The latest issue of Corporate Responsibility Magazine has arrived, featuring over 40 pages of CSR success stories, best practices, commentaries, rankings, reports and more. This issue's cover story examines the 170-year history of WGL, an institution first founded to light the new Capitol in Washington, DC. Today, the company is constantly innovating its energy sources to bring affordable, sustainable energy to its customers. Additional highlights of the issue include:
- We Are Still In: The business case for getting political
- Ben & Jerry's: Still crazy (about social activism) after all these years
- Continue reading → While in Detroit for Sustainable Brands, CR Magazine spoke with Ron Voglewede, Global Sustainability Director, Whirlpool Corporation. Ron is also on the Board of Directors at the Alliance for Water Efficiency. CRMag: As a practitioner, how does telling the CR story feel different from everyday sales & marketing? Ron Voglewede: It gives us an ability to talk about the why, not just the what. It is truly a forum to bring to life our continued focus on delivering on what matters and to show our continued progress and building better lives and communities, in addition to products that deliver a better quality of life for people around the globe. CRMag: How has your understanding of CR's value proposition — both within your company or sector and as a general matter — evolved over time? RV: At Whirlpool Corporation, we believe in an authentic approach to everything we do.By Leon Kaye Few institutions in the nation’s capital are older than WGL Holdings. Its history dates back to 1848, the same year the Washington Monument’s construction began and 15 years before the U.S. Capitol’s iconic dome was completed. In fact, one of the company’s first projects (when it was known as Washington Gas) was to build a power plant that could reliably source and deliver gas necessary to light the Capitol’s dome. In addition, one of the chartered company’s most important missions was to ensure D.C.’s streets were safely lit at night. A decade after its founding, the company boasted 30 miles of gas mains, 500 street lights and 1,700 customers. No one talked about “sustainability” or “energy efficiency” during the mid-nineteenth century, though Washington Gas had already become adept at procuring natural gas and coal at a competitive price – necessary to accommodate the rapidly-growing city and crucial when the country lurched into the Civil War.By Alexandra Rosas It’s hard to imagine two brands more different than Walmart and Patagonia, yet in 2009 they aligned their unique strengths and issued a call to the industry. In an invitation to some of the world’s largest retailers, then Walmart chief merchandising officer, John Fleming, and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard proposed an industry collaboration unlike any attempted before. The idea was to join competitors together to develop an index to measure the environmental impact of their products. The benefits, if the idea was successful and didn’t implode before it even got off the ground, would not only be at the individual company level, but would transform the industry. With some very determined leaders willing to prioritize progress over risk, the first meeting of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) in 2010 included Patagonia, Walmart, Target, Gap, Kohl’s, Levi’s, Nike, JCPenney, Esquel, H&M, Hanes, Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, The Otto Group, Continue reading →By Jan Lee In June, after months of debate and tense speculation, President Donald Trump did something that would have unprecedented impact in the U.S. business community: He announced he would be pulling the United States' support for the Paris Accord. Years of negotiations with international counterparts to bring about consensus on how global warming could be slowed across the planet received what many thought at the time was a fatal blow. Without U.S. support of a protocol to restrict environmental temperature, many feared, businesses would be reluctant to follow the recommendations of the UN, which included limiting carbon emissions. But they were wrong. Within days, business leaders across the country had marshaled their own intuitive response to the president's decision, harnessing a bounty of data that proved that Trump was not only incorrect in the reasons he gave for pulling out, but even more notably, that his administration was acting against the interests of U.Few brands are as famous for their social activism than Ben & Jerry's. The Vermont ice cream maker with global revenues of more than $1.2 billion (2015) is as much known for its social conscience as for its creamy, irresistible ice cream flavors. Pick a flavor and chances are you'll walk away with more than just a good feeling in your tummy: You'll feel you're making a statement. The carefully-chosen names of flavors like Empower Mint and Fossil Fuel ice cream help to send a message to consumers about Ben & Jerry's values. A mint ice cream with a name that subtly reminds its fans about the importance of social justice and voting rights gets attention. And so does a rich concoction of fudge dinosaurs and chocolate ribbon when it becomes a conversation starter for why Alaska's arctic wilderness shouldn't be drilled. And in each of these advocacy efforts, says Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry's activism manager, there's another, more visible message: that it is important to support nonprofits like the NAACP, whichContinue reading →By Tina Casey The rooftop solar market has exploded in recent years, enabling individual homeowners and small businesses to claim their turf in the transition to renewable energy. However, rooftop solar is just one of a growing number of opportunities for electricity customers to wean themselves from fossil fuels. The Washington, D.C.-based energy-holding company WGL (formerly Washington Gas Light) is a case in point. WGL has 170-year-old roots as a natural gas provider, but it is rapidly transitioning into renewables and other sustainability initiatives.
Versatility is the key to clean energyWGL's long experience in natural gas has provided its corporate culture with a window into the versatility of non-coal fuels. When WGL started up in 1848, street lighting was the primary market for natural gas. Though lighting faded out of the picture after the electric light bulb was invented, gas eventually beat out coal in other sectors including heating and cooling for homes and other buildings, cooking, numerous industrial processes, electricity generation, and vehicle fuel (in the form of compressed natural gas).By Leon Kaye For several years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) advocates have suggested that companies will lag on solving their environmental and social challenges, putting them at risk - unless CSR is integrated into the company instead of cast aside in a silo. To that end, Campbell Soup Company is one firm that stands out for making CSR critical to both its overall strategy and brand value. Almost 150 years old, the $8 billion food giant has witnessed plenty of change recently, both internally and externally. Campbell’s CEO, Denise Morrison, changed an old-fashioned food processing company into a more nimble and innovative operation. She has pushed the company to be more responsive to consumers’ needs while encouraging employees to step out of their comfort zones and take risks.By Daryl Brewster When it comes to companies speaking out publicly on social issues, events in North Carolina, Indiana, Baltimore, and several Executive Orders drew significant attention from business leaders over the last 12 months. When companies take a position, reactions from consumers can cause whiplash. While some companies advocate forcefully, others don’t, and any approach is subject to public challenge. In an increasingly polarized environment, it’s likely a company will both gain and lose brand supporters, and the loudest advocates or detractors will use social media as their bullhorn. To better equip corporate leaders with strategies on how to respond to social issues, CECP asked members of our corporate coalition to weigh in on how attention received by other companies is affecting their company strategy for speaking out on a social issue.COMMIT!Forum will convene hundreds of corporate social responsibility leaders and CEOs from CR Magazine’s annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens ranking. The event includes a pre-conference workshop on integrated CSR and sustainability reporting from BrownFlynn. Emcees for COMMIT!Forum include Aman Singh, editor in chief of Futerra, and Icema Gibbs, head of CSR at Jetblue Airways. More information here. By Jim Witkin Could you do your job if you were kicked out your house, had no food, and under constant attack by parasites and poisons? Not likely. But this is what life is like for many species of birds, bees and other insects who pollinate our crops and help grow one-third of the global food supply. The numbers are not pretty.
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