Nike's Risky Bet On Colin Kaepernick: Not So Risky, After All

Distribution Network
Primary Category

Earlier this month, Nike unveiled an explosive new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick. The pro football star-turned-activist has become a lightening rod for media attention related to the Black Lives Matter movement, and controversy over his position could have sunk the campaign before it even got off the ground.

Instead, Nike is basking in the glow of a $6 billion market cap, an all time high for the company. Perhaps just as importantly, the company cites "record engagement with the brand" in September, indicating that Nike's iconic "Just Do It" slogan is resonating with today's consumers.

Considering that celebrity endorsements can often crash and burn a brand, how is the new Kaepernick campaign different?

Nike and authenticity

In the rather long history of brand-celebrity failures, at least one common denominator emerges. The mismatch only emerges after the contract is signed and the campaign goes public.

That pattern was already evident back in 2007, when Forbes compiled a long list of celebrity endorsements that soured. Sometimes the conflict arises from episodes of bad behavior on the part of the celebrity -- bad meaning anything from being caught snorting cocaine to being accused of murder.

A problem can also occur if aspects of a celebrity's personal beliefs or are found to be inconsistent with the products being pitched, or if the celebrity's professional career takes a turn that reflects poorly on the brand.

This is a two-way street, by the way. Poor quality was alleged to be at the bottom of at least one instance of an athlete endorsement gone wrong.

One apparent exception proves the rule. Back in 1989, Pepsi scored the use of Madonna's hit "Like a Prayer," little knowing that the singer would soon release a not-safe-for-kids video version. Well, they could have -- or should have -- known better. By the late 1980's, Madonna had cemented a fierce grip on pop stardom and had garnered a well earned reputation for pushing every social button within reach.

With all this in mind, Nike's Kaepernick campaign falls in place. The company did have a contract with Kaepernick, before he drew media attention by refusing to stand for the National Anthem during the 2016 football season.

To be clear, the intent was to draw attention to police brutality against people of color, not to protest the U.S. flag, the military, or the national anthem. Nevertheless, President Trump chose to publicly disparage Kaepernick, a decision that helped motivate other players to join in.

The protest spread, and Kaepernick became the face of a national movement that has is closely associated with youth and young adult activism.

Kaepernick gave more weight to his activism by launching "Know Your Rights Camp," an educational and empowerment campaign for young people with a focus on self-protection during police interactions.

Against this backdrop, NFL owners have refused to sign Kaepernick, forcing him to sit out at least two seasons -- and providing him with another opportunity to position himself as a champion for individual rights against a powerful system (Kaepernick has challenged the owners in court, alleging illegal collusion to keep him out of his profession).

Nike had apparently shelved its interest in the Kaepernick contract when the protests first gained steam, but it went into the new Just Do It campaign with a firm sensibility that Kaepernick could and would speak to the deeper social issues facing the U.S. today.

Where earlier campaigns focused on individuals pushing their own boundaries to achieve personal best, the new campaign sends a message that connects self empowerment with social responsibility, recalling the life view attributed to the ancient Jewish sage Hillel:

“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”

Now is the time

The new Nike campaign has only been under way for less than a month, so the long term success of the Kaepernick endorsement on a company-wide basis is clearly an open question.

After all, the campaign is just one part of a larger puzzle in the global marketplace. Sales did surge after the campaign launched, though the company's stock took a dip as investors weighed in on unrelated concerns.

Overall, prospects look bright for Nike -- much brighter than they did back at the close of the 20th century, when the company earned a "villain" reputation over conditions in its factories.

The company has been responding to 21st century concerns beyond worker conditions as well, with a focus on renewable energy among other sustainable business practices like  recycling and upcycling, and water conservation.

With the new Kaepernick campaign, Nike is leveraging its corporate social responsibility experience into the sphere of social activism.

Look for similar "brands taking stands" campaigns as other major companies step in to fill the leadership vacuum as the U.S. grapples with police brutality, sexual assault, gun violence and other fundamental issues.

Image (screenshot): Know Your Rights Camp via Instagram.

3P Author ID

Leveraging Technology to Make Employee Volunteering Programs More Rewarding

Distribution Network
Primary Category

Leading companies are racing to engage and create fulfilling experiences for employees in an age of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology overload. What works? Choice, incentives, gamification, flexibility, and playing to a person’s unique passions. What aspect of a company’s culture can integrate all of these? Corporate citizenship programs. They put employee passion to work at work—and for the betterment of the community. This “everybody wins” mindset is bringing more attention to employee giving and volunteer programs in recent years, and Genworth is proud to lead the way.

