Is one bad Apple spoiling the bunch?

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The reigning business mantra is that social responsibility is a corporate side hustle.  If a market-driven opportunity to create some social impact presents itself, by all means capture it.  But make no mistake, we’ve been told, the private corporation is beholden to one master: the shareholder.  And the supreme interests of the shareholder shall not be infringed.

So what happens when shareholders demand social responsibility?  Apple tells its owners to back off:

For the second year in a row, a shareowner resolution requesting the publication by Apple of an annual sustainability report has been filed, and for the second year in a row Apple’s Board of Directors has recommended that shareowners vote down the proposal.

As You Sow, which supports activist shareholders looking to promote social impact, filed the resolution, stating that:

Among our industry peers, Dell, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard have taken leadership roles in these areas through publication of comprehensive sustainability reports that address their company’s impacts with regards to issues such as greenhouse gas emissions reduction, toxics, and supply chain working conditions

But Apple has put forth a lot of green initiatives over the past few years.  The Board of Directors, in its proxy statement, maintains that the company provides an unmatched level of detail on environmental performance, and that publishing such a sustainability report would add little value.

What do you think?  Are there too many reporting standards out there and should we just be content to critically examine what the company does put out?  Or does Apple risk looking bad next to its peers?

Posted on February 15th 2010 in news

Introducing: MikeyFigs

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My good buddy Mike Figura has elected to join me on the Benevolent Baron as a contributor.  We go back to UVA, where we were both loosely affiliated with the same fraternity, took a few urban planning and environmental science classes together, and had a quasi-band called Djambay.  I am pumped to have his input.

After graduation, Mike moved to Asheville, NC and got into the sustainable real estate development game.  He founded his own real estate company, Eco Concepts Realty, the first in Asheville to focus exclusively on sustainable real estate.  Using mixed-use development and energy efficiency, he has created properties that are allowing the people of Asheville to lead more sustainable lives.  You can see some of the properties, along with their green features, here and here.  His current project, the Westville, will be the first LEED certified mixed-use building in Asheville.

Please welcome Mike to the BB.  Look for his inaugural post shortly.

[Note: Eco Concepts Realty recently re-branded itself and is now known as Mosaic Realty]

Posted on February 12th 2010 in Uncategorized
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