Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa's 1,750th Sustainability Report

This is the time of the year when we preview Santa's Sustainability Report. Once again, this report is a G4 report, in accordance with G4 comprehensive level. Reporting is a long Santa tradition. Check out Santa's prior reports: 

Santa's First G4 Comprehensive Sustainability Report 2013
Santa's First Integrated Financial and CSR Report 2012 
Santa's 1,747th 2011 Annual CSR Report 
Santa's 1,746th 2010 Annual CSR Report 
Santa's 1,745th 2009 Annual CSR Report

Santa Claus Inc. 2014 Sustainability Report: Leadership Message

Dear Stakeholders,

I am delighted to present our Sustainability Report for 2014 covering the way we have advanced our economic, social and environmental performance during the last year. While we are proud of what we achieved, there is much more to be done. Although we were faced with another challenging year, we were able to deliver record profits and increase our presence in more than 180 countries. At the same time, we remain true to our values and have continued to invest in our sustainability programs. 

This is just one example of our commitment to recycling. The first paragraph of this opening letter was copied from most other sustainability reports. Why create your own opening letter when recycling others will do? 

However, I do feel the need to be a little more specific about Santa Claus Inc.'s progress in 2014 because it was certainly an eventful year. 2014 was the year in which we continued to do everything we always have done. Although, to be honest, I came very close to handing in my resignation in 2014. I was in the middle of costing my externalities and suddenly I realized that I hadn't accounted for absolutely all of my natural capital. I had lost thousands of CO2e emissions. "Where could they have gone?", I asked myself. And then the penny dropped. After I had picked it up, I answered. We had thrown a party for long-serving elves in the early part of the year, and had promised to offset the emissions caused by fuel-assisted sleigh travel to the venue. According to the figures I received from our Elf Transportation Manager, we offset 4,309.5 tons of CO2e by planting trees in the Sulawesi rainforest. Unfortunately, the amount of CO2e emissions we generated in getting to Sulawesi and back with all our shovels was greater than the emissions we offset. Hence our externalities are now greater than we accounted for and this created a big gap in our environmental profit and loss account. In order to close the gap, I created a special insetting program based on use of reindeer manure as fertilizer for growing muscovado sugar used to make Christmas Pudding. Unfortunately, in order to create more manure, we had to feed the reindeer triple quantities of food and this further exacerbated our externality accounting gap. In the end, I decided that I would not longer account for externalities and revised our accounts to include only internalities. All our reindeer are now on diets and our environmental profit and loss account is in the black. In addition, we are promoting sugarless Christmas Pudding as a healthy alternative to counter growing levels of obesity which is a pressing world problem.   

Business developments
During 2014, Santa Claus Inc. made record profits due to the culmination of several trends we have been seeing during the past few years, and our ability to capitalize on these trends:

More toys: More parents are giving more toys to compensate for bad parenting habits. Not only this, but the toys that parents are purchasing are higher in value. Whereas battery-operated Daleks and a Barbie Dolls were the most popular toys some years ago, today, Sony Playstations, iPads, tablets and lifetime supplies of retalin are today's most popular gifts.

More Chinese: As purchasing parity in Asian markets is increasing and disposable income in China is approaching that of Western standards, we are seeing a rise in Christmas gifts which are now given in addition to Chinese New Year gifts. In order to cope with this demand, we have set up a special Santa station in Shanghai, with a locally relevant Santa image holding chopsticks. To get into the spirit of things, we started importing chow mein in to Lapland. We don't serve it for breakfast but you should see our chopstick technique.

More eco: As the IPCC continues to predict our planetary predicament with greater science-based certainty, we understand the importance of going green. This year, we distributed only green toys. Barbie now has a green face but there is a limit to how many toys we could convert to green. We therefore substituted many toys with artificial lawns. The kids love it. Instead of playing in the home, they can now play outside on a lawn and enjoy breathing polluted air.

All of this has had a positive impact on our business results and we had our most profitable year in 2014. We are looking to creating shared value, aligning with future trends and adopting the new post-2015 agenda global sustainability goals. We are sure that, as the only truly globally positive corporation, we can make a difference where it counts. And make even more profit.

