Wednesday, February 28, 2007

100 Best U.S. Corporate Citizens

The magazine formerly known as Business Ethics, Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO), recently published is eighth annual list of the "100 Best Corporate Citizens 2007". Interesting to see that five of the top ten are tech companies (AMD, Motorola, Intel, IBM, and Agilent Technologies).

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Proposed TXU Buyout Has Environmental Components

TXU, the Texas-based energy company with plans to build 11 new coal-powered plants, is in the process of being bought out for $32 billion by two private equity firms - Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company and the Texas Pacific Group (if you can't access the NYTimes article, click here for one from The Malaysia Star). The shareholder vote is or was sometime today.

As a part of the buyout, 8 of the 11 plants will not be built. The two private equity firms contacted environmental groups to ask them what environmental measures they can bring to TXU will earn their support. The contact with these environmental group was brokered by Goldman Sachs who is an advisor and lender to the two firms. Goldman has been a big player on Wall Street in the fight against climate change (among other things they do, the article mentions that the limos that drive their late-working employees home are hybrids).

Another proposal in the buyout will result in TXU increasing the renewable energy portion of their portfolio "and reduce or offset its emissions significantly."

To read from a Fortune article from the beginning of February about TXU's plan to build the 11 coal plants, click here.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 19, 2007

Q&A with C.K. Prahalad

Thanks again to Fast Company for this - some questions posed to C.K. Prahalad. I first heard about Prahalad because a couple of pieces he co-wrote for the Harvard Business Review were required reading in my Strategy class last semester. Then I had the pleasure to see him speak at the Fuqua School of Business in Durham last semester, as well, at a talk hosted by their Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) . Prahalad is the author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, which essentially says that companies could boost their business while helping to alleviate poverty by making the 5 billion or so people who live in poverty a part of their target market. At the talk I saw him give, he gave examples of companies already doing this - most examples given were companies outside of the U.S. In this Q&A, he does say that companies such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever and a little outfit called Microsoft are dabbling at the bottom of the pyramid.

Prahalad's thesis certainly is an interesting one - the Q&A here is a good, quick read.

And be warned - I'll be posting more from Fast Company in the next few days. Great stuff.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Organic Clothing Store in Seattle Booming

This article from yesterday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer is about a business that currently deals solely in baby clothes made from organic, fair trade cotton. The young owner was doing so well with her on-line only business that she decided to open up a traditional bricks-and-mortar operation in Seattle. She is finding that her dedication to using pesticide-free and herbicide-free materials for her clothing is very important to her customers as well. Due to the lower yield of the cotton crop when no pesticides or herbicides are used, this causes prices to be higher.

The owner of the business, Kate Quinn, hopes to expand into a line of casual clothes for women.

You can visit her store's website at:

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sixth Annual Fast Company 50

Lists have always appealed to me - they obviously appeal to many people, which is why there are so many out there. Fast Company has one in their March issue that is relevant for this blog - their "50 profit-driven solutions for what ails the planet". You can see the list and read about the companies, organizations, the one person on the list, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the one location on the list, Kalamazoo, Michigan, by clicking on the link.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Pay and Benefit Increases for Workers at Seattle Westin

Pay and benefits just increased for workers at the Seattle Westin. For example, the median wage of housekeepers in Seattle-area hotel is $9.58/hour. This new contract immediately raises the wage for housekeepers in the Seattle Westing to $11.70/hour. The article doesn't say much about the Westin's reaction and how they feel it will affect their business. Evelina Tainer, the chief economist with the Employment Security Department has this take (info below taken directly from the Seattle Post Intelligencer article linked above):

"They are going to get the best workers immediately. The people who are working there will want to do a good job. They are not going to want to be fired."

From an economic standpoint, it was smart of the union to focus on Seattle's largest hotel, she said. Seattle's hotel market, where occupancy and room rates have been steadily climbing since 2002, can support the higher wages, she said.

"If other hotels want to remain competitive it does enhance them if they go ahead and add the same benefits," she said.

Details of the benefit increases are listed at the end of the article.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Better than CFLs?

In the past few months, there has been a great deal of attention paid to promoting the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). This is due to the fact that CFLs last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, use much less electricity, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This article talks of another technology, light emitting diodes (LEDs), that uses even less electricity than CFLs and is also cleaner than CFLs because CFLs contain mercury. As a result, CFLs have to be treated as toxic waste when disposed.

The article talks about Cree, a company in my local area (Durham, NC) that produces LEDs. They've struck a deal with the city of Raleigh, NC to use LEDs in parking garages, parking lots, outside buildings, and in streetlights. In addition to saving electricity and being more environmentally friendly, they apparently give off better quality light.

It appears the biggest issue with the LED technology diffusing the consumer market is the fact that LEDs are not bulbs and they do not go into sockets. They are actually semiconductor chips that emit light when electricity is passed through them.

Labels: , , , , , ,

More on the Shareholder Story seemed to carry the same story I posted yesterday with more detail about the ten companies that are being accused by investors of not doing enough to combat global warming. The ten companies are:
  1. Dominion Resources
  2. TXU Corp. (to read more about TXU's plans to build 11 coal-fired power plants in Texas, see this article in this week's Fortune magazine)
  3. ConocoPhillips
  4. ExxonMobil
  5. Wells Fargo
  6. Bed, Bath & Beyond
  7. Massey Energy
  8. Consol Energy
  9. ACE Limited
  10. Allegheny Energy

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Some Power of the Shareholder

This article talks about how a number of shareholders across the country are trying to get corporations to deal with global warming by writing resolutions for shareholder vote that ask that companies issue reports about how global warming affects their business, act to reduce emissions, and prepare for potential regulations on carbon. Resolutions such as these were on the ballot at 42 companies in the past year. Environmental organizations are promoting this type of activity by targeting companies they feel have a lot of work to do in the global warming area.

