Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa's 1,747th Annual CSR Report

True to form, Santa has sent me her 1747th CSR Report. (See prior reports here: 1,746 and 1,745). But yes, you did read that correctly. This year, Santa is a WOMAN. She was appointed after a nomination by the Santa Claus Inc. (SCI) Board of Directors Nominating Committee and approved at the SCI AGM. This is a first for SCI. Not only is Santa a woman, but she is a single mom, she's of Chinese origin, has a personal disability (a wooden leg) and was abandoned by her parents at birth, only to be found in a garbage dump by concerned citizens who prayed for her welfare. After finding home in a series of orphanages, Miss Santa applied to the Vocation Elf Training Academy in Lapland, believing that distributing gifts to children would make the world a better place. From Day One she was mentored by senior SCI Managers, offered several leadership development programs, provided with flexible working options so that she could be home for her children in the afternoons. Miss Santa is paid exactly the same as her male counterparts. Graduating from the elf program with distinction, Miss Santa quickly rose through the elf ranks and became a significant influence at SCI. When it was time to appoint a new Santa, she was not considered as a leading candidate because she is a woman. Santa has never been a woman. However, Miss Santa did a good thing. She personally talked at all the members of the SCI Board of Directors and promised to behave like a man. They accepted, and the rest is history. Follow Santa on Twitter at @Santa or visit Santa's Facebook page.

As I usually do, with permission, I will share with you the CEO statement.

Santa Claus
The Shared Values Report 2011

Dear Stakeholders,

As you all approach Christmas 2011, I urge you to be conscious consumers. I know how tempting toy stores are at this time of the year. Blinking lights, massive colorful displays, new improved versions of all your favorite toys, all screaming at you "Buy ME, Buy ME, Buy ME!" I say to you, conscious citizens of the world. UNITE! Join together in a spirit of sustainability. Don't buy! Instead, donate the money you would have spent to the Retired Santa Foundation, which ensures that all prior Santa's can continue to live in a way to which they have not yet become accustomed. 

2011 has been a year of ups and downs. Yes, we reached new heights and experienced new lows. In this 1,747th CSR Report, I will share with you the heights. You can work out the lows for yourself. The theme of this report is how Santa creates Shared Value. We do this by continuing to do what we have always done, but calling it Shared Value. In sustainability terms, we have made notable progress and have been accepted by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as a Super Sector Leader for the very first time. (Actually, there is no other company in our sector, so leadership is a POC). We have also joined the United Nations Global Compact, mainly because of the problems of corruption we see in our industry. We have already started a campaign to prevent local in-store Santas promoting toys from sponsored links.

Reinforcing our Values: One of my first acts as CEO was to review our Santa Claus value statement and bring it into line with our modern world. When Santa started out over 1,700 years ago, the world was a very different place. No internet. No cell-phones. No Chunky Monkey. No electric sleighs. No robot elves. Today, the world is full of technology and people have become addicted to Facebook and iPhones, leaving little time to experience the true meaning of relationships, the love of nature or the optimism of the human spirit. Our new values at SCI aim to reinforce our contribution to this modern world. Following a process of consultation with our Board of Directors, the Elf Representation Committee and selected external stakeholders (reindeer farmers, toy manufacturers, Greenpeace, children and moms, chimney sweeps), we believe this now best represents our core:

To perpetuate the love of Santa

Faith in Santa
Disabled-Access Chimneys
Elf Emancipation
Reindeer Rights
Children's Universal Right to Gifts
Santa World Domination 

Sleigh Energy Efficiency: As reported last year, we were considering moving to electric-powered sleighs, but we delayed this program due to lack of sleigh charging stations. We are disappointed to report no progress in global electric sleigh infrastructure, but we have commenced a pilot with solar power. We charge up our sleighs all summer in sunny Lapland and this provides enough energy to run the sleighs during the Christmas period, provided we use power-saving driving techniques. This saves over 463,000 tons of carbon emissions every Christmas season. The downside is that some sleighs run out of power before returning to base. If anyone has identified the whereabouts of 473 sleighs which have been lost somewhere over Iran, Ivory Coast, Philippines and New Zealand, please contact the SCI Sleigh Recovery Department.

