Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Establishing a sustainable supply chain at Kraft

In 2003, Kraft foods announced a partnership with the Rainforest Alliance to incorporate and develop sustainable coffee programs into its supply chain.

Nearly three years later, we can demonstrate the growth of the program and its early successes:

* In 2004 Kraft purchased 2,400 tons of Rainforest Alliance certified [sustainable] coffee. In 2005, this figure was more than doubled to 6,400 tons. In 2006, Kraft will purchase 13,400 tons of certified coffee - enough to make 1.6 billion cups of coffee.

* The coffee purchased is blended directly into more than six major coffee brands including Maxwell House, Kenco, Carte Noire, Jacobs, Jaques Vabre and Gevalia. The coffee has also been used to launch three 100 percent sustainable brands, Kenco "Sustainable Development," Jaques Vabre "Cafe Pour Agir" and Gevalia "Ekologist."

Kraft buys as much as 40 percent of the coffee produced at Las Lajas, a coffee cooperative in El Salvador with 3,800 residents. The higher and consistent prices paid for the coffee by Kraft (usually between 8-12 US cents per pound of coffee) has allowed Las Lajas to:

* Invest US$40,000 in a much need drinking water distribution system.
* Plant over 30,000 trees in one year - many of them endangered species.
* Introduce weekly support visits to the farm by a local pediatrician - in many cases, the only doctor that the rural children see.

By 2005, just the second year of the partnership, sustainable coffee that Kraft purchased helped to:
* Support around 100,000 people in Central and South America.
* Preserve over 50,000 acres of rainforest.

Excerpted from "Forging a sustainable supply chain for the next 100 years at Kraft" by Tensie Whelan and Annemieke Wijn, in the current issue of Corporate Responsibility Management.

Blogged on 6:22 PM by Upay



Training workers in CR

In an ideal world, all those who represent a company; employees, agents, suppliers and the board, need to be competent in carrying out the company's values as expressed in CR policies and procedures.

After all, aren't all those who act on behalf of your company, workers in the field of CR, just as much as in the field of profit generation and sustainable brand value? Here are five top tips for using training to engage workers in CR.

1. CR training for company representatives is a 360-degree event. It's critical to know what staff members know about your policy and subsequently, what they've learned.

2. Bare in mind that you should be concerned not only with induction training, but ongoing learning within the organization, continuing education and ensuring continuous improvement in the use and usefulness of CR as a core tool for achieving corporate goals.

3. Examine your CR policy and define its areas; ethics, philanthropy, bribery and corruption, recycling rules, environmental standards and so on. Cover all the defined areas within the training.

4. Within training, use lots of discussions - not only of scenarios that could arise in your company, but also as opportunities for attendees to teach each other and share any knowledge and experiences they may have of CR.

5. Finally, use training as an opportunity for staff to scrutinize and give feedback on your CR policy and even your CR reports. This has many benefits including a clear opportunity for staff to input on company policy and can highlight areas of the policy or report that are unclear or need updating and, illustrate programs the company is already involved in.

Adapted from "Engaging workers via training" by Eileen Kohl Kaufman, in the current issue of Corporate Responsibility Management.

Blogged on 6:17 PM by Upay



Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Preparing Your Organization for Change

The next time your business has a big change in the works, like, say corporate restructuring, or a new way of approaching work with clients, it might behoove your department to keep in mind some pointers, or best practices in change management, says Richard Axelrod, president of the Chicago-based Axelrod Group, and author of the 2004 book, “You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done.”

“The real foundation is about purpose,” says Axelrod of preparing your company’s employees for change, “being really clear about what you’re trying to create.” Sometimes the stated goal belies what really matters to an organization.

He says, for instance, that in his work with a hospital group, the stated goal was to get $30 million out of the budget, but in his discussions with organization leaders, it became apparent that the real goal was more closely related to quality.

“The real goal was to create a system that worked for docs and staff that provided the best healthcare possible in the most efficient way,” he notes. “So, they got their $30 million, they did achieve that, but it wasn’t the dollars driving it.

In this case, what they were trying to do is change culture and systems.” Keep in mind, he advises, that good change management isn’t so different from effective project management. He says to focus on “what’s going to be different as a result of this.”Once purpose is firmly understood, move onto deciding which persons in the company you’d like to involve to reach the goal.

While doing this, it’s important not to mislead potential participants about the level of involvement you are asking of them, Axelrod says. “I think the thing that really upsets people is when they think they have more of a voice or say than is actually being provided,” he explains.

