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With 5G Around the Bend, Black & Veatch e-Book Presses: Start Planning Now

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 2:22pm

As tech shorthand for fifth-generation cellular wireless, 5G is on the horizon and promises unprecedented speeds and capabilities that could transform the way we live, work and play. But 5G also presents considerable complexities in technology deployment and how stakeholders should get ready to benefit from 5G digitalization.

Black & Veatch cuts through that clutter. The global leader in telecom announces the release of a visually explanatory, free electronic book that explores the evolution of 5G and its significance to carriers, utilities, industries, fleet managers and municipalities. “5G: A New Digital Dawn,” – the company’s latest e-Book – looks at the technical aspects and the applications of the high-speed communications platform, ultimately pressing stakeholders to start preparing now.

With rollouts starting this year, 5G networks are the latest iteration of mobile capabilities, offering groundbreaking connectivity, ultra-fast data-moving speeds and real-time responsiveness because of lower latency. With 5G, the full evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) is possible, and the applications are boundless. The eBook illustrates how 5G will accelerate connected transportation, enhance telemedicine, automate electric grids, and integrate public safety systems for coordinated emergency response. For cities and industries, 5G may stoke new services and efficiencies that build wealth and deliver vital services.

Supported by existing 4G networks, which are straining to meet capacity demands, 5G is seen as the upgrade critical to enable “faster delivery of data and instantaneous connectivity to sites and devices,” propelling digitalization across industries. But time is of the essence because infrastructure transformations are multi-faceted, capital-intensive efforts that require careful coordination and have long lead times for engineering, permitting and construction.

Think of deploying 5G as clicking thousands of LEGO pieces into place, knowing that doing so will take time and good planning.

“With the right guidance and the understanding that all-hands-on-deck collaboration is key, making the migration to 5G doesn’t have to be intimidating. The rewards can be profound,” said John Janchar, president of the telecommunications business at Black & Veatch.

With 5G on the cusp of reality, it’s time for carriers, utilities, industries, fleet managers and municipalities to get ready for the “next gig thing.” Although adapting to 5G may appear overwhelming to many stakeholders, the eBook outlines a few well-planned strategic actions for each stakeholder to get started. Broadly, all stakeholders are urged to get ready for data, identify the 5G capabilities needed for their future states, rethink their policies and procedures regarding technology protocols, and hire enough staff to support new systems and capabilities, including data management.

Editor’s Note:

About Black & Veatch 
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering, construction, operations and program management. Our revenues in 2017 were US$3.4 billion. Follow us on www.bv.com and in social media.

Media Contact Information:
JIM SUHR | +1 913-458-6995 P | +1 314-422-6927 M | SuhrJ@bv.com
24-HOUR MEDIA HOTLINE | +1 866-496-9149

Stock Market Reactions to Long-Term Plans Measured for First Time

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 2:22pm

Institutional investors act when they hear how companies will create value over the long-term. In a new study, The Economic Significance of Long-Term Plans published by KKS Advisors and CECP’s Strategic Investors Initiative (SII), an abnormal change in market returns and an increase in trade volume is observed after that company’s CEO presented a long-term plan to institutional investors. This is the first time the reaction to a CEO-presented long-term plan has been quantified and is early evidence that the audience of institutional investors find the information in these presentations decision-relevant.

“This research answers the question ‘If a CEO presents a long-term plan, do investors care?’, said George Serafeim, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, co-founder of KKS Advisors, and a co-author of the study. “The evidence from this research demonstrates that investors value the information in these plans, giving CEOs further incentive to create and disclose high-quality long-term plans. This will help mobilize capital markets and reorient them for the long-term.”

The study examined 21 plans presented by CEOs at CEO Investor Forums, scored the CEO presentations against 22 measures of content and quality, and examined the market’s reactions over a three- to five-day window after the plans were presented. For both stock prices and trading volumes, the delivery of long-term plans is associated with abnormal market returns of 1.83% and share turnover (volume) of 7.6%. Companies whose senior leaders communicated plans with higher-quality information are linked to larger capital market reactions. The data did not show significant difference in analyst revisions of their forecasts, which the authors note is consistent with sell-side analysts being primarily focused on short-term financial results.

“CECP launched the Strategic Investor Initiative because investors said CEOs are too short-term oriented and 86% of CEOs agreed,” said Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP: The CEO Force for Good. “They wanted a platform to reach long-term investors. For CEOs who want to attract investors versus merely traders, CECP now has a proven platform to tell their long-term story.”

The presentations included in the study were delivered at SII’s CEO Investor Forums, which provides a platform for CEOs to tell their authentic long-term value story to long-term institutional investors. In addition to the 9 themes in the study, successful long-term plans also draw from the 7 question in the Strategic Investor Initiative’s Investor Letter to CEOs signed by Vanguard and other leading institutional investors. More than 30 CEOs and senior leaders have delivered or committed to deliver their company’s long-term plans at the Forums.  Together these CEOs represent more than $2 trillion in market capitalization. The in-person audience for these presentations include institutional investors that represent more than $25 trillion in assets under management, as well as thousands who view the presentations live online.

According to the authors of the report, to deliver a high-quality long-term plan, CEOs should touch upon the 22 topics summarized in 9 themes: Financial performance, Capital Allocations, Trends, Competitive positioning, Risk and opportunities, Corporate governance, Corporate purpose, Human capital, and Long-term value creation. Plans that detailed forward-looking metrics on these subjects were rated higher than plans that disclosed backward-looking data or were limited to boilerplate language.  

“The nine themes developed in this white paper offer a framework for CEOs to use in developing their long-term plans,” said Brian Tomlinson, Research Director, Strategic Investor Initiative, CECP. “The CEOs who have led the charge at our CEO Investor Forums have created a robust portfolio of long-term plan presentations. This research project provides a user-friendly guide to enable more CEOs to develop and present decision-relevant long-term plans.” Tomlinson co-authored the report along with Serafeim and the KKS Advisors team that included Sakis Kotsantonis, Managing Partner; Christina Rehnberg, Associate Consultant; and Bronagh Ward, Senior Associate Consultant.

The next CEO Investor Forum will take place on February 25, 2019 at the Park Hyatt in New York City and will feature long-term plan presentations from Steve Collis, CEO AmerisourceBergen; Robin Hayes, CEO, JetBlue; Mark Schneider, CEO, Nestlé; and Peter Van Camp, Executive Chairman of Equinix. Early access pricing of $595 is available until December 31, 2018, and the $795 full-price tickets are available until the event reaches capacity. Investors are encouraged to register in advance by clicking here or referring to SII’s site: cecp.co/SII

The Economic Significance of Long-Term Plans report is available for free on KKS Advisor’s website https://www.kksadvisors.com/publications/ and on SII’s website cecp.co/SII 

ABOUT CECP: THE CEO FORCE FOR GOOD

CECP is a CEO-led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy — how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, investors, and customers —determines company success.  Founded in 1999 by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman and other business leaders to create a better world through business, CECP has grown to a movement of more than 200 of the world’s largest companies that represent $11.3 trillion in revenues, $23.8 billion in societal investment, 17.4 million employees, and $15 trillion in assets under management. CECP helps companies transform their social strategy by providing customized connections and networking, counsel and support, benchmarking and trends, and awareness building and recognition.  

