainable Development; Joanne Fox-Przeworski, Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College; Ann Goodman, Acting Executive Director, WNSF; Sarah Howell, Director, Corporate Communications, BP; Michele Kahane, Special Projects Director, Corporate Citizenship Program, Boston College; Clair Krizov, Executive Director of Environmental and Social Responsibility, AT&T; Kathy Robb, Esq., Partner and Head of Environmental Practice, Hunton & Williams; Deborah Sliter, Vice President of Programs, National Environmental Education & Training Foundation.

This issue of Net Notes was written by Karin Borgerson and edited by Ann Goodman. WNSF thanks founding sponsors AT&T and the Ford Foundation for their generous support.

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect man.” -Stewart L. Udall

“Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.” -Lewis Mumford

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