Wednesday, February 22, 2012

45 reasons to attend the Smart Sustainabilty Reporting Conference

One-Day Conference
15th May 2012, 76 Portland Place, London

And here are the reasons to attend...

45: You can get a discount from the CSR-Reporting Blog. email me for discount code.
44: You don't have any other plans for the 15th of May, 2012.
43: You might learn something.
42: You might teach something.
41: You will hear great speakers.
40: You can heckle great speakers.
39: You get to give the Conference Chair a hard time (ahem, I can take it)
38: You will be able to ask sustainability reporting experts loads of questions.
37: You get to hear about the "most read sustainability report". Which is that? Oh, Marks and Spencer. Read it yet?
36: You will at long last understand everything there is to understand about Sustainability Reporting.
35: Attendance will count as 16 credit points in the CSR Reporting Blog Sustainability Reporting Study Program.
34: You can do lots of networking in the breaks. Or lots of breaking in the networks.
33: You get to hear how ArcelorMittal increases transparency and drives performance.
32: You will learn about strategic communication at the Royal Bank of Scotland.
31. You will be able to avoid the stress of real work for a full day.
30: You will be able to impress all your friends with acronyms such as the IIRC, DEFRA, GRI and more.
29: You will never think about your own Sustainability Report in the same way again.
28: You will hear me answer the question: Is Integrated Reporting really the Holy Grail? Hint: Err.
27: You will learn all about segmented data sets at the BBC.
26: You will be able to hear John Elkington, the guru of sustainability.
25: You will find out where integrated reporting is likely to go from Paul Druckman of the IIRC.
24: You will hear Paul Scott of debating where companies should draw the line on transparency.
23: You will be able to do some shopping in London after the conference.
22: You will hear from the most sustainable company in the world about pioneering integrated reporting. Guessed who? Novo Nordisk.
21: You will learn how to account for indirect ecological impacts in a complex supply chain. From Danisco.
20: You will be able to do some shopping in London before the conference.
19: You will be able to impress the Twitter CSR community with live tweets from the conference.
18: You will be able to list 45 reasons you attended the conference.
17: You will be able to slip out in the lunch break and do some shopping in London.
16: You will be able to compare this conference with the next Smart Sustainability Reporting Conference.
15: You will be able to answer the question: Is Sustainability Reporting Smart?
14: You will be able to brief your in-house reporting team on all the ways they can improve your company's Sustainability Report.
13:  You will be able to check out 76 Portland Place as a conference venue. 
12:  You will be able to post a picture of yourself at the conference on your Facebook page.
11: This line is intentionally left blank.
10: This line is unintentionally left blank.
9:   You will be able to make intelligent comments about Sustainability Reporting.
8:   You will be able to hear about the role of sustainability reporting in building a green economy.
7:   You will be able to hear how Wyndham created their first integrated report.
6:   Dare I leave another line blank?
5:   You will be able to enjoy the conference refreshments (hope they have ice cream).
4:   You will meet lots of people interested in Sustainability Reporting. Doesn't that sound like fun?
3:   You will enhance your reputation as a Sustainability Reporting Conference Go-er.
2:   I will be able to meet you.
1:   I want you to attend.

So, if that's not enough, here's a bonus reason for attending: you will not regret it.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabiliity 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)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

En route to the Taj

In honor of my forthcoming trip to Mumbai in India this week for the World HRD Congress, where I will be presenting on one of my favorite subjects, CSR for HR, and attending the World CSR Day ceremonies as a panelist on the subject of CSR- TheWay Forward, chaired by Dr Baskhar Chatterjee, the Director General and CEO of the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, I thought I would take a look at the Sustainability Report of the Taj Hotels, as I will be staying at the Taj Lands End. (I have fond memories of staying at the Taj Mahal Palace several years ago, so I have high expectations!- the Taj Mahal, as you may recall, made headlines in 2008 as the site of a brutal terrorist attack in which 175 people lost their lives, and the staff was subsequently commended for outstanding service beyond the call of duty, protecting guests and remaining loyal to their employer. Terror at the Taj has even become an HBS case study. Following the terror attack, the India Hotels Company set up the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust to assist the families affected).

The Taj Hotel Group recently released its eighth Sustainability Report, entitled "Beyond the Numbers". Beyond The Numbers is a way of expressing, for the Indian Hotels Company, owner of the Taj Hotel and other hotel brands, that doing business with CSR at the core is what defines the company as an organization and shapes its journey in responsible tourism by influencing every life that it touches.  The Indian Hotels Company is the largest hotel chain in South Asia, with a portfolio of 107 hotels and 12,795 rooms across 12 countries on 5 continents, selling almost 3 million room nights per year. The Company is owned by the Tata Group, one of the highly respected names in Indian industry.

The report is GRI Application Level A+, 88 pages long, with a clever design and a personal, inviting style. Each section begins with an anecdote or almost poetic story, such as how the turtle retreats to its shell for safety, as an introduction to the safety section, or the way workers spent hours fuelling a furnace or 12 hours bending over a conveyor in former times, as the backdrop to the section on how India Hotels is a great workplace, dating back to 1912 when the Tata Group introduced 8 hour shifts, the precursor to a productive work-life balance approach for employees.

This is a thorough report covering governance, compliance and risk management, with a discussion of key risks. The report does not contain a Materiality Matrix, but it does cover stakeholder engagement and offers a list of priority issues:
• Optimizing revenues
• Focusing on customer delight
• Ensuring safety
• Developing human capital
• Ensuring environmental excellence
• Creating sustainable livelihoods

The Indian Hotels Company places a strong focus on environmental protection and records energy, GHG emissions and water consumption per hotel room per night. It is interesting to note the gap between the luxury segment (with 202 kh CO2e emissions per night) and the lower-cost hotel options (18 kg CO2e emissions at the lower end). 23 hotels are ISO14001 certified. The group maintains a "War on Waste" with 16% of hotel organic waste being composted, and much of other types of waste are recycled. 3% of the Company's energy needs are met through renewable sources and 25% of water consumption is recycled water, with several hotels achieving zero water discharge.

Oddly, one thing I might have expected to read in this report does not gain air time: the whole question of human rights, child labor, human trafficking, prostitution and child sex exploitation. Just recently I caught a headline "Sex racket out of star hotels in Tamil Nadu busted", referring to arrests of pimps using local hotels to conduct their dealings. An internet report states that there are "estimated to be over 900,000 sex workers in India. 30% are believed to be children and that the number of children involved in prostitution is increasing at an estimated 8 to10% per annum. About 15% of the prostitutes in Mumbai, Delhi, Madras, Calcutta, Hyderabad and Bangalore are children and nearly half of them became commercial sex workers when they were minors. Conservative estimates state that around 300 000 children in India are suffering commercial sexual abuse."

One thing a responsible tourism player in India could do would be to become a signatory of The and establish a specific ethical code and policy regarding commercial exploitation of children, institute other measures to prevent such issues and report fully about the procedures in place. While the hotel and tourism industry may not be responsible for these issues, they certainly can be part of a solution which raises awareness, educates and ensures there is no degree of complicity in any of their activities.

In the meantime, I look forward to returning to India. It's been a while since I tasted Indian ice-cream :)

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability 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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