Companies Feel the Pressure to Take Stands

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions, Sustainability News


Companies Feel the Pressure to Take Stands

We’re in one of those rare “hinge” moments in history, when the status quo seems inadequate and failing, and what’s next is emerging out of the meltdown of the current order. The pressure on the top ranks of business management to make more change, faster, is increasing. Companies are being pushed from all quarters—investors, shareholders, employees, and customers—to take stands on the key social issues of the day, on ESG factors, and on employee and community engagement. This surge is being driven by a perfect storm of polarized politics, ominous climate change symptoms, and the collective energy of activists, politicians, innovators, CSR and sustainability practitioners, and a millennial workforce.

The truly exciting development is that chief executives, boards of directors, and shareholders are listening. They are hearing the call for real change more loudly than ever before. Read More >

– John Howell, Chief of Thought Leadership and Editorial Director, 3BL Media


Delta Airlines vs. NRA: One Year Later

In the aftermath of last year’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian cancelled a minor discount program that the company offered to National Rifle Association members. The outcry was much larger than the program. It included pushback from local politicians who withdrew the proposed elimination of a tax on jet fuel that was worth $40 million to the airline. Bastian’s response: “our values are not for sale.” That was not a PR agency fabricated statement.

“I went to our communications team and asked them to draft a statement for me,” Bastian told the NY Times’ David Gelles, editor of the Corner Office column. “What came back just wasn’t my words. So I threw it away and sat down and wrote it myself. And it was from my heart. It was more than a business decision for me. It got personal. You try to detach your personal emotions from your business, but there’s a point where you can’t anymore.”

Having managed Delta past 9/11 and through a bankruptcy, Bastian was no stranger to tough decisions. Read More >

Global Brands Take Stand Against Brazilian Deforestation

The rising global demand for soybeans has had unfortunate consequences for the Cerrado region of Brazil. The area is being rapidly deforested to make way for two to three annual crops of the popular commodity which can be grown on virgin Brazilian soil when the forest is cleared. To date, half of the native vegetation of the Cerrado has been taken over for agricultural expansion. Now, investors and activists are calling for an extension of the Amazon Soy Moratorium to include the Cerrado in central Brazil, reports Financial Times. “According to Brazilian law, farmers in the Cerrado need only keep 25-35 percent of native vegetation on their land intact — the rest they can deforest. By contrast, in the Amazon, they must protect 80 per cent.” Among those companies supporting the extension are McDonald’s, Walmart, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Nando, and Unilever. In addition, the Big Four global grain dealers—Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus—have committed to sharing data on their soybean suppliers in the Cerrado. It’s a reminder that despite outbreaks of nationalist tariffs and trade policies, 21st century business is proceeding as usual—that is, globally, and in this case, increasingly responsibly.


“Obviously I highly believe in diversity. I think the reason that the best results come from diverse teams is because it results in diverse thinking and approach to opportunities. For me, the pathway has been really through incredible sponsorship. You go through a period of your career where you’re being mentored, which means you get great guidance and feedback, but then moving into sponsorship, where you have people who are willing to put their own reputation on the line for you.

There are a few things we need to do. The questions, the discussions, the dialogue we have around diversity need to be had with diverse people in the room. This isn’t just an issue for women, this is an issue for all leadership… to be sitting in a room collectively and discussing [the issues] because I think the results speak for themselves. Diversity drives better results.”

—Jodie McLean, CEO, Eden

Excerpted from Chief Executive


Acre, a London based, sustainability and safety recruiter, has opened a New York office and hired Gerardo Suarez as Managing Director, USA. Suarez has extensive international recruitment and business growth experience and will continue Acre’s legacy in the sustainability market while also expanding into growth areas like responsible investment. Suarez was previously Managing Director for Industrial Search Partners / Amrop Industrial Search; Managing Director for Proco Global Group; and Director, Munich Office for Michael Page.

Suarez will be joined in New York by Catherine Harris, Principal Consultant / Executive Search USA.  Previously, Harris worked as a Business Development Manager at Global Action Plan (GAP), a leading environmental behaviour change charity. Prior to her time at GAP, she worked for a boutique executive search firm where she worked within the charity and public sector.

Sonia Benmouffok, Senior Consultant, Responsible Investment  / Energy & Clean Technology Recruitment, also joins the New York office of Acre. Previously, Benmouffok was Regional Manager, Americas, for Pacific International Recruitment, and Associate Recruitment Consultant for Michael Page.

The New York team will be supported in London by Michael Kelsall, Senior Consultant, EHS, USA. Kelsall is focused on the senior EHS recruitment market. In addition, he will develop Acre’s Talent Assessment product in the USA, Acre Frameworks. Previously, Kelsall was Head of Project Research and Delivery for Acre, and Project Consultant for Diageo.

Riva Krut has been named VP and Chief Sustainable Development Officer at Linde plc. Krut held the same role at Praxair, which just concluded a $90 billion merger with Linde. The combined company is the biggest player in the global industrial gases business.

Sara Stefanski has been promoted to Director, Global Sustainability and Responsibility Strategy at VF Corporation. Previously, Stefanski had been Senior Manager, Global Responsible Sourcing Strategy for the apparel holding company. VF owns The North Face, Timberland, Vans, and other leading brands. She was also Sustainability Manager for Safeway and a writer for the Environmental News Network.

Avi Garbow has been named Environmental Advocate by Patagonia, a first-of-its-kind position for the company. Garbow was the Environmental Protection Agency’s longest-serving general counsel and a nationally recognized environmental lawyer and advocate. Most recently, he was a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a firm that provides strategic counsel and legal services to clients on a wide range of international, federal, or state and local matters involving environmental protection and related business opportunities, investments, and operations.