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Smithfield Foods Donates $15,000 to Help Build Outdoor Amphitheater

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 2:49pm

 Smithfield Foods, Inc. is pleased to announce a $15,000 donation to the Sullivan County Exposition Center & Fairgrounds to support the construction of an outdoor amphitheater overlooking Lake Cowgill that will be utilized for events throughout the year.

“Our goal is to provide a venue that delivers recreational, social, educational, and cultural opportunities for Sullivan County families,” said Cary Maulsby, board member, Sullivan County Exposition Center & Fairgounds. “We are grateful to Smithfield Foods for their donation in helping make this project happen.”

The Sullivan County Exposition Center & Fairgrounds, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that hosts community events throughout the year. The current facility features a rodeo performance area, a tractor pulling track, a demolition derby or mud run arena, and a livestock barn and show arena. With the help of Smithfield’s gift, the organization will add an amphitheater as well as a youth campground and permanent shower and restroom facilities. Future plans also include the development of a multipurpose 400-seat exposition center.   

“This amphitheater is going to be a tremendous asset to this community and we’re proud of the recreational and cultural impact it will have on our neighbors here in Sullivan County,” said Tim Messman, plant manager of Smithfield’s Milan, Missouri Facility. “Smithfield Foods has a strong commitment to support the communities we call home, and we are thrilled to be able to provide this gift to the Sullivan County Exposition Center & Fairgrounds to make this dream a reality.”

Smithfield’s support of the Sullivan County Exposition Center & Fairgrounds aligns with its commitment to contribute to the vitality of the communities where its employees live and work. Smithfield’s Milan, Missouri, facility was established in 1994 and employs nearly 1,200 local employees.

For more information about Smithfield’s commitment to its local communities, please visit smithfieldfoods.com/helpingcommunities.

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan's Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, Farmer John®, Kretschmar®, John Morrell®, Cook's®, Gwaltney®, Carando®, Margherita®, Curly's®, Healthy Ones®, Morliny®, Krakus® and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com, and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

Media Contacts:
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
Lisa Martin
lvmartin@smithfield.com 
(757) 365-1980

Sullivan County Exposition Center & Fairgrounds
Cary Maulsby
carymaulsby@windstream.net
(660) 265-5683

Leveraging Technology for Financial Wellness

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 2:49pm

Join us for a webinar hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and supported by JPMorgan Chase & Co., where representatives from University of North Carolina Center for Community Capital and nonprofit Leaders in Financial Technology (nLIFT) will discuss the potential for technology innovation in the financial services sector – fintech – to increase financial inclusion in the United States.

"Leveraging Technology for Financial Wellness" will explore key trends in fintech investment and adoption – including barriers to adoption – among low- and moderate-income consumers, and the roles that financial institutions, fintech companies, and non-profit intermediaries can play in meeting the needs of underserved consumers.

The webinar will also feature new work from nLIFT around nonprofits leadership in fintech innovations to help facilitate financial inclusion. Register for the webinar today!

Ørsted Announces Offshore Wind Biodiversity Policy

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 11:48am

Electricity from offshore wind farms helps to replace fossil fuels and offers a clean and safe route to meeting human energy needs and tackling climate change.

Ørsted’s offshore wind farms and their transmission infrastructure can interact with marine and coastal ecosystems, raising concerns around their impacts on these ecosystems. Such concerns could increase as the offshore wind industry becomes truly global, which requires being more open and transparent on biodiversity protection.

Ørsted strives to maintain a successful track record of managing the natural environment and resources in the areas where we operate. We want to continue to ensure that we grow our offshore wind business in a way that is sustainable and seeks to protect the environment.

Responsibility for environment
Our ‘Offshore wind biodiversity policy’ sets out the principles that underpin our efforts to protect the natural environment in the areas where we develop, construct and operate offshore wind farms.

“Renewable energy plays a major role in mitigating climate change and the threat it poses to biodiversity. At the same time, it is important to protect biodiversity at our wind farm projects and sites,” says Hans Lyhne Borg, Head of Environment, Consents & Property at Ørsted.

“Our biodiversity policy formalizes and makes it transparent that Ørsted takes responsibility for the natural environment, and that we actively engage with all relevant stakeholders and operate within all relevant regulations, for the protection of species and habitats,” he adds. 

Partnering to address biodiversity needs
As Ørsted’s offshore wind power business enters into new markets, we will continue to work closely with regulators, local communities, environmental experts and other interested parties to build new knowledge and capacity around local biodiversity issues.

This includes our collaboration with WWF, World Wide Fund for Nature, Denmark, with whom we partner to map and help tackle the impacts of climate change.

“The increasing demand for energy is driving rapid changes on our planet. Animals are under pressure, corals are dying, and plants are perishing. Nature, underpinned by biodiversity, provides a wealth of services that has built modern society, with its benefits and luxuries, and we will continue to need these natural resources to survive and thrive,” says Bo Øksnebjerg, Secretary General of WWF.

“It is imperative that we all take on the responsibility of protecting the planet’s biodiversity. And so, we are very pleased that Ørsted is assuming a great part of this responsibility in their work with offshore wind farms going forward,” he adds.

Focus areas for biodiversity impacts
Ørsted’s biodiversity policy reflects our decades-long experience in environmental management and research engagement in the offshore wind sector. The focus areas for biodiversity impacts currently are:

  • Potential noise impact on marine mammals from installation of wind turbine foundations

  • Potential impact on birds’ migration routes and feeding grounds from wind turbines

  • Potential impact on seabed ecosystems and coastal environments from installation of transmission cables

Ørsted uses leading-edge engineering solutions and technologies to meet stringent regulations in different countries that are aimed at reducing potential impacts on marine mammals and birds.

We also have a dedicated Research and Development Roadmap that focuses on the environment and has funded several workstreams, including environmental research and conferences, in the focus areas.

For instance, one of the latest research projects we are currently funding tags and tracks how Lesser black-backed gulls might interact with our offshore wind farms at Walney Extension and Burbo Bank Extension, from colonies in Northwestern England. 

In brief

  • The ‘Offshore wind biodiversity policy’ underpins our efforts to protect the natural environment around our offshore wind farms.

  • The policy is needed as the offshore wind industry becomes truly global, and as biodiversity protection becomes a competitive factor in the development of offshore wind farms.

  • We conduct thorough environmental impact assessment when developing, constructing and decommissioning offshore wind farms.

  • We aim to adhere to international and national-level environmental laws and requirements relating to biodiversity for the markets in which we operate.

  • We partner with societal stakeholders to understand and address biodiversity impacts.

