Monday, April 20, 2009

Guest Blogger - Kimberly B. Keilbach

Today we have a real treat. Kimberly B. Keilbach, of Global Warming is Good for Business, has kindly agreed to share some thoughts with us. If you've never been to Kimberly's blog, I suggest you check it out ... she, very beautifully, writes about the connection between global warming and business ... and how helping one can actually help the other.

A big THANK YOU to Kimberly for this wonderful article.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a buzz phrase these days that is often used hand-in-hand with “green” business practices. The words conjure up images of the CEO of some Fortune 500 company climbing up a tree to rescue a kitty or helping a little, old lady across the street.

Obviously, the criteria are a bit more involved than that. Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine recently released its 10th annual list of Best 100 Corporate Citizens, which ranked Russell 1000 Index companies according to their performance in: environment, climate change, human rights, employee relations, philanthropy, financial, and governance (including executive compensation).

However, corporate social responsibility is not a new concept. Back in the day, when most people worked on family farms or ran local mom-and-pop businesses, folks called it “doing the right thing.” They knew that if they didn’t play fair, people would stop coming to their shops, stop buying their produce, stop lending them money, stop hiring them. People behaved themselves because they knew they would be held accountable by their neighbors if they didn’t. It was just that simple.

Fortunately or not, we no longer live in small farming communities. We live in suburbs and cities and in greater, global social networks. We blog and twitter with people we have never met, who may live on continents far away. The good news is we can keep up with what’s going on almost instantaneously. The bad news is we often feel too insignificant to make a positive change. But, as Anita Roddick, entrepreneur and environmental activist, once said, "If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room."

So, what can we do?

According to Green America , a national non-profit organization, “If you own mutual funds, or you are a direct shareholder in a corporation, then you are part-owner of that company – someone with the right and responsibility of helping determine the direction that company will take.”

Green America offers strategies for people like you and me to invest in socially responsible ways, including tips for screening our investment portfolio for environmental sustainability, community involvement, employment equality, and other criteria in addition to monetary profits. I don’t agree with all of Green America’s screening criteria, but I do appreciate how the non-profit organization walks members step-by-step through the process of writing proxy letters to our 401K mutual funds, urging them to invest in corporations that meet those criteria which are important to us.

This free market approach to guiding corporations with our pocket books instead of with regulations is a win-win; it allows companies to be competitive and to meet their “triple bottom line” of economic profitability, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility. And, apparently, it’s working. Companies that are voluntarily enacting socially responsible policies are making profits. According to Corporate Responsibility Officer , “100 Best companies have out-paced the rest of their Russell 1000 brethren in three-year total return by 26 percent.” I wish my 401K had done so well.

Today, we expect corporations to be more responsible, to pollute less, to give back to the community more, to pay their employees fairly...and, oh yes, to make a profit for us. But we have to be willing to do our part too; we have to be informed and to invest in those companies that share our values. We don’t need to wait for the government to intervene. We can step up to the plate right now and remind our neighbors to “do the right thing.”

Kimberly B. Keilbach is professional writer and freelance journalist. She learned first-hand about the business of sustainability when she lived on her husband’s family farm. Since then, she has moved to Orange County, California, where she has had a chance to observe one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world. Kimberly’s interest in innovation, creativity and people’s responses to change has prompted her to write her book Global Warming is Good for Business (

Again, I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Kimberly for that interesting post.

As always ... I would love to hear from you.