Book Review—”Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save The Planet”

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Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope have written an informative and compelling book about climate change and our opportunity to slow and halt its progression. Throughout it, the authors note the importance of philanthropy moving both public policy, and public opinion—as evidenced by the actions of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has offered up to $15 million to support the operations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretariat, including its work to help countries implement their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

I was not familiar with Carl Pope, former executive director and chair, of the Sierra Club, but I am a huge fan of Michael Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor, and founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies. These two men, while coming from different worlds and sometimes different opinions, came together around this issue with the optimistic belief that we have the solutions necessary to make the world healthier and more prosperous.

This paragraph from the last chapter, titled “The Way Forward,” encapsulates the spirit, and hope of the book: “We can stop global warming. Not by slowing economies but by speeding them up. Not by depending on national governments but by empowering cities, businesses, and citizens. Not by scaring people about the future but by showing them the immediate benefits of taking action. If we accomplish this, we will be healthier and wealthier. We’ll live longer and have better lives. We’ll have less poverty and political instability. And while we are at it, we’ll pass on to our children and theirs a brighter future.”

The book is not all rosy and it gives the facts needed to understand the issues, which is important to better understand the solutions. For example, there are some highly technical pages devoted to the sources of climate change, which include methane, nitrous oxide, halocarbons, black carbon particles and two different sources of CO2: fossil fuels/industry and forestry/land use. These sources are a result of industry; fossil fuel production; electricity and heating production; agriculture, forestry and land use; building heating and cooling; and transportation. The stakes include rising seas, severe heat, drought, and other consequences.

To me the most exciting aspects of cleaning up the planet are the positive economic implications. More clean energy jobs are being created every day. The circular economy is showing how products are being designed with the afterlife in mind. Buildings are being built smarter and cars are running on batteries. Agriculture has better systems for how we grow food using less water and reducing methane and CO2 emissions. The green economy is booming.

“Cooler heads can produce a cooler world,” write Bloomberg and Pope. “National governments are not the best places to create these solutions. Rather, it is the mayors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, activists, concerned citizens, and other local actors who truly have the power to win the battle against climate change in ways that will also generate economic growth and improve public health—and many, in fact, are already making substantial progress.”

While the US Federal Government is pulling out of the Paris Agreement (COP21), businesses and local governments are staying the course, exemplified by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ offer. It is critical for the future of the human race that we listen to and take care of Mother Earth. Companies are partnering with nonprofits such as The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, using their philanthropic dollars to address various aspects of climate change. Climate of Hope provides a roadmap of what needs to be done and how to approach the issues. Much work is already taking place, but we have a long way to go. We need to all start the journey now and there are few better places to start than in the corporate philanthropy world, where funding and partnerships can be unleashed to make huge strides.

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Seeing Opportunity in Reputation Risk

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Whatever the cause of a reputational hit, boards are liable to be held accountable and can mitigate their own reputation risk by diligently asking the right questions about the company’s ESG and CR strategies, practices, risk management, crisis preparedness, and the potential reputation-enhancement opportunities embedded in successfully managing such risks.

My new article appeared in the April edition of the National Association of Corporate Director’s Directorship Magazine.  It was co-written with friend and colleague Dr. Andrea Bonime-Blanc.  Andrea is CEO of GEC Risk Advisory, a global strategic governance, resilience, and risk advisory firm, and former chief risk, ethics, and legal officer for several global companies.

To read the full article, click here.


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Two Companies Collaborate around Shared Desired Outcome to Build the Workforce of Tomorrow

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collaboration-iconFirst published on The Conference Board Giving Thoughts Blog on November 30, 2016

We often talk cross-sector collaboration, but we don’t often hear about companies working together to solve a social problem. CH2M and Dow are doing just that. Interestingly, they count each other as both customers and suppliers—strategic business partners. Together they partnered with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to create the Dow-CH2M Smithsonian Teacher Scholar Program.

As part of the program, Dow and CH2M identified teachers from strategic locations in which the companies have a strong presence—for example, California, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. These teachers attended Smithsonian Science Education Academies for Teachers (SSEATs), week-long academies designed to heighten STEM teachers’ ability to inspire and enlighten their students. The teachers then took their experiences back to their classrooms. They continued their professional growth through peer networking, mentoring and interaction with Dow and CH2M employee volunteers.