ABOUT THE STRATEGIC INVESTOR INITIATIVE

The Strategic Investor Initiative (SII) is a coalition of leading companies and investors committed to re-orienting capital markets toward the long-term. SII convenes CEO-Investor Forums to provide a venue for CEOs to share their long-term strategic plans with audiences of long-term investors. Through leading research, SII assists companies in developing and communicating long-term plans that help inform the decisions of institutional investors.

 ABOUT KKS ADVISORS

At KKS, we advise leading organizations on bold and effective strategies that pave the way to a sustainable society. Formed with the vision to reshape markets, we enable clients to create long-term value through the integrated management of environmental, social and governance factors. Applying our unique, research-backed approach, we work with corporations, foundations, NGOs and investors on sustainable strategies that deliver lasting impact. For more information, visit www.kksadvisors.com  

CONTACT
Sara Adams
+1 (212) 825-1252
sadams@cecp.co
CECP
Christina Rehnberg
+44 747332339
christina.rehnberg@kksadvisors.com
KKS Advisors

Solight Design Receives USPTO’s Patents for Humanity Award

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 5:21pm

USPTO honors the Patents for Humanity Awards recipients in five categories representing innovations pressing global needs for medicine, nutrition, sanitation, energy, and living standards, at their awards ceremony.

“Each of these recipients showcases the power of innovation to help the less fortunate around the globe,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu. “By recognizing and honoring these innovators whose creativity and curiosity dared them to solve some of the toughest humanitarian challenges, we hope this program will continue to inspire countless more to follow in their footsteps.”

Solight Design was honored at the Awards Ceremony for their SolarPUFF™, a clean energy, portable, flat-pack, solar lantern. “Since the launch of the original SolarPuff in 2015, Solight Design has impacted over 600,000 lives around the world with their Solights, bringing light to those without electricity” said SolarPUFF™ inventor and Solight Design CEO, Alice Chun. Working with NGOs, Solight Design has sent their lights to Puerto Rico, Haiti, Nepal, Cambodia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Ghana, Dominica, Greece, Senegal, and most recently to families devastated in Indonesia from the earthquake/tsunami. 

“Our company was founded with a social mission to give light to those who need it most. Our NGO partner, Operation Blessing, has already sent 3000 of our Solights to help the families in Indonesia who have been devastated by the recent earthquakes and tsunami. We want to help even more…”— Solight Design is currently running an Indiegogo Campaign for their latest innovation, the QWNN and with every order, will be donating an additional light to send to Indonesia. 

About The QWNN
The QWNN is the latest innovation from Solight Design, an origami-inspired, portable solar lantern with a power bank. By using the limitless power of the sun, The QWNN offers clean, sustainable energy that can change the way people light and power their world.

The QWNN’s unique and versatile design allows for the light to be used in various stages of expansion between its ¾-inch flatpack, one-quarter standing, crown at half-position and full dome 360-degree expansion. The QWNN is lightweight, waterproof, and its military grade PVC-free sailcloth material is UV coated, and engineered to withstand rigorous outdoor conditions. It also comes with two heavy-duty elastic handles and built-in magnets, allowing for easy hanging.

With six light modes, the QWNN’s 28 bright LEDs provide up to 320 lumens and 48 hours of continuous light. The built-in rechargeable 4000 mAh power bank keeps users connected on or off the grid, and can be fully re-charged in eight hours of sunlight or directly charged via its micro-USB port in three hours. 

About Solight Design
Solight Design, sells and distributes solar-powered innovation for lighting and personal power device products around the world. Their products are designed using origami principles to deliver lightweight, pack-flat, sustainable, unique solar lights and power devices. Solight products are engineered with recyclable materials to create the most durable and zero carbon products on the market. For more information about Solight Design, visit https://solight-design.com/ or visit their Indiegogo campaign, https://igg.me/at/Solight-QWNN.

Media Contacts:
Billy D. Choi | Director of Marketing / PR
billy@solight-design.com | solight-design.com | 800 601-6150

Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas Supports Diverse Projects: From Caribou Conservation in Canada to Green Infrastructure in US Cities

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 5:21pm

On October 31, 2018, the Board of Directors of the Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas (MCFA) approved new grants to a wide range of projects, including a new multi-year grant to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) to support First Nations-led Caribou conservation in British Columbia, Canada; and a new grant to CDP to enhance its Matchmaker platform, which promotes the implementation of climate resilient infrastructure projects in cities throughout the US.

The Board of MCFA also approved renewed funding to the Rainforest Alliance, to continue supporting access to finance to strengthen sustainable livelihoods and sustainable forest management in Peru; to Fair Trade USA, to continue improving labor conditions and environmental protections for farmworkers in North America; to NatureServe, for further development of a web-based portal to strengthen collaborative biodiversity conservation in the Gulf of Mexico; to Mitacs, for its Indigenous Community Engagement efforts, to support a newly developed Resource Management Tool for First Nations to help document their traditional use when responding to resource development proposals in Canada; and to Pronatura Noroeste to continue its efforts to promote shorebird conservation through community education and outreach in Baja California.

MCFA’s Board also ratified continuing grants to  the Wildlife Conservation Society in support of the Amazon Waters Initiative, which seeks to maintain the integrity of the world’s greatest and most diverse freshwater system by promoting the model of Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) in key watersheds in Brazil and Peru; to Conservation International for its work engaging urban stakeholders in watershed conservation in Bogota, Colombia; to Equitable Origin for its work in Mexico improving local capacity for assessing social impacts of energy development; and to the Pembina Foundation to promote deep energy retrofits for social housing in Canada.  

MCFA’s mission encompasses biodiversity conservation, environmental education, environmental justice and sustainable development, and it is but one of several means through which Mitsubishi Corporation is proactively working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas, based in New York City, was established 1991 with funding from Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, and its U.S.-based subsidiary, Mitsubishi International Corporation. MCFA is currently supported by Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas).  Since its establishment, MCFA has dedicated over $11 million to environmental causes throughout the Americas.

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) develops and operates businesses across virtually every industry, including industrial finance, energy, metals, machinery, chemicals, and daily living essentials. MC's current activities have expanded far beyond its traditional trading operations to include investments and business management in diverse fields including natural resources development, manufacturing of industrial goods, retail, new energy, infrastructure, finance and new technology-related businesses. With over 200 offices and subsidiaries in some 90 countries and regions worldwide and a network of approximately 1,300 group companies, MC employs a multinational workforce of over 70,000 people. MC provides philanthropic contributions through a variety of channels, including donations to the MCFA and its sister charity the Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa (MCFEA).

IDEA Public Schools “Flips the Switch” to Go Solar With Green Mountain Energy Sun Club

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 5:21pm

 IDEA Public Schools’ headquarters in Weslaco is one step closer to becoming the first self-sustaining building in South Texas, thanks in part to a $100,000 donation from the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club.

Weslaco Mayor David Suarez, community leaders, teachers and students came together to officially “flip the switch” on a new 1,072-panel, 364-kilowatt rooftop solar array that will harness the power of the sun to provide the educational facility with electricity. As one of the largest solar systems in the Rio Grande Valley, it will offset 861,898 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of 789 households turning off their lights for a year or not driving 1,064,204 miles.

“Our mission is to support organizations like IDEA Public Schools that share in our commitment to conservation and environmental education,” said Mark Parsons, president of Green Mountain Energy Sun Club. “Not only will IDEA’s headquarters be energized with solar power, but students will also have the ability to learn how alternative energy sources can help our communities achieve long-term sustainability.”