Looking back over just the last 10 years at Genworth, I am struck by the significant enhancements we have made to our employee volunteer and giving programs. When we first started out, we aligned our employee volunteer and giving efforts with core philanthropic focus areas, and employees had to use three separate systems to track their work. While it is very important to have focus areas, we realized our people are what make both our business and our community strong, so why not invest more in their passions?


Genworth Foundation philanthropic grants continue to focus on affordable housing, homelessness, healthy aging, and supporting caregivers—issue areas that align with our business—but we now also turn to our employees to ask them what they care about. Every other year, we gather employee feedback on where they want to focus their volunteer and giving efforts. Currently, the top causes are healthy aging, youth and education, food and nutrition, affordable housing, and animal welfare. Based on this input, we launched 21 Cause Councils across our locations to engage employees who share common social interests as Genworth community ambassadors. They meet with nonprofits as the face of Genworth and help advance their missions.


What employees experience today is the UpLift program, which focuses on choice, collective impact, and incentives:

  • Time: Employees have 40 hours of volunteer time annually to use as they like with their favorite nonprofits. If the nonprofit is aligned with the cause council focus areas, employees also get $10 per volunteer hour in a rewards giving account to donate to a nonprofit of their choice, up to $200 annually.

  • Dollars: Employees can also personally donate to organizations and receive a Genworth Foundation matching gift of 50 percent. In addition, each cause council focus area is highlighted during a different month throughout the year, where the match is increased to 100 percent for that month’s cause.
Think about that for a moment. We value employees’ commitments to the community to such a great degree that we allow 40 hours of Volunteer Time Off so our employees can fulfill those commitments. We also back their financial generosity and give them ways to increase that support even more throughout the year. It’s all worth it, as we know that this support pays back dividends to the company in employee engagement and development, as well as with Genworth’s local reputation.

We have seen great impact from setting a core strategy centrally, but then giving leeway locally and with individual employees to allow tailored meaning for each. While the majority of our employees live in the Richmond, VA; Lynchburg, VA; Raleigh, NC, Stamford, CT, and Waltham, MA areas, we also have a significant number of remote employees who don’t have access to our Cause councils to identify volunteer opportunities. One of the strengths of our UpLift program is that it provides the flexibility and responsiveness to engage our remote employees in contributing to their local communities.

One of our employees is a model of how this flexibility works. David Stagnitti is a remote sales employee in New York who volunteers with Angel Flight East as a pilot. The flights involve transporting ambulatory cancer patients and their family members at no cost to Philadelphia and Boston for treatments. The UpLift program and the 40 hours of time off policy has allowed David to accept critical weekday flights that many volunteers can’t fulfill due to work obligations.


UpLift has a many moving parts, so identifying a “one-stop-shop” to bring it all together was a necessity. We built this in a single website where employees can learn more about non-profits, find opportunities for and track their volunteerism, as well as make charitable contributions in the way they want: volunteer rewards, credit card, PayPal, or directly from their paycheck. People are incredibly busy; and we knew that if we had to send them to several different places to find information, we would lose them. So, we took extra care to make sure that something so important to our company was exceedingly easy to take part in.

To drive participation, we also use external social media to run charitable marketing campaigns and periodically partner with groups such as Caregiver Action Network to broaden our reach. We also use the UpLift tool to encourage friendly competition between departments in number of volunteer hours and some of the larger featured giving opportunities.


UpLift has enabled an increase in employee volunteerism participation by 10 percent and giving participation by more than 40 percent In 2017, Genworth employees volunteered 17,434 hours and donated nearly $1.5 million to 350 non-profits around the globe. The secret is to empower employees to give back how and where they want, and not in a prescribed “volun-told” way. If our experience is any indication, your company will see meaningful returns in employees who are advocates for the company and who strive to be a part of the company’s success.
3P Author ID

Deloitte Ignites Innovation to Build a Better Future for All

Distribution Network
Primary Category

Companies driven by a mindset for innovation are better placed to find new and sustainable solutions that can help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. Due to their expanding knowledge base and widening perspectives in their zest to innovate, these companies are able to act more responsibly and make the world a better place.

Deloitte’s 2018 Global Impact Report shows that the company is demonstrating a new mindset for action and innovation, redefining corporate success, challenging expectations, and leading by example. Deloitte insists it is a key participant in the global technology and innovation ecosystem that is driven by a goal of building a better future for all.

Innovating through Business Activities

The era of digital technology continues to open up new opportunities every day. Deloitte says it is working to bring together collaborative capabilities across ecosystems and disciplines to help shape the future in areas such as energy, banking and mobility.

Digital Revolution: Deloitte makes the case that it is leading businesses into “Industry 4.0” by showing how to integrate the physical and digital environments, and utilize data from multiple sources to bring transformative changes to how businesses operate.

