Filed under: Sustainability News | Tags: economy, OECD, Social Impact, well-being
Why would you like to live in a certain country ? When are people ‘happy’ – and where ? How to define ‘Well-Being’?
The OECD has launched a new Index to measure ‘Well-Being’. The ‘Your Better Life’ Index’ has been developed in response to requests of a growing group of people who see the shortfalls of GDP as the sole indicator for Well-Being.
The Well-Being tool is based on 11 indicators. It is accessable via http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/. Perimeters are related to either material aspects or quality of life : housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. The tool is interactive : By adding your personal weights for the different indicators ‘You can choose how you can make your life better’.
Remarkable differences can be unveiled whilst analysing country scores and Compendium details. Take for instance France and The Netherlands :
France has relatively high scores in many measures. French people sleep on average the most hours compared to all OECD countries (8,5 hours), they spend the most time eating and drinking per day (about 3 hours) and the country has the highest fertility rate among the European OECD countries : close to 2,1 children per woman. Given the high scores on other indicators the proportion of the population that reports to be happy about their own lives (51%) is relatively low, compared to 59% of the OECD average.
The Netherlands is another country with high values on the ‘Well-Being’ perimeters. Almost all indicators event point at a higher score than France – except ‘Environmental Quality’ – which is because of the relative high concentration of small particles in the air (‘PM10 levels’ of 30.8 micrograms per m2). To the contraryof France no less htan 91% of the Dutch people say they are satisfied with their own life. People in The Netherlandswork work on average only 1378 hours a year. This notably due to the large proportion of part-time workers. Over 93% of 11-15 year old children report above average life satisfaction.
The tool seems rather useful to make weighted judgements between countries. As it is also easy to use it offers opportunities to launch discussions on peoples well-being by both politicians as well as citizens.
More information :
Video about theYour Better Life Index : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_ywE5xqIxw&NR=1
Summary of French Societal Factors : http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/39/22/47572947.pdf
Gender Inequality in France still present - action required : http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/46/47700963.pdf
Relatively happy families and work balance in The Netherlands : http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/29/47701063.pdf
Filed under: Sustainability in France | Tags: France, Life Cycle Analyses, Social Conditions, Social Impact
The Grenelle Engagement 201 aims for environmental and social product labels. These labels should help consumers to make better informed choices, hopefully resulting in preferences for products and suppliers that create a positive societal and environmental impact. Concepts for new Eco-Labels will be tested as of July 2011. Currently product labels indicating social impact are under construction.
The French Ministry of Ecology, French normalisation institute AFNOR.
Measuring social impact of products is a rather complicated question. What to measure ? How to present the information ? A label or sticker ? There are already so many labels on the market that show that products respect certain ethical, environmental or social requirements .. How should this new label fit in ? How to measure social impact ? Impact on end-users, the employees of the company, the society as a whole ?
The taskforce ‘Affichage Social’ lead by the French standardisation institute AFNOR has defined its objectives as follows (1) :
- Informing and encouraging customers and public and private purchasers on social aspects
- Creation of tools for enterprises that are already rather advanced in monitoring social conditions
- Encouraging enterprises to make sure social conditions are sufficient (producers, distributors, ..)
Various parties are at stake whilst looking at social impact. The United Nations workgroup UNEP-SETAC Life Cycle Initiative uses the Product Life Cycle Analyse as an inspiration for assessing social impact. Product life cycle analyses are known as a tool to analyse (see the ‘LIDS-wheel’ (2) applied for the company Arféo). When used to investigate social impact, the UN Group identified 4 major type of stakeholders (3):
- workforce (working conditions, remuneration, accidents,..),
- local community (healthy environment, non-toxic, human rights, improved infrastructure),
- users of the products (concerning the use-stage)
- society (national and/or global)
AFNOR has chosen to focus on social conditions of workforce, in the Production and Transport life stages. This means that thereby the social impact of the product on its users and society, and the impact in the end of life stage will be excluded. It is understandable the French workgroup needs to set some limitations to its scope of ‘social impact label’. At the very same time it brings up new questions about developing complementary indicators that, for instance, represent indicators of social impact of products on users and society, such as health, security or economical progress.
