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Post-horsemeat burgers, has Tesco returned to business as usual already?



In response to Tesco’s statements about the horsemeat scandal, I offered a spoof apology for the supermarket chain: the apology I wished it would have offered.

Over the following weeks, the ads kept coming. Tesco bought up full page and double page spreads across the print media, which were also read aloud as radio ads. They are stacked up as fine printed flyers in its supermarkets (yes, I still go there) and presented as helpful customer service information. Unsurprisingly, they were hardly flying out the door in my local store.

The campaign certainly attracted attention. The BBC’s Brian Wheeler compared Tesco’s words to Shakespeare and admired their “strangely poetic quality”. Tongue-in-cheek, he sought expert comment.

It resembles poetry in the way that it is laid out”, said poet Matt Harvey. “It gives the words a portentous quality. They are reaching for gravitas, and probably achieving it.”

But did the ads actually work? Brand Republic’s Claire Beale observed that this is “such a crucial time for the Tesco brand” and imagines the copy writers would have been putting in some long shifts. For her, Tesco implied some respect for its audience, showing “perhaps (finally) some empathy and certainly some humility”.

However, Tescopoly author Andrew Simms said (in the Brian Wheeler piece), “Until Tesco can prove it really has changed its business model, and is making fewer demands on suppliers, the campaign is just ‘mood music’”.

What intrigues me is the extent to which anything has changed for the company or for its stakeholders. Assessing the ads was illuminating. Mark Houston, writing in the Harvard Business Review, provides us the means to make a semi-scientific appraisal by suggesting three key ingredients which are integral to an honest and meaningful apology:

1. Admit that you were wrong and that you are sorry

2. Show you understand the effect your wrong doing has had on those you apologise to

3. Tell them what you are going to do differently in the future so that it doesn’t happen again

Against these criteria, this is how the Tesco ads stack up:

I know how I feel about these ads. I am not moved. To be honest, I am really irritated by them. Looking at the three criteria: the apology took forever to arrive and was fleeting once it had; the admissions of wrong doing and causing hurt were non-existent; and the ‘what we are going to do differently’ seems inseparable from what they are doing now.

For me, and I suspect for the great majority, this feels like another big business going through the motions.

When you are the biggest and most powerful player, it is ridiculous to blame the industry you are part of and which you shape more than anyone else. Of course supply chains are complex and murky. Apologise for your part in making them so. Do not play the victim.

My view is that many people are deeply disturbed  by the worry that horsemeat from criminal gangs has entered the food chain. What else might be in the food that we have been buying from manufacturers and supermarkets, which have all been banging on about their quality and trustworthiness for decades?

It may turn out that the ‘bute’ levels are insignificantly low; that human health was not put at risk. Let’s hope so. But what also of the devastation, for example, of those who do not eat pork because of their religious convictions when they discovered they likely have been eating meat from the wrong animal?

The total lack of empathy for the huge numbers of people that learned that they were unwittingly feeding God knows what to their families is striking.

And what really will change from now on? Given contaminated beef supplies came from the UK and Ireland, forgive me for not being impressed by the announcements on the provenance of chicken from July onwards.

In respect of introducing new testing that is “world class“, shouldn’t this already be the case for companies selling food to millions of people every day? What else would be expected of the UK’s largest retailer? Does this new iteration of “world class” have any meaning for anyone?

Andrew Simms persuasively suggests the business model is the problem. Of the two local stores within two minutes walk from our office, one still offers in-store ‘apology’ related information; the other does not. What is much more difficult to miss are the new print ads in the London free print media. Ads which highlight the low cost of food at Tesco, and at the same time, a business model and modus operandi which remain entirely unchanged.

Business as usual is not part of the problem, it is all of the problem. Words alone – especially these words – are inadequate. We’ve heard it all before.

This is the reality Tesco must face up to. If it is serious about change, it should prove it. Until then, this is simply more of the same.

Michael Solomon is director of Responsible 100.

Further reading:

The apology big food brands should be offering

Government scapegoating retail for horsemeat scandal is pathetic

Defra: horsemeat in lasagne ‘cannot be tolerated’

Taking steps towards a new ethical age of business

Merging the great business dilemma: profit v sustainability, responsibility and ethics

Michael Solomon is the director of Responsible 100. With a background in publishing, Michael hit upon the basic Responsible 100 concept when asked to launch a new CSR magazine and website. Troubled by the motives for large corporates to engage in CSR and the quality of their CSR outputs, he saw the need for an alternative approach which guaranteed credible information from businesses. Responsible 100 is a management tool, a business ranking, a public internet platform, an identification mark and a growing social movement. It includes leading businesses as well as NGO and campaign group partners.


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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