The solar array further establishes IDEA as a leader in sustainability, and with the inclusion of edible gardens, power generation and innovative waste solutions, the headquarters and future IDEA projects will aim to achieve net-zero energy status.

“The generous donation from Green Mountain Energy Sun Club will benefit our students, organization and the environment for years to come,” said Tom Torkleson, chief executive officer of IDEA Public Schools. “The savings in energy costs each year will allow our team to serve even more students across the region on their road to and through college.”

This partnership furthers Green Mountain Energy Sun Club’s support across the Rio Grande Valley area. The organization has also installed solar arrays at the National Butterfly Center™ in Mission, Texas as well as the Valley Nature Center in Weslaco. The Sun Club is a unique program that enables Green Mountain Energy Company’s residential customers, including many in the Rio Grande Valley, to support projects and nonprofits promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship in their communities.

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About IDEA Public Schools

Since 2000, IDEA Public Schools has grown from a small school with 150 students to the fastest-growing family of tuition-free, Pre-K-12 public charter schools in the United States. IDEA serves nearly 26,000 students at 39 schools across the Rio Grande Valley, continues to rank among the best charter schools in the state and nation, and is on track to maintain its legacy of sending 100% of its graduates to college. More than 2,400 IDEA alumni are currently attending, or have graduated from, 150 colleges and universities across the country. To learn more or apply, visit www.ideapublicschools.org.

 

About Green Mountain Energy Sun Club

Since its founding in 2002, the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club has donated more than $4 million to solar and sustainability projects focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource conservation in numerous communities in Texas and also in the Northeast. Contributions to the Sun Club® come from Green Mountain Energy Company’s residential customers in Texas, as well as from Green Mountain, its employees and other Sun Club supporters. Green Mountain’s customers are vital to the Sun Club mission of supporting local nonprofit organizations through solar and sustainability projects. To learn more about the Sun Club and to apply for a sustainability grant, please visit www.gmsunclub.org.

Discovery Education Joins Forces with ‘Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse’ to Premiere First-Ever Movie Studio Inspired Virtual Field Trip Experience Launching Students Nationwide into an Immersive STEM and Literacy Journey

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 11:20am

 Sony Pictures Entertainment and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, today announced Discover the Spider-Verse  – an action-packed, STEM and literacy Virtual Field Trip experience, created to offer middle and high school students nationwide a sneak peek of the science, technology, engineering and math found in the new Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse movie. Premiering as the first-ever movie studio inspired Virtual Field Trip experience on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PTDiscover the Spider-Verse will spotlight how Discovery Education’s 4Cs STEM skills framework – collaboration, communication, creativity and critical-thinking – are vital components of filmmaking. Students will transcend the walls of their classrooms, to blast into a multiverse with the creators of the new film, while learning important lessons from the Spider-Verse. Educators, parents and school communities are invited to register for the event at DiscoverTheSpiderverse.com. Participants are also encouraged to join a LIVE Discover the Spider-Verse Twitter chat @DiscoveryEd and @SpiderVerse during the Virtual Field Trip using #DiscoverTheSpiderverse.

“‘Discover the Spider-Verse’ Virtual Field Trip will empower students everywhere with an opportunity to peek behind the curtain and experience the magic of how science, art, animation, math and technology work together to drive innovation in film," said Lori McFarling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Discovery Education. "Discovery Education is proud to collaborate with Sony Pictures Entertainment to spotlight how students are learning in the classroom and how STEM powers their everyday lives in unimaginable ways."

Discover the Spider-Verse invites participants to join MythBusters' Tory Belleci as he guides students through the Virtual Field Trip to meet writer and producer Phil Lord, and producer Christopher Miller, along with directors, animators and designers to explore the art, science and real-world inspiration used to develop the film. Across the country, students will be inspired to embrace the superhero within, as stars from the new Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse movie – including Shameik Moore (Miles Morales), Jake Johnson (Peter B. Parker) and Hailee Steinfeld (Gwen Stacy),  remind them that "anyone can wear the mask." 

The Discover the Spider-Verse Virtual Field Trip will offer a unique experience that leverages immersive content from the new Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse movie, including: STEM and literacy classroom guides, and a family viewing guide, to give young learners an opportunity to engage in applied STEM and literacy learning. The STEM guide will invite students to connect scientific concepts presented in the film to their own lives. The literacy guide will examine characters in the film, and how a variety of backgrounds and perspectives can influence decision-making. As well, Discover the Spider-Verse family activities will extend learning and key messages from the film to facilitate a dialogue beyond the classroom walls.

“As an educator, I am always seeking new ways to bring STEM into the classroom, and Discovery Education and Sony Pictures Entertainment together have created new science, technology, engineering and math skill-building opportunities for my students,” said Brandon Wislocki, Irvine Unified School District educator from Irvine, California. “‘Discover the Spider-Verse’ will give my students a cutting-edge, virtually immersive, STEM-experience that will also prove to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to take them on this journey.”

To sign up for the Virtual Field Trip experience and to access Discover the Spider-Verse free resources, visit DiscovertheSpiderverse.com. For more information about Discovery Education’s digital content and professional development services, visit www.discoveryeducation.com. Stay connected with Discovery Education on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest @DiscoveryEd.

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About Spider-ManTM: Into the Spider-Verse:
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, bring their unique sensibilities to a fresh version of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind.  Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where  anyone can wear the mask.

Columbia Pictures presents in association with Marvel an Avi Arad/Lord Miller/Pascal Pictures production a Sony Pictures Animation film, Spider-ManTM: Into the Spider-Verse. Featuring the voices of Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Lily Tomlin, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, with Nicolas Cage and Liev Schreiber. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman, the screenplay is by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman from a story by Phil Lord based on the Marvel Comics. The film is produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Christina Steinberg. Stan Lee, Brian Michael Bendis and Will Allegra serve as executive producers.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment:
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html.

About Sony Pictures Animation:
Sony Pictures Animation produces a variety of animated and family entertainment for audiences around the world, including comedy hit franchises such as The SmurfsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Hotel Transylvania. The division's most recent theatrical blockbuster, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, is now available on Digital HD and on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack & DVD. Next for Sony Pictures Animation are the groundbreaking animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse from the minds of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller in December 2018; the original feature comedy The Mitchells Vs. The Machines in January 2020; and the animated musical Vivo, featuring original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, in November 2020. Sony Pictures Animation, which was founded in 2002, is a division of the Sony Pictures Motion Pictures Group.

About Discovery Education:
As the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12 classrooms worldwide, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional learning, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are available in approximately half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries around the globe. Inspired by the global media company Discovery, Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Explore the future of education at DiscoveryEducation.com.

Airbnb Abandons CSR Values By Acquiescing to Anti-Israel BDS Campaign

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 11:20am

Airbnb executives acquiesced last week to pressure from the BDS (“Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions”) campaign by removing roughly 200 Jewish rental listings in the West Bank. While hundreds of companies are pressured by BDS activists, and some European companies have acquiesced and cut ties to Israel, this is the first time a US company has caved publicly to BDS pressure. Background information is essential to understanding the consequences of this misguided move, and to provide context for CSR professionals as they increasingly face pressure from the BDS campaign.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex and two-sided

The extremely complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict involves centuries of history, global geo-political alliances, heart-wrenching atrocities, and compelling narratives from a range of perspectives. Any effort to frame the conflict in simplistic black and white terms, where one side is right and the other side is wrong, is at best ignorant and at worst politically biased and immoral.

