Amy Fischer is director for the Western Union Foundation and Joy Miller is senior manager for social ventures at the Western Union Company. The Western Union is up for the best employee engagement award at this year’s Responsible Business Awards.
In the run up to this year’s awards, which will take place on September 29, Fischer and Miller talk about shared value, engaging with employees and being singled out for an award.
This article was first published on Ethical Corporation’s website.
Ethical Corporation: One of the key pillars of your efforts to engage employees on responsible business issues revolves around the notion of ‘shared value’. What do you mean by this term exactly?
Western Union: When we use the term shared value, we’re referring to the idea that the company can drive revenue while benefiting society. We’re interested in exploring how our products and services can deliver maximum benefit for our customers and society at large, while simultaneously making Western Union’s business more competitive.
Ethical Corporation: Can you give us an example of what a shared value product or service might look like?
Western Union: Sure. A good example is NGO GlobalPay. This uses the Western Union network to enable NGOs (not-for-profit, non-governmental organisations) around the world to better move funds where they are needed, often to remote and hazardous areas.
After a natural disaster, for example, NGOs must move quickly to get people and resources to the areas affected. Or they may need to send money to their field workers or beneficiaries in areas where there may be no banks at all. Because of the very nature of our business – which involves moving money between individuals, businesses and NGOs – Western Union is able to offer a solution that resolves many of the challenges they face. It is a new product for Western Union and it’s already attracting new customers for us. At the same time, it is delivers positive social impacts as well.
Ethical Corporation: So how do you seek to engage employees around the theme of shared impact?
Western Union: One of the ways we do this is through our Shared Value Summits, a series of day-long meetings for our leaders to speak with external experts on new ways to drive revenue by solving a specific social problem. We’ve had two summits so far, and we are planning a third for later this year. The first focused on education and the second on empowering women in emerging markets.
At each summit, participants have included about six to ten Western Union leaders and around the same number of experts from global NGOs, development organisations, and other companies. Within Western Union, it’s seen as a real honour to be asked to participate.
Ethical Corporation: Could you describe some of the outcomes of the summits?
Western Union: Perhaps the best example is our ‘Education for Better’ programme, which we announced on the floor of the United Nations just ten months after the first summit. At that summit, the group focused on education challenges and identified a variety of opportunities for Western Union to fill the gaps through its products, services, and global reach.
Its outcome – Education for Better – is the company’s three-year commitment to supporting global education goals. Among other features, the programme includes specialised education products and services, cause marketing, advocacy, philanthropy and opportunities for employees to engage with local communities.
Ethical Corporation: Do you communicate outcomes from the summits to your wider workforce?
Western Union: Yes, this is really crucial for us. We have a comprehensive communication plan, and we regularly publish news articles about corporate responsibility and shared value in our global employee newsletter and on the intranet. We find that the summit themes resonate with our employees and generate ideas and conversations beyond the event.
Ethical Corporation: What are the chief challenges when it comes to engaging employees around sustainability?
Western Union: Most Western Union employees already understand the company to be a mission-driven brand. In that sense, we’re very lucky. That said, although the concept of sustainability is there in our company culture, employees may not necessarily use the same language to describe it. Terms like ‘shared value’ are quite abstract, for example. So the main challenge for us is to articulate what we mean. Persuading employees that responsible business is a good thing to do – thankfully that’s not something that we really have to face.
Ethical Corporation: How has being singled out for a Responsible Business Award helped?
Western Union: For us, it reinforces the concept of ‘moving money for better’, which is fundamental to our mission as a company. Winning the award provides a welcome degree of recognition for the work that we have done as well. And, most importantly perhaps, it emphasises for our employees that these issues matter and that they don’t just exist in a vacuum.
Ethical Corporation’s Responsible Business Awards 2014 winners will be announced at a glamorous awards dinner ceremony in central London on the 29th of September.
This is the one night of the year where we celebrate the work you and your peers do in the responsible business arena.
This year the likes of; Bacardi Limited, Interface, Twinings, Tetrapak, KPMG, Glanbia Ingredients Ireland Ltd, ZipXpress have already booked their seats at the ceremony and are bringing their whole teams!
It’s a great opportunity for you to be alongside some of the best in your field, meet them in person and take their learnings and best practices back to your office – reserve your seat at the Awards today: ethicalcorp.com/ reservation
Take our 2014 reader survey and you could win an iPad, Kindle or donation to a charity of your choice.
2017 Was the Most Expensive Year Ever for U.S. Natural Disaster Damage
Devastating natural disasters dominated last year’s headlines and made many wonder how the affected areas could ever recover. According to data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the storms and other weather events that caused the destruction were extremely costly.
Specifically, the natural disasters recorded last year caused so much damage that the associated losses made 2017 the most expensive year on record in the 38-year history of keeping such data. The following are several reasons that 2017 made headlines for this notorious distinction.
Over a Dozen Events With Losses Totalling More Than $1 Billion Each
The NOAA reports that in total, the recorded losses equaled $306 billion, which is $90 billion more than the amount associated with 2005, the previous record holder. One of the primary reasons the dollar amount climbed so high last year is that 16 individual events cost more than $1 billion each.
