Harley-Davidson Signals Climate Change is Mainstream

By Carol Pierson Holding
 
What is going to solve climate change? To borrow terms from technology, a distributed motorcyclesolution is underway that has moved along the technology adoption curve and is already entering the mainstream.
 
We’ve watched this distributed solution take form for a while now. Government regulation, which lagged at the federal level, is enacted globally at the city and community levels. Individual power plants are switching from oil and coal to the lower-emissions solution, natural gas, on their own and without regulation. Corporate Social Responsibility, which was isolated in its own department, has in many companies been distributed across the enterprise, with CSR departments providing only specific support functions like competitive benchmarking, measurement and reporting.
 
How do we know our distributed solution has reached the mainstream? Harley-Davidson, whose brand is arguably nonexistent without a combustion engine, just introduced an electric motorcycle. The dominant brand in motorcycles, Harley sells 36% of all motorcycles sold in the U.S., including 52% of all on-highway bikes.  It has a well-entrenched formula for customer loyalty that includes its unique sound. That’s so important that the company tried to trademark it, only giving up in 2000 after six years of legal wrangling.
 
But Harley’s core customers are largely boomers so its average customer’s age — and as recently as 2010 its market share too — were declining.
 
The company needed to appeal to younger generations. It’s doing so with an electric motorcycle called the LiveWire.
 
How does a company capitalize on one of the most beloved parts of an electric vehicle, its silence, when your brand is synonymous with deafening noise? By creating a brand new sound. As Charles Fleming wrote in the Los Angeles Times’ last week —

 

“The (Livewire) debut marks a dramatic departure for the 110-year-old motorcycle company, which is hailed or hated for its powerful engines, loud exhaust pipes and brash rebel attitude. … It accelerates like a ballistic missile and sounds like a jet engine turbine.

 

As LiveWire designer Kirk Rasmussen said, “People get on this thinking ‘golf cart,’ but they get off it thinking ‘rocket ship.”” …That should appeal to younger male riders in particular, while the electric aspect should appeal to younger riders of both genders, who tend to be more sensitive to enviromental  (sic) matters.

 

There are many more dramatic innovations happening in emerging companies, like mushroom architecture described last week in Huffington Poststunning structures that grow themselves and are completely recyclable. But there are just as potentially meaningful changes in existing product lines from industry leaders, such as J.P. Morgan Chase’s bond funds for green projects.
 
Environmental efforts under the CSR rubric are also advancing. Most stunning for those of us who follow Apple Computer and its storied founder Steve Job’s rejection of social responsibility is new founder Tim Cook’s embrace of “better” ideas for reducing its environmental footprint. Stock market website SeekingAlpha reports on Apple’s change of heart:

 

The company was one of Greenpeace’s Do Not Buys for a long period of time. Yet in the past year Greenpeace has been applauding Apple for eliminating toxic materials, materials in conflict areas, and setting a bar in 2014 for climate leadership. The company is now using 100% renewable energy at all data centers, which is setting the bar in the tech space.

 

These solutions are most remarkable when you realize they are happening independently, across industries, across companies, even when the innovations appear to undercut a successful, established brand, as in the case of Harley-Davidson.
 
From companies to individuals to institutions, everyone seems to be a part of the distributed solution. Conservative government and business leaders advocate climate change action in a just released report “Risky Business.” Millennials are moving away from private car ownership. And Harleys may soon sound like jet engines…or nothing at all.

 

LiveWire photo courtesy of: Christine Cotter/The Orange County Register/ZUMAPRESS.com
 


 

Carol Pierson HoldingCarol Pierson Holding writes on environmental issues and social responsibility for policy and news publications, including the Carnegie Council’s Policy Innovations, Harvard Business Review, San Francisco Chronicle, India Time, The Huffington Post and many other web sites. Her articles on corporate social responsibility can be found on CSRHub.com, a website that provides sustainability ratings data on 8,900+ companies worldwide. Carol holds degrees from Smith College and Harvard University.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 325+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 
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Sustainability Performance Benchmark for Microsoft Corporation

Sustainability Ratings

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability metrics site CSRHub recently updated its ratings on Microsoft Corporation and the 304 companies in the Software and Internet industry.  Microsoft’s overall rating is now 65 according to their CSRHub page.
 

Click “Software & Internet” in the CSRHub Sustainability Ratings widget above to see all the companies in this industry. Please note, the Sustainability Ratings widget will continually update and show the latest ratings on CSRHub.

 
The average rating for the other companies in the Software and Internet industry maintained a rating of 55.  This has allowed Microsoft to move up fourteen points to 6th place on the list, using the CSRHub average user profile. Also see information about Microsoft at their CSRHub page here.

 

Microsoft has a particularly strong score in the Employees area of 77.  This is due to a high score in Compensation and Benefits of 82 —well above the average for this industry of 57.  The area with the greatest opportunity for improvement for Microsoft is the Transparency & Reporting subcategory.  Here, Microsoft gets a 50 —below the average for this industry which is 48.

 

See Microsoft Corporation’s Corporate Social Responsibility website, here.