Transportation Safety: All sleighs have now been fitted with tachometers, global GPS tracking and safety devices that monitor the driving techniques of elves and report problems online. In 2011, there were 225 sleigh accidents, mostly due to elves tweeting and texting while sleigh-driving. These resulted in only one fatality: a life-size inflatable Marilyn Monroe doll, destined for a home for motherless children. Instead, we supplied a life-size Powderpuff Girl. We have issued a new policy that forbids distractions when sleigh-driving and any elves which cause more than 3 accidents are demoted to toy-sorters in the Lapland warehouse.   

Toys Sourcing, Packaging and Recycling: This year, Santa is distributing toys which have certified conflict-free mineral content, contain reduced levels of packaging materials and only paper and carton from sustainable sources. Every toy is recyclable because it contains a special label: "Recycle this Toy - give it to a friend".  Our experiment two years ago of distributing only recycled toys was not sustainable. Children rejected used toys due to missing parts, torn-off doll limbs and protruding nails and screws, despite our rigorous QA process. When children complained of having received a horse on a stick without the horse, a BeyBlade without the blade and a Justin Bieber doll which sings out of tune, we felt it was time to review this policy. (We are still checking whether the Justin Bieber issue is actually a fault).  

We have also banned certain toys from our distribution list this year:
Elf Freedom of Association: This year, we have made significant progress by acceding to elves' demand for representation, collective bargaining and freedom of association. Of the 342,400 elves in our employ, 17 have joined the Help Elves Live Longer (HELL) Union. HELL ensures a living wage for elves and protects their pension rights. The reason that only 17 elves have joined HELL is that unauthorized union-busting activity has apparently been more successful that we are able to admit.   

Impact Evaluation Program: This year, for the first time, we concluded our first Impact Evaluation Study, aiming to show what value Santa adds to social cohesion all over the world during the holiday season. It took us quite some time to figure out how to measure this, but ultimately, with the support of the Toys for Global Spiritual Growth Association, we undertook the widest survey ever of children between the ages of 6 and 9, and parents between the ages of 23 and 24. This is what we found:

99.3% of children confirmed that receiving a toy from Santa contributes to their motivation to achieve higher grades in school. The 0.7% who disagreed are employed year-round, cotton picking in Uzbekistan and making tablecloths in factories in Guangzhou. 

78.9% of children confirmed that playing with toys helps them form positive relationships with siblings. Those who did not, have no siblings. Those who confirmed positive relationships say this is due to the fact that, when they are playing with their toys, they are not interacting with their siblings and therefore have no time to quarrel.

100% of children confirmed that receiving toys helps them understand important social issues such as global warming, global poverty and gender equality. We think this is probably because the questionnaire did not have a negative response option.

93% of parents confirmed that their children love them more after they have received a toy at Christmas time. Quite how parents measure this is not clear. However, in parallel, records show a reduction of parental violence and child-beating in many countries. We can only conclude that our toys are contributing to strengthening positive bonds between parents and children.

99% of parents confirmed that children received toys from Santa that they would otherwise not have bought. This is because most parents prefer to spend on food, education and medical care. By reducing the burden on parents to budget for Christmas toys, our impact is undeniable: happier, healthier, better educated children who will save our planet from enironmental destruction.

As a result of this highly positive Impact Evaluation, we re-launched our Support Santa Fund. Please support us. Donations are welcome via the CSR Reporting Blog (who takes only a small percentage handling fee. Not more than 42.5%).

A+ Level Report: Finally, we  are proud to announce that this is a self-declared A+ Level report, prepared in accordance with Santa's very own Reporting Framework. Actually, there is only an A+ Level. We prefer not to confuse people. We decided not to have our report assured this year in order to ensure that no-one picks up on our errors. However, we will consider making fewer errors in future years.

Wishing Everyone A Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and A Happy New Year !

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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