Monday, 25 February 2013

Business and Human Rights

GSB nails it yet again in addressing big issues in an understandable, manageable, yet interesting way.

Click the links here for the round-up and the full live discussion on business and human rights (particularly the challenges companies face in implementing measures to tackle human rights). If you are in London on March 20th, why not check out GSBQ (there will be an online write- up of the evening event available afterwards).

Sustainable Fashion Top Tweeters

A few more for you to follow right here: thank you to Guardian Sustainable Business for your list of those who tweet most excellently about ethical fashion and also to GSB readers who have added their own recommendations to the list.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Shop of the Month

Linked beautifully with my previous blog post is this one, which is about sustainable E-TAILER Indigo Bazaar!

Click here to view my latest article for the Ethical Fashion Forum's SOURCE. The model in the image above is showing off a gorgeous Athinaeum bag, just one of a selection sold at the multi-brand online store Indigo Bazaar.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Wuh Wuh Wuh Whaat!

Something happened to me recently that I will tell my grandchildren in the future: I attended a talk by the inventor of the WWW, aka the World Wide Web… It was a thoroughly oversubscribed event and I only just sat in a seat before it began, with queues of people outside Sydney Town Hall. The web may be “for everyone” but the talk about the web is evidently not!

Although the internet was invented in 1969, it was Sir Tim Berners-Lee who in 1989 took this global and wrote the first web page. At the front of the stage were the words “Green, Global, Connected”. It blew my mind to think of what Tim created when he wrote that first ‘http://’. Without Tim’s innovative action we would not have this blog you are reading now, Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, holiday and restaurant booking sites, online job applications, online fashion stores…the list is endless and the uses are indeed, global. At the World Economic Forum in Davos it was recently said that online education is on the rise. We are certainly more connected, at least virtually. Is the world greener thanks to the WWW? Very difficult to judge.

I like Tim. He seemed down to earth despite always thinking of things in the ether and he seemed a bit jittery, which is what I get like when I have had one too many coffees. He is a real person. When asked ‘who is the bigger legend, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates?’ he responded (in so many words) to say that he will not answer that as he does not like to bad-mouth his friends. When asked ‘so… why all the videos of cats?’ he joked ‘yes, that is a very important part of the plan, it is all about cats!’

Tim was introduced as ‘the greatest disruption to humanity since the invention of warfare’, but of course he is also a great force for good. Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, sang the web’s praises and highlighted the recent rise of crowd sourcing sites for social projects such as Brick Starter.

Tim Berners-Lee was born in 1955, just like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. His parents met putting together the first computer to be commercially sold. As I said, 1969 was the year the internet was invented, but at that time Led Zeppelin and man landing on the moon were more exciting than internal office newsletters. After an Oxford degree in Physics, Tim came up with something special. He described the task of persuading business people and academics that the WWW was a good idea as like being in a bobsled team: in 1989 it was difficult to push, then ‘92-4 was the jumping in and steering bit. There are now more web pages than neurons in the human brain. Tim joked that numbers of web pages are increasing while our neurons are decreasing.

As the most creative invention of the twentieth century, the web enables us to have two way flows of information not only between people but between people and businesses. With instant feedback, companies must be accountable to their actions now more than ever. The web has changed the way we operate as a society. People wondering ‘have I got cancer?’ or ‘am I gay?’ may turn to the web for guidance before going to a close friend or doctor. It has changed the way we do business; the competition is only one click away.

The talk reminded me not to take the web for granted, as is so easy to do now that it is a part of our every day lives. The TV set, radio, newspaper and phone are now converged. Of course in some countries (China) there are stronger censorship controls over the press and the web than in other countries. In Egypt over the Arab Spring, the internet was turned off. Tim believes that the internet should be classed as an independent estate and should not be controlled by external forces.

Tim also strongly believes that what computers can do is limited only by our imaginations. Changes are already taking place that will mean more power is put into the hands of consumers, with the ability to code our own computers for example.

I was glad I stayed until the end because the geeks at Digital Sydney had devised a fantastic technical light and music display across the inside of the great hall. It was a performance that began with that old school sound of attempts to connect to the internet and descended into a heavy dubstep remix scattered with dancing images of disks, USBs and mini computers with dots connecting them, mice and keyboards.

When asked what he’d change if he were to do it all again, Tim replied ‘I’d probably take out the two slashes’.

Hear hear to a British legend!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Foundations of Business

I am particularly pleased with this exclusive thought-leadership piece, because I helped to undertake the background research that provides the bedrock of the discussion and conclusions, during my placement with Corporate Citizenship over the summer of 2012.

TheFoundations of Business is the most recently released publication by Corporate Citizenship. It gives a unique insight into the current workings of corporate foundations in England and Wales, which can be loosely defined as distinct legal entities that contribute to community causes on a company’s behalf. Yes, they are independent from the companies that provisionally fund them, but there are varying degrees of company and foundation integration to be found, with equally varying degrees of employee involvement in activities such as fundraising and volunteering.

In my capacity as researcher, I was lucky enough to work with Amanda Jordan OBE to help produce this piece using the Charity Commission database, a survey and in-depth interviews with the foundations of Zurich, Sodexo as well as the Association of Charitable Foundations.

Since the last Corporate Citizenship publication into corporate foundations in 2006, the numbers of such foundations in England and Wales has actually grown, despite the economic downturn.

During my research I was both astonished and overjoyed to see that a large part of the new corporate foundations established since 2006 were in the fashion sector. Not only that, but this was an entirely new sector to realise the benefits of corporate foundations, with clothing retailers such as Burberry (2008), Primark (2008), White Stuff (2010) and Jimmy Choo (2011) all establishing foundations in recent years.

An area for future improvement across corporate foundations in all industry sectors, however, was shown to be impact assessment. This was demonstrated when a shocking 42% of survey respondents from corporate foundations said that they do not undertake any form of impact assessment.

This publication is focused upon corporate foundations based in the UK, although some of them had additional global operations. With great potential to take this research further, there are some brief European comparisons made at the end and there may be an American perspective brought out in the future.

Corporate foundations are certainly valuable contributors to social good and this research is really only the start of what is to come within this expanding sector. A great piece of thought-leadership- keep up the good work guys and girls!