The key principles of the Taskforce ‘Affichage Sociale’ were presented by Eric CORBEL, of the French Ministery of Ecologie and Rim CHAOUY of AFNOR (1) :
- Volontairy principle : A guideline of ‘Best Practices’ with a framework for measuring and presenting social conditions on product level, published April 2010 (5).
- No indication on the product itself, but on Internet, a brochure, given the ‘label jungle’ already existing.
- Transparency about the Value Chain : the producer will explain how the value chain is being built up.
- Mentioning the date and refreshing the information on a regular base like the Carbon Footprint Calculations.
- Qualification of the information : Self-declared, Evaluated by a third party or Miissing..
- Addressing 8 social aspects (Principles of the UN International Labour Organisation) : 1. Liberty of association & right of collective negotiation, 2. no forced or obliged work, 3. no children work, 4. no discrimination (work and profession), 5. respect of working hours, 6. respect of laws on hygiene/health/security/working conditions, 7. proper remuneration, 8. social protection.
Emmanuele BERTIN of the cosmetic company Terre d’OC has tested the new framework . Based on the product ‘l Huile Argan bio 50 ml’ she specified the social conditions aspects, using the new guideline called ‘BP X30-025’ published in April 2010 (4).
Cosmetic oil ‘Argan Bio 50 ml’ of the cosmetic company terre d’Oc, test product for the 1st ‘Affichage Social’, and picture of the ‘Argan’ nuts, the source products for the Argan Oil.
Mrs BERTIN has questioned all suppliers and transporters of the (sub) products. For that she needed to trace back the origins, production and transport of the glass bottle, the Argan oil, the metal cork and the cardboard box.
The resulting schemes show a breakdown of product components against the primary social indicators, applied for the Product Life Stages Production and Transport. See below a part of the large scheme for the Production Phase. Following the guideline, for every element, Mrs BERTIN has indicated :
- 0: no information
- 1 : if the supplier has directly supplied the information
- 1bis : if the supplier has supplied the information from one of his suppliers
- 2 : if the information has been validated by a third party
- 2bis : if the information has been validated by a third party controlling a supplier
Findings and discussion Mrs BERTIN shares her experiences with the audience of interested people at AFNOR in St Denis 16th of November 2010. She remarks that, contrary to her expectations, suppliers were OK to take time to answer her questions. They are getting used to answer questions from professional customers, notably now companies are launching environmental audits for ISO 1001 certification for instance. However, despite reminders, it was not possible to find all information.
Generally speaking, the public audience fears that suppliers give political correct answers in surveys (for instance about working hours or other working conditions). In this case Mrs BERTIN is confident that due to the close relationship with suppliers one can assume the correctness of the information.
Mrs BERTIN recommends the development of a small sign or logo would be good, showing that for the given a ‘Social Conditions’ audit has been made to be found on the companies website.
Inspiration for European application. The studies and developments around the ‘Eco-Etiquette’ and now the ‘Etiquette Social’ are not only of interest for France, but could and should also be used on an international level. Only when guidelines are being used on an international level, representations of ‘environmental’ or ‘social’ impact will gain momentum and become accepted.
The repetitive character of supplier questionnaires are starting to become an issue for SMEs with limited resources, notes Eric CORBEL of the French Ministery of Ecologie. Mr CORBEL adds that new initiatives are being set up by French industry to share best practices and redistribute information to professional adherents, eventually to avoid time-consuming repetitive questionnaires. (Comment of the author : One of this new initiatives is the ‘Observatoire des achats responsables’, a new initiative of private parties in France (5)).
