5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

January 21, 2021 by  
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5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021 Pamela Gordon Thu, 01/21/2021 – 01:40 Amongst the many dramatic challenges global businesses faced in 2020, one that had been simmering for years bubbled up and promised to stay at a high boil in 2021 is ESG: Environment, Social, Governance.  Signs that ESG expectations were becoming more ubiquitous included the establishment of global ESG standards published by the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council in September and BlackRock’s call for a globally recognized framework for investors to understand individual company risks.  Despite years of progress by leading corporations toward ESG, corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental health and safety (EHS) and sustainability goals, the reality is that board members overseeing these companies are still trying to discern how all of this applies to them. In fact, in PwC’s annual Corporate Directors survey , which includes responses from more than 600 public board directors, only half (51 percent) say their board fully understands ESG issues impacting the company. That same study shows, however, that in 2020, 45 percent of directors say that ESG issues are a regular part of the board’s agenda, which demonstrates an increase from 34 percent in 2019. Time for training How can boards (public and private) improve their efficacy in ESG oversight for long-term value? As ESG experts, Presidians and members of the Athena Alliance (community of female corporate board directors and executives), we set out to help boards to become ESG-ready .  To start, we uncovered board members’ keenest ESG-education needs by surveying sitting board members at public (39 percent) and private (61 percent) companies, generating annual revenues of less than $50 million to $3 billion. They look to ESG to realize the following areas of corporate success: Source: Presidio Graduate School survey, October through December 2020 Then, we developed an ESG training for board members, along with the following five recommendations for board members to get ESG-ready for 2021. 1. Understand why boards need to be ESG-ready In our survey, 47 percent of directors believe ESG is important for brand equity and reputation, 24 percent cited both customer and investor pressure, and 18 percent pointed to risk management and board pressure. One sitting board member said that ESG is “an inherent part of the business model.” Board oversight includes advising the management team on the company strategy, and ensuring improved long term value for all stakeholders. Directors must understand how ESG issues can affect that strategy, and be in a position to assess and address both challenges and opportunities. To get started, align the board on why they should care, in light of demands from stakeholders such as customers, employees, investors, communities and suppliers. Invite an ESG expert to convey how ESG is material to your particular company.  2. Add ESG to your next board meeting agenda When asked what level of importance their boards put on ESG, 76 percent of our survey respondents said “important” or “very important,” yet only 47 percent said their companies report on ESG, and 35 percent said their board provides ESG oversight. Compare that to the 45 percent stated by public companies in the PwC survey, and we are still looking at less than half of company boards addressing ESG even as investors and other business stakeholders demand it. Add ESG to your next board agenda, even if only to start the conversation with the management team. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that somewhere in the organization people have been working on ESG initiatives and have been waiting for the conversation to reach the board. Risk and reputation are two of the most fundamental aspects of “duty of care” for sitting board directors. Corporate leaders who take a broader view of their long-term strategy, including how they will meet ESG demands, will be better positioned to address new risks and opportunities.  3. Select an ESG oversight structure that aligns with your company More than half (52 percent) of our survey respondents serve on the Nominating and Governance committees of their boards, with 20 percent stating they sit on a specialized ESG/EHS working group or committee. Some companies split the elements of ESG between committees, with “social” sitting with the compensation committee for example, as they typically manage diversity, equity and talent initiatives. Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. A recent article by the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance offers an excellent guide on how to address ESG and corporate governance within the board committees, noting most importantly, “Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated.”  4. Arm yourself with expertise In the PwC survey, respondents agreed that ESG issues are playing a larger role in their board discussions, and should be included in determining the company strategy. In fact, 67 percent of directors said the company should include climate change, human rights and income equality in the company strategy, a 13-point increase over 2019. Interestingly, female directors were more likely (60 percent) to see the link between ESG and company strategy than their male counterparts (46 percent), and agreed in higher percentages (79 percent vs. 64 percent) that climate change and human rights issues should be part of forming the company strategy.  As your board recruits new directors or replaces sitting directors, consider adding a director with ESG expertise, supplemented with an independent ESG consultant for a broader and future view. 5. Get educated When asked from which aspects of ESG education their boards would most benefit from, respondents prioritized: 1) diversity, equity and inclusion, 2) ESG/CSR reporting, 3) products’ environmental footprint/impact, 4) company operations’ environmental footprint/impact and 5) climate and renewable energy. Most prefer a half-day training, with some wanting a customized training for their entire board and others wanting to join training comprising individual board members representing diverse companies. Having interviewed board members over the years for materiality assessments, PGS Consults analysts note that board directors acknowledge their limited understanding of ESG and are genuinely open to learning more. The COVID-19 lockdown in March created a dramatic shift in board member interest in ESG — from polite inquiry to a more urgent need to know. Pull Quote Because ESG strategy should align with business strategy and focus on material risks and business drivers, the full board will want to understand the ESG messaging and how those risks are being mitigated. Contributors Leilani Latimer Topics Corporate Strategy ESG Collective Insight Thinking in Systems Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Freedomz Close Authorship

