With over 2,000 published news items on CSR in 2011, Elaine Cohen digs up some of the gems.
The first press release of 2011 was timeless: Titled 10 Ways Leaders Can Protect Their Reputations in 2011, the authors offered advice that would be ever important even today as we battle a recession and extreme mistrust in the marketplace. Their classic advice including missives on privacy, apologizing for mistakes, and the importance of authenticity:
“Authenticity is ineffable, but undeniable.”
Community Development Through Philanthropy
January 2011 progressed with Kenmore sending 250,000 cookies to troops away from home, the LEED Platinum certification of the David Brower Center in California and the U.S. Diary Industry publishing its inaugural Sustainability Report, with an industry-wide, voluntary goal to reduce GHG emissions for fluid milk by 25 percent by the year 2020, using 2007/2008 as a baseline.
It was a significant commitment considering that almost 98 percent of the 55,000 milk-producing dairy farms in the U.S. are privately owned by individuals.
Consumer & Employee Health
As the cheer of Christmas gave way to New Year resolutions, Humana pledged to become greener and healthier by sponsoring a nationwide pro-bicycling campaign while Wal-mart adopted a program aimed at consumer health providing more affordable and nutritious food choices. Wal-mart also received an endorsement for the initiative by First Lady Michelle Obama, coinciding with the creation of the Workplace Wellness Alliance by several of the visiting CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, attracted by the fact that the return on investment of workplace health was demonstrated to be as high as $4 for every $1 spent.
There was also continued traction on the importance of carbon management. A new report by A.T. Kearney demonstrated that more than 50 percent of large businesses and 25 percent of their suppliers saw cost savings as a result of carbon management activities. Now, green demonstrably had a positive ROI.
CSR & Sustainability Reporting
By the end of the month, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) announced Focal Point USA, their official launch in North America, heralding a new era of transparency in corporate America.
And this was just January of 2011.
February started with Cascade Engineering becoming a B Corporation, part of a new type of enterprise that legitimizes using business to solve social and environmental problems [CSRwire is a proud member as well], while Hershey got smacked in the face on Valentine's Day for employing children and IBM chalked up the 1,000th Corporate Service Corps volunteer.
Rankings Continue to Roast
The 12th Annual 100 Global Corporate Citizens list hit the stands in March, and with the ranking, came a flurry of congratulatory press releases from members, including Owens Corning (No. 68), Mattel (No. 5) and Johnson Controls (No. 1). March also saw the release of the much-respected Most Admired Companies list published by Fortune, with honorees including several CSRwire members like UPS and NextEra Energy.
Disaster relief, after the Great East Japan Earthquake meanwhile, continued to make news as Abbott supplied $3 million in support and Dow doubled that with a $6 million offering.
Breaking New Ground in Sustainability
April saw Coca-Cola announce the start of a comprehensive, closed-loop retail equipment program based on recyclable in-store merchandise racks, which are recoverable, reusable and recyclable. Coca-Cola wasn’t the only one breaking new ground. Timberland followed up by announcing that they reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 38 percent in 2010. Perhaps Timberland also used recyclable, in-store shelving?
Then followed a kicker: The Black Eyed Peas Peapod Foundation and Adobe Foundation launched a Youth Academy in New York, a music-driven social initiative – don’t you just love the name! - while Choice Hotels Launched another song in the 'Download to Donate' Program.
Corporate Giving in a Recession
By June, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) announced that 65 percent of companies gave more in 2010 than they did in 2009, a trend which seemed to continue in 2011 as Kraft set aside $10 million to eradicate child malnutrition in Indonesia and Morgan Stanley and the National Equity Fund created a “Rebuilding Local Economies Fund” with an investment of $100 million to assist in relief efforts from U.S. storm, flood and tornado devastation.
Inspiring leadership by women remained a recurring trend among our headlines this year, with BSR's new toolkit for global business to invest in women launching while women were preparing to go on the road for Rio 20+, and Moms of special Olympics athletes getting a special boost from P&G worth $250,000.
Human trafficking was highlighted more than once with digital innovation agency SarkissianMason promising to engineer a mobile solution for an anti-human trafficking organization and Manpower advocating for an Anti Slavery Day as part of its ongoing high-profile campaign to combat some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable.
Animal welfare was not overlooked with Big Pharma Novo Nordisk committing to stop using live animals in drug tests, not long after breakthroughs in alternatives in animal testing developed by the Central Veterinary Institute were recognized.
All in all, 2011 was yet another packed year for CSR in all its sizes, shapes, forms and definitions.
My favorite press release of all, however?
This one, to which I award the most creative Press Release title: A fence at the top of the cliff is preferable to an ambulance at the bottom.
I wish all readers Happy Holidays and a CSR-intense 2012!
Next: Elisa Niemtzow examines the state of sustainability in the luxury industry.