In a new book, Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey envisions a world where “one day, virtually every business will operate with a sense of higher purpose, integrate the interests of all stakeholders, elevate conscious leaders, and build a culture of trust, accountability and caring.”
Leading power tool manufacturers have conspired for years to thwart adoption of a safety device that could prevent thousands of finger amputations and other disfiguring injuries in table saw accidents, according to a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by the developer of the safety technology.
If you were selecting a new president for your organization, what leadership qualities should he or she possess to be successful in navigating all the challenges you can foresee and those you can’t? Columnist Gael O’Brien discusses an unusual symposium of leading educators who offered advice to The Ohio State University as it goes about the process of identifying a new president.
In January, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, ascended to the powerful chairmanship of the House Financial Services Committee. Six weeks later, campaign finance filings and interviews show, Hensarling was joined by representatives of the banking industry for a ski vacation fundraiser at a posh Park City, Utah, resort.
With greater gender diversity on a corporate board, comes better performance. Opinions differ as to why, but myriad research studies from leading academic institutions and the private sector all make a compelling case for more balanced gender representation on boards. The debate should be long over, yet women’s presence on U.S. corporate boards remains frustratingly, persistently low.
So-called dark factories—otherwise known as “lights out” or “automatic” factories—are manufacturing facilities that do not depend on human labor to get work done. While they may have some benefits for the environment they are certainly not beneficial overall considering the impact widespread adoption would have on needed jobs.
The World Bank reports that the number of people living below the $1.25-a-day poverty line declined from 52% of the population of the developing world in 1981 to 22% in 2008. But nearly 649 million of those who moved above the poverty line had a standard of living that was nevertheless below what would be defined as “poor” in middle-income developing countries and far below that of rich countries.
Educating students in corporate responsibility means making sure they think critically and recognize that ethical issues are inherent in all business decisions, says an educator. “Corporate culture must support all employees to think critically about every decision and action, every day,” she writes. “Being motivated simply to avoid prosecution is not the same as behaving ethically—and it’s often not even a good way to avoid sanctions.”
“I work for the Gap and know firsthand the amount of waste that’s produced at my store. Can you suggest ways retail stores can reduce waste? And how can I get a conversation started with the people upstairs about recycling and being less wasteful?”
Pay packages for CEOs of U.S.-based companies continue out of control, writes columnist Gael O’Brien, with boards often succumbing to “fear-based” compensation practices that undermine the potential for collaborative leadership and sustainability. She notes new research which disputes conventional wisdom that CEOs can easily move to the next company if not paid well. “Tackling excessive CEO compensation,” O’Brien writes, “is the first step in creating a new normal.”
While sustainability is increasingly “appearing on the radars and agendas of companies around the world,” a clear gap exists between corporate “words” and “action,” according to the newly-released Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013 from the United Nations Global Compact.
Since taking over the top job at General Motors in January, Mary Barra has been low-key about the fact that she’s the first woman ever to lead the giant auto maker. And that is a good thing, says columnist Gael O’Brien. “Because there are so few women CEOs,” she writes, “there is a danger that in celebrating them we can go too far — celebrity status conferred on, cultivated or accepted creates a rock star status which when associated with leadership has real risks.”
A growing number of chief financial officers are increasingly involved in environmental and social initiatives that not long ago were totally divorced from their company’s income statements or balance sheets. At The Walt Disney Company, CFO Jay Rasulo says combining corporate citizenship with financial oversight “allows us to integrate our work in citizenship with the other financial strengths of the company. And if I’m successful in doing that, I believe I’ll actually create even more value for our shareholders.”
A new initiative to develop standards for reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues by publicly-held U.S. companies has launched its first set of standards – for the health care sector – with ambitious plans to develop similar standards for more than 80 industries in 10 sectors over the next two years.
What possesses an audit partner to trade on inside information and violate the accounting profession’s most sacred ethical standard of audit independence? Is it carelessness, greed, or ethical blindness? In the case of Scott London, the former partner in charge of the KPMG’s Southern California’s regional audit practice, it was a bit of each that motivated him to violate ethical standards.
In an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates discusses the challenges of philanthropy in an economic recession and how his tenure at Microsoft prepared him for his new job running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
One of the most persistent corporate responsibility issues for many global brands is how to manufacture products in less developed countries while paying fair wages and maintaining acceptable working conditions. The New York Times reports on an experiment by a U.S. clothing company that is paying factory workers in the Dominican Republic a “living wage” – three times the average pay of the country’s apparel workers.
Lead paint makers suffered a landmark defeat Monday when a state court judge in San Jose, Calif., ordered the industry to create a $1.1 billion fund to eliminate lead hazards to children in hundreds of thousands of homes in the state. The decision broke the industry’s perfect record of defending suits by public agencies seeking to extract money for removal of flaking lead paint from older homes and apartments. It marked a huge victory for 10 California municipalities that will be able to draw on the fund for home inspections and repairs if the ruling holds up.
Companies that invest in the management of environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks are far better prepared to deal with business “shocks” and can demonstrate to investors a “resilience” that potentially translates into higher stock market valuations, according to a new report by the consulting firm Deloitte.
Many analysts focus on what governments around the world will do to avoid a climate change calamity. Two advocates on climate change issues pose a different question: how will investors and businesses respond to limitations on carbon emissions, or even the likelihood of limitations? And how will they respond when they realize climate change itself threatens their operations and future income opportunities?
In “Arbitrage,” the new Hollywood film starring Richard Gere, the leading character’s wife asks: “How much money do we need? Do you want to be the richest guy in the cemetery?” Business Ethics columnist Gael O’Brien offers her views.