Sources : 1. Presentation ‘Affichage Social’, by Eric CORBEL of the French Ministery of Ecology, Rim Chaouy of AFNOR, Emmanuelle BERTIN of Terre d’OC, at AFNOR, 16th of November 2010 ; 2. Brezet, J.C., Hemel, C.G. van, UNEP Ecodesign manual, Ecodesign: a promising approach to sustainable production and consumption, United Nations Environmental Programme, 1997 ; 3. Griesshammer, R, et al ‘Feasability Study : Integration of social aspects into LCA’, 2006 ; 4. AFNOR Publication of Bonnes pratiques pour la transparence de l’affichage des conditions sociales de production et de mise à disposition des produits ‘BP X30-025’; (51,35 euro ! ) ; http://www.boutique.afnor.org/NEL5DetailNormeEnLigne.aspx?&nivCtx=NELZNELZ1A10A101A107&aff=1&ts=2990810&CLE_ART=FA163780 ; 5. http://www.achats-responsables.fr/homepage/whoAreUs
Filed under: Best Practices in The Netherlands | Tags: CSR Strategies, DSM, Environmental Impact, Erasmus University, Measuring Impact, Rabobank, Social Impact, The Netherlands, TNT
No less than 950 representatives from Dutch industry, NGOs and the scientific world were gathered early September 2010 in Rotterdam, at the conference ‘Corporate Social Responsibility : from Ambition to Impact’ at the Erasmus University. Best CSR Practices of Dutch Sustainability leaders TNT, DSM and Rabobank were presented, as well as key findings of Karen Maas PHD ‘Measuring corporate social performance’ (1)
‘From Ambition to Impact, Corporate Social Responsibility, Conference at the Erasmus School of Accounting and Assurance, 03/09/2010, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
From Ambition to Impact : How to measure ?
‘How to create CSR strategies that create good and measurable results ? was the central theme of the conference, chaired by Marleen Janssen Groesbeek, policy maker, former journalist and author of articles and books on CSR, among them ‘Maatschappelijk Ondernemen’ and ‘Duurzamer Ondernemen’.
Marleen Janssen Groesbeek, policy maker at Eumedion.
As a seasoned sustainability consultant, Karen Maas PHD has observed a wide gap between highly ambitious CSR mission statements and factual CSR reporting. Mission statements often show major ambitions (‘fight climate change’, ‘reduce poverty’ and ‘support biodiversity’), where as annual reports often just list, in some cases, the output, the factual CSR activities – without linking back to societal impact.
An example of this mismatch is a new ‘sustainable building’ in The Netherlands built next to the highway without any public transport access. According to Karen Maas the building is an example of a misfit between an environmental mission and real impact. Despite the better energy performance of the new building, the environmental impact won’t go down substantially as employees need to use their (lease) car to go to the office. Another example is the building of a new school in an African country, without supervision on salary payments in the country. Net result : an abandoned school without any teacher nor children.
Sometimes business people just do not know where to find the right tools or methods to measure social impact of their CSR actions. On the basis of her research, Maas wants to guide people to make right choice of instruments to do measure social impact (people, planet ánd profit) and improve the effectiveness of CSR strategies.
Karen Maas studied the existing 250 (!) methods. She found that methods often just focus on a certain level (enterprise or society), one aspect of the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ (people, planet, profit), and often lack to tell the users ‘how to measure’.
From the 30 methods that measure impact on People, Planet, Profit, only 8 methods really the triple bottom line impact on a society level, or, so to speak, measure social and environmental impact, or, according to Karen Maas ‘measure social impact’ (2, 3). These methods are :
- BoP Impact Assessment Framework (Ted London, 2007)
- Measuring impact Framework (MIF, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2009)
- Ongoing Assessment of Social Impacts (OASIS, The Robert Entreprise Development Fund 1999)
- Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA, Feinstein International Center)
- Poverty Social Impact Assessment (PSI, Worldbank, 2000)
- Robin Hood Foundation Benefit-cost ration (Robin Hood Foundation, 2004)
- Social Return on Investment (SRI, Pacific Community Ventures, 2000)
In her PHD report, Karen Maas comes up with detailed recommendations and guidelines. As of 2010 Karen Maas is Scientific Director of CSR education and assistant Professor at Erasmus Centrefor Strategic Philantrophie (www.ecsp.nl). In this role she will continue her research in this area, sharing experiences with students and enterprises.
Karen Maas PHD, Scientific Director of CSR Education at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Dutch Industry Experiences
Representatives of Sustainability Industry Leaders joined Karen Maas and shared their experiences on ‘how to create good and effective CSR strategies’. Speakers were : TNT (Peter Bakker), DSM (Ben van Dijk) and Rabobank (Bouwe Taverne) and Ernst & Young (Dick van de Waard).
