Q3 2014 green trophy

The “Best Content” series brings you a handful of the most thought-provoking and informative articles, reports and interviews related to CSR communications published over the last quarter, broken down into bite-size pieces for your convenience.

What Goldman Sach’s Citizenship Initiatives Can Teach Washington
Detroit is a city rife with possibilities and the drive to pursue them. The city, though, has a gaping problem: its economy makes it difficult for businesses to thrive. So Goldman Sachs is taking their 10,000 Small Businesses initiative to the recovering city. As Goldman Sach’s Lloyd Blankfein explained on the MSNBC, all over America “very entrepreneurial people are just on the tipping point of success” so “a little education, a little confidence building, courses on negotiation, teaching some skills, gets them over the tipping point and unleashes a lot of energy.” Watch the segment here.

A New Green Wave
Sustainability is a broad word: as this article in the Economist points out, it “can refer to anything from building wind farms to combating social inequality.” The term is vague – therefore, many companies “focus on saving energy, cutting waste and streamlining logistics,” though this is less about sustainability than it is about efficiency. But more recently, some corporations are changing their goals that extend beyond the company (and its bottom line): they are setting “targets not only for the company but for the people it works with and sells to. The targets are not only about the environment but society at large.” But if these new initiatives won’t improve concrete returns any time in the near future – they are actually very expensive endeavors – what are these companies planning for? Read more in the Economist.

Sustainability in the Age of Big Data
What does big data have to do with sustainability? A new report from Wharton focuses on the opportunities – and responsibilities – that big data and information introduces with regard to climate change. The report traces several examples: companies such as Opower “allow utility customers to compare their electric usage with that of their neighbors” or Tesla’s sharing of information – by freeing their patents – so that “EV companies can pool resources.” GE’s Industrial Internet – an integration of complex machines with networked sensors and software – aims to “bring us ‘a faster, safer, cleaner, more productive world.” While the report instills optimism for the possibilities that lie within data and information, it also warns of its hurdles: “practicality, privacy, power and privilege.”  Read the full report here.

Millennials have big faith in big business. Surprised?
Millennials have been described in many ways, but one quality is consistent: they are civic-minded, and social responsibility is one of their highest concerns. And according to a new study, it turns out that “Millennials – a generation typically attributed with aversion to, and distrust of, major institutions – in fact, look to the corporate world to help solve global problems.” And they are therefore more inclined to join companies who are also social responsibly: “69% want businesses to make it easier for them to get involved.” But will any company with a sustainability report do? Not exactly: Millennials put in their due diligence and can “see right through it if, under the hood, you don’t actually have solid sustainable business practices.” Read more insights from the study here.