Addressing Healthcare Challenges: Deloitte claims it is providing innovative healthcare perspectives and strategies to produce superior health experiences and outcomes. The company is currently designing an XPRIZE system that aims to make early detection of cancer and enable greater accessibility of treatment options.

Preparing Business for AI Disruption: As the evolution of the “augmented worker” continues, Deloitte says it is helping businesses adapt their operations to the new evolving technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). At the same time, the company is preparing their people to thrive in the wake of forthcoming AI disruption.

Promoting the Sustainability of Resources: Deloitte is advising businesses manage the impact of natural resources consumption, energy use, waste generation and release of carbon emissions in a sustainable manner. It is enabling companies to turn analytical insights into actionable risk mitigation opportunities, delivering cost savings and improving economic value.

Innovation through Cooperative Endeavors

Deloitte is engaging with global leaders, business managers, incubators, and startup hubs about new business management practices and models that help transform how people lead and innovate. For example:

Singularity University Alliance: In FY2018, Deloitte and Singularity University extended their alliance to help organizations reduce threats and benefit from new technology opportunities. The university, along with Deloitte, has already conducted 30 technology conferences, engaging over 3,700 clients.

Social Innovation: Deloitte has expanded its partnership with New Profit, a ‘venture philanthropy’ nonprofit. The company believes that social innovators should receive the same support that enables businesses to reach millions of people with their products and services.

Strategic Alliances: Member firms of Deloitte have created alliances with some of the world’s leading companies, including Amazon, Facebook, HP, SAP and Oracle to develop new approaches that forge new business models and shape markets.

“To drive individual and collective prosperity, business needs a new mindset for action,” said Punit Renjen, Global CEO and David Cruickshank, Global Chairman of the Board, in their letter to the shareholders. “For Deloitte, that mindset centers on our commitment to helping people prepare for the work of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Image credit: Deloitte

3P Author ID

Twitter Chat! #PeopleBehindPalmOil On Wednesday, October 3

Distribution Network
Primary Category

Next week, please join us for a 1-hour Twitter Chat with Singapore-based palm oil company Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), Nestlé, WBCSD, and 3BL Media as we discuss #PeopleBehindPalmOil.

The Twitter Chat will occur on Wednesday, October 3, at 10am GMT (London) / 1pm GST (Dubai) / 5pm SGT (Singapore and Indonesia). If you're up early on the U.S. East Coast, join us - at 5am ET.

As palm oil is an ingredient in over half of the food and consumer products manufactured worldwide, there has been increasing demand to ensure that this commodity is grown and produced responsibly and sustainably. This Twitter Chat with GAR will focus on ongoing changes across the global palm oil supply chain, along with the company’s efforts to boost transparency and traceability.

According to GAR, sustainability is an integral part of the company's business. GAR says it realizes that being a sustainable palm oil company requires a consistent approach and examination of its entire value chain. In 2015, GAR combined its forest conservation, social and community engagement and yield improvement policies into what it calls the GAR Social and Environmental Policy, or GSEP – and details about this program will be discussed during the October 3 Twitter Chat.

In addition, the 60-minute #PeopleBehindPalmOil chat will shine a light on people, from those who work on farms and in labs, alone with the stakeholders who are partnering with the global palm oil industry to ensure that it is accountable. Together, they are all are striving to realize GAR’s vision of a sustainable palm oil sector.

Practitioners in the corporate responsibility or sustainability space, supply chain managers, consumers concerned about where their food is made and professionals working at NGOs are among those who should benefit from participating in the chat, as Golden Agri is keen to share what they've learned and how their moving forward toward sourcing sustainable palm oil.

Hosting the chat are us here at 3BL Media (@3BLMedia) and TriplePundit (@TriplePundit); joining us are the following panelists:

  • Anita Neville, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Sustainability Relations at Golden Agri-Resources (@Aussieneets)

  • Dr. Paul Wassell, Head of Research and Development at Golden Agri-Resources (@GAR_Sinarmas)

  • Anna Turrell, Head of Sustainability at Nestle (@anna_turrell)

  • Matthew Reddy, Director of Climate-Smart Agriculture at WBCSD (to be confirmed)
Topics of the October 3 chat include:

  • The driving forces behind changes across the global palm oil sector

  • What consumers should consider when purchasing products made with palm oil

  • GAR’s drive to increase its supply chain’s transparency and traceability

  • Market forces that will drive the future of the palm oil industry over the next several years

  • How stakeholders’ concerns are having an impact on GAR’s commitment to sustainability
Tips to get the most out of the #PeopleBehindPalmOil Twitter Chat:

  • Follow the main participants and #PeopleBehindPalmOil hashtag

  • Share tweets you think your followers will appreciate

  • Follow interesting participants during and after the chat

  • Submit questions before the event to promote a more dynamic discussion

  • Use the #PeopleBehindPalmOil hashtag on comments that you want to share with the community

Of course, we appreciate you spreading the word with this tweet:

On Wednesday, 3 October at at 5pm SGT/10am BT/1pm GST, join @gar_sinarmas, @Aussieneets, @wbcsd & @anna_turrell of @Nestle as they talk about #PeopleBehindPalmOil:

WHEN: Wednesday, October 3, at 10am GMT / 1pm GST / 5pm SGT.