Israel has been the homeland of the Jewish people for over 2,500 years. In 1947, the United Nations voted to partition the land into two states for two peoples: Israel and Palestine. While Jewish leaders accepted the UN partition and built the modern state of Israel, Arab leaders rejected the plan and instead supported the Arab League boycott to prevent the creation of a Jewish state in the region. War and conflict have persisted ever since. Despite the intractable conflict, many Jews and Arabs (Israelis and Palestinians) recognize that their futures are entwined, and that seeking peace and coexistence is the best path forward.

The BDS campaign does not promote coexistence and peace

The BDS campaign was launched by a handful of NGOs in 2001 and later adopted by a group of Palestinian civil society organizations. The ultimate goal of the BDS campaign is the elimination of the Jewish state, not peaceful coexistence for two peoples. Omar Barghouti, a BDS founder, has said “We oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

The economic warfare tactics of the campaign include boycotts (i.e. consumer, academic, entertainment, sports), divestment by investors and corporations, and government sanctions in an effort to cripple Israel’s economy. The campaign explicitly seeks to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa. This analogy, like many other aspects of the BDS campaign, does not hold up under scrutiny. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a two-sided conflict where both sides have important claims and grievances. For this reason, BDS will never be effective and will only entrench the conflict. Most leaders in the US and around the world oppose BDS and consider it a discriminatory anti-Semitic movement.

Economic development lays the groundwork for peace

There are many inspiring examples of coexistence, but they are excluded from BDS materials. BDS activists reject any economic development or other interaction with Israel by individuals, organizations, and companies. Yet divestment from a conflict region in an attempt to punish one of the actors only leads to further economic instability, rather than help lay an economic groundwork for peace. It is tragic that the BDS campaign has framed the choice as either one of divestment or of violating human rights. The truly responsible choice for companies is to lay the economic groundwork for peace through sensitive and thoughtful impact investment and economic development in conflict regions.

Cisco is an interesting case study of a company that invested heavily in the Palestinian tech sector only to receive BDS pressure including multiple anti-Israel shareholder resolutions in recent years. The BDS campaign claims to be concerned with Palestinian rights, but aggressively undermines the development of the Palestinian economy, job creation, and coexistence with Jewish neighbors.

Consequences of Airbnb decision to acquiesce to BDS pressure

Airbnb’s statement on their decision is flawed. They admit they are “not the experts when it comes to the historical disputes in this region” and they spoke with “various experts” without listing those experts by name. They describe settlements as “the core of the dispute,” but while settlements are one of many issues to be resolved, the conflict existed long before the settlements were established. The decision is discriminatory as the company only de-listed properties in the West Bank that are Jewish-owned. Airbnb did not de-list Palestinian-owned properties despite the two-sided nature of the conflict, nor has Airbnb de-listed properties in any other conflict area or disputed territory in the world despite the broad nature of its newly announced policy.

Companies need to understand the financial and reputational implications of succumbing to BDS. From a revenue standpoint, the small number of Jewish listings located in the West Bank are a miniscule percentage of the company’s overall revenue. But from a reputation standpoint this choice has already proved a disaster as Airbnb traded one controversy for a much larger one.

Airbnb now faces multiple legal actions; it has quickly become embroiled in controversy in the many US states where it is illegal to support BDS; some city and municipal governments have already issued calls to boycott Airbnb for their decision; and the company has received significant negative press. Other vacation rental companies including Booking.com, under similar pressure by BDS, have refused to acquiesce.

Corporate Social Responsibility field should be wary of the BDS campaign

The CSR field has evolved significantly in recent years, buoyed by the growth in socially responsible investing and the importance of ethical business for investors, consumers and employees. In the 1980s, divestment/avoidance was the only option a company had when faced with a social challenge. Nowadays, business and investment capital has truly become a force for good, and corporate executives embrace policies that use corporate power to address social and environmental concerns.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a legitimate social concern. But BDS tactics only serve to further stoke the conflict. Rather than using business to lay the economic foundation for peace and coexistence, BDS promotes discrimination, attack campaigns, and threats. CSR executives must guard against being manipulated by a political agenda and instead seek to use the power of their company to advance progress and positive impact for people and planet. 

Guidance for CSR Executives:

  1. Understand how the BDS campaign co-opts the values of corporate social responsibility for a political agenda. The BDS campaign frequently couches its claims in benign-sounding human rights language to obscure the politicized nature of its ambitions.

  2. Verify the facts and research you are provided, not just from the BDS campaign, but for all campaigns that attempt to influence corporate behavior. Understandably this has become increasingly challenging as the number of campaigns has increased dramatically, and the expertise required to assess a campaign is not easy to acquire. But it is a vital step.

  3. Collect complete information before you make a decision in order to not trade one controversy for another. Speak with a variety of experts, all of whom should be willing to publicly disclose that you spoke with them. It has been speculated that Airbnb rushed to a decision after Human Rights Watch threatened to release a negative report.

  4. Contact JLens. Our organization serves as a bridge between the Jewish community and the SRI/CSR movements. We engage with over 300 public companies owned in our Jewish Advocacy Strategy on a range of issues related to Jewish social and environmental values. We work collaboratively with CSR professionals and admire the critically important role they have inside corporations, and we don’t want to see another company fall victim to the discriminatory BDS campaign.

As socially responsible investors we share the same belief as CSR professionals: that business and investment capital can be a force for good. We all have worked too hard to gain credibility and influence for the SRI/CSR arena to be manipulated by biased campaigns with ulterior political motives.

Related LINKS

www.jlensnetwork.org

DICK’S Sporting Goods and the DICK'S Sporting Goods Foundation “Give the Gift of Sport” This Holiday Season With More Than $6 Million Going to Support Youth Sports Teams

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 11:20am

Today on Giving Tuesday, DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, announced a $6 million commitment to support youth sports teams in need. Since 2014, DICK’S and the DICK’S Foundation have committed over $55 million and have supported more than one million young athletes through its Sports Matter initiative. Additionally, Sports Matter raises awareness for the youth sports funding crisis as the fight to save youth sports continues across the U.S.

As part of this announcement, The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation has renewed its existing partnership with DonorsChoose.org by pledging $5 million over the next three years to fund sports programs in public schools across the U.S.

“At DICK’S, we believe that sports matter and it’s our Foundation’s goal to ensure that all kids have the chance to play,” said Lauren Hobart, President of DICK’S Sporting Goods and The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation. “Sports provide the opportunity for kids to learn lifelong lessons like teamwork, leadership and sportsmanship. This holiday season, we’re thrilled to renew our partnership with DonorsChoose.org to ensure public schools continue to be able to provide their students with access to these critical sports programs.”

Since 2015, The DICK’S Foundation has partnered with DonorsChoose.org helping more than 650,000 student athletes across all 50 states stay involved in sports with more than $10.5 million in donations. This recommitment of an additional $5 million will more-than double the Foundation’s already-impactful support and ensure that more than a million kids have access to youth sports through their public school programs through 2021.