Stakeholder Engagement
This is the year that we decided to really push the boat out on stakeholder engagement after listening to the webinar organized by the 2degreesnetwork that included prominent practitioners and thought-leaders.  We really wanted to engage with our stakeholders and hear what they are saying about the way we do business and how it affects them. Of course, we used the most popular stakeholder engagement tool, SurveyMonkey. We emailed our questionnaire to all our stakeholders around the world. Basically this is the entire population. We received 34 responses of which 14 were incomplete so we discounted them. Of the 20 complete responses that we received (19 were filled in by me and one by my mother), all confirmed that the most important contribution we can make was to improve Santa well-being and long-term prosperity. We therefore updated our materiality matrix to include this one issue, and have developed a strategy to improve our performance in this area with a target to ensure Santa lives in luxury for the rest of his natural life. You can help make this happen. Send your (large) cash donations to the Santa Claus Materiality Fund via the CSR-Reporting Blog. Do it NOW! 

Elf Healf and Safety
This year, in our Elf Healf and Safety Program, we had all our elves vaccinated against the Elfbola virus at great expense to the Santa Claus Inc. Healf and Safety Fund, despite the fact that we paid only half-price for the vaccine which is still in experimental stages. 9,000 elves were vaccinated and 3,411 developed full-blown Elfbola symptoms as a result of the vaccination. As the symptoms are extremely similar to those associated with imbibing excessive quantities of alcohol, which is considered fairly normal for many of our elves, we didn't actually realize that the vaccines were causing the problem until the affected elves didn't show up for work. Once we realized this, we continued the vaccination program because, actually, having the elves off sick is a good way to cut our labor costs which have been rising over the past few years due to aggressive demands from the elf union - the National Elf Representation Directorate  (NERD). We therefore continued to vaccinate a further 15,000 elves and 5,000 more got sick. This is such a positive program that we are considering sabotaging further research into Elfbola prevention and cure, so that we can reduce our labor costs every year without NERD complaints.   

Elf Future Leaders Program
As a leader in global elf employment, and an organization that takes investment in elf talent extremely seriously, we continue to find new ways to raise the awareness, motivation, commitment and capabilities of our elves in all matters regarding good elf citizenship and saving the planet. This year, we created an innovative program for high-potential elf talent - the Sustainability Elf Well-being Empowerment Retreat (SEWER). The program teaches elves all about sustainability principles during a five-day program in which they are fully immersed in the SEWER. After they complete the program, they become SEWER champions and are accountable for advancing sustainability in our organization. Unfortunately, not all elves made it out of the SEWER with acceptable results and were required to take the retreat once again. Regrettably, we realized that, for some elves, being in the SEWER was actually preferable to coming to work (due to the free unlimited supply of ice cream), and they deliberately failed the SEWER test in order to go back again. Therefore, we took a decision to cease sending elves to the SEWER for a second time and now, if they fail the SEWER test, we send them to the Don't Underestimate Materiality Program (DUMP).

Gender Optimization
We were planning a program for all Santa Claus Inc. female elf employees to be able to freeze eggs and give birth when they are at pensionable age. But we were influenced by the article by Crane and Matten about the problematic ways in which this plays out for women who work at Apple and Facebook. So we decided to take a different route. At Santa Claus Industries Inc., we offer to freeze any body part and even full DNA so that female employees can clone themselves as soon as they start to feel that a new body would be in order, without even missing a single day of work. We have created a special deep-freeze store room for frozen parts and pieces, and hundreds of female elves have already started to create their own stocks of self-parts for future use. Furthermore, we have established a mix'n'match option, so that female elves can swap body cells and parts among themselves, in order to create new bodies that are made up of only the best bits. In fact, this has been so popular that many of our female elves have already started putting this into practice. 43% of our female elves are now not recognizable as their former selves and 24% of them resemble Britney Spears.

Photo credit:

Reindeer Rights
Unfortunately, our reindeer workforce halted work for three weeks in strike action before the Christmas rush this year as traces of reindeer meat was found in frozen 100% beefburgers marketed by a leading retail chain, mentioning no names but every little helps. Our reindeer were so outraged that their meat was being passed off as cheapo beefburgers that they created a global protest campaign on social media. The Reindeer Protection Committee set up a Meat And Nutrition Undermining Reindeer Ethics (MANURE) campaign where reindeer were asked to post a video of themselves pouring a bucket of frozen beefburgers over their heads and challenging three other reindeer to do the same thing. This quickly went viral. Thousands of reindeer participated. Unfortunately, given that packets of frozen beefburgers are actually quite heavy, most of the participating reindeer ended up in hospital with concussion and beefburger lacerations. This disrupted workflows completely and by the time we were ready to do the Christmas Eve rounds, half the reindeer workforce was incapacitated. However, the campaign was a resounding success and now, only horsemeat finds its way into beefburgers.