“You have to be clear if this is something you’re just asking for feedback on, if the decision has already been made and you’re asking about implementation, or if it is wide open.” Meanwhile, it is also essential to set limits.

He says that by telling people what they’re not going to be able to do, you’re also helping them focus on where their input will actually be of use. “If you’re clear about limits, it gives people freedom because they know within this boundary I can put my energies, and I’m not putting my energies where I don’t need to put them.” At the same time, he cautions moderation in drawing the lines.

“If boundaries are too tight, people will say, ‘Why did you say you needed my input, when you’ve already decided what you want to do?’ If [the boundaries are] too loose, then people get lost.”

For more information, visit www.axelrodgroup.com.

Blogged on 9:49 PM by Upay



Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Communicating about avian flu

Q: We need to create a communication plan to talk to employees about avian flu. Can anyone share advice on communicating about this issue?
A: We've just completed what I think is a successful communications campaign for staff on the topic of avian flu. Our organization operates across more than 100 countries with a complement of staff (both expats and locals) in all these countries. We had to come up with a preparedness plan to ensure both the safety of our staff and continuity of business operations.

Our organization may have a higher level of awareness around the avian flu as we'll be called on to provide advice to governments on how to handle potential outbreaks. Nevertheless, there was anxiety among our staff and a need for organizationwide information.
We used a variety of channels to communicate ongoing work on the development of our preparedness plan. This included:

- periodic messages from our leadership emphasizing that the organization was working on developing plans and that staff safety was foremost;

- online interviews (both print and audio) with those leading the work on specific areas;a comprehensive website with our internal policies and action plans, references to outside resources, a running list of all the communications to date, and a list of constantly updated Q&As with ability for staff to submit questions;

- a comprehensive memo from the head of HR outlining the very specific steps which will kick into action if an epidemic progresses; and

- a town hall with all staff (streamed and available online) with a panel of six participants (HR, our health people, security, IT) to go over the plans and respond to further questions.

Judging from a quick survey we did, staff feel informed and confident in the actions the organization has taken thus far. Of course, there are many questions we can't answer until an outbreak actually happens, but for now, this is no longer the burning issue it was just a few weeks ago.

Michele EganSenior Communications OfficerThe World Bank Group
For more on how the World Bank prepares for crisis management, see the February/March 2005 issue of
Strategic Communication Management.

Blogged on 1:52 AM by Upay



Change efforts fail to reap rewards

The majority of organizations believe they are effective at initiating change. But they are far less confident about the effectiveness of change communications, maintaining momentum and motivation, and their ability to reap the rewards of their change efforts.

These findings come from The Management Agenda 2006, the ninth annual survey on the issues and challenges facing managers at work produced by UK-based consultancy Roffey Park. The report shows that change has become a constant part of organizational life in all sectors, with a clear majority of respondents (89%) reporting that their organization has undergone structure and system changes in the last two years.

Respondents were asked to rate how effective their organizations are at managing different elements of change. The figures are almost identical to those reported in 2005:

82% consider their organizations effective at initiating change
72% feel they are able to maintain top-level involvement
63% say their organizations are effective at employee consultation
61% rate their organizations effective at planning and coordinating change
61% believe they are effective at implementing change

The ratings drop, however, when it comes to change communication, with only 54% of respondents claiming effectiveness in this area. This could have a direct impact on the elements of change which respondents feel their organizations are ineffective at. For example:

58% rate their organizations ineffective at maintaining momentum during change
62% say their organizations are ineffective at consolidating benefits
63% feel they are ineffective at reviewing and learning from change
64% say their organizations are ineffective at managing employee motivation

"Organizations still struggle to sustain a focus on the people aspects of change for long enough to gain the real benefits of change," say the report's authors. "Consequently, more restructuring occurs to try and achieve the desired benefits. Communication in particular needs to be more consistent and maintained for longer."