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5 steps boards can take to be ESG-ready for 2021

P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise

December 12, 2019 by  
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When Tuo Lei came across an image of thousands of discarded tents strewn across festival grounds and destined for landfill, the designer saw potential. Lei’s P+365 project takes abandoned tents from music festivals and repurposes the material into streetwear to be sold the following year at the same event (hence the “365” to symbolize the year-long cycle). The idea is to raise awareness of this environmental issue while finding a use for the tents beyond waste. For consumers, the sustainable clothes and accessories are interesting souvenirs from the event that are both practical and sentimental. Each collection comes with bags, a poncho raincoat, a cap and a bucket hat, all made using durable, weather-resistant materials recycled from the deserted tents. The garments are specifically designed for the types of conditions expected from a festival scene — such as rain, wind and heat. Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste The designer receives the used tents from volunteer organizations and recruits more volunteers from social media to assist with the sewing and assembling of the apparel as well as collecting additional tents. Along with the clothes, the P+365 collections include DIY booklets with step-by-step illustrations for how to make each item. To make the pieces more collectible, the garment tags include information about the festival name, material features and the design story behind the brand. So what’s next for P+365? In the future, Lei hopes to collaborate with specific festivals that have high numbers of abandoned tents in order to sell directly to festival-goers. Lei explained, “P+365 not only gives users an outfit to stand out from the crowd in a music festival but also could be new potential for future music festival fashion style.” + P+365 Via Dezeen Images via P+365

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P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise

Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

December 12, 2019 by  
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Children innately have a curiosity about the world around them, and that curiosity can be cultivated into awareness and love for our planet. So this holiday season, give out eco-friendly gifts or green presents that your favorite kiddos can enjoy all while helping the Earth, too. Vegan shoes Vegan Chic is 100 percent vegan fashion with products vetted to meet high standards of eco-friendly and cruelty-free sourcing, especially with regards to fair and safe working conditions during production. Vegan Chic’s proprietors, Mark and Vessela, who are animal lovers avidly protecting and rescuing feral cats, explained, “We love animals and are committed to protecting them, as they cannot protect themselves.” Support the cruelty-free shop by purchasing adorable and functional vegan shoes that any child would be excited to sport. Meanwhile, CLAMFEET provides machine-washable, soft-soled, leather-free moccasins for infants and toddlers. CLAMFEET shoes are also completely vegan with organic lining. Plus, they are handmade in the United States. Eco-friendly clothing, bedding and bath items Little Lentil Clothing is “dedicated to leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible” by offering organic, natural and sustainable clothes for children. Its packaging is even derived from 100 percent reusable, recyclable or biodegradable materials. As Little Lentil Clothing’s website describes, “We are a brand with intentions to uphold elevated social and environmental values in order to leave the world a little bit better of a place for all of our babies.” Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children While Burt’s Bees has long been known for its personal care products, did you know that the company also offers 100 percent organic cotton products for babies and kids? Burt’s Bees Baby provides gentle, organic cotton that meets “the highest global standard for organic textiles” in clothing, bedding (nursery bedding, quilts and blankets) and bath apparel (washcloths, towels and robes). Responsibly crafted, plastic-free toys BeginAgain toys are made from a mix of vintage materials (maple, rubberwood and natural rubber) and modern bioplastics derived from non-GMO corn. As the company describes, its toys “move kids away from OIL and back into SOIL. We believe in the playful power of plants.” The BeginAgain animal parade A-to-Z puzzle and playset is a recommended favorite. Bamboo bike This is another company devoted to natural toys for children that collaborates with sustainable suppliers to provide families with “heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.” The NovaNatural bamboo run bike is a lovely toy for any child, given its sustainable bamboo wood finish. Interestingly, bamboo forests can be harvested after only 3-5 years because they grow faster than other hardwoods, making bamboo a more sustainable wood. Additionally, bamboo forests produce more oxygen and absorb more carbon dioxide than other trees. Award-winning wood toys Hape Holding AG is a German-Swiss toy manufacturer that began with the responsible business practices of its founder, Peter Handstein, who said, “A commitment to children must go hand-in-hand with a commitment to the environment. Our children will inherit the world we live in.” Based in Lucerne, Switzerland with at least 36 companies in more than a dozen countries, Hape is globally renowned for its award-winning, educational wooden toys that utilize renewable resources, such as bamboo, for “minimal impact to the environment.” Hape’s award-winning toys include a two-in-one kitchen and grill set, a croquet set, a scientific workbench, a doctor set, a doll mansion, a dominoes set, a magnetic easel, a master workbench and builder set, a miniature band set and much more. Art supplies and kits If your child has an artistic bent, eco-kids offers non-toxic, environmentally friendly “creative play the natural way,” with all products made in the U.S. Cammie and Kip are the founders of this family-run business, which all began when Cammie created a recipe for “eco-dough” with natural ingredients that they first sold at local farmers markets. From there, eco-kids evolved into a comprehensive art supplies shop that sells wholesale on its website and retail on Amazon . Another sustainable children’s art supply establishment is Natural Earth Paint , the award-winning, Gold-certified Green America business that specializes in natural mineral pigments and organic ingredients. The company was founded by Leah Fanning, an environmentalist who immediately disposed of her toxic and synthetic paints when she became pregnant with her first child. She then founded Natural Earth Paint, which specializes in locally made, non-toxic art supplies packaged in “100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging, biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable glass bottles.” According to the company’s website, its merchandise is free of “preservatives, heavy metal toxins, solvents, synthetics, additives and fillers,” which makes them safer for children. Natural Earth Paint also operates out of a 100 percent solar-powered facility, and the company has a plant-a-tree campaign to boot. Besides artist palettes, its recommended children’s products are natural face paint kits and egg craft kits, which can be found here . Crafty STEAM kits Green Kid Crafts sells science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subscription kits and educational toys that will inspire children to learn while they play. The company has earned several distinctions, including the Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award, Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products and Red Tricycle’s Award for the Most Awesome Subscription Service. With sustainability as its driving force, Green Kid Crafts gives back to the environment by partnering with CarbonFund to advocate for more renewable energy efficiency as well as with the OneTreePlanted endeavor to plant a tree for every Green Kid Crafts order placed. Gardening kits If you have a budding horticulturist in your family, Hortiki Plants has a wonderful beginning gardener’s kit for children. The kits from Hortiki Plants include biodegradable trays made from hand-pressed palm leaves, natural kelp fertilizers, coconut coir seed pellets, organic seeds, organic soil, recyclable glass sprayers, recyclable metal vases and recycled shipping materials. The company also offers a gardening guarantee, so that if, for any reason, the seeds do not grow into plants, the seeds will be replaced for free. The Hortiki Plants Kids Fall/Winter Gardening Kit is perfect eco-friendly holiday gift for young gardeners because it also includes games and projects for children to engage in the world of sustainable agriculture. Images via Shutterstock, Vegan Chic , CLAMFEET , Little Lentil Clothing , BeginAgain , NovaNatural , Hape , Natural Earth Paint , Green Kid Crafts and Hortiki Plants

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Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

Giant condor returns to thank man who saved him after he fell from his mother’s nest