WHERE: Join the conversation on Twitter, or on a third-party platform such as TweetDeck or Hootsuite, by following #PeopleBehindPalmOil

New to our Twitter chats? Don’t worry! Read this.

3P Author ID

As UNGA and Climate Week NYC Launch, de Blasio Urges Cities to Lead Fight vs Climate Change

Distribution Network
Primary Category

Need to mail a letter this week in midtown Manhattan?  Forget it.

Mailboxes are sealed up tight, traffic is gridlocked and thousands of NYPD officers are pulling in overtime as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and Climate Week NYC gets underway.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio used the occasion to implore cities to make the fight against climate change a priority despite White House support of the fossil fuel economy.

Recalling the deaths of 44 people in New York City and billions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, de Blasio touted cooperation with London to accelerate fossil divestment, “even when nations falter.”  More recent environmental catastrophes -- including hurricanes in Texas, Puerto Rico and North Carolina, and California wildfires – make it an imperative.

“Put your money in the technologies that will save us all,” the Democratic mayor told attendees at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Sustainable Development Impact Summit, adding that New York City pension funds are now investing 2 percent of assets, more than $4 billion, in renewable energy and other climate change mitigation strategies. “Fossil fuel investments are not just toxic for our planet, they are toxic for our economy as well.”

Indeed, asset managers were among the 800 attending the WEF event.

Barbara Novick, vice-chairman of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with $6.5 trillion under management, said 100 new mutual funds tied to sustainability were created between 2015 and 2018.  In the past year, there was a 30 percent increase in assets allocated to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) sector, she said.

But radical systemic change in investing in a zero carbon economy globally is hampered when governments and credit rating agencies favor the status quo. Additional disclosure is also needed, she said.

But Novick expressed concern about an “alphabet soup” of competing standards, and "survey fatigue" by corporations asked to provide ESG (environmental, social and governance) data, and called for governments to work with the private sector and civil society to unify some of these reporting frameworks.

Without mentioning President Donald Trump by name, the CEO of the largest U.S. private company used the WEF stage to call out politicians who disrupt the flow of food to consumers over border disputes and tariffs. Achieving zero hunger by 2030 is the second of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in 2015.

“Trade is under attack… we have to have open borders to do it,” Cargill chief David MacLennan told WEF attendees, adding that Brazil is in a good position to supply China with soybeans, though the South American nation’s highway infrastructure needs upgrading to get commodities to shipping ports.

Cargill, like many private companies, has benefited from a focus on sustainability that allows the food giant to sink 80 percent of its profits back into the company rather than paying shareholder dividends.

“I don’t have to go every quarter and talk to the analysts about our earnings.  We can take a longer view,” said MacLennan.

Image credits: The Climate Group (Facebook); Dave Armon
3P Author ID

Water Conservation at Domtar: Our Process From River to Mill

Distribution Network
Primary Category


Pulp and paper manufacturing is a water-intensive process. All of our mills are located in watersheds with sufficient supplies, but responsible water management and water conservation will always be a significant part of our sustainability efforts at Domtar.

In 2017, our mills used enough water to fill 164,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Although our mills have access to sufficient water from local rivers and lakes, that water is not immediately suitable for pulp and paper making and requires both mechanical and chemical treatment.

How we treat water differs at each location and depends on factors such as:

  • Natural water chemistry

  • Effluent from upstream users

  • Surrounding land use

  • Season of the year

  • Weather events, including droughts and floods

  • Which products the mill makes

But there are some steps in our water management process that are consistent from location to location. Here’s a look at water usage and water conservation at a typical mill, from intake to discharge.

Water’s Journey From River to Mill

Water’s journey through the pulp- and paper-making process begins most often at a nearby river or lake. The water, which is often cloudy when withdrawn from the river, requires significant filtering and clarifying so that it is suitable for making high-quality pulp and paper. We need to remove debris, particles and chemicals that will damage manufacturing equipment. Our water filter plants are the first step to cleaning the water.

Water is drawn through a bar screen to remove large debris, such as branches, sticks and, sometimes, trash. The water continues to flow through finer screens, removing leaves and other small debris.