  • View all Ørsted sustainability policies here.

Politics, Violence and Price Tags Creating Drag on Social Responsibility, According to Sixth Annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index (#CCSIndex)

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 8:48am

Americans are doing fewer good deeds these days, according to the sixth annual Conscious Consumer Spending Index (#CCSIndex). In total, 1,015 Americans were recently polled for the ongoing benchmarking study, which is conducted by Good.Must.Grow., a socially responsible marketing consultancy.

This year’s results marked record lows for the percentage of Americans who report being green, reducing consumption of energy/goods, contributing money or time to a nonprofit and buying products or services from socially responsible companies. The biggest declines came from charitable donations, which fell from 63 percent in 2017 to 54 percent in 2018, and being green, which fell from 87 percent to 80 percent.

Still, when asked to rank how socially conscious they are when shopping, Americans averaged a response of 6.5 on a 10 point scale. In fact, 85 percent of Americans graded themselves at a 5 or higher on the scale. Meanwhile, 32 percent of Americans are planning to spend more with companies who are socially responsible in the year ahead and 32 percent reported boycotting products and services that were not socially responsible this past year. Both are record highs for the index.

“This year’s findings are a mix of new highs and all-time lows, so it’s obviously not all good news,” said Heath Shackleford, founder of Good.Must.Grow. “On a positive note, the majority of Americans still identify as being conscious consumers and are rewarding mission-driven organizations. But from a trending perspective, we are seeing a mild dip in socially responsible behaviors. We need to take that seriously and respond accordingly.”

Overall, the #CCSIndex slipped to its lowest point since its inaugural results with a score of 45 on a 100-point scale. This comes after a slight rebound from 46 in 2016 to 47 in 2017. The #CCSIndex score is calculated by evaluating the importance consumers place on purchasing from socially responsible companies, actions taken to support such products and services, and future intent to increase the amount they spend with responsible organizations. Based on the design of the index’s algorithm, even a one-point change in overall score indicates meaningful movement of consumer sentiment.

“This index isn’t about proving that doing good is good for business; that has been done many times over,” said Shackleford. “The purpose of our research is to take an objective and critical view of what we need to do as a collective to fuel this movement as we move forward.”

Is the World Getting Worse?

When asked if the world was becoming a better place to live, a worse place to live or staying the same, only 22 percent believed the state of the world was improving. That was up from 16 percent in 2017, but still represented a significant minority of Americans.

This impacts the #CCSIndex score because those with a negative or neutral outlook on the state of the world are less likely to purchase products from “do good” companies, less likely to donate time and money to nonprofits and less likely to report being green.

When asked why they thought the world was getting better or worse, Americans cited the current state of the economy (52%) as the main reason circumstances were improving. Meanwhile, those who thought the world was in worse shape cited the political environment (75%) and crime/violence (75%) as the main drivers of their negative feelings.

The Price Is Not Right

For the first time in #CCSIndex history, price sensitivity was the top obstacle for “do good” shopping behaviors.  This year 44% of Americans said socially responsible products and services cost too much. For the first five years, a lack of knowledge about where to find socially responsible goods was the biggest deterrent.

“Bottom line, it costs more to produce high-quality, ethically-sourced, environmentally-friendly products that give back to the community, but clearly we have to examine how high those costs climb,” said Shackleford. “Past research has confirmed that consumers are willing to pay a premium for socially responsible products, but the rub is that the average consumer can’t afford to spend $250 on a hand-crafted pair of dress shoes or $65 on a bamboo t-shirt or $20 on a pair of socks. Yet, a growing number of socially-conscious products are priced as luxury brands and are out of reach for many Americans.”

A Loss of Confidence

In 2018, 67 percent of consumers said that individuals are effective at making positive changes in society. This is a down from 72 percent in previous years and marks the first decline since the inception of the index. During this time, confidence in nonprofits and social enterprises has been dipping, while opinions have held steady regarding major corporations.  Belief in the government’s ability to drive change has fluctuated between lows of 36 percent (2014) and highs of 43 percent (2016 and 2018).

“Consumers seem to have less confidence in their ability to make a difference at the individual level,” said Shackleford. “Revitalizing the belief that ‘we the people’ can create change every day is an area of opportunity. Americans spent $643 million dollars before lunch this past Black Friday alone. The truth is that individuals are in the best position to drive the change we need.”

Hanging in the Balance

Nearly half (49%) of Americans rated themselves between 5-7 on the 10-point scale mentioned previously. This group possesses socially responsible values but isn’t fully acting on those values consistently. They are less likely to shop responsibly, be green or give to charity than those who rated themselves 8-10 on the scale (which represented 36% of the population). This group was also much less trusting of companies and had far less confidence in the ability of individuals to drive change when compared to the 8-10 group.

“A large percentage of Americans are wired for good, but currently they have a few of those wires crossed,” said Shackleford. “Despite the downturn in the data, we have a remarkable opportunity to mainstream conscious consumerism. I think there are several takeaways from this year’s research, and areas of focus, that will help activate the segment of the population that is currently stuck in neutral when it comes to social responsibility.”

Top 20 Good Company Poll

This year marked the #CCSIndex’s fourth annual top 20 “Good Company” poll, compiled by responses to the question, “What company or organization do you think of first when you think of socially responsible companies/organizations?” Based on unaided recall, organizations were ranked by how frequently they were named.

Walmart completed its surprising climb up the list, claiming the top spot and edging the combination of Amazon and Whole Foods*. Last year’s leader, The American Red Cross, slid to number five. In 2018, 40 percent of respondents failed to name a socially responsible organization, up from 30 percent in all previous polls.

Rankings are as follows:

1. Walmart
2. Amazon/Whole Foods*
3. Goodwill
4. Salvation Army
5. American Red Cross
6. Starbucks
7. Apple
8. Google
9. Microsoft
10.  Facebook
11.  TOMS
12.  Target
13.  Ben & Jerry's
t-14. St. Jude
t-14.Patagonia
16.  Trader Joe's
17.  Honest Company
t-18. Tesla
t-18. Hobby Lobby
20.  Wegman’s 

*Based on Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, the #CCSIndex team chose to combine responses for those two brands. Without the combination, Amazon would have ranked third, Whole Foods 14th. Wegman’s would have been removed from the list.