“The support from The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation has helped bring team sports dreams to life for coaches, teachers and students all over the country,” said Charles Best, DonorsChoose.org founder and CEO. “Our partnership will continue to make a difference for students on and off the field, and helps further our mission of ensuring students in every community have the tools and experiences they need to succeed.”

In addition to the recommitment to DonorsChoose.org, The DICK’S Foundation also announced the launch of a new $1 million Sports Matter Community Grant Program that will benefit high-poverty, local youth sports teams, leagues or schools. Store associates at the Company’s more than 860 DICK’S Sporting Goods, Field & Stream and Golf Galaxy stores nationwide will have the ability to nominate local teams to receive a cash grant this holiday season.

“Our stores play a critical role in helping us to give back to our local communities,” Hobart added. “Through this new grant program, our in-store associates will help our Foundation identify local teams in need and assist with the distribution of $1 million of funds for teams in their communities to do things like purchase equipment, subsidize participation fees for families or repair local fields.”  

Throughout the holiday season, DICK’S will be collecting donations for the Foundation’s Sports Matter program at registers in stores nationwide. Customers will have the opportunity to donate following their purchase. 

In addition, DICK’S plans to host nearly 20 in-store shopping events this Holiday season where professional athletes such as Patrick Mahomes II, Nigel Bradham, Devin Booker, and many others will take underserved kids shopping in local DICK’S Sporting Goods stores. These events will benefit more than 300 kids by providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience and giving them the gift of sport this Holiday season. Information on these local events will be distributed at a later date.

For more information on how your team can apply for funding or to donate to Sports Matter, please visit SportsMatter.org

###

About DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc.

Founded in 1948, DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc. is a leading omni-channel sporting goods retailer offering an extensive assortment of authentic, high-quality sports equipment, apparel, footwear and accessories. As of November 3, 2018, the Company operated 732 DICK'S Sporting Goods locations across the United States, serving and inspiring athletes and outdoor enthusiasts to achieve their personal best through a blend of dedicated associates, in-store services and unique specialty shop-in-shops dedicated to Team Sports, Athletic Apparel, Golf, Lodge/Outdoor, Fitness and Footwear. 

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, DICK’S also owns and operates Golf Galaxy and Field & Stream specialty stores, as well as DICK’S Team Sports HQ, an all-in-one youth sports digital platform offering a comprehensive range of services including technology solutions such as  online registration and league management services, and mobile apps for scheduling, communications and live scorekeeping; team gear such as uniforms and equipment,  fan wear, and access to donations and sponsorships. DICK'S offers its products through a content-rich eCommerce platform that is integrated with its store network and provides customers with the convenience and expertise of a 24-hour storefront.  For more information, visit the Press Room or Investor Relations pages at dicks.com. 

About The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation

The DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with a mission to inspire and enable sports participation. It was created by DICK’S Sporting Goods, Inc. as a private corporate foundation to support DICK’S charitable and philanthropic activities.

About DonorsChoose.org

DonorsChoose.org is the leading platform for giving to public schools. Teachers across America use the site to create projects requesting resources their students need, and donors give to the projects that inspire them. Since its founding by a Bronx teacher in 2000, more than 3.4 million people and partners have given $740 million to projects reaching 30 million students. Unique among education funding platforms, the DonorsChoose.org team vets each project request and ships resources directly to the school. Every donor receives photos of their project in action, thank-yous from the classroom, and a cost report showing how every dollar was spent. DonorsChoose.org was the first charity to make the top 10 on Fast Company’s list of the Most Innovative Companies in the World.

Contact: DICK’S Sporting Goods – press@dcsg.com

Plastics White Paper - Complimentary

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 5:17am

Tackling plastic waste and pollution is the cause celebre in 2018 and will only surge for 2019. Businesses are under enormous societal and impending regulatory pressure to find viable solutions to reduce, eliminate and reuse plastics.

To help you tackle this vast plastic problem and identify scalable solutions, we have interviewed industries leaders to share their experiences and insight in our newly produced white paper free to download here. Get exclusive insights from:

  • Melissa Wang, Senior Scientist, Greenpeace

  • Joe Franses, Vice-President, Sustainability, Coca-Cola European Partners

  • Risto Vapola, Technical Product Manager, Neste

  • Jon Khoo, Innovation Partner, Interface

  • Tom Domen, Global Head Long Term Innovation Manager, Ecover / Method

  • Jane Bevis, Chair, On-Pack Recycling Label

  • Beverley Cornaby, Programme Manager, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

  • Chris Brown, Managing Director, Clean Tech

  • David Moon, Head of Business Collaboration, Waste & Resources Action

  • Dune Ives, Executive Director, Lonely Whale

  • John Burke, Chief Marketing Officer, Bacardi

Click here to access the exclusive complimentary plastics white paper

I hope you find it of value.

Best regards,

Candy

Candy Telani Anton
Head of Europe | Ethical Corporation
0207 375 7162
LinkedIn

Read Announcement

Five Simple Principles of Sustainable Investing

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 5:16pm

By Art Steinmetz, Chairman and CEO, and Aniket Shah, Head of Sustainable Investing, at OppenheimerFunds.

Interest in sustainable investing has grown dramatically in the last decade, as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues have gained prominence, and investors have come to recognize the materiality of ESG factors to financial performance. Shifting demographics are also playing a role, with younger and female investors seeking out opportunities to align their portfolios with their values.

But sustainable investing is not new. What started out decades—and even centuries—ago as a values-based, exclusionary approach has evolved to include a much broader array of strategies and investment vehicles. This evolution has, to a degree, mired sustainable investing in complexity, and today competing definitions conspire to confound rather than inspire investors.

These five principles are an attempt to simplify some core tenets of sustainable investing. They are applicable to individuals and institutions, and offer perspective about how to be an engaged and effective ESG investor.

1. Adopt a Long-Term Investment Mindset
At its simplest, sustainable investing is investing for the long term. Consider the issue of climate change. There are abundant reports of impacts we’re seeing today, including shrinking glaciers, rising sea levels, and more intense weather events. But the effects will become far more pronounced in the coming decades, and this will create challenges and opportunities for companies.

For long-term investors, it’s difficult to make the case today that environmental issues like climate change, as well as social issues like human rights and supply chain management ethics, will not impact their portfolio companies. How companies and other institutions respond to ESG-related challenges is likely to be an important contributor to their long-term performance and viability. Those that acknowledge the issues and adopt proactive strategies to mitigate ESG risks may ultimately deliver better long-term performance.

2. Understand Non-Traditional, Material Risks
The data contained in corporate balance sheet and income statements are integral to fundamental equity analysis, but for the most part, these reports don’t include intangible assets that may account for a significant percentage of a company’s value. When a company’s brand health suffers because of a governance issue, for example, Volkswagen, after its 2015 emissions scandal—its earnings and share price may sustain lasting damage.

Issues such as climate change and the transition to renewable energy pose other types of risk. Climate vulnerability, for example, has already raised the average cost of capital in developing countries by 117 basis points. On the flip side, as the price of renewable energy falls, reserves of carbon-based energy sources like coal, oil, and gas could become “unburnable,” or unable to deliver a return to their owners during their economic lifetime. This is known as “stranded asset risk,” and it poses a financial risk for fossil fuel companies and related industries, as well as their investors.