CSRHub ratings are on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest. To see more on how CSRHub creates a score and the CSRHub rating rules, visit here.

 


CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900 companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 325+ data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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Are Both Sides Finally Meeting in the Middle?

By Bahar Gidwani

 

This past week brought two pieces of positive news on Climate Change activism.  A number of highly-influential and well-connected politicians publicly stressed the importance of addressing climate change.  One of these luminaries, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, recently took the additional sACSBtep of assuming the Chair of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

 

Just yesterday, we heard from smaller companies.  Our friends at the American Council of Sustainable Businesses (ACSB) released a poll of 555 small businesses.  It showed that a majority of those polled were concerned about Climate Change.  The small business people included more Republicans and Independents than Democrats.  The bigwig contingent was equally diverse, politically.  The EPA’s recent pronouncement of state-by-state carbon limits adds further pressure on local politicians to fall in line.

 

While there was hand wringing and despair shown by the remaining climate doubters over the EPA action, I did not see any immediate attempts to reverse it (or to indict or impeach anyone!).  I take this as a further sign that we are moving towards a consensus that we should finally start to take concerted action to avoid further global warming.

 

Once we stop arguing over whether or not we need to do something, we can start arguing about what we need to do.  Carbon is not the only driver for warming—we need to deal also with other gases, deforestation, and changes in surface reflectivity.  Many corporate entities have already cut their carbon emissions by 30% or 50%.  We will need new technologies and management systems to go further than this.  And, we will need to find ways to encourage government agencies, not-for-profits and individuals to change their behavior.

 

We hope our database and the tools we have built will help this process.  As part of our commitment to our stakeholders (we are a B Corp), we have worked hard to keep our company’s carbon use low.  Still, we probably need to examine our own practices to see if we can find more savings and contribute our fair share to solving what is finally being acknowledged as one of the most important issues of our day.

 


 

Bahar GidwaniBahar Gidwani is CEO and Co-founder of CSRHub.  He has built and run large technology-based businesses for many years. Bahar holds a CFA, worked on Wall Street with Kidder, Peabody, and with McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to a number of major companies and currently serves on the board of several software and Web companies. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree in physics and astronomy. Bahar is a member of the SASB Advisory Board.  He plays bridge, races sailboats, and is based in New York City.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 325 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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Ford Motor Company CSR Performance Benchmark

CSRHub

 

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability metrics site CSRHub recently updated its ratings on Ford and the 87 companies in the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing industry.  Ford’s overall rating currently is 61 after the most recent updates to their CSRHub page.

 

Please note, the Sustainability Ratings widget will continually update and show the latest ratings on CSRhub. 

 

The average rating for the other companies in the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing industry is steady at 54.  Ford has gone up and is currently 7th on the list, using the CSRHub average user profile. You may see more information about Ford at their CSRHub page here.

 

Ford has a particularly strong score of 63 in the Employees area.  This is due to a high score in Diversity & Labor Rights subcategory of 69—well above the average for this industry of 54.  The area with the greatest opportunity for improvement for Ford is the Board category.  Here, Ford gets a 53 —which is still above the average for the industry of 46, but it is Ford’s lowest score.

 

Some highlights of the progress that Ford made in the past year include:

  •   Ford Embracing Analytics and Big Data to Inform Eco-Conscious Decisions, Stay Green

 

  •  Ford Reduces Water and Oil Use in Plants Globally with Expansion of Near-Dry Machining Technology

 

See Ford’s Corporate Social Responsibility website here.

 

CSRHub ratings are on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest. To see more on how CSRHub creates a score and the CSRHub rating rules, visit here.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 325 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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Sustainability Performance Benchmark for Apple Inc.

CSRHub

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability metrics site CSRHub recently updated its ratings on Apple Inc. and the 69 companies in the Computers and Peripherals industry. Apple’s overall rating currently is 56 after the most recent updates to their CSRHub page.

 

Please note, the Sustainability Ratings widget will continually update and show the latest rating on CSRhub.

 

The average rating for the other companies in the Computers and Peripherals industry is 53.  Apple has gone up and is currently 9th on the list, using the CSRHub average user profile. You can see more information about Apple Inc. at their CSRHub page here.

 

Apple’s highest score is in the Employees area of a 61.  This is due to a high score in the Compensation and Benefits category of 70—well above the average for this industry of 53.  The area with the greatest opportunity for improvement for Apple is the Transparency and Reporting category. Here, Apple gets a 43—below the average for this industry which is 47.

 

See Apple’s Corporate Social Responsibility website here.

 

CSRHub ratings are on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest. To see more on how CSRHub creates a score and the CSRHub rating rules, visit here.

 

CSRHub provides access to corporate social responsibility and sustainability ratings and information on 8,900+ companies from 135 industries in 102 countries. By aggregating and normalizing the information from 325 data sources, CSRHub has created a broad, consistent rating system and a searchable database that links millions of rating elements back to their source. Managers, researchers and activists use CSRHub to benchmark company performance, learn how stakeholders evaluate company CSR practices and seek ways to change the world.

 

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