About the Study
This study was conducted in partnership with Supportive Research Solutions and What They Think Research. Sampling was provided by Research Now. Data was collected Nov 8-16, 2018. In total, 1,015 Americans were surveyed (margin of error is +/- 3%). For more information on the Conscious Consumer Spending Index, please visit www.goodmustgrow.com/ccsindex

About Good.Must.Grow.
Doing good by any means necessary. That’s our motto. We are obsessed with helping good organizations grow. We provide strategic marketing support for socially responsible businesses, nonprofit causes and individuals committed to making our world a healthier place. We also fuel our own initiatives aimed at specific causes, ranging from human trafficking to addiction to health and wellness. Proud to be a Certified B Corp. Learn more at goodmustgrow.com.

Responsible Minerals Initiative Releases Blockchain Guidelines to Drive Alignment in Mineral Supply Chain Due Diligence

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:46am

The Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), a coalition of leading companies dedicated to improving the security and human rights conditions in their mineral supply chains, today announced voluntary guidelines to drive the common adoption of definitions and concepts in the application of blockchain-enabled solutions. The RMI Guidelines represent a first industry effort to define a common set of principles, attributes and definitions for the application of blockchain technology to support mineral supply chain due diligence.

The RMI Blockchain Guidelines seek to reduce the fragmentation of blockchain projects by recommending a set of fundamental attributes for projects to include at each stage of mineral supply chains. The Guidelines are inspired by the success of the RMI’s Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) and its underlying data exchange standard. They are agnostic to the type of operations for mineral production, trade and processing as well as the mineral or metal itself.

“The RMI Blockchain Guidelines are a helpful first step to promote interoperability of blockchain projects in mineral supply chains and to help us understand the impacts of this technology on supply chains and communities,” said Michèle Brülhart, Director of Innovations, Responsible Business Alliance. “The Guidelines are a living document and we look forward to further developing it with our members and partners."

The RMI worked with its members and external stakeholders to develop the Guidelines, including organizations along the full mineral value chain as well as blockchain service providers.

The RMI recognizes the ongoing work to design and test blockchain-enabled solutions in mineral supply chains and is committed to regularly review and update its Guidelines. It invites any organization to apply the Guidelines during the conceptualization, design and implementation of blockchain projects in mineral supply chains and share feedback with the RMI. Download the RMI Blockchain Guidelines and contact Michèle Brülhart with any input or questions. 

About the Responsible Minerals Initiative
The Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) is an initiative of the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA). The RMI is a multi-industry initiative with more than 360 member companies. Its members contribute to the development and international uptake of a range of tools and resources focused on minerals supply chain due diligence, including independent third-party audit programs for smelters, Minerals Reporting Templates, supply chain risk assessment tools, Country of Origin data, and guidance documents on responsible sourcing of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, and cobalt. The RMI runs regular workshops on responsible sourcing issues and contributes to policy development with civil society organizations and governments. For more information, visit responsiblemineralsinitiative.org.

Media Contact

Jarrett Bens, Director of Communications
Responsible Business Alliance
jbens@responsiblebusiness.org
+1 571.858.5721

What’s the Risk? It’s Time to Find Out.

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 8:46am

Resilience is an organization’s ability to adapt to risks and threats that challenge its viability. It’s also an imperative in the face of an increasingly broad and unpredictable risk landscape. This is especially true when it comes to energy and sustainability.

Investors and customers alike recognize the effects of climate change, and other factors that increase volatility and vulnerability. And the pressure these groups are applying to address these concerns and drive change can no longer be ignored.

Companies that successfully build resilience into their operations and supply chains maintain business continuity and capitalize on emerging opportunities to build a truly sustainable business. Easier said than done, however, given the breadth and depth of the potential pitfalls.

There are five primary energy and sustainability threats that most companies face:

  1. Physical infrastructure failure

    A growing demand on the grid, increasing penetration of renewable resources like wind and solar, and extreme weather-related power outages create grid instability. 

  2. Global warming and resource scarcity

    Global warming, extreme weather events and resource scarcity are interconnected. They combine to amplify risks for future food, water and energy demands.

  3. Policy and regulatory changes

    Changes in national and international policy, such as a transition in government leadership or incentives, can make it harder to finance low-carbon energy infrastructure, slow down investment, alter project payback periods and decrease the rate at which projects come online.

  4. Energy market volatility

    Global energy supply, demand and pricing vary across markets depending on regulation, population, consumption, grid mix and other factors. Companies need to understand the risks and potential for instability in the regions and countries where they operate.  

  5. Reputational risk

    Organizations face greater accountability — not only for their own actions, but for those of their suppliers. Any crisis can cause instant losses in share value, stakeholder trust and customer loyalty.

Energy and sustainability threats are evolving quickly, and outpace conventional risk analysis and mitigation strategies. Organizations need to be forward-looking, proactive and progressive to manage these issues.

How exposed is your company in these areas? 

Take this assessment to find out where you land on the spectrum, and learn more about the risks that shape your score and your company’s future.

Book Publisher Changes Mission to Focus on Books That Help Businesses Be a Force for Good

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:43am

Maven House Press has changed its mission to focus on publishing books that inspire people to use business as a force for good – books that challenge conventional thinking, introduce new ideas, offer practical advice, and illuminate paths to greatness.

Maven House is soliciting manuscripts that cover any of the following (or related) themes: sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, B Corporations, social entrepreneurship, servant leadership, climate change, triple bottom line, green business, diversity and inclusion, transparency, social impact, workplace culture, or related topics. The books will be published in Fall 2019 or later.

“We were inspired to change our mission after publishing a book by Mona Amadeo (who owns a B Corp) called Beyond Sizzle: The Next Evolution of Branding,” says Jim Pennypacker, Publisher. The book offers leaders from organizations of all sizes and types a practical framework for transforming organizations into brands that are forces for good. “What we learned from the book motivated us to take our company in a new direction.”

Maven House has several new books signed up for 2019 that support their new mission, including Bravespace: Creating a Workplace Fit for Human Life by Moe Carrick (who also owns a B Corp) and Team Medicine: Coaching Your Team to Success with Native American Wisdom by Michelle Prosser (who works for a nonprofit).

For more information on publishing with Maven House, potential authors should check out the author page on the Maven House website (http://mavenhousepress.com/for-authors/) or email jim@mavenhousepress.com.

Free e-Book Available

Maven House is offering a free e-book that features excerpts from their bestselling books that will inspire readers to be better leaders and unleash their potential to change the world. Download at http://bit.ly/AForceforGood.

About Maven House

Maven House publishes four to six books a year, which are distributed worldwide by Publishers Group West (PGW)/Ingram. Exam copies for academics are available through Ingram Academic. Rights licensing (for translations, book clubs, audiobooks, etc.) is handled by RussoRights.