3. Engage with New Types of Data
We’re in the midst of a revolution that has improved both the quantity and the quality of the ESG data available. Companies are reporting on ESG issues more regularly, and firms like Sustainalytics and MSCI provide independent research and ratings that portfolio managers can incorporate into their fundamental analysis. There are even companies like TruValue Labs that use artificial intelligence to deliver insights to investors on the ESG factors that can have a material impact on financial performance.

To manage what may become a data overload, sustainable investors can adopt a systematic approach to engaging with and evaluating these ESG-oriented datasets, understanding their methodologies, and determining their utility to the investment process through quantitative and qualitative testing. The key takeaway is that the robust data available today—particularly on the equity side—offers investors a variety of ways to evaluate sustainability issues within a portfolio.

4. Choose from a Growing Set of Investment Tools
The inherent complexity of the ESG landscape doesn’t lend itself to a common vernacular or a one-size-fits-all approach to sustainable investing, and the space has evolved to encompass a wide range of tools that investors can use to express their own viewpoints within a portfolio. The three most common approaches under the larger sustainable investing umbrella are:

  • Socially responsible investing: Socially responsible investors can choose from vehicles including mutual funds and ETFs that exclude sectors, industries, companies, and categories of investments not aligned with their values.

  • ESG integration: ESG-integration investors have access to a wide range of products that explicitly and demonstrably integrate ESG considerations into the investment process.

  • Impact and thematic investing: Impact and thematic investors allocate capital with a dual purpose of seeking financial returns and positive social and environmental outcomes.

Launches of new ETFs and mutual funds with a sustainability focus are on the rise and run the gamut of geographies, as well as active and passive approaches. While the sheer number of strategies available today may appear overwhelming on the surface, they also make it easier for investors to find solutions that match the sustainability targets they’ve set for their portfolios.

5. Be an Active Owner to Enhance Long-Term Value
Should ESG investors own oil and gas companies or gun manufacturers? The early days of sustainable investing focused on divestment and socially responsible investing approaches that screened out industries and companies incompatible with investors’ views. Today this is shifting to an emphasis on active ownership and driving positive change from within a company. In a sense, it’s not what you own, it’s how you own it.

Proposing and voting on shareholder resolutions is one way active owners engage with companies. Thanks to shareholder activists—primarily pensions and social policy investors—resolutions concerning sustainability issues such as executive compensation, the environment, diversity and gender equality, and human rights now make regular appearances on proxy ballots.

Beyond proxy voting, institutional investors and asset managers are employing the significant leverage they have with investee companies to engage management teams in a dialogue about sustainability issues. Asset manager BlackRock, for example, issued a statement in 2017 that acknowledged the risks of climate change to the companies in which it invests, and outlined its approach to working with them on the ESG factors that may impact financial performance, as well as circumstances under which it would consider voting in favor of climate-related resolutions.

Focusing on the Big Picture
Sustainable investing can be a challenging topic for investors to approach because of the complexity of the environmental, social, and governance issues at play and the bewildering and ever-expanding landscape of investment strategies, ESG data providers, and nomenclature. These are the “trees” of sustainable investing, and getting lost in them can prevent investors from missing the “forest”—the broad, system-wide, long-term efforts to respond to underlying ESG risks and opportunities. Keeping a big picture focus is essential to moving the financial system and the entities that operate within it toward a more sustainable future.

Download the white paper to learn more about these principles of sustainable investing.

# # #

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 October 31, 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

The stocks of companies with favorable environmental practices may underperform the stock market as a whole. Mutual funds and exchange traded funds are subject to market risk and volatility. Shares may gain or lose value.

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.

Benevity Data Shows #GivingTuesday Activates First-Time Givers

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 11:14am

Benevity, Inc., the global leader in corporate social responsibility (CSR) and employee engagement software, today announced that among its enterprise clients, nearly half of all employees who donated or volunteered through Benevity for the first time on #GivingTuesday last year have given back again since then. With nearly 30 percent of total donors and volunteers being first-time participants on Benevity, the trend represents a significant opportunity for companies to engage more people in doing good.

Almost 200 of Benevity’s enterprise clients got involved in #GivingTuesday last year. On November 28, their employees logged 45,000 volunteer hours and donated $13 million—including employer matching—to nearly 11,000 charities around the world. Among the first-time participants on #GivingTuesday, 83 percent donated funds, 15 percent volunteered and 2 percent did both, highlighting how giving people more options to give back equates to more impact.

“Companies have a tremendous opportunity to harness the vast power and potential of people to make a meaningful difference in society,” said Bryan de Lottinville, Founder and CEO of Benevity. “Our platform enables companies to engage and empower their employees and customers—across all locations, generations, ethnicities, backgrounds, education and income levels—around their inherent desire to do good. At a time when the world needs a unifying approach to empathy and compassion more than ever, #GivingTuesday is a great place to start.”

Benevity’s data builds on insights from one of the leaders of the giving movement, Asha Curran, chief innovation officer and director of the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact. As reported in Stanford Social Innovation Review, she wrote: “The implications of this [rapidly changing technology]—and of direct person-to-person giving, workplace giving, recurring monthly giving, and soaring online and mobile giving, not to mention the overall effects of social media itself—are far from clear yet. But they are happening, and while we may parse the negatives and positives, we must be agile enough to use available tools to our benefit.”

This year, companies are gearing up for another monumental #GivingTuesday with campaigns that aim to engage, empower and drive impact with innovative uses of Benevity’s corporate Goodness platform.

Last year on #GivingTuesday, T-Mobile employees were among the top users of Benevity’s enterprise platform compared to other corporate clients. During the campaign, T-Mobile saw a significant increase in employees using the Benevity platform (from 6% to 26%). Since the campaign ended, T-Mobile’s employees have logged 45% more volunteer hours in the portal year over year, demonstrating that #GivingTuesday is a fantastic introduction to employee giving opportunities and a way to catalyze a purpose-driven corporate culture.

This year, T-Mobile is giving big for Giving Tuesday again, with its #GivingOnUs campaign. On 11/27, T-Mobile will offer up more than $2M – giving customers, fans and employees the power to decide where it goes! The T-Mobile Foundation will deposit $27 in every employee’s giving account, that they can direct to a non-profit of their choice via Benevity. Customers and employees will also get the chance to win the opportunity to have T-Mobile donate from $25 up to $1,000 to their favorite charity via Benevity.

“At T-Mobile we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to give back, and this year we want to help empower people to do just that. On Giving Tuesday, we are making more than $2 million available for customers, employees and fans to direct to their favorite charity–on us.” said Janice V. Kapner, T-Mobile EVP of communications and community engagement. “By partnering with Benevity, T-Mobile is giving employees and customers the ability to support charities they are personally passionate about! We are incredibly proud that participation in our giving campaigns is growing so rapidly. It really speaks to who our employees and customers really are – and I’m so proud that we are all making a positive impact in our communities every day.”

Another example is Warner Brothers, who is engaging new people in their IMPACT employee program this #GivingTuesday by rewarding first-time donors and volunteers (as well as existing givers) with gifts that align with their culture in the entertainment industry, including providing funds to donate to their charity of choice.

Benevity is also an avid user of its own software, and this year will be engaging its people and the public in the #GivingTuesday movement by empowering them to give away $100,000 to their favorite charities. For every retweet of Benevity’s #BeTheGood video with an @mention of their favorite charity, the company will send $10 to that cause. Benevity employees will also be doing their part by volunteering for Soap for Hope, bringing “Random Acts of Goodness” to the streets of Calgary, Victoria, Toronto and San Mateo, and receiving matching funds for charitable contributions.