Next, the water is pumped to a raw-water clarifier where chemicals, such as alum, are added to remove suspended solids from the water. Other chemicals are added to adjust pH levels, prevent corrosion and scale, and control microbiology that might create slime.

Finally, water travels through a sand filter bed (a much-larger version of a typical backyard-pool sand filter) for a final cleaning before collecting in a clear well or storage reservoir. It stays in the well until it is needed by various water users in the mill.


Water Conservation and Management in the Mill

Once the water enters the mill, it’s time to go to work. We use water to:

  • Wash and transport pulp

  • Dilute and prepare process chemicals

  • Make steam and electricity

  • Carry raw materials throughout the mill

  • Clean and cool equipment

Because of our careful water conservation and management plan, we can reuse water an average of 10 times in the mill.

In addition to using filtered water in our pulp- and paper-making processes, we send some of it through an additional purification process to prepare it for making steam in our power and recovery boilers. These boilers require ultra-pure water that is free of dissolved solids, including minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. These minerals can cause corrosion and scaling in our boilers and steam systems, which can decrease their efficiency.

We remove minerals through an ion exchange process in a demineralizer plant or a reverse osmosis system. The demineralizer plant uses chemicals, such as caustic and sulfuric acid, to remove the minerals from the water. This demineralized water is now nearly ready for use in the boiler. But first, additional chemicals are added to protect the boilers and steam systems.

After heating, what is now known as feed water turns into steam for generating electricity and heat for various mill processes. After we use the steam, our systems recover most of it and condense it back into feed water (condensate), which requires minimal conditioning before it is reused in the boilers.

Reclaiming Water for Return to the Environment

After several rounds of recycling, about 90 percent of the water we use in the mill heads back to the lakes and rivers from which it came. But first, we treat it to ensure that it’s safe for aquatic organisms and other downstream water users.

All Domtar mills have an on-site wastewater or effluent treatment plant to clean and reclaim mill effluent. The plant removes the fiber, minerals and other chemicals added to the water in the pulp- and paper-making process.

Each mill has a site-specific permit that identifies the water quality levels that must be attained before the water can be sent back into the river, based on federal, state and provincial water quality standards and other local conditions.

The first stage of the treatment process, called primary treatment, settles and separates solids (mainly fiber) from the water. This process takes place in a clarifier or a lined settling pond.

In the secondary or biological treatment stage, we remove organic substances that could compete with aquatic organisms for dissolved oxygen in rivers and streams. Bacteria and other microbes (collectively called bugs) do the bulk of the work in this stage. And to keep the bugs happy, we add oxygen by mechanically churning the water or by blowing in compressed air. Sometimes we also add nutrients, such as nitrogen or phosphorus, to keep the bugs healthy.

This stage is a balancing act of adding and removing substances. The bugs eventually die and settle out as secondary solids in a final settling basin, such as a clarifier or a lined settling pond.

This clearer, cleaner water — with most of the solids and organic substances removed — can be returned to rivers and lakes so fish, wildlife, communities, farmers and other industries can utilize this shared resource.

The solids that have been removed from the effluent treatment process also are being put to good use. In 2017, Domtar’s mills beneficially reused 78 percent of the solids removed from our effluent treatment systems to improve the productivity of farmland and forests, make compost, provide daily cover for municipal landfills and provide energy for our boilers.

Water Costs More Than What We Pay For It

As you can see, our mills do a lot of work to screen, chemically treat, filter, heat and pump water so it is ready for use in our pulp- and paper-making processes. And for the water that can’t be reused in our mills, we remove process materials and chemicals so we can return it to the watershed with no adverse effects. Through effective water conservation and management, we can protect this precious natural resource.

While most of our mills pay little to no fees to access water, the cost to process water for use and reclaim it for return to the environment is anything but free. By assigning a cost to using water, we can further improve the way we manage this vital resource.

We recently developed a model to help our mills understand the full cost of using water. This helps our managers make smarter decisions that can lower our manufacturing costs and water access risks through additional water conservation measures.

Previously posted on Domtar's Newsroom

3P Author ID

AMD Puts People First in its Commitment to Be a Responsible Corporate Citizen

Distribution Network
Primary Category

When a company has a deep-rooted culture to put people first, profits follow. Corporate responsibility in these companies means generating shared value with their customers, suppliers, investors, employees and communities.

On that point, AMD has published its 23rd annual corporate responsibility update, which highlights the company’s continued commitment to enable a better world by being an employer of choice. AMD says it is working to strengthen its communities and make an impact on the planet through its motivated, innovative and fully engaged workforce.