Partnering for Quality of Life 
In 2014, we engaged in our first Public Private Partnership to advance world prosperity. We joined forces with the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation, Oxfam, the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank and government agencies of several emerging market countries to help enrich the quality of life for disadvantaged children. The program provides a personally-inscribed Christmas Book from Santa on Christmas Eve for every single child between the ages of four and four and a half. As partners in this program, we created a special Christmas Book, signed by Santa, which describes the way Santa Claus has contributed to the spread of goodwill and cheer during the festive season in different ways around the world over thousands of years. The book is inspirational and includes quizzes and fun activities for the children. I wrote it myself in Laplandish and used Bing to translate it into English and all other languages. Regrettably, Bing translation is not so accurate and most of the books were returned due to profanities in local languages, and other odd turns of phrase. For example, "Santa brings love and affection into people's homes" was translated as "Santa opened a new home-based brothel initiative", and "Santa gave up everything to devote his life to making children happy" was translated as "Santa went bankrupt after being accused of child molestation." After recalling all the books, all our partners in the program decided to back out and we were left with several million copies crowding out our warehouses in Lapland. To avoid sending the books to landfill, we held a big open bonfire over several days to keep people warm in the freezing Lapland winter. This melted all the local ice and caused a tidal wave which precipitated floods in the Baltic Sea which drowned out most of Sweden and the Baltic Countries and all their inhabitants. Although, socially, this was a big disaster, we can take credit for immediately reducing the world's population by 15 million people and easing the environmental resource burden on the planet. In this way, even without the Santa book, we contributed to enriching the quality of life for everyone else. 

Crowdsourcing through Kickstarter
This year, instead of sourcing our toys through conventional channels, we decided to exploit the opportunities of the digital world and set up a Toy Sourcing Project through Kickstarter which is a vibrant community of people working together to bring new things to life. We asked citizens of the world to pledge money to support the cost of this year's global Christmas Gift burden. We were overwhelmed at the response. In addition to money, people sent used sleighs, second-hand elf socks and thermal vests, used cellphones, first aid kits for frostbite and chimney burns and a range of used board games. To deal with all of this, we set up a complex sorting program using volunteer elves from the Northern Lapland region. While this was highly productive and enabled us to start a new for-profit business for sorting and upcycling trash, providing valuable employment for local elves, a new climate-smart project for our insetting initiative and profit for the Santa Claus Well-being Retirement Fund, it did not really help us meet our global toy demand for 2014. Next year we will create a more specific Kickstarter project asking for funds to support local volunteer-based toy assembly workshops in 143 countries. We figure that if we can get the children involved as volunteers in making the toys that they will eventually receive on Christmas Eve, we will save sourcing and logistics costs while providing meaningful volunteer work for million of under-age vandals, thereby solving some of the world's most pressing problems in one fell swoop. 

Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption
In 2014, we updated our Santa Claus Inc. Code of Conduct. We have included a clause that prohibits elves from taking or receiving gifts. Unfortunately, as most of the work of the elves involves distributing gifts, we had to discipline all our elf population for breach of our Code of Conduct. Disciplinary action included unpaid overtime, special Santa duty rostas (making coffee for Santa, combing Santa's beard and giving Santa neck massages) and donating half their elf monthly salary to the Santa Claus Well-being Retirement Fund. As a result, the update to our Code of Conduct was highly profitable and we are now considering adding another clause that prohibits breathing at work. 