About Benevity
Benevity, Inc., a certified B Corporation, is the global leader in corporate social responsibility and employee engagement software, including online giving, matching, volunteering and community investment. Many of the world’s most iconic brands rely on Benevity’s award-winning cloud solutions to power corporate “Goodness” programs that attract, retain and engage today’s diverse workforce by connecting people to the causes that matter to them. With software that is available in 17 languages, to an employee base of 10 million users around the world, Benevity has processed over 2.5 billion dollars in donations and 15 million hours of volunteering time this year to almost 150,000 charities worldwide.

Brands Taking Stands on ESG Issues Is a Movement, Not a Moment, Say 82 Percent of Corporate Leaders Surveyed by 3BL Media and GlobeScan

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 11:14am

Eight-out-of-10 corporate leaders believe companies now have an obligation to speak out on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, according to new research on brand advocacy conducted by GlobeScan and 3BL Media.

The tightening labor market, specifically competitive pressure for companies to recruit and retain talent, is a key driver of the Brands Taking Stands movement, followed by efforts to protect and enhance corporate reputation.

“People want to support companies that live their values and are authentic,” said Dave Armon, chief marketing officer of 3BL Media, the world’s leading communications partner for purpose-driven organizations, which partnered with GlobeScan, an insights and strategy consultancy, to conduct the research. “We did this research to get the pulse of corporate responsibility and sustainability leaders on this new phase of brand activism.”

Taking a cue from beloved consumer brands with a heritage of activism, a growing roster of Blue Chip companies are using their powerful voices to urge continued U.S. support of the Paris Climate Agreement, to strengthen gun control laws, to fight immigration laws that would negatively impact Dreamers, to champion diversity and inclusion, and to protect LGBTQ rights, among other hot-button and often political issues.

3BL Media made Brands Taking Stands the theme of its annual 3BL Forum in Washington, D.C. for two years running. The subscription list for 3BL Media’s Brands Taking Stands weekly newsletter has surged to nearly 100,000 including Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh, Unilever CEO Paul Polman and fashion designer Kenneth Cole.

To learn more about the advocacy dilemma and its trajectory, GlobeScan surveyed 80 board members, business owners and corporate executives (who are readers of 3BL Media’s multiple platforms) during September and early October 2018. Half of the responses came from the corporate sector. Other respondents were associated with nonprofits and NGOs, policymakers, academia and professional services providers.

Findings included:

  • 82 percent of respondents said it is necessary for companies today to advocate for or take a stand on ESG issues. Five percent said it was unnecessary.

  • 62 percent felt that advocacy by CEOs, rather than by the company more broadly, will increase in the next 18 months.

  • When asked to specify the three highest priorities for their organizations over the next 18 months, top responses were brand values, climate and environment, and diversity and inclusion, suggesting that companies will increasingly advocate for the values they stand for. Runners-up were governance policies on ethics and accountability, followed by STEM Education.

  • Motivators for companies to take stands on ESG topics were to 1) enhance their reputation, 2) show a commitment beyond profit, and to 3) meet employee expectations.

  • Benefits of speaking out are 1) personnel recruitment, 2) employee retention and 3) brand equity.

Eric Whan, a GlobeScan director who led the research team, characterized the findings as indicative of where things are going in brand advocacy.

“It’s early days for this movement. Ben & Jerry’s, Tom’s of Maine and Patagonia and others have been doing this for a while. Now others are finding that it is in their own interest and that of their stakeholders to take a position rather than ducking.” said Whan.

The implications of these findings are considerable:

  • Expectations: Companies should expect their stakeholders to want to know where they stand on a growing number of increasingly complex issues. Corporate cultures, governance mechanisms and operational capacities will need to adjust quickly.

  • Enablement: With more companies formalizing their approaches to advocacy by establishing policies and systems that guide how they execute, top executives will become more vociferous on matters that align with their company’s Purpose. They will feel more comfortable speaking out and will do so with sharper focus.

  • Collaboration: We can expect the trend toward collective corporate advocacy (through coalitions such as Time to Vote or We Mean Business, for example) to accelerate, and the impact that they have to increase. There is comfort in numbers, especially when outcomes are clear.

About 3BL Media

3BL Media is the world’s leading communications partner for purpose-driven organizations. Through content distribution, multimedia promotion and hands-on learning experiences, we connect organizations to an unrivaled audience that is passionate about sustainable business.

About GlobeScan

GlobeScan is an insights and strategy consultancy, focused on helping our clients build long-term trusting relationships with their stakeholders. Offering a suite of specialist research and advisory services, we partner with business, NGOs and governmental organizations to meet strategic objectives across reputation, sustainability and purpose. Established in 1987, GlobeScan has offices in Cape Town, Hong Kong, London, Paris, San Francisco, São Paulo and Toronto, and is a signatory to the UN Global Compact and a Certified B Corporation.

Better Returns, Better World: Ørsted Top Ranks in Global ESG Rating of Infrastructure Assets

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 11:14am

Ørsted, one of the world’s largest green energy developers, is named Sector Leader in the 2018 GRESB Infrastructure Assessment, for significant steps taken to incorporate sustainability into operations and communicate performance to investors.

The GRESB assessment helps investors to understand the economic and social impacts of infrastructure assets such as offshore wind farms or power plants, by measuring their impacts in a standardized and comparable way.

“Some investors say they want to not only deliver strong returns, but also ensure that pensioners get to enjoy their retirement in a world that's worth living in,” says Rick Walters, Director Infrastructure at GRESB BV, which organizes the assessment.

“It’s a trend driven by general societal concerns, as well as by millennial investors embracing social and environmental concerns in their pension investment choices,” he adds.

Why ESG matters
That trend partly explains why institutional investors such as pension funds and banks are increasingly interested in environmental, social and governance (ESG) data, which helps provide a more complete picture of a company’s performance.

“Such information helps show that important risks are being appropriately managed, which is particularly important with long-life assets like infrastructure,” Walters says. 

Investors are also looking for investment strategies that produce targeted sustainable outcomes that relate to specific infrastructure assets, such as minimising greenhouse gas emissions, or contributing positive social impacts for local communities.

ESG ratings and assessments can help guide investors in that process. According to GRESB, achieving Sector Leader status is clear recognition of best practice in ESG performance by funds and assets.

Important benchmark
In the GRESB assessment, Ørsted achieved the highest overall score in the “diversified” asset sector, reflecting the company’s mixed portfolio of offshore and onshore wind, bioenergy, thermal power, and energy services. 

“We disclose to GRESB because their ratings are used by a number of our important institutional investors who invest directly in our offshore wind farms,” says Robert Helms, Head of Asset Management at Ørsted.

“The assessment helps benchmark our progress and sustainability performance against peers and shows investors that we are a high-performer in ESG. We’re delighted to be named a GRESB Sector Leader,” he adds.

The company was awarded the top ranking at a GRESB Results Event in London, on Oct. 9.

In Brief

  • Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 5,700 people. The group’s revenue was DKK 59.5 billion (EUR 8.0 billion), in 2017.

  • Ørsted has installed more than 5Gw of offshore wind capacity and targets 95% green energy in its own production by 2023. It today ranks among the world’s 100 most sustainable companies.