Health and Safety

The Silicon Valley-based semiconductor company has increased its focus on training and timely reporting of injury and illnesses, which according to AMD has resulted in a significantly lower workforce injury and illness case rate than the industry average. The company’s worldwide case rate was 0.05 per 100 workers in 2017 compared to OSHA’s private industry case rate of 3.0.

AMD says it has also established best-in-class health and safety goals for its wafer foundry suppliers to outperform the industry average across various safety parameters. In the report, the company describes how it goes beyond the conventional standards in areas such as prevention of injury and illness, emergency preparedness and response, ergonomics, safety, and employee well-being.

Investing in Talent Management

Apart from providing its employees with competitive compensation, AMD supports them with employee assistance programs, health and wellness initiatives, and tuition reimbursements. It provides an array of technical, leadership and management training programs to promote career development of its employees.

AMD insists that it rewards not just the top performers, but also those who demonstrate a commitment to improve their capabilities. The company periodically surveys its employees worldwide to assess their satisfaction levels and their views on the company’s corporate responsibility programs. According to the survey results in 2017, nearly 8 in 10 employees said that they are proud of the company’s involvement in community and social causes.

Finally, AMD claims that the company encourages a work culture where employees feel safe to voice dissenting opinions, challenge the status quo, and take calculated risks.

Engagement through Employee Resource Groups

AMD has formed Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to promote a highly engaged workforce. Some of the notable ERGs include:

AMD Go Green: the group includes AMD Green Teams at various locations that work to inspire and educate company employees worldwide to conserve resources and save the environment.

AMD Pride: the mission of the LGBTQ and Allies of AMD Pride is to foster an inclusive work environment, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation, through networking, education and workplace collaboration.

AMD Women’s Forum: this group aims to foster innovation across the organization through the contributions and collaboration of women.

uAMD: This is a virtual learning and development community for all employees to gain and share knowledge and expertise in areas of research, industry practices, and everyday tasks.

AMD Caregivers: This group’s mission is to ensure that every needful individual has the necessary tools to alleviate the challenges of caring for loved ones and pets.

Global Inclusion

AMD says it believes innovation and creativity receive a boost when diverse teams operate in a culture of inclusion. Diversity promotes productivity, improves problem solving, and ultimately drives business performance and profits. This approach, according to the company, has helped AMD become a place where all voices are heard, and all perspectives are embraced.

The company maintains its strength lies in consciously building a diverse talent pipeline, increasing inclusion of under-represented groups, and encouraging a culture of respect and belonging.

“Our employees are highly engaged and proud to work at AMD, with a strong belief in our products and mission and an understanding that each person has an important role in our success,” said Dr. Lisa Su, President and CEO, in her letter to the shareholders. “Each year, thousands of AMDers roll up their sleeves to make a difference where we live and work.”

Be sure to talk a look at the services ReportAlert offers.

Image credit: AMD

3P Author ID

Observations on the Latest Shifts in Sustainable Investing

Distribution Network
Primary Category

After spearheading the Sustainable Investing initiative for a large wealth management wirehouse for several years, I found myself in transition this summer – and spent much of that time catching up with old and new friends across the ESG (environmental, social and governance) and impact investing ecosystem. This time has given me the opportunity to reflect on the state of the industry and the challenges it faces.

ESG investing is not a monolith

With the number of ESG investing conferences growing year after year, it is striking how frequently the impression can emerge that different investors are doing similar things. In reality, even if one leaves aside traditional exclusionary screening (stay out of alcohol, tobacco, firearms etc.) ESG investing consists of a variety of different approaches and styles. Wealth and asset management firms would be well advised to create more transparency around the investment approaches they take or promote.

For example, the vast majority of assets that are reported in industry trends reports such as US SIF’s feature some form of ESG integration, whereby ESG aspects are incorporated into the investment process. This happens with varying degrees of discipline and weight placed on ESG, is usually implemented firm wide or at least on multiple strategies at once, and is often accompanied by some increased focus on shareholder engagement with respect to ESG topics. This trend is being driven by the need to comply with commitments made by signatories to the U.N. Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and/or to satisfy demands from institutional asset owners.

This is quite distinct from more dedicated ESG strategies, that are often labeled and marketed as such. Examples in equities include, in particular, positively screened ESG strategies (minimum level of ESG performance required for inclusion); ESG-tilted strategies (which seek to increase the portfolio’s ESG score while controlling other characteristics); sustainability-themed strategies (often with minimum revenue required from solutions-oriented activities); or a strong focus on driving positive change through shareholder engagement (often combined with one of the strategies above). Making such distinctions matters for wealth and asset management firms.

How to talk to wealth management clients

While individual investors are growing fonder of ESG investing, they are usually still early on their learning curve and their financial advisors (FAs) are often not well-versed enough to avoid some confusion. There is a certain tension between the need for FAs to understand their clients’ needs and preferences with respect to sustainability and social impact and the lack of customization that arises from a monolithic perspective on ESG. Embracing some form of investment classification is a useful first step to ensure better communication with clients and better satisfaction in the long run.