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

H-P Unveils New Packaging

Hewlett-Packard announced that it will begin to package their print cartridges in smaller and lighter forms. They said that the expected greenhouse gas emission savings from this initiative will be about 37 million pounds this year, the equivalent of taking about 3000 cars off of the roads this year. The new packaging will reduce materials by about 15 million pounds. Since the packaging will be less, it will allow more packages to fit on delivery trucks. This is expected to reduce the number of miles driven by the delivery trucks by 1.5 million miles.

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Branson Offers $25M Innovation Prize

To encourage innovation in technology development aimed at reducing global warming, Richard Branson has put up $25 million. He is encouraging governments to match that amount. The prize will go to a technology unlike technologies that are currently under development and one that is "more than a stop-gap against global warming gases." In fact, the aim is to award a technology that will remove at least 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Earth's atmosphere. Al Gore was with Branson at the announcement of the prize.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

Oil Companies Discuss Global Energy Challenges

A number of the oil industry's top executives are going to meet next week in Houston to discuss the challenges of global energy. One expected agenda item is alternatives to traditional fossil fuels. This article also mentions that, according to ConocoPhillips Chairman James Mulva, U.S. oil companies have invested about $11 billion on renewable and other forms of energy in the past five years. What it doesn't mention is what percentage that investment is of the total amount of R&D spending that oil companies have done in the same period of time. Throwing out a number like that is less meaningful without a comparative figure. That is not to discount the fact that it's a significant number and undoubtedly a great deal more than most people probably realize is invested.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wal-Mart and SEIU Discuss Universal Health Care

From the 2/8/07 New York Times: Lee Scott, the CEO of Wal-Mart, and Andrew Stern, the president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) got together yesterday to discuss our nation's healthcare problem. They announced their intention to seek support of universal healthcare coverage (by around 2012); shared responsibility for healthcare coverage among individuals, businesses, and government; and expanded coverage. Execs from AT&T and Intel as well as leaders of several nonprofits were also present at the meeting.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

European Commission Proposing Emission Cuts for Cars

Legislation from the European Commission is expected to be drafted next year that would require automakers to cut CO2 emissions by 18% in new cars by 2012. Most of the reduction would come from better motor technology - the remainder would come from better tires and a higher rate of use of alternative fuels.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dell to Receive Environmental Award

Tonight, Dell will be awarded the National Recycling Coalition's Recycling Works Award due to Dell's efforts to make it easier for its customers to recycle Dell products. Two initiatives cited in this Dell press release include (text below taken directly from the press release):

"Free Consumer Global Recycling: Dell is the only computer manufacturer that offers consumers no-charge recycling services for its own branded computer equipment globally without requiring new product purchases. Dell completed the rollout of its global recycling policy in December 2006.

Reconnect Program: Through Dell's alliance with Goodwill Industries in several markets, consumers can donate unwanted electronics of any brand in any condition at Goodwill intake sites.

All equipment collected is handled under Dell's product-recovery guidelines. The program is currently available in Central and South Texas, San Diego and San Francisco, the state of Michigan, western North Carolina and the Pittsburgh area.

Asset Recovery Services: Dell offers product recovery services that help business and institutional customers responsibly manage the retirement of used IT equipment. In 2006, Dell increased products recovered from customers for reuse or recycling, as measured by weight, by 72 percent compared to the previous year. The company has set a goal to recover 125 million kilograms (about 275 million pounds) of product from customers by 2009.

Computer Donation. Through Dell's partnership with the National Cristina Foundation, customers can donate any working computer system to non-profit organizations in their areas. NCF matches consumer donations to local not-for-profit organizations, public agencies and schools. The program is available throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and major markets in Brazil."

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pepsi and Civil Rights

There is a book recently released, "The Real Pepsi Challenge", about Pepsi's relative embrace of black employees back in the 1940s. Pepsi's CEO, Walter S. Mack, Jr., was the person behind this. He hired 12 black executives as a way to in to the "Negro market" and an advantage against rival Coke. The NY Times article points out that Pepsi opened up three integrated military canteens during World War II while the U.S. governments canteens and the Army was still segregated. Despite perhaps questionable reasons for hiring these executives, the executives helped to prove "the reliability and competence" of the black worker and served as "role models and minor celebrities. Also, the coverage these men received from the black press helped to increase black political power.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Clean Environmental Tech Leads Silicon Valley Rebound

Silicon Valley is gaining jobs after five years of losses. This comes at a time when investments in "clean environmental technology" are increasing considerably. Investments in clean tech went from $34 million in the first quarter of 2006 to $290 million in the third quarter.

Labels: , ,

Business Roundtable

Here's a short article about a sort of partnership among CEOs of large corporations, AARP, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that is looking to tackle the healthcare problem the U.S. is facing. Their proposal calls for healthcare for all either by requiring everyone to purchase healthcare or requiring every company to offer it to their employees. The proposal is called "Divided We Fail".

Labels: , , ,