REI and National Park Foundation Earn Top Honors for Best-In-Class Corporate Social Impact Efforts

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:43am

REI Co-op and National Park Foundation will be honored with the Golden Halo Award, the highest honor for companies and causes that collaborate to produce financial and economic dividends, at the Engage for Good conference in May 2019.

This 17th set of Golden Halo Awards, given each year to one business and one nonprofit for excellence in corporate social impact, will coincidentally be bestowed upon two organizations focused on the outdoors. Accepting the honors at the Engage for Good Conference on May 29-30th at Chicago’s Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel will be Will Shafroth, president & CEO of the National Park Foundation, and Wilma Wallace, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of REI Co-op. 

“It’s so inspiring to see the powerful social impact leadership that both REI Co-op and the National Park Foundation have demonstrated, particularly in recent years,” said Engage for Good President David Hessekiel. “The Golden Halo Awards are reserved for best-in-class companies and nonprofit organizations that have authentic, demonstrable and significant commitments to building a better world and the bottom line. It’s our great honor to hold these organizations up as examples of the incredible power of partnership to inspire and engage consumers, employees and the community at large."

2019 Golden Halo Award Winner (Corporate): REI Co-op 

REI Co-op was founded 80 years ago by 23 climbing friends in Seattle. Today, REI is the nation’s largest consumer co-op with a community of more than 17 million members and more than 150 stores across the country. The co-op is known nationwide for its outstanding customer service, best quality outdoor gear, and inspiring classes and trips.

As a co-op, REI is a different kind of company. REI puts purpose before profits - annually giving back nearly 70 percent of its profits to the outdoor community by investing in employees, members and nonprofit partners. This year, the co-op is investing $8.8 million in 400 nonprofits to steward more than 1,000 outdoor spaces. REI is also a leading voice for policies that assure all have ready access to outdoor opportunities. 

The co-op believes deeply that a life outdoors is a life well-lived. REI has reinvented Black Friday, encouraging people to #OptOutside that day with family and friends instead of shopping. For the last four years, REI has shut its doors on the busiest retail day of the year and paid all 12,000 employees to spend the day doing what they love. In that time, 15 million people and 700 organizations have joined the #OptOutside movement and helped create a new holiday tradition. 

Through its Force of Nature initiative, the co-op is showing that the outdoors can be the world’s largest level playing field – for all. In 2017, REI dedicated an entire year to putting women at the center of its storytelling, which included advertising, marketing, paid content partnerships and social media. The co-op’s Force of Nature initiative also included a $1 million investment in nonprofit organizations that ensure women are equally inspired and equipped to embrace a life outside. This year, the co-op has continued this effort with a focus on extended sizing and is working with brand partners to correctly design plus-size clothing.

As a co-op, we can act with the long-term interests of our members and society in mind,” said Wilma Wallace, REI vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. “We believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived. Whether it’s paying our employees to spend a day outside with their loved ones, taking a stand for public lands, or making it easier for our members to shop their values, this belief informs everything we do.”

2019 Golden Halo Award Winner (Nonprofit): National Park Foundation

Chartered by Congress in 1967 as the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation generates private support and builds strategic partnerships to protect and enhance America’s national parks for present and future generations.

Corporations have been key partners of the national parks since the very beginning, over 100 years ago, and that legacy has continued through the National Park Foundation. Through major initiatives including Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque, Open OutDoors for Kids, service corps, wildlife and trail conservation, veteran engagement, disaster relief and more, corporations have provided more than $100 million in support for our national parks. 

NPF’s corporate program has grown rapidly over the last five years as the Foundation leveraged the moment of the 2016 National Park Service Centennial to launch a new national sponsorship platform and raise its profile in the marketplace through creative and new activation and brand integration opportunities. The momentum has continued past the centennial celebration, as NPF successfully expanded its corporate partnerships, announcing several exciting new high-level partnerships with top brands. 

Industry leaders including American Express, Budweiser, Hanesbrands, L.L.Bean, Nature Valley, Subaru, Union Pacific and Coca-Cola are inspiring people to discover the breadth and depth of America’s National Park System through their partnership with the National Park Foundation and support of the Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque public engagement campaign. 

Overall, a diverse roster of over 50 corporate partners are raising awareness and generating support for our national parks through cause marketing, licensing, philanthropic grants and in-kind contributions. 

“The Golden Halo Award is a huge honor and a testament to the collective impact the National Park Foundation and partner companies are making for national parks and people across the country,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “When we invest in national parks, we’re supporting local communities as they’re inextricably connected. Together the National Park Foundation and our partners are helping to ensure national parks and local communities thrive.” 

About Engage for Good

Engage for Good, producer of the Engage for Good conference and Halo Awards, is a national professional organization that helps business and nonprofit executives succeed together by providing practical information and inspiration, opportunities to build valuable relationships and recognition for outstanding work engaging employees and consumers around social good and cause-related marketing efforts. Learn more at http://www.engageforgood.com.

Global Sustain as an Official TCFD Supporter

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:43am

Global Sustain is happy to announce that it has just been accepted as an official TCFD Supporter further to a formal application submitted earlier this year.

TCFD Recommendations are expected to become a mainstream practice in climate change disclosures.

This is how we support TCFD:

  1. We organize public speaking events, seminars and workshops on TCFD for our +400 members in the United States and Europe.

  2. We engage with responsible ESG investors to exercise shareholder advocacy to their equity holdings to meet TCFD Recommendations.

  3. We engage with financial, credit and insurance institutions to adopt TCFD recommendations in their credit/insurance portfolios and advice their clients to do the same (especially banks) through their Environmental Scoring Systems.

  4. We advise (mainly publicly traded) corporations (especially the big CO2 emitters like mining, oil and gas and extractives) to develop strategies and report on TCFD Recommendations.

  5. We engage with regulators and authorities like Company Registrars, Public Policy Organizations (for instance European Commission Agencies), etc. to include the TCFD Framework as a guiding methodological approach for climate change risk mitigation.

More information here: https://www.fsb-tcfd.org/tcfd-supporters/

About FSB Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD):

The FSB Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) will develop voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders. The Task Force will consider the physical, liability and transition risks associated with climate change and what constitutes effective financial disclosures across industries. The work and recommendations of the Task Force will help companies understand what financial markets want from disclosure in order to measure and respond to climate change risks and encourage firms to align their disclosures with investors’ needs.

3Degrees Commits to Blockchain Investment, Signs on as Affiliate to Energy Web Foundation

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 8:43am

3Degrees announced today that it has become an Affiliate of the Energy Web Foundation (EWF), a global non-profit organization focused on accelerating blockchain technology across the energy sector. With this commitment, 3Degrees joins more than 90 other leading companies as Affiliates of EWF and has access to strategic R&D investment in blockchain technology in the energy sector.