What is also striking is that many individuals with a preference for sustainability do not find ESG integration strategies compelling, in contrast with dedicated ESG strategies. The reason is that an investment process that takes ESG aspects into account (along with traditional financial considerations) but without imposing any minimum standards is very likely to generate portfolios that include ESG laggards. This can be at odds with what individuals expect from an ESG portfolio.

Decision tree for asset management newbies

For asset management firms who are looking to develop their business strategy around ESG, two distinct decisions must be taken.

The first is whether to implement some for of ESG integration across the firm’s investment processes. This is increasingly demanded by a subset of institutional asset owners and also serves to fulfill commitments incurred by the PRI signatories.

The second is whether to launch dedicated ESG strategies, or in some cases reposition existing strategies. I would argue that this is necessary to capture a portion of the growing wealth management demand for ESG, as well as to serve the needs of the most dedicated institutional investors. Note that both approaches can be taken in parallel and are likely complementary in terms of the skills and resources involved.

United Nations SDGs: moving beyond mapping

2018 is clearly the year the investment community started truly embracing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I am thrilled by that move but would caution that this is just the beginning of a long journey until 2030. Today, investment managers are by and large merely mapping their investments to the 17 SDGs or, in some cases, to the 169 underlying targets.

Over time, some goals and targets will be better funded than others, and achievement gaps will diverge substantially across both indicators and countries. Any SDG-focused investment framework developed today should incorporate achievement gaps in order to remain relevant as 2030 approaches. Tools such as the SDSN or Bertelsmann SDG Dashboards ( are a useful resource to this effect.

Image credit: Luke Fritz/Flickr

3P Author ID

Here’s What the Last 5 Years of Corporate Sustainability in China has Looked Like. What’s Next?

Distribution Network
Primary Category

As a kid, one of my favorite things was a Moon Cake, which I'd get to eat during the Mid-Autumn Festival in China (taking place next week). It's a day of celebrating family reunion and harvest, where the entire country throws parties, comes together and gives homage to the full moon. I’ll always jump at the opportunity to eat a Moon Cake, but this time there’s something else worth celebrating this year: the progress being made on corporate sustainability in China.

This year marks the 5th year anniversary of expanding EDF Climate Corps into China. What started as 6 fellows in 5 companies, has grown to nearly 60 fellows into over 20 companies. With that we’ve seen tens of millions of dollars in potential savings from energy efficiency improvements. But before I jump into how corporate sustainability in China has advanced, let me tell you why we made the decision to expand there.

EDF Climate Corps: Welcome to China

As the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, China and the U.S. are receiving increased attention on their cooperative efforts to save energy and curtail climate pollution. EDF has set a goal to help China with its rising CO2 emissions. So we thought: what better way to do this than enlisting the help of bright, young, talented graduate students?

In the five years since we first brought EDF Climate Corps to China, I’ve watched as the scope and breadth of projects – by both multinational and Chinese-owned companies – has evolved alongside the nation’s sustainability efforts. I’ll show you how.

The evolution of corporate sustainability in China

In our first year, the companies we worked with were for the most part after one thing: energy audit projects in factory settings. It was about plucking the low-hanging energy fruit at one specific site (upgrading lighting or air compressor systems, etc.). And I should note, it was only multinational companies we were working with – headquartered in the U.S., with factories overseas.

Fast forward to today, while factory-based energy efficiency projects are still in our pipeline, they’re no longer the main focus. More companies are making larger sustainability goals, looking to pursue projects beyond energy efficiency.

I’ve identified a few trends in China’s corporate sustainability landscape:

  1. Improving energy efficiency and scaling solutions. Energy efficiency remains and important and effective way to reduce carbon footprints. But instead of one-off projects, it’s about scaling opportunities both across portfolios of factories and sharing with other companies in similar industries. The results bring enormous ROI, and give a competitive advantage to companies. Pacific Market International (PMI) hired an EDF Climate Corps fellow to improve the energy efficiency of one of its glass suppliers. The fellow developed an energy management strategy, which included recommendations to reduce energy use, such as optimizing washing and dying processes, that can be scaled across the entire manufacturing industry.

  2. Setting ambitious targets. More companies are concentrating their efforts around data collection, analysis, verification, and reporting. More data is critical for identifying reduction opportunities, managing suppliers and communicating sustainability efforts. This year, MAHLE hired an EDF Climate Corps fellow to build the framework for its first-ever sustainability report, which included specific energy reduction goals, covering categories such as: product innovation and development, energy saving and green production, employee care, and social responsibility.