Global Warming Contributed to Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, one of two Category-4 hurricanes that made landfall in 2017, was a particularly expensive natural disaster. Nearly 800,000 people needed assistance after the storm. Hurricane Harvey alone cost $125 billion, with some estimates even higher than that. So far, the only hurricane more expensive than Harvey was Katrina.
Before Hurricane Harvey hit, scientists speculated climate change could make it worse. They discussed how rising ocean temperatures make hurricanes more intense, and warmer atmospheres have higher amounts of water vapor, causing larger rainfall totals.
Since then, a new study published in “Environmental Research Letters” confirmed climate change was indeed a factor that gave Hurricane Harvey more power. It found environmental conditions associated with global warming made the storm more severe and increase the likelihood of similar events.
That same study also compared today’s storms with ones from 1900. It found that compared to those earlier weather phenomena, Hurricane Harvey’s rainfall was 15 percent more intense and three times as likely to happen now versus in 1900.
Warming oceans are one of the contributing factors. Specifically, the ocean’s surface temperature associated with the region where Hurricane Harvey quickly transformed from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane has become about 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer over the past few decades.
Michael Mann, a climatologist from Penn State University, believes that due to a relationship known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, there was about 3-5 percent more moisture in the air, which caused more rain. To complicate matters even more, global warming made sea levels rise by more than 6 inches in the Houston area over the past few decades. Mann also believes global warming caused the stationery summer weather patterns that made Hurricane Harvey stop moving and saturate the area with rain. Mann clarifies although global warming didn’t cause Hurricane Harvey as a whole, it exacerbated several factors of the storm.
Also, statistics collected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 1901-2015 found the precipitation levels in the contiguous 48 states had gone up by 0.17 inches per decade. The EPA notes the increase is expected because rainfall totals tend to go up as the Earth’s surface temperatures rise and additional evaporation occurs.
The EPA’s measurements about surface temperature indicate for the same timespan mentioned above for precipitation, the temperatures have gotten 0.14 Fahrenheit hotter per decade. Also, although the global surface temperature went up by 0.15 Fahrenheit during the same period, the temperature rise has been faster in the United States compared to the rest of the world since the 1970s.
Severe Storms Cause a Loss of Productivity
Many people don’t immediately think of one important factor when discussing the aftermath of natural disasters: the adverse impact on productivity. Businesses and members of the workforce in Houston, Miami and other cities hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma suffered losses that may total between $150-200 billion when both damage and sacrificed productivity are accounted for, according to estimates from Moody’s Analytics.
Some workers who decide to leave their homes before storms arrive delay returning after the immediate danger has passed. As a result of their absences, a labor-force shortage may occur. News sources posted stories highlighting that the Houston area might not have enough construction workers to handle necessary rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Harvey.
It’s not hard to imagine the impact heavy storms could have on business operations. However, companies that offer goods to help people prepare for hurricanes and similar disasters often find the market wants what they provide. While watching the paths of current storms, people tend to recall storms that took place years ago and see them as reminders to get prepared for what could happen.
Longer and More Disastrous Wildfires Require More Resources to Fight
The wildfires that ripped through millions of acres in the western region of the United States this year also made substantial contributions to the 2017 disaster-related expenses. The U.S. Forest Service, which is within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reported 2017 as its costliest year ever and saw total expenditures exceeding $2 billion.
The agency anticipates the costs will grow, especially when they take past data into account. In 1995, the U.S. Forest Service spent 16 percent of its annual budget for wildfire-fighting costs, but in 2015, the amount ballooned to 52 percent. The sheer number of wildfires last year didn’t help matters either. Between January 1 and November 24 last year, 54,858 fires broke out.
2017: Among the Three Hottest Years Recorded
People cause the majority of wildfires, but climate change acts as another notable contributor. In addition to affecting hurricane intensity, rising temperatures help fires spread and make them harder to extinguish.
Data collected by the National Interagency Fire Center and published by the EPA highlighted a correlation between the largest wildfires and the warmest years on record. The extent of damage caused by wildfires has gotten worse since the 1980s, but became particularly severe starting in 2000 during a period characterized by some of the warmest years the U.S. ever recorded.
Things haven’t changed for the better, either. In mid-December of 2017, the World Meteorological Organization released a statement announcing the year would likely end as one of the three warmest years ever recorded. A notable finding since the group looks at global land and ocean temperature, not just statistics associated with the United States.
Not all the most financially impactful weather events in 2017 were hurricanes and wildfires. Some of the other issues that cost over $1 billion included a hailstorm in Colorado, tornados in several regions of the U.S. and substantial flooding throughout Missouri and Arkansas.
Although numerous factors gave these natural disasters momentum, scientists know climate change was a defining force — a reality that should worry just about everyone.
How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018
Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.
Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:
1. Energy – produce it, save it
If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.
It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.
While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.
Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!
2. Don’t be just another tourist
Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.
3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly
We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.
To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.
It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.
4. Know thy recycling
People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.
People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.
5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool
Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.
All in all
The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.
- Energy3 weeks ago
How Much Energy Does Bitcoin Use, Really?
- Environment4 weeks ago
Biggest Tip to Eco-Friendly Car Ownership (Which May Surprise You)
- Energy4 weeks ago
Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- Energy4 weeks ago
4 Energy Efficient Home Upgrades that You Can Install Yourself