Sunday, April 26, 2009

Corporate Social Responsibility with Kellie McElhaney

Amazing people sweep through Oklahoma. Last week it was Dr. Kellie McElhaney, a professor from Berkeley. Her specialty is corporate social responsibility aka "corporate citizenship." Her pitch to corporations is to make their philanthropic causes align with their core business mission. Sometimes the obvious just isn't.

Kellie is an engaging speaker who amazed and delighted MBA students with her fresh take on maximizing shareholder value. Her Whirlpool example was a real tear jerker. Sales also increased.

Buy the book and you'll have a first-class understanding of CSR.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Teacha Teacha

Maybe a college instructor isn't supposed to care quite so much but I am so fond of my students. I look forward to watching them learn the language of the industry, reading their papers with dozens of typos, and seeing those light bulbs go off above their heads. Sustainability is a funny field; it ranges from moments of gentle ecological enlightenment to being horrified and sometimes even morally outraged. Sadly the semester is coming to a close which means I'm also inventing extra credit opportunities to help those borderline students who were distracted by life.

Today some my students went to their first city council meeting to watch citizenship in action. We have a new Mayor who is a 27-year-old OSU student. They saw people standing up for principles. At issue was a $25 fee assessed to Senior softball players who lived outside the city limits. Dozens of citizens gave up their evening to politely protest this discrimination; it was the principle not the money. Sustainable societies springs from citizenship.

The $25 fee generated a total of $750 additional revenues, but it was a net loser because teams disbanded taking with them thousands of dollars of team fees. Teams opted not to travel to Stillwater for the day; there is a loss of economic development. Goodwill was not increased. If you take a sustainable holistic analysis of this situation, it becomes clear the community backlash coupled with revenue loss makes this $25 fee suddenly not a viable idea. I think they can find a win-win, even now, because a dialogue has been initiated.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Greenest CEO in USA

Ray Anderson Speaks in Tulsa

I very well could be Ray Anderson's biggest fan in Oklahoma. I have a deep abiding respect for all he is and does. He is the CEO of Interface Carpet: a one billion dollar carpet company with 27 plants worldwide. He read Ecology of Commerce in 1994 and became a "reformed plunderer" who publicly states his quest is to make Interface a restorative company. Ray earned the ultimate green business PHD: Paul Hawken Degree.

As a teacher of green business I have to confess, Ray is the poster child for what I want all my students to become. You can hear his famous speeches on Google video or YouTube. The first thing you'll notice is his disarming southern drawl and then you'll hear him humbly speak of integrity, responsibility, courage, and love....all in the context of profitable manufacturing.