  3. Complying with China’s environmental policies. In recent years, China’s political landscape around climate has become much more stringent, giving companies a choice: work with it, or be fined. Working with policies can reduce costs, avoid risk, demonstrate leadership, and attract stakeholders. This year, an EDF Climate Corps fellow recommended an environmental engagement plan for IKEA’s suppliers to mitigate regulatory risk – mainly around areas such as coal burning, GHG emissions, wastewater treatment, and solid waste – across its entire supply chain in China. We also hosted two webinars on environmental law interpretations and corporate compliance that garnered a lot of interest from our hosts (a recording for this year’s webinar can be found here for those that are interested in learning more).

  4. Adopting green supply chain initiatives. Companies are looking to reduce the emissions of their global supply chains, and they’re working with their suppliers to do so. This is true for both small and medium-sized manufactures, as well as multinationals. As part of its Project Gigaton (reducing GHG emissions in its supply chain by one gigaton), Walmart enlisted two EDF Climate Corps fellows in its Global Sourcing division to identify products that have the potential to reduce significant GHGs. Walmart now has a better understanding of what products need to be upgraded, how to reach its reduction goals and how to incentive more suppliers to participate in the effort.

As I enjoy my Moon Cake next week for this year's Mid-Autumn Festival, I'll be celebrating the long way we've come in corporate sustainability over these past five years. But, I'll also be thinking about the long road ahead of us.

This article was previously posted on the EDF+Business Blog and 3BL Media news

3P Author ID

The North Face Expands Range of Sustainably Produced Wool Clothing

Distribution Network
Primary Category

In 2016, the consulting firm McKinsey said one of the keys to succeeding in tomorrow's fashion market would be sustainability, asserting that consumers will “expect ecologically unobjectionable fabrics, a conservation-minded use of resources, reduced emission of pollutants, and greater social commitment.”

As Huffington Post has reported, sustainability has become the next fashionable trend, but despite growing interest from consumers, the industry still has a long way to go. Sustainable Brands reported earlier this year that the apparel industry has one of the largest carbon footprints globally. More companies, however, are stepping up their game.

For example, the outdoor clothing and equipment brand The North Face hopes its commitment to expanding the range of the label’s Cali Wool collection this year “will help raise awareness of how consumers can support climate action by purchasing products made with regenerative methods.” Cali Wool is sustainably produced wool that the company introduced last year.  

In order to produce this range of clothing, The North Face has partnered with Bare Ranch in California, whose regenerative agricultural practices are expected to sequester 4,000 metric tons of carbon a year, or the equivalent of removing 800 cars per year from the roads. Bare Ranch in turn has worked with Fibershed, a non-profit that “develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers.”

The basis of this system is carbon farming, the process by which carbon is sequestered back into the soil. This system uses techniques such as composting, planting cover crops and trees and restoring creeks on ranch land. As a result, while sheep graze on the land, overall soil health is improved, and the result is what Bare Ranch calls “Climate Beneficial” wool.

Sustainable ranching is one benefit of producing this line of clothing, while another feature is to produce a completely regional product - further limiting this apparel’s carbon impact. Instead of shipping the fibers off to an overseas location like China, The North Face’s Cali Wool products are manufactured in the USA.

This line of apparel is not a low cost leader, but as The North Face told TriplePundit via email, “the price of the Cali Wool collection - beanie, scarf and jacket - reflects the high-quality, premium USA Rambouillet wool and local manufacturing. All three Cali Wool products are made in the USA and the fabric for the jacket, in particular, is woven at American Woolen Company, a Connecticut-based fabric mill that makes specialty, high-quality fabric.”

This year’s Cali Wool range expands upon its first item, the beanie, which The North Face launched in 2017. By expanding the product range this year, The North Face is purchasing five times as much Climate Beneficial wool by volume compared to last year.

The product retails at a slightly higher price than those made from conventionally sourced fibers. As the aforementioned McKinsey report concluded, while consumers are demanding products that are sustainably sourced, “only the fewest customers are willing to pay more for these greener products.” So, will this be a problem for The North Face?

It appears not. The Cali Wool beanie is ten dollars more expensive than a similar merino wool product on the company’s website, but so the brand's customers are prepared to pay the price premium. The North Face told us via email that the Cali Wool product range for this year was expanded in part because of consumer demand, having sold out twice through their online store already.

It is encouraging to see responsibly sourced natural fibers finding their way back into the apparel market. From the startup footwear company using wool and tree fibers 3p covered last month, to large established companies like The North Face, moving away from synthetic materials will help provide consumers with more choices of responsibly- and sustainably-made apparel.  

Image credit:/The North Face

3P Author ID