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February 14, 2015

I recently picked up an issue of Trendwatching that describes a new trend among consumers who are on an epic quest for a new form of consumerism: free from guilt over negative impacts on themselves, society and the planet. They're looking to brands for answers. One consequence? Consumers will increasingly demand that brands make painful SACRIFICES that meaningfully reduce the harm those brands cause. From refusing to sell unhealthy products, to eliminating socially toxic operations, to giving up key assets, there are plenty of SACRIFICES brands can – and will be expected – to make.

What is happening in companies? We see a lot of activity among companies with CSR initiatives and social reports, but consumers remain skeptical. They want to see brands sacrificing to reduce negative effects on consumer well being, and they want brands to be coherent, to do as they say.

January 13, 2015

My previous post focused on what companies can do from a strategic perspective to break the visible and invisible barriers that hold women back. These initiatives range from changing work policies and practices to shifting existing mindsets. In this post, I’ll explore the issue raised by Sheryl Sandberg in her book “Lean In” about how women block their own progress with self-limiting beliefs, and what can be done using integral coaching to help them develop effective leadership styles. After coaching dozens of women formally and informally over the last 20 years, I agree with Sandberg that women at times exhibit leadership styles that can be obstacles to their success. I will describe three primary leadership styles below that I have encountered in my practice, followed by the real issues behind each style and the integral coaching approach I use to successfully deal with each style.

December 28, 2014

Is gender equality in the workplace expected any time soon? According to a recent 2014 study of the World Economic Forum, it will not happen until 2095. The report, which covered 142 countries, looked at how men and women access education, health, political participation and economic resources.  In health and education some countries have closed the gap, but women are lagging behind men in political participation and access to economic resources.

November 9, 2014

There is a growing trend related to the changing roles of men. In recent years, a lot has been written about this topic.  Studies by Families and Work Institute have shown that “young women and men alike are challenging traditional roles and expecting to share paid work, as well as tending the house and children. Working fathers are spending more time with their children than three decades ago, and men in general are taking more responsibility for their children’s childcare, which includes managing the childcare arrangements. More men are taking care of house chores and house cleaning too.”

October 7, 2014

According to John Elkington, author of “Zeronauts”, urban lifestyles are our biggest global headache. He thinks we must shrink the ecological footprints of the world’s major cities in the next few years. Currently cities are going through the most massive urban transition the world has ever seen, they are home to more than half of the world population, account for 80% of global carbon dioxide emissions, consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy and produce consume over two-thirds of the world’s energy, and produce 1.3 billion tons of waste per year.   

September 14, 2014

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has evolved a lot in the last 10 years; it has gone from being a peripheral function to becoming an important pillar in a company’s strategy.  Although this is very good news for CSR managers, it also brings new responsibilities and challenges. Senior leaders now expect CSR initiatives to add value to the business and any CSR achievement has to be measured according to a set of agreed upon indicators. It is critically important to begin to measure CSR results because it is a way to gain understanding and acceptance from other proponents within the company.

Effective measurement systems for CSR initiatives follow specific methodologies. To start, we will review some lessons from a couple of past measurement studies that are worthwhile mentioning.  

August 10, 2014

There was a global debate going on at the end of the 20th century about what encompassed corporate social responsibility (CSR) and whether CSR was philanthropy.  Companies with large corporate foundations thought that they were already practicing CSR and they didn’t need to address the negative impact of their business in society.

In 2010, the ISO 26000 guideline on social responsibility was published and it clarified this. CSR or social responsibility (SR), the term used in the guideline, distinguishes seven SR core subjects or pillars relevant to any organization which are: organizational governance, human rights, labor practices, the environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues, and community involvement and development.  The guideline urges the organization to address the seven SR core subjects with initiatives that help minimize its environmental and social footprint

July 15, 2014

When we hear about the sustainability innovations that companies are embarking on, we may wonder how did it happen?  What did they do to unleash the creativity of their employees? According to a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, the CSR manager has a key role in helping employees gain social and environmental intelligence and translating the gathered intelligence into some business insights and innovations.

How can the CSR manager help incubate sustainability projects that benefit the stakeholders and the company? The article points to four processes that the CSR manager can follow.


Relate is a process through which employees gather social and environmental intelligence.  The CSR manager can have an active role here and guide employees through experiences that help them accumulate this type of intelligence.

June 15, 2014

San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. People want to see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, the crooked portion of Lombard Street on top of Russian Hill, Chinatown, and the list goes on and on. But San Francisco is also known for its forward thinking in conservation and sustainability.

Here are three recent innovative initiatives worth mentioning.

1) Smart Meters

May 22, 2014

I recently picked up the May 2014 issue of Fortune magazine and to my surprise I found five articles on sustainability.  Even though there was an emphasis on money to be made on niche markets that will soon be growing fast and money to saved by managing global risks proactively, the articles had good information on current sustainability issues. They covered topics ranging from fuel cells to water’s value in the 21st century, the world’s top eco-innovators, green buildings and the food production needed to feed 9 billion people by 2050. This is encouraging, because it shows that investors, CEOs, CFOs and entrepreneurs not only want to know the ups and downs of stock markets, but also the risks and opportunities associated with sustainability. Here is a brief narrative of the key issues covered.


1) Fuel Cells