  • GRESB defines the standard for sustainability performance in real assets, providing standardized and validated ESG data to more than 70 institutional investors – representing over USD 18 trillion in institutional capital. In 2018, the Infrastructure Assessment covered 75 funds and 280 assets.

The Future of Sustainability Reporting: Trends to Watch

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 11:14am

The Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York (CBSACNY) is an alumni organization seeking to strengthen alumni networks, support services, professional development, and education opportunities.  The Sustainable Business Committee produces events related to green businesses, the environment, sustainability, and pioneering new industry.  Visit CBSACNY online at http://www.cbsacny.org.

  • Hear from expert panelists with diverse experience in CSR and Sustainability Reporting.

  • Understand key factors and motivations that guide a company’s reporting strategy.

  • Learn about different reporting methods, frameworks, and standards.

  • Explore trends in CSR and Sustainability Reporting in the US and around the world.

  • Get answers to your questions - unique opportunity for open audience Q & A.

As companies strive to protect their reputational assets and earn trust from stakeholders, sustainability reporting and disclosure are no longer reserved solely for “green” or mission-oriented companies. Demand for transparency and disclosure is increasing, and sustainability reporting is becoming mainstream. However, how reporting is done may vary depending on the target audience and purpose of those disclosures. Dominant frameworks such as GRI and SASB, and emerging methods such as Reporting 3.0, Trucost, and <IR>, are evolving to play different parts and complement each other. Our expert panel will discuss best practices employed by companies, and how such practices create value for shareholders and stakeholders. While sustainability reporting remains largely voluntary, our panel will explore legal trends and any potential movement to integrate sustainability and financial disclosures, from a US and global perspective.

Register and learn more: http://www.cbsacny.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1088046

For more information, please contact:
Leila Goldmark, LGoldmark10@gsb.columbia.edu (re event details)
CBSACNY, contactus@cbsacny.org (re event registration and ticketing issues)

Being Fearless Live Online

Mon, 11/26/2018 - 11:14am

Race. Climate. Politics. We live in a time of disruption. We need a new way forward. Join us for a 3-day online event, live and on demand, featuring Van Jones, Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, Opal Tometi, and other courageous voices. With a $5 donation or more, gain insight and tools to navigate these complex times and help open the event to thousands.

Living Future unConference 2019 Opens for Registration, Focus on Collaboration and Abundance

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 2:01pm

The International Living Future Institute is hosting its 13th annual Living Future unConference in Seattle, Washington, on April 30-May 3, 2019, at the new Hyatt Regency. Architects, engineers, manufacturers, CSR professionals, and more will gather for the leading regenerative design event of the year.

2019’s keynote speakers include Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org; Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice, and Community Revitalization of the Hip Hop Caucus; and Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.

Join these powerful speakers and collaborate with a global community of changemakers to create an abundant future for everyone. Over the course of four days, attendees will learn new sustainable design solutions, connect with leaders, and leave inspired to further the environmental movement.

Connect through:

  • Exciting Tours

  • Inspiring Keynotes

  • Unforgettable Education Sessions​

Registration is open now with the best prices of the year available through December 14.

The Living Future unConference 2019, Collaboration + Abundance.

Learn more at https://unconference.living-future.org/

CONTACT:

Nicole Van Batenburg +1 (206) 223-2028 media@living-future.org ILFI http://www.living-future.org

Teens Invited to Enter Third Annual Operation Prevention Video Challenge as Part of National Opioid Education Initiative

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 11:00am

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the DEA Educational Foundation, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, announced today the launch of the third annual Operation Prevention Video Challenge – a peer-to-peer platform for communicating messages about the dangers of opioid misuse.

An extension of Discovery Education and the DEA’s Operation Prevention program, the video challenge encourages teens to create a 30-60 second original public service announcement that alerts other students about the dangers of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use. Overall, the challenge aims to inspire teens to research the opioid epidemic, identify its widespread impact on the country and the substances’ harmful effects on the body, and start a social movement that encourages authentic dialogue about this critical issue. The top 10 finalist videos will be uploaded to operationprevention.com for a public vote to determine the People’s Choice winner. Winning PSAs will be featured on-air, across Discovery Education and DEA digital platforms, and on other social media platforms.

Prizes for winning submissions, include:

  • 1st place: $10,000; 

  • 2nd place: $5,000;

  • 3rd place: $1,000; and

  • People’s Choice: A VIP trip to Quantico, Virginia, for a tour of DEA training.

“Stopping drug abuse before it starts isn’t just the responsibility of education and prevention programs – it takes all of us, including the next generation of leaders, to make people and communities whole again,” said Sean Fearns, chief of community outreach, DEA. “Peer-to-peer education is uniquely impactful for teens, so we’re excited to continue promoting this video challenge to inspire new advocates for drug-free living.”

Last year’s winning PSA, titled Waiting to Die by Porter Christensen of Saint George, UT, was one of the hundreds of original submissions the challenge received. To view entries from finalists and winners of the previous Operation Prevention Video Challenges, visit: operationprevention.com/competition/video/archives/2018.

“The ‘Operation Prevention Video Challenge’ sparks peer-to-peer conversations, in classrooms, in homes and in neighborhoods nationwide, about the importance of kick-starting life-saving conversations to prevent heroin use and opioid misuse,” said Lori McFarling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Discovery Education. “We are proud to support the DEA in their work to create a social movement that encourages a new era of empowered and educated young people using their voice to stem the tide of the epidemic.”

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 115 people in the United States die from opioid misuse every day. The Operation Prevention Video Challenge is launched at a time when prescription opioid misuse and heroin use have reached epidemic levels in the United States. Operation Prevention is a nationwide program that educates students about the science behind addiction, and its effects on the brain and body. Standards-aligned Operation Prevention interactive resources, available at no-cost, help promote lifesaving discussions in the home and classroom.

“Opioid addiction and substance abuse touches everyone and too often goes unrecognized as families, educators and communities are left to deal with the consequences on their own,” said Rodney Crouse, Guilford County Schools Educator from Trinity, N.C. “The ‘Operation Prevention’ Video Challenge presents a unique opportunity for my colleagues and I to acknowledge the epidemic’s impacts, while encouraging our students to part of the solution.”

The Operation Prevention Video Challenge opens today and will close on March 6, 2019. Public voting for the People’s Choice winner will take place April 11-25, 2019. United States high school students, ages 13 and older, can register and find more information about the challenge here.

Operation Prevention resources are free and accessible, and are available at operationprevention.comOperation Prevention resources are also available through Discovery Education Streaming. For more information about Discovery Education’s digital content and professional development services, visit discoveryeducation.com. Stay connected with Discovery Education through social media on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest @DiscoveryEd.

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About the Drug Enforcement Administration:
The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets. The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.govwww.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov  and www.dea.gov.

About the DEA Educational Foundation:
Established in 2001, the DEA Educational Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to preventing drug abuse. The foundation supports the DEA through advocacy, outreach, and educational programs. Learn more at www.deaeducationalfoundation.org.

About Discovery Education: 
As the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12 classrooms worldwide, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional learning, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are available in approximately half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries around the globe. Inspired by the global media company Discovery, Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Explore the future of education at DiscoveryEducation.com.

Contacts:
National Media Affairs,
 DEA
202-307-7977 phone

Charmion N. Kinder, Discovery Education
Charmion_Kinder@discovery.com
240-274-2173 phone

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