Fighting Counterfeit Santas
We have been particularly disturbed this year by the growing instances of counterfeit Santa Claus dolls available on the market. We have an army of elves gainfully employed in the manufacture of life-size Santa Claus lookalike dolls here in Lapland and they are all modeled on me. Every doll is unique and captures my exact facial expressions and body position at the time of manufacture. I have to pose for days on end in order to allow the elves to capture the exact position of my arms, legs, eyebrows, and eyeballs. Fortunately, the dolls do not emit sound as on Thursdays, I pose for doll-modelling after our regular Thursday very large lunch of baked beans, a rare delicacy in Lapland. When this happens, all the elves wear earplugs and nose-grips so that their creative talents are not interrupted by unwelcome sounds and smells over which I have no control. The elves suggested we produce a Santa Claus Total Reality Doll version, as a special edition, and we had just begun to work on this when, to our surprise, we noticed the Talking Naughty Farting Santa Doll available on for $12.95. We believe this is in direct violation of our Santa Products registration rights and have taken out an injunction to prevent further sales. In the meantime, if you really want to hear Santa fart, you are invited to Lapland after lunch any Thursday. After this experience, Santa will have a whole new meaning for you and your family.

Disowning Santa Impersonations
Another worrying trend continues this year with people getting dressed up as Santa Claus in order to stage protests of one form or another. This year it was a crowd of Santa impersonators protesting at trade deals between Europe and the U.S. The TIPP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations are getting people worried and it seems that dressing up as Santa Claus helps get the message through. While some might find this mildly flattering, I wish to assure Santa lovers and supporters everywhere that Santa does not take part in protests, lobbying, activism, public campaigns for political change or mass demonstrations of any sort. Protesting trade agreements in the name of Santa is not-acceptable. But, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. We are now planning to stage an even bigger protest campaign of our own by delivering a six-pack of Coca Cola  to all world leaders with the message: Santa: the Real Thing. The six-packs are set to self-destruct causing a fair amount of damage if a Santa impersonation is detected within the vicinity.

In addition, we have also witnessed a rise in the unauthorized use of the Santa name in campaigns such as #TextSantaKodakMoment where celebs take a picture that has something to do with Santa and Christmas and post it on the internet in order to drive charitable donations. We have no wish to spoil everyone's fun, and if the donations were routed to the Santa Claus Well-being Retirement Fund we would have no objection. As it stands, however, Santa Claus has not agreed to be part of these celeb moments and we are considering recourse to illegal action if such campaigns continue.

Awards Received
Every year, we are delighted to be acknowledged by our stakeholders for the (very) positive contribution we make to the world and we love accepting the many awards that are bestowed upon our organization and its people. In 2014, we were honored to receive many awards: 

First Prize for the Best Workplace in Lapland: Our elves feel extremely privileged to work for Santa Claus Inc. Not only have we had no unfair dismissal complaints for three consecutive years, nor have (almost) any elves committed suicide, the results of our employee survey shows that elves are 46% engaged, 51% committed and 57% supportive of our mission, vision and values. 99% of elves believe we make a positive contribution to world peace, but only after we agreed to supplement survey month pay-packets with double wages for positive responses to this question. Still, I am sure they believe it. 

Lapland's Chamber of Business Most Profitable Company Award for 2013: We don't make a lot of profit, but we do make more than any other business in Lapland, being by far the largest corporation and employer in the region. The Chamber of Business recognized this, as our membership is dependent upon our donating a portion of our profits to the Chamber, This year, our donation funded new thermally lined ear-muffs for all Chamber officials as well as a year's supply of Santa Claus Inclusive Woolly Socks for One-Legged People. 

The 2013 Universal Award for the Most Eco-efficient Christmas Gift Distribution System: This award was particularly important to us, given our efforts to move to hybrid sleigh distribution with part-animal, part-electric reindeer, and our new solar powered robot elves. We have moved to green energy for all of our toy assembly operations and we have found a way to turn the Lapland snow into biogas to fuel our office generator. It doesn't generate much heat but it gets the elves shoveling snow away from our sleigh runways. 

The Global Award for the Best G4 Sustainability Report of 2013. We were honored to receive this award for the best G4 sustainability report, reflecting our material issues with focus, clarity and relevant transparency. It is no surprise that we won this award. Dr. Sustainability gave us some great tips! 

Feedback on this report
We will be happy to receive your feedback on this report, as long as it's positive.

In the meantime....

 We Wish You and Everyone in the World a Happy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen)  or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm).  Check out our G4 Report Expert Analysis Service - for published G4 reports or pre-publication - write to Elaine at to help make your G4 reporting  even better. 

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