June 13, 2017 by  
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The bond between a human and an animal can be a powerful one, and the following video is a testament to this. After an Argentinian man named Edgardo rescued a condor that fell from its nest as a baby, he proceeded to care for it until it was well enough to be returned to the wild . Then, years after the giant condor found freedom, it returned to “thank” Edgardo. In the video, the condor walks up to his former caretaker and gives him a hug, nuzzling his neck. In response to the affection, Edgardo says, “Hi, how are you, you crazy thing, how do you do? What a beauty you are.” According to Edgardo’s cousin, the man took in the condor because he felt bad for it. “And that was the beginning of the friendship,” he said. The heartwarming footage has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on social media. Gloria Valdovinos, who was moved by the reunion, commented: “Beautiful to have a pet like this.” And, Rei Dom wrote, “What a privilege! Being able to have a magnificent animal such as this.” When humans empathize with other creatures and act out of love, it is not unusual for relationships such as this one to form. Via Daily Mail Images via Miratico

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National Geographic chief says layoffs were done to avoid Fox takeover

November 10, 2015 by  
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Last week, employees of National Geographic Society were shaken when the company let them know it would be making an “announcement about employment status” the following day. Over 180 employees were laid off in a strategic cost-cutting move, according to chief executive Gary Knell, who said it was done to avoid having those assets taken over by Fox, their new partner. Some fear this is an indication of the beginning of the end for the 127-year-old nonprofit. Read the rest of National Geographic chief says layoffs were done to avoid Fox takeover

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INFOGRAPHIC: Which indoor plant is right for you?

August 6, 2015 by  
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Houseplants are awesome – they spruce up your pad, purify the air and can even boost healing. But not every plant is right for every person. Besides light needs, some plants require a delicate touch, while others are nearly impossible to kill. So whether you have a green thumb or plants shrink when you come near, the following infographic will help you pick the perfect plant for your space. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: Which indoor plant is right for you?

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Grow your own cocktails: drink recipes from the garden

August 3, 2015 by  
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It’s that time of year when gardeners take a step back for a moment to enjoy the fruits of their labors. What better way to do that than with a delicious cocktail made out of ingredients grown in the garden ? From a spicy lavender collins to a refreshing rhubarb basil Bellini, the following infographic has a plethora of tasty drinks to reward you for all your – or your local farmer’s – hard work. Read the rest of Grow your own cocktails: drink recipes from the garden

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More Rumor Mongering Against US EPA – What Gives?

September 10, 2011 by  
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Round hay bales near Cambridge, IA. Image credit: Flickr ,cwwycoff1 Search on the terms “hay pollutant epa” and you’ll see hundreds of recent links with statements inferring that USEPA has ‘declared hay to be a pollutant.’ The source most often cited is indirect and provides no attribution within the Agency. A website covering a ranching industry meeting cites the following answer given in response to a question asked by an unidentified audience member: ” Now that EPA has declared hay a pollutant… Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Sony Cuts Emissions by 31% Since 2000

July 27, 2011 by  
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Sony made the announcement today that it has reduced its global CO2 emissions by 31 percent since 2000.  The company also achieved a 54 percent reduction in waste generation and a 41 percent reduction in water use, both of which far exceeded its goals. The company improved the efficiency of its offices and manufacturing sites and upped the efficiency of many of its products too. Its Bravia LCD TV now requires 30 percent less power than it did in 2008 and its Blu-ray disc recorder models require 50 percent less power. The waste reduction was mainly achieved through an increase in recycling practices.  The one target that Sony failed to meet was for volatile organic compound emissions — it was shy by 5 percent. These improvements were all made under the tech giant’s Green Management 2010 plan.  Now going forward, Sony has a more ambitious plan.  The company announced its Road to Zero plan last year that includes a pledge to be zero carbon by 2050.  The next phase in the plan sees the company making the following reductions by 2015 compared to 2008 levels. a 30 percent reduction in annual energy consumption a 10 percent reduction in product mass a 16 percent reduction in packaging waste a 14 percent reduction in transport CO2 emissions Let’s hope Sony can exceed these targets as well. via Treehugger

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Barton Seaver’s Sustainable Soft-shell Crabs With Corn and Black Bean Relish

June 13, 2011 by  
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Photo credit: Katie Stoops This guest post was written by Barton Seaver , chef and auther of For Cod and Country.

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