“I loved participating in the class because it gave me an opportunity to see and hear real research and find ways to emulate that in my classroom,” says Gordon Culver, high school teacher, Frankenmuth High School, Michigan. “It was also exciting to have a direct connection between real-world research and the things that can happen with my students.”

Both companies support efforts around building the workforce of tomorrow and environmental sustainability. The teachers were divided into three cohorts with each focusing on one of the following elements: Biodiversity, Energy’s Innovations and Implications, or Earth’s History and Global Change. This program is an example of the companies utilizing their core competencies along with philanthropic dollars and intellectual capital through their employee volunteer programs.

“At a time in corporate giving when so many social issues are pressing around the world, it is even more critical to collaborate with other funders with whom you share similar values and interests,” said Ellen Sandberg, executive director, CH2M Foundation. “The multiplier effect comes into full force, thus leading to even greater impact. Partnering with Dow has meant greater engagement between the two companies than ever before, benefiting both the community and the business relationship.”

“We realize that in order to tackle the challenge of building the STEM workforce of tomorrow, one company cannot do it alone,” said Meredith Morris, global STEM leader, the Dow Chemical Company. “We were extremely proud to expand our collaboration with the Smithsonian Science Education Center to include our key business partner, CH2M. It is exciting that we are able to combine our aligned global citizenship and sustainability strategies and engage the passion and skills of our employees to collaborate on a program that will empower educators in communities that are important to us.”

Initial feedback from the program is positive and shows that it has sparked enthusiasm in the teachers and subsequently benefited their students. “I think it has made an immense impact on my teaching strategies,” said April Languirand, fifth grade teacher, Lakewood Elementary, Louisiana. “I have a degree in history and am a huge history nerd. Science has never been my passion, until now! The program piqued my interest in science like never before. It also made me think about why I didn’t like science as a student. I have put a lot more effort into making lessons fun for my students—being excited about the lesson and then passing that excitement on to my students.”

Rhonda Wendel, fifth grade science and social studies teacher, Danbury Elementary, Texas, said: “I have shared with my students that there are so many choices of careers in science that I didn’t even know existed. The careers that the experts discussed opened up a whole new world for me to share with my students.”

The desired outcome if the Dow-CH2M Smithsonian Teacher Scholar Program is to build the workforce of tomorrow and the anecdotal feedback received so far certainly points to long-term success!

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“Abundance & Disruption during an Exponential Era”

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wp_20161116_10_13_10_rich-2Peter Diamandis is one smart, forward thinking and amazing guy.  He is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space. In 2014 he was named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” – by Fortune Magazine. He is best known as the founder of the X Prize.

I had the honor of meeting him and hearing him speak last week at “Governing in a time of Seismic Change,” the 2016 Corporate Director Symposium jointly convened by the USC Marshall School and the National Association of Corporate Directors. The topic of his keynote was “Abundance & Disruption during an Exponential Era.”  This could not be more appropriate with the quantum change we see happening all around us.  Diamandis is the New York Times Bestselling author of Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD – How to go Big, Create Wealth & Impact the World.

“A culture of innovation comes from people who are never satisfied. What’s next?.”  “Does your organization celebrate failure to go 10x bigger?” “Exponential growth opportunities are driving massive risk taking.”  His talk focused on making big bets, taking huge risks, pointing to the stars and don’t look back.  He talked the barriers that companies have to success.  So many are risk adverse and their people are not celebrated when they fail, their often fired.  To get that ‘moonshot” you must try over and over, harder and harder, until you figure it out.  Too many take the path of least resistance.  These companies will fail. “The only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing. 40% of today’s Fortune 500 companies are predicted to disappear in the next 10 years. Competition is no longer the multinational overseas; instead, it’s the exponential entrepreneur creating companies like Uber, Airbnb, DropBox, Oculus, Whatsapp, SpaceX and Tesla.  Disruption is also coming from data-driven tech giants who are entering into adjacent fields: Google into the automotive industry, Apple into the music industry, Facebook into the global telecom industry, and IBM Watson into healthcare.”  “Today a company’s success depends on mindset, its use of exponential technologies and the power of crowdsourcing. Where should a company be looking to grow 10x bigger, rather than 10-percent bigger? What does it take for a company to become an Exponential Organization? How do you become Uber rather than Kodak?

Hearing Peter challenge this group was energizing.  There is so much opportunity if we will let it happen.  Are we on an exponential trajectory or are we blinded in the success measures of the past?

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