“We have been studying blockchain closely over the past year and felt the time was right to join forces with EWF, an organization pioneering the way the energy industry will intersect with blockchain-enabled platforms,” said Steve McDougal, CEO of 3Degrees. “3Degrees is committed to being a credible, trustworthy partner to our customers as they navigate this emerging technology. We believe blockchain offers enormous potential for the energy and environmental commodity markets, the grid edge, electric vehicles, demand response, and beyond. However, it’s critical that we approach this new technology intelligently and with stringent regulation. 3Degrees became an Affiliate of EWF because we align with their approach to the intersection of blockchain and the energy markets.”

Co-founded by Rocky Mountain Institute and Grid Singularity, EWF’s core focus is building an open-source, scalable blockchain platform specifically designed for the energy sector’s regulatory, operational, and market needs. It serves as a foundational, shared, digital infrastructure for the energy and blockchain community to build and run their solutions. As an Affiliate of EWF, 3Degrees will have privileged access to research, technology, education efforts, and the organization’s ecosystem. 

"3Degrees is a leading renewable energy and environmental commodities market player that is committed to operating with transparency and integrity,” said Hervé Touati, CEO of Energy Web Foundation. “Blockchain technology holds much promise across their focus areas, including renewable energy certificates and renewable energy procurement. We’re excited for 3Degrees to add their respected perspective to the evolution of the Energy Web Chain.”

About 3Degrees
3Degrees exists for one simple reason – to make it possible for businesses and their customers to take urgent action on climate change. As a certified B Corporation, we provide renewable energy and emission reduction solutions to global Fortune 500 companies, utilities and other organizations that want to join the fight against climate change. The 3Degrees team has deep expertise in sustainability consulting, environmental markets, renewable energy and carbon project development, and utility renewable energy programs. Together with our customers, 3Degrees helps develop and implement creative solutions that ensure environmental integrity and make good business sense. Headquartered in San Francisco, 3Degrees serves clients around the world. Learn more at 3degreesinc.com.

About Energy Web Foundation
Energy Web Foundation (EWF) is a global nonprofit unleashing blockchain’s potential to accelerate the transition to a decentralized, democratized, decarbonized, and resilient energy system. EWF is building the shared, digital infrastructure—an open-source, scalable blockchain platform—specifically designed for the energy sector’s regulatory, operational, and market needs. Co-founded by Rocky Mountain Institute and Grid Singularity, and with a worldwide network of more than 90 affiliates and growing, EWF is the largest energy blockchain ecosystem and the industry’s leading choice as the foundational blockchain base layer, providing the digital DNA building blocks powering the world’s energy future. For more, visit http://www.energyweb.org.

Pensions & Investments Names OppenheimerFunds a Best Place to Work in Money Management

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 5:43pm

OppenheimerFunds, a leading asset manager, was named a Best Place to Work in Money Management for 2018 by Pensions & Investments. The annual program results are based on a two-part survey of both employees on their workplace experience, as well as firms’ policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics.

Art Steinmetz, Chairman and CEO of OppenheimerFunds commented in the publication’s December awards issue, “We all share responsibility in building our corporate culture and I am proud of the diverse and inclusive thinking that inspires us to do our best work every day.”

OppenheimerFunds’ corporate philanthropy and community initiatives include its 10,000 Kids by 2020 program, which aims to introduce 10,000 students to math literacy programs over the next several years through nonprofit partnerships and active employee volunteerism. In support of this effort, the firm recently announced a $1 million donation to the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). The firm also works closely with the Boys & Girls Club, MATHSWORLDUK and Cross-Cultural Solutions, which provides impactful and sustainable service opportunities and skills based volunteer programs. In addition, employees support a wide range of organizations and causes through the firm’s volunteer time-off program, local and global volunteer opportunities, and matching gift program. In recognition of OppenheimerFunds’ 60th year which begins in 2019, the firm will offer an enhanced match for all employee donations of up to $6,000 made to eligible 501(c)(3) nonprofits during January and February 2019.

“It is an honor to be recognized for the third year in a row as one of the best places to work in asset management,” said Andy Doyle, Chief Human Resources Officer at OppenheimerFunds. “Our firm’s success has been rooted in our employee talent and diverse, inclusive work environment, with a culture built on trust, accountability and giving back in the communities where we live and work.”

As part of its diversity and inclusion efforts, OppenheimerFunds provides employees with the opportunity to connect with the diverse experiences of colleagues by joining Business Resource Groups, which include the Asian Professionals Network, Black Professionals Network, Disabilities Network, Latino Professionals Network, LGBTQ+ Network, Military Network, and Women’s Network. Over the past year, the firm was recognized on Working Mother magazine’s list of 2018 “Best Companies” for working mothers, and as one of the “Best Companies for Dads” and one of the 50 Best Places to Work for New Dads by Fatherly. The firm was also recognized on the Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index and 2018 Disability Equality Index, by Working Mother as one of the Best Companies for Multicultural Women, and as a Diversity Champion in Investment News’ Diversity & Inclusion Awards. The firm was named as one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality in 2018 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

For a complete list of the 2018 Pensions & Investments’ Best Places to Work in Money Management winners, visit www.pionline.com/BPTW2018.

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About the Survey

Pensions & Investments partnered with Best Companies Group, an independent research firm specializing in identifying great places to work, to conduct a two-part survey process of employers and their employees.

The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies.

About OppenheimerFunds

OppenheimerFunds, Inc., a leader in global asset management, is dedicated to providing solutions for its partners and end investors. OppenheimerFunds, including its subsidiaries, manages more than $229 billion in assets for over 13 million shareholder accounts, including sub-accounts, as of November 30, 2018.

Founded in 1959, OppenheimerFunds is an asset manager with a history of providing innovative strategies to its investors. The firm’s 16 investment management teams specialize in equity, fixed income, alternative, multi-asset, and factor and revenue-weighted-ETF strategies, including ESG as a signatory of the UN PRI. OppenheimerFunds and its subsidiaries offer a broad array of products and services to clients, who range from pensions and endowments to financial advisors and individual investors. OppenheimerFunds and certain of its subsidiaries provide advisory services to the Oppenheimer family of funds, and OFI Global Asset Management offers solutions to institutions. The firm is also active through its Philanthropy & Community initiative: 10,000 Kids by 2020, reaching children with introductions to math literacy programs.