‘Moving the world’, TNTs voluntary emergency logistics activity, is widely known. TNT employees (167k worldwide) are extremely proud of it, tells CEO Peter Bakker. The voluntary activities however are only valid if all other core business activities are aligned with the CSR goals. And should be adapted according to the changing environments of the company. For instance, by opening new operational centers in India, TNT has been faced to more mortal traffic employee incidents. To protect TNT employees in India and to improve the general safety on Indian roads, TNT has become member of the association that promotes traffic safety. An ambitious objective is to decrease CO2 emissions by 45% in 2020 (compared to 1995). TNT is organising worldwide driver contests in a friendly contest to encourage energy efficient drivers. Peter Bakker aims for stronger legislation on CSR reporting as ‘everybody is doing something different’. He also emphasises the key role of empowerment of employees. Bakker recently changes his Porsche for a Toyota Prius to set an exmple. However, he adds, CSR is not about hybride cars nor technical solutions : it is all about people and their behaviour.
CEO Peter Bakker of TNT Group
At DSM, the ‘Green Bonus’ helps to push Eco Innovation. The ‘Green Bonus’ for top managers is a promising tool to increase the effectiveness of sustainability goals, explains Director Special Projects Ben van Dijk. 50% of the variable bonus is related to sustainability. Some elements : (1) 70% of the new product launches should be defined as ‘Eco +’ products (2) Energy consumption should be down 2% per year, (3) Employee Engagement should be above a certain level. The debate on Green Bonus with shareholders and Advisory Board has been extensive but constructive. Eventually all agreed with the new remuneration guidelines, as the new rule would be for the benefit of DSM and society. To read more about Sustainable Innovation Best Practices, click here.
Ben van Dijk, Director Special Projets at DSM.
Bouwe Taverne of the Dutch Rabobank, explains how the Rabobank supports both incremental sustainable innovation (changing the course of the huge ship) as well as supporting outside start-ups (Green Tech Fund). An example of the first category of embedding sustainability principles in the banking sector is the lobby of the Rabobank to create a quality label applicable to all investments with an option to ‘opt-out’. Instead of ‘Sociallly Responsible Investments’ all investments to be sustainable (with an opt-out). An example of the second category is the newly created ‘Green Tech Fund’. Read more about Rabobanks Best Practices here.
Bouwe Taverne, Manager Sustainable Development at Rabobank
Dick de Waard, Partner at Ernst & Young and Professor at the Groningen University on Register Accountancy is responsible for auditing annual reports. He urges for introducing ‘CSR or employee satisfaction bonus’ in all companies to counterweight the current financial focus of the top management of many companies.
Dick de Waard, Partner at Ernst & Young
Companies can measure social impact – and should, states Karen Maas. Measuring social impact contributes to the creation of effective and realistic CSR goals. By coming up with advice on the right type of measurement methods she is ‘spot on’ – as many Sustainability Directors have difficulties to pick the right one methodology.
CSR missions are now embedded in core business, show representatives of Dutch industry. Promising practices are eco-innovation initiative es at DSM (similar to the criteria set by Philips for its respective industries), a financial stimulus for top managers when achieved sustainability goals like at DSM (see also my earlier article on AkzoNobel) and eco-efficiency driving courses for employees, such as practices by the TNT Group.
If you want to read more about Best Practices in The Netherlands of Sustainable Innovation, I recommend you to read my articles on telecom operator KPN, energy provider Eneco, and local community of The Hague.
Sources: 1. Presentations at the conference ‘Corporate Social Responsibility : from Ambition to Impact’(Symposium ‘Maatschappelijk Verantwoord Ondernemen : van ambitie naar impact’, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands http://symposium.esaa.nl ; 2. PHD report ‘Corporate Social Performance’, from output management to impact measurement’, Karen Elisabeth Huguette Maas, 2 december 2009, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam. http://www.hartstichting.nl/9800/13333/13371/proefschrift_karen_maas ; 3. ‘Maatschappelijke Impact, dilemma metingen MVO acviteiten’, bu Astrid van Unen, in : P-plus, april 2010,