Today, reporting on corporate responsibility continues to rise, with 85 percent of companies in the S&P 500 Index publishing reports. To stand out from the sea of reports, leading companies are innovating new ways to communicate progress and increase transparency. As reporting season comes to a close in 2018, here are four ways leaders are standing out:
With innovations to well-loved card games, stores and sports, brands of all kinds are pushing to make the world a more inclusive place for all individuals regardless of disabilities. Back-to-school can oftentimes be a period of adjustment, especially for the 62,000 visually impaired students in school currently. Now, one brand is seeking to make the classroom a more inclusive experience, helping visually impaired students feel the love when heading to school.
With text-heavy and data filled pages, it’s no surprise that only 17 percent of consumers actually read companies’ CSR reports. However, many companies are finding innovative ways to make their reports stand out. As a way of grabbing the attention of coffee-loving consumers and encouraging other brands to become more conscious and engaged in their supply chains, Counter Culture Coffee brought its report to life by launching a limited-edition coffee.
Companies from all industries have turned their attention to addressing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tackling a range of issues including climate change, economic inequality, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. However, reports from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network show that in order to meet the ambitious goals set forth in the SDGs, progress must accelerate – and more organizations need to join the movement. Recently, in an effort to help companies better measure and report on their progress, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the United Nations Global Compact released a “Practical Guide” to help fast-track progress as we move towards 2030.
Smart speakers have become one of the hottest products in consumer technology with experts predicting that 56.3 million will be sold worldwide this year. Recently, Amazon, one of the largest smart speaker manufacturers, introduced Alexa Donations with Amazon Pay, which allows users to donate directly to charities through an Alexa skill, or voice activated capability. Now the iconic online marketplace is asking consumers to join in, using its assets to make a positive impact on the environment, local communities and the world.
Last week, coffee drinkers learned about Starbucks’ latest sustainability initiative – a plan to phase out single-use straws by 2020. But Starbucks isn’t the only fast-food icon exploring ways to lessen its environmental impact. Together, McDonald’s and Starbucks distribute a combined 4 percent of the world’s 600 billion single-use cups annually. And, while the two fast food giants have been making strides toward sustainability separately for years, McDonald’s announced that it will be joining forces with the coffee icon to tackle an issue that outweighs the brands’ rivalry.
According to the National Park Service, Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day – this small but plentiful waste adds up and is one of the most common items found on beaches. Now, one beverage icon is joining a handful of brands in the fight against single use straws, with plans to phase out the item from its stores by 2020.
Americans have seen the power of their activism make a change. From boycott hashtags, student protests and outspoken employees, consumers have been a driving force for progress on social and environmental issues. But they are not always equipped to start a direct dialogue with brands about complex issues. Oxfam recognized that issue and is arming consumers with facts to help facilitate a conversation with supermarkets around the world.
The outdoor industry has continued to increase the stakes around accountability over the past few years, engaging consumers with storytelling initiatives and innovating supply chains to create climate-beneficial products. But how do these efforts ladder up to the overall health of our planet? One Swedish outdoor retailer is testing a new approach to gain a better understanding of the effect its operations have on the environment and how to align its sustainability missions accordingly.
Many companies have begun examining their supply chains, creating traceability maps and sharing toolkits for local farmers to advance their practices and ensure sustainability. As supply-chain transparency becomes a topic of discussion among consumers, more companies are inviting their clients to be active participants in that sustainability journey. Recently, one French supermarket chain harnessed today's activist attitude to challenge what it believes is an antiquated and harmful regulation to provide its patrons with more options while supporting agricultural diversity.
In 2017, the Business Commission released research showing that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could create economic opportunities of up to $12 trillion a year and up to 380 million new jobs by 2030. And, as more businesses begin to unlock those trillions of dollars through new markets, investments and innovation by aligning their operations with the SDGs, they can now turn to a new digital platform for pioneering startup solutions.
This weekend the world celebrates Earth Day – a time to reflect on environmental impact and take action to create sustainable change. Established in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated by more than one billion people worldwide – including participation from countless companies. Here’s how organizations are choosing to keep the holiday fresh and top of mind through engaging consumer activations:
Recently, leading practitioners from sustainability, procurement, innovation and communications, along with investors, government officials and representatives from academic institutions and NGOs, convened in Brooklyn for Ethical Corporation’s 2018 Responsible Business Summit New York.
March 22 is World Water Day, a United Nations-led initiative bringing attention to the importance of universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene. An annual occurrence, the theme for World Water Day in 2018 is “Nature for Water,” which explores nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. Efforts such as planting trees to replenish forests, restoring wetlands and reconnecting rivers to floodplains are sustainable, cost-effective ways to mitigate the effects of climate change – thereby improving human health.
In early March, educators, administrators, decision-makers and corporate representatives descended upon Austin, Texas for the eight annual SXSW EDU conference to discuss the current state of education, uncover gaps in the system and identify opportunities to solve some of its most pressing challenges.
The Olympic competition in PyeongChang, South Korea was filled with dazzling displays of strength, endurance, agility and teamwork. Years of practice and training finally culminated when athletes from around the world gathered to demonstrate their abilities and compete for a chance at gold. Another impressive feat, prevalent throughout the Olympic Games and also years in the making, was the focus on environmental sustainability at the Winter Olympics.
Earlier this month, Stella Artois used the major marketing power of the Super Bowl to urge fans to help provide access to safe drinking water for people in developing nations. Now the beer giant and their longstanding partner, Water.org, are contextualizing the basic need of water and bringing the message to life – beyond the safety of TV screens and couches and into the unsuspecting real world.
This weekend, the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis will attract over 66,000 people for the Super Bowl – not to mention the 100 million viewers who will be watching across the country. While much of the day’s focus will be on the players and the ads, this year’s organizers are also spotlighting another, greener aspect of the game: engaging fans throughout the evening to create the first ever zero-waste Super Bowl.
The outdoor industry has made huge strides to promote and protect the lands we love and play in. From REI’s evolved #OptOutside campaign, North Face’s climate beneficial beanie and Patagonia’s bold response to the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument, outdoor retailers engaged consumers around a passion for nature and the goal of preserving the places we cherish. Now, one organization is creating a united voice from outdoor retailers showcasing how the industry is leading with Purpose- helping consumers better understand and connect with these brands and their efforts.
It’s no secret that women’s rights and female empowerment have taken center stage in today’s society. Just this past weekend hundreds of thousands of women and men, again took to the streets to across the US to make their voices heard on human rights, gender equality and parity, immigration reform, healthcare, reproductive rights, racial and LGBT equality and countless other issues. This coming at a time when movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are galvanizing women globally to elicit real change—igniting a spark that’s led to the groundswell for women’s rights we’re experiencing today.