Web: oppenheimerfunds.com
Tweets: twitter.com/OppFunds
Podcasts: oppenheimerfunds.com/advisors/podcasts

About Pensions & Investments
Pensions & Investments, owned by Crain Communications Inc., is the 45-year-old global news source of money management. P&I is written for executives at defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans, endowments, foundations and sovereign wealth funds, as well as those at investment management and other investment-related firms. Pensions & Investments provides timely and incisive coverage of events affecting the money management and retirement businesses. Visit us at www.pionline.com

Shares of Oppenheimer funds are not deposits or obligations of any bank, are not guaranteed by any bank, are not insured by the FDIC or any other agency, and involve investment risks, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested.

Before investing in any of the Oppenheimer funds, investors should carefully consider a fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. Fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses contain this and other information about the funds, and may be obtained by asking your financial advisor, visiting oppenheimerfunds.com or calling 1.800.CALL OPP (225.5677). Read prospectuses and summary prospectuses carefully before investing.

Oppenheimer funds are distributed by OppenheimerFunds Distributor, Inc.
225 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281-1008
© 2018 OppenheimerFunds Distributor, Inc. All rights reserved.

Pact Impact Investment Group Inks Two New Corporate Partnerships as FY19 Kicks Off

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 5:43pm

Pact, an international, non-profit development organization, announced today that its newly revamped impact investment group, Pact Ventures, has finalized its second corporate partnership since the start of fiscal year 2019. 

The announcement came after an agreement with Nigeria-based MDaaS Global – a tech-enabled medical diagnostics company, specializing in imaging, cardiac, and laboratory services – to provide modern diagnostics services to Pact’s beneficiaries. 

Brian Vo, Pact’s Vice President for Social Investment and Innovative Financing, noted that the partnership has the potential to be a game-changer for communities impacted by HIV. 

“In Nigeria and other countries where we work, one of our focus areas is on improving maternal, newborn, and child health and stopping the spread of HIV. This partnership, with an impact-oriented, private-sector partner, can help us increase the scale and impact of the work we do in-country by creating access to diagnostic services for our beneficiaries.” 

Vo, who joined Pact earlier this year after careers in finance and management consulting, added that the MdaaS Global agreement is the second in a broader strategy of “tri-sector” partnerships Pact Ventures has pursued, aimed at engaging and leveraging the private sector to magnify the impact of Pact’s core development work. 

Earlier this year, Pact Ventures also made an investment in Amped Innovation, a designer and manufacturer of income-generating solutions and off-grid solar appliances. The investment came on the heels of Pact’s launch of ‘Energy for Prosperity,’ a platform to improve energy access through both donor-funded and private sector initiatives, and Smart Power Myanmar, an initiative to mobilize capital to roll out thousands of mini-grids and other rural electrification solutions in Myanmar. 

“We are leveraging our Amped investment to distribute off-grid solar appliances to beneficiaries in places like Myanmar. In the process, we are shifting the paradigm of Pact’s relationship from donor-beneficiary to provider-customer. Marginalized communities must have a voice in what support they get. In addition to classic development, market-based development solutions give them that voice – they speak through how they spend their resources and where they invest in their communities. Across Pact, we are looking to create similar sustainable market forces to alleviate social need at scale,” said Vo. 

Of their collaboration with Pact Ventures, Amped said, “It has been a pleasure to team up with the Pact Ventures team. They executed a smooth, fast diligence process with minimal burden on our end. Post-investment, they’ve been very proactive and helpful in creating synergies and collaborating on opportunities. Overall, they’ve been a different breed of impact investor and we’re excited to continue working together.” 

For his part, Pact President and CEO Mark Viso welcomed the partnership as another important milestone in Pact’s ongoing transformation into a ‘Fourth Sector’ organization – blurring lines between public, private and social benefit while creating shared prosperity through market solutions. 

“Pact Ventures was set up to help us stay ahead of emerging trends in blended financing and impact investing. Bringing together profiles less commonly seen in a classically USAID-funded development organization, we now have a team with high-performing backgrounds from the likes of McKinsey & Company, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and MBAs from top-tier programs. We’re coupling technical experience in investment banking, private equity, strategy, and social entrepreneurship with our classic approaches to development and policy to better understand the geographies we work in,” said Viso. 

“We’ve brought this suite of expertise in-house to create market mechanisms that can listen and adapt to the voices of our beneficiaries in a way we could never before. Although an unusual pairing, Pact believes this combination of profiles is what is needed to solve complex development challenges, and we’re already seeing the results.” 

“In the coming months, we are focused on three key goals,” said Vo. “We want to identify and invest in promising social enterprises that augment Pact’s core capabilities. We want to explore and test innovative models to deliver impact in new and sustainable ways. Finally, we are looking to build shared-value relationships with private sector partners and invite anyone who is interested in learning more to reach out.” 

# # #

About Pact – Pact is the promise of a better tomorrow for communities challenged by poverty and marginalization. We serve these communities because we envision a world where everyone owns their future. To do this, we build systemic solutions in partnership with local organizations, businesses and governments that create sustainable and resilient communities where those we serve are heard, capable and vibrant. On the ground in nearly 40 countries, Pact’s integrated, adaptive approach is shaping the future of international development. Visit us at www.pactworld.org.

Media Contact: Amgad Naguib, anaguib@pactworld.org

Humana Ranked #1 Health Care Provider for Corporate Responsibility on Forbes and JUST Capital’s JUST 100

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:41am

 Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) has been ranked No. 1 among Health Care Providers for its corporate citizenship, according to Forbes and JUST Capital in their new “JUST 100.” The JUST 100 ranks publicly traded companies in the U.S. based on how they perform against the American public’s definition of just corporate behavior.

Humana ranked No. 1 out of 16 companies in the Health Care Providers category and No. 11 out of 890 companies overall. Humana has topped the Health Care Providers category in the JUST 100 each of the three years Forbes and JUST Capital have produced the rankings.

“At Humana, we’re fortunate to have so many employees who care so much about helping people live healthier lives,” said Bruce Broussard, Humana President and Chief Executive Officer. “This commitment to people’s health is what motivates so much of our work at Humana, and I’m sure it’s the main reason people view our company as a trusted corporate citizen. As we continue to grow the care-delivery part of our business, it means a lot to us to be recognized as America’s most just health care provider.”

The JUST Capital rankings encompass the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., and are based on one of the most comprehensive surveys ever conducted on public attitudes toward corporate behavior – involving 9,000 American respondents in 2018 and more than 81,000 over the past four years.

“Trust in our institutions is more important than ever right now. The JUST 100 recognizes companies that are doing right within society,” said Forbes Chief Content Officer Randall Lane. “The rankings help companies gauge their progress on benchmarks that go far beyond quarterly earnings.”