For more information about The Management Agenda 2006 visit: Roffey Park

Blogged on 1:50 AM by Upay



Winning grass-roots support for change

Persuading an executive team or the whole organization to make a fundamental change may take more than just a business case. Alastair Ham, director of organizational development at Norwich Union Insurance, learned this while guiding managers through a change process to help them become more effective team leaders and communicators. "At the time, this approach was so far away from the prevailing culture of the organization and the ingrained habits of managers that few would listen to the idea."
The trick, he says, was seeking commitment from stakeholders outside the executive team, creating a buzz and then waiting for a tipping point to be reached in terms of winning wider support. Here he offers five ways to win grass-roots support for changing behavior:
1 Be committed:
Before you start, ask yourself some questions. Do you believe the change you're trying to introduce is fundamental to the future of the organization? Is it totally aligned to the strategy? Are you prepared to invest yourself in making it happen? Don't start unless you believe in the importance of what you're trying to achieve and are prepared to put your job on the line.
2 Don't start at the top:
If possible, don't present a business case to your executive team. The risk of rejection is high and once leaders have said no, they'll defend their decision making it almost impossible to move forward.
3 Create converts:
Look for other stakeholders who can help – such as business unit or department heads and managers – and turn them into your supporters. What you're trying to do at this stage is set something up in a small part of the business that not only proves your point but creates emotional converts who can convert others.
4 Take it slowly:
It's not how fast you move, but how quickly you reach your goal. If what you're creating is genuinely a cultural change, few people will convert to it quickly or easily. They'll need to experience it for themselves and be given time to adjust to a new way of working.
5 Create a buzz and don't force it:
If you've been successful, your work will get noticed. Not as a dry business case, but as a genuine emotional experience demonstrated and talked about by the people involved in it. This is the kind of experience that drives change. Even if you do secure executive approval, don't use it as an excuse to force the change on everyone else. If the change is that fundamental, people will come to it at their own pace.

This is an edited extract from an article appearing in Strategic Communication Management.

Blogged on 1:49 AM by Upay



In 1987, The Body Shop International and Jacaranda Productions produced one of the first CR-led global corporate videos. The idea was to produce regular video programs to convey The Body Shop's desire to communicate its values and sustainable initiatives to all staff. The result was, in survey after survey, Body Shop staff were shown to have the greatest commitment to their company's values of any UK business.

* "Body Shop World," a bi-monthly program aimed at staff in the 1,600 stores worldwide, was seen in 47 countries and translated into 19 languages.
* With Jacaranda, The Body Shop has now produced over 400 films, many focusing on global issues including human rights, animal testing and fair trade.
* Surveys showed The Body Shop to be the eighth most recognized brand in the world.What lessons can be learned from this?

Firstly, that The Body Shop's films proved how a company could integrate CR activity into its brand in such a way that the two became inseparable in the public mind.Another factor is the importance of starting close to home by communicating effectively with your own employees - these are the most powerful stakeholders and ambassadors you can have. Most crucially of all, the films proved that an engagement with CR could be an important driver of commercial success.Adapted from, "Filming credible corporate messages" by Katy Eyre, in the current issue of Corporate Responsibility Management.

Blogged on 1:36 AM by Upay



Choosing a reporting standard

A crucial issue for CR practitioners is which standards to adopt. You should seek standards that won't be just documents pulled out at reporting time, but integrated into company strategy to become a key part of company goals and values.

But what is a standard? How will you use the standard you choose? Will it address internal and external activity? Will it address human rights? Will your performance against the standard be publicly reported? How will the board be involved?

Go into the field and find CR standards that are specific and have metrics, which are:
1. Multi-stakeholder: Transparently developed by a multi-stakeholder coalition of subject experts. Check if the standard was developed in accordance with ISEAL's (the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance) guidelines.Find a standard that's undergone complex and robust development, where stakeholder concerns, expertise and different sectors and points of view contributed to its completeness, materiality and clarity. Its credibility derives from being developed in a multi-stakeholder, consensus-based process, periodically revised, reviewed and commented on by users.
2. Verifiable: Clearly written and specific enough for performance against it to be verified, even though not all users seek external verification.
3. Legitimate: Based on established, defined and widely accepted principles, the SA8000 for example.
4. Comprehensive and appropriate: Include the issues your stakeholders consider important and expect you to address. Make it clear to your stakeholders what you aspire to and commit to, so they can rally around. It's a big job to work to meet any of the sustainability standards around. You don't want to distract from that by choosing a weak standard.
5. Appropriate: In coverage and requirements. An environmental standard today needs to speak to global warming, for example.People often comment, "there are thousands of standards, many are very specific, to industry, to product type." Sometimes in the past there's been a paralysis: too many choices, "let's wait on the sideline until the dust clears and there's only one path."

Some currently are tempted to do that and wait for ISO26000 (a new Social Responsibility (SR) standard). However, ISO26000 is not going to be a performance standard but management guidelines on how to use standards that a company chooses according to its specific CR criteria.Once you've surveyed the field and agreed with stakeholders on the standard(s) that you will use, it's time for the real work to begin.

Excerpted from "Choosing a reporting standard" by Eileen Kohl Kaufman in the current issue of Corporate Responsibility Management.

Blogged on 1:33 AM by Upay