To create the JUST 100, Forbes asked survey respondents what they want companies to focus on, and how companies should prioritize the following aspects of business behavior: worker treatment, customer treatment, quality of products, environmental impact, community engagement, job creation, management leadership, and shareholder treatment.

The new JUST 100 List will appear in the December issue of Forbes magazine and is currently available online here [will add the URL when it’s live on Monday].

To learn more about Humana’s corporate citizenship efforts, read the company’s 2016-2017 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, which was published in August 2018.

About Humana
Humana Inc. is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience with the goal of making health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s website at humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders

  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings

  • Most recent investor conference presentations

  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls

  • Calendar of events

  • Corporate Governance information.

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Nestlé Waters North America Will Achieve 25 Percent Recycled Plastic in Its Packaging by 2021

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:41am

Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA), one of the leading beverage companies in North America, announced today that it will achieve 25 percent recycled plastic across its U.S. domestic portfolio by 2021. The company plans to continue expanding its use of recycled materials in the coming years, further setting an ambition to reach 50 percent recycled plastic by 2025.

The company is expanding its relationship with key supplier, Plastrec (Joliette, Canada), and working with other suppliers, to support the company’s ability to nearly quadruple its use of food-grade recycled plastic, or rPET, in less than three years. This comes on the heels of Nestlé Waters’ announcement last month about the expansion of its partnership with CarbonLITE, as the rPET supplier builds a third U.S. facility in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

“We want to take the ‘single’ out of ‘single-use’ bottles. Our bottles were never meant to be thrown in the garbage — we carefully design them to be collected, recycled, and repurposed,” says Fernando Mercé, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nestlé Waters North America. “PET plastic is a valuable resource that, if recycled properly, can be used to create new bottles again and again. We’re proving that it can be done by making bottles out of other bottles, not ten years from now, but today.”

In its 2016 report, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found that most plastic packaging is used only once, and that 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material, worth $80-120 billion annually, is lost to the economy. This latest milestone positions Nestlé Waters to play a greater role in addressing the nation’s growing recycling challenges, while unlocking the full economic and environmental benefits of treating plastic as a valuable resource, rather than as a waste product.

Accelerating the market for recycled plastic

In addition to the company’s multi-year supplier agreements, Nestlé Waters continues to make indirect investments in recycling infrastructure in the U.S. through its $6 million investment in the Closed Loop Fund. In municipalities such as Waterbury, Connecticut, the investment fund is supporting enhanced recycling programs with a goal of increasing the current city recycling rate from 6 percent to 25 percent by 2020. Just recently, Closed Loop Fund announced a $1.5 million investment in rPlanet Earth, the world’s first completely vertically integrated manufacturer of post-consumer recycled PET.

Nestlé Waters also supports recycling collection programs through organizations like Keep America Beautiful, including an integrated recycling education and awareness initiative for the 10,000 students affected by the Flint water crisis. The company was also the first beverage company in North America to add How2Recycle information on the labels of its major U.S. brands. These labels include a reminder for consumers to empty the bottle and replace the cap before recycling. 

Through long-term supplier contracts and our commitment to supporting initiatives to improve collection rates, we are helping to stimulate a more robust recycling market, and unlock the potential of a circular economy here in the U.S.,” says Mercé.

Making bottles from other bottles

Earlier this year, as a result of Nestlé Waters’ existing relationship with rPET supplier Plastrec, the company unveiled a new 100 percent rPET Nestlé Pure Life® bottle, the only major nationally distributed bottled water on the market to be made using 100 percent recycled plastic.

In California, Nestlé Waters is leading the industry in its use of recycled plastic: more than 42% of the plastic the company uses across all brands sold in California is made from rPET– more than any other beverage manufacturer in the state. In fact, all single-serve bottles of Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water and Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water produced in California are made with 50 percent recycled plastic.

“The planet has a problem with plastic pollution. If plastic is going to survive as a packaging material it must demonstrate closed-loop capability,” said Mark Murray, executive director of the environmental group Californians Against Waste. “Nestlé Waters has embraced this responsibility by accelerating their use of recycled content over the next 3 years and their commitment to reach 50 percent by 2025. Nestlé Waters is setting the example that the rest of the beverage industry must embrace.”

Global commitment to develop a circular economy for plastics

This latest milestone is part of parent company Nestlé SA’s broader ambition to develop a circular economy for plastics, and to prevent packaging from ending up as litter. The global company recently announced that it has signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to work collectively on solutions that address the root causes of plastics waste and pollution. Nestlé Waters North America’s packaging, which is predominantly made using PET plastic, is already 100 recyclable, and the company views its push toward using more recycled materials to be its next phase in making its packaging more sustainable and addressing the issue of plastic waste.

For more information about Nestlé Waters North America’s sustainability efforts, visit https://www.Nestlé-watersna.com/en/planet.

About Nestlé Waters North America

Nestlé Waters North America offers an unrivaled portfolio of bottled waters for healthy hydration, including Poland Spring®, Nestlé® Pure Life®, Perrier®, and S. Pellegrino®. The company also owns and operates ReadyRefreshSM by Nestlé®, a customizable water and beverage delivery service. Just Click and QuenchSM.

Based in Stamford, Connecticut with some 8,500 associates, we are committed to reducing our environmental footprint across our operations. As a natural resource company, we sustainably manage 47 spring sources and conserve nearly 21,000 acres of natural watershed area. We are also committed to creating shared value and being a good neighbor in the 140 communities where we operate in the U.S. For more information, visit us at www.Nestlé-watersna.com/en and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: @NestléWatersNA.

Global Compact Network Canada Appointed New Head of Secretariat

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:41am

The Global Compact Network Canada is pleased to announce the appointment of Ayman Chowdhury as the Head of Secretariat.

Ayman has been serving the Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) as a Senior Sustainability Consultant and has worked with the GCNC in different capacities since 2016. He has played a key role in improving GCNC’s value offerings and strengthening its brand image over the last couple of years.

“We are very pleased to appoint Ayman as the new Head of Secretariat of the GCNC,” said Jonathan Drimmer, Chair of the GCNC’s board of directors. “Ayman’s experience, business understanding, and passion for corporate sustainability management will build on the success that Helle Bank Jorgensen has helped the GCNC to achieve.” He further added, “Helle has done an outstanding job of spearheading this organization since 2013, and we look forward to her continued engagement as a Senior Advisor.”

On Ayman’s appointment, Helle said: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ayman for the last two and half years in different capacities, and I am confident that he is the right person for taking GCNC forward. He has the leadership skills and dedication to help the organization move to the next level. GCNC plays a pioneering role in Canada in advancing the SDGs and the sustainability agenda. I believe with the support of our many network members; he will be able to leave an astounding mark to GCNC’s success story.”

Following his appointment as Head of Secretariat, Ayman said, “I am honoured to accept the position of Head of Secretariat of the Global Compact Network Canada. I got into this field to contribute to the sustainable growth of the Canadian private sector. I am excited to lead a fantastic team, which goes an extra mile every day to offer the best value to the GCNC members.” He added, “It is not going to be an easy task to fill the shoes of my great mentor, Helle Bank Jorgensen. I am glad that we will have her continued guidance and support as a Senior Advisor. I am confident that with UNGC’s rich resources and platform for collaboration, and with the support of our members, we will be able to make significant strides towards sustainability and the SDGs.”

About the Global Compact Network Canada

The Global Compact Network Canada (GCNC) is the Canadian Network of the United Nations Global Compact - the world's largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. The GCNC is spearheading the 10 Principles of the UN Global Compact and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In doing so, it unifies and builds the capacity of the Canadian private sector to embrace sustainable business practices by convening and accelerating opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration. www.globalcompact.ca

New Research Highlights Promising New Interventions to Scale Minority-Owned Businesses

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 5:37pm

Today, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), and the University of Washington Foster School of Business’ Consulting and Business Development Center, with support from JPMorgan Chase, released a new report that affirms the approach of Ascend 2020, a promising new initiative to reduce barriers to capital and address gaps in support, and identifies the strategies needed to help entrepreneurs of color overcome the unique challenges they face stemming from structural biases in entrepreneurial ecosystems.

The report, Helping Entrepreneurs of Color Grow their Business, identifies disparities in business performance at a national level that indicate that entrepreneurs of color are not getting the support they need to grow their businesses. Minority-owned firms in the U.S. earn just 48 percent of the revenue of nonminority-owned firms.

Findings from the report also include insights into the early impact of JPMorgan Chase’s Ascend 2020 initiative as one model for supporting entrepreneurs of color. In its first year, Ascend 2020 helped entrepreneurs of color secure $2.9 million in loans and raise $2.2 million in equity, while small business owners reported the program’s education and mentorship services expanded their financial management skills (38%) and strengthened their understanding of their target markets (38%).

The report draws on earlier studies which have established that entrepreneurs—regardless of race or ethnicity—need three fundamentals to grow their business: management education, access to money (sufficient financial capital), and access to markets to sell their products and services. 

“Our research provides further evidence that entrepreneurs of color face structural biases in accessing all ‘Three Ms’,” says Kim Zeuli, Senior Fellow, ICIC. “More needs to be done to fill gaps in support, particularly for businesses in high-growth sectors which offer the greatest opportunity for wealth building.”

Developed by the University of Washington Foster School of Business’ Consulting and Business Development Center and launched in 2017, Ascend 2020 supports collaborative partnerships of local organizations adopting the Three M framework for supporting entrepreneurs of color. Ascend 2020 is currently operating in six markets (Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.), and plans to expand to additional cities.

“It’s not enough to consider issues related to money, markets, and management education in isolation—by addressing all three simultaneously, we are making accessible to entrepreneurs of color all of the resources they need to grow their business,” said Michael Verchot, Director of the Foster School of Business Consulting and Business Development Center at the University of Washington.

JPMorgan Chase is investing in Ascend 2020 as part of its $150 million Small Business Forward initiative to support women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses. 

“Ascend 2020 is a critical piece of our strategy at a national level to create more pathways to success for underrepresented entrepreneurs,” said Ted Archer, Head of Small Business Forward, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “With its focus on partnerships at the local level, there is great opportunity for Ascend 2020 to move the needle in terms of expanding access to capital, building capacity and creating more inclusive, accessible entrepreneurial ecosystems.” 

The report’s findings were informed by analysis of public and proprietary data sources, including data from inner city businesses tracked by ICIC and data ICIC collected from businesses participating in the first year of Ascend 2020. Policy insights from the report include:

  • Providing targeted support for larger, minority-owned businesses (not just small, early-stage businesses) is critical to maximize job creation and wealth building.

  • Capital access, especially to growth capital, may be the largest barrier facing entrepreneurs of color.

  • Expanding anchor and government contracting opportunities is critical for entrepreneurs of color, especially those in high-growth sectors.

  • Industry-specific incubators and accelerators need to make intentional efforts to be more inclusive of entrepreneurs of color and more of those focused on entrepreneurs of color should consider targeting a single industry.

The full report can be found online at http://icic.org. 

About the University of Washington Foster School of Business Consulting and Business Development Center
The Consulting and Business Development Center accelerates student careers and grows businesses and jobs in communities where they are needed the most. Through the center’s programs, students build skills and gain experience in consulting and solving business challenges while business owners gain access to business education that creates jobs and changes lives. Combining academic rigor with business relevance our student consulting and business education programs produce bottom-line results for minority-, women-, LGBTQ-and other “diverse”-owned businesses and businesses in lower income communities. Founded in 1995, the Center has generated more than $200 million in new revenue and created and retained 200,000 jobs. 

About JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.

About the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City
ICIC is a national, nonprofit research and advisory organization founded in 1994. Its mission is to drive economic prosperity in America’s inner cities through private sector investment.

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Helping Entrepreneurs of Color Grow their Business

2018 International Women's Day Forum

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 5:37pm

Our eighth annual International Women's Day Forum, Partner With Purpose: Business for Gender Equality, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the U.S. Department of State, will gather the business community, civil society, and government representatives to advance women’s and girls’ empowerment around the globe.

Achieving full gender equality means overcoming a host of complex issues, including many institutional and societal barriers that prevent progress. Tackling these challenges will require creativity and innovation from across sectors.

This year’s forum will focus on how private and public stakeholders can combine their resources, skills, and expertise for greater sustainability and impact. Equality is in reach, but will only be realized through collaboration.

Join more than 300 stakeholders March 6-7, 2018 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC and share how you’re working to achieve gender equality in the workplace, marketplace, and community.

This year's annual International Women's Day Forum topics will include:

• Workforce and Skills Development

• Leadership, Diversity, and Inclusion

• Entrepreneurship and Value Chain

• STEM

• Women in Tech

• The Digital Divide

• Financial Inclusion and Access to Capital

• Women’s Health

• Girls’ Education

• The Care Economy

• Gender-Based Violence

• Gender Data

• Building Capacity of Displaced Girls and Women

• And more!

Learn more and register with early bird pricing between now and February 2!

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NHBSR 2018 Sustainability Slam