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Demand From Investors for Investment Managers to Demonstrate Additional Value Beyond Traditional Risk & Return Considerations

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 2:46pm

We are experiencing a transition to an era where total social benefit is becoming an increasingly important metric for the perceived value of products and services. Consequently, the investment industry is risking its enduring relevance and credibility by assessing and subsequently rewarding success through solely financial metrics.

In this segment, experts discuss the demand from investors for investment managers to demonstrate additional value beyond traditional risk & return considerations.

"From our perspective demand is increasing, however still a long way to go. If I would look at our portfolio which includes 800 GP’s, less than 4% of them have strategies are required to have KPI’s that create some sort of value beyond risk/return financial metrics and less than 30% of our portfolio includes outcomes ba sed targets. If you consider yourself an impact fund, and aim to have EIF as an LP - and as a reminder we have 800 GPs in Europe, you are required to have your carry aligned with non financial impact KPI performance."

Private Equity Mandates European Investment Fund

"We see four categories of client demand: Firstly, a client with existing mechanisms to make good investment decisions which have positive outcomes, secondly a generational transfer of wealth and responsibility acting as a catalyst for seeking to allocate to investment strategies which have a positive impact on society, third category is family offices who are starting to get interested in allocating to more outcomes focused products but being frustrated with the lack of clarity of how to measure and then select managers. Finally, the fourth that is engaged only in capturing financial returns, with little regard for their positive or negative outcomes."

Investment Consultant Enhance Group

Watch the Roundtable video series here

Download the whitepaper here​

About Acre

Acre provides global financial institutions and investors access to the most established network of talent to build teams that not only outperform the markets, but also support the transition to a sustainable economy. Acre’s pioneering work in responsible investment, sustainable finance and impact investing has created the largest global recruitment network of its kind. To get in touch with them, email impactinvesting@acre.com, or visit acre.com/impact-investing

Compassion Creates Connections for Kits From Kansas

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 2:46pm

During the current coronavirus pandemic, we are hearing about so many wonderful acts of kindness and about nonprofits and companies that are dedicating resources to help. These organizations, and the teams that are making things happen, are driven by individuals with big hearts and community spirit.

Recently, 450 hygiene kits for individuals and families in need were provided by Heart to Heart International, a global humanitarian organization based in Lenexa, Kansas, to the Rahway Family Success Center in Rahway, New Jersey. 

Jerry Alvare, a regional communications specialist at FedEx Ground, facilitated the special delivery to the Rahway Family Success Center, a multipurpose community center for child care, summer youth and other community programs.

He connected with the Global Citizenship department who in turn contacted Heart to Heart, a nonprofit FedEx has supported for many years. Heart to Heart generously provided 450 hygiene kits and used the FedEx network to ship the kits to the Rahway Family Success Center to distribute in their community.  

Jerry is passionate in all he does, including how he engages and leads the local FedEx team in volunteer events or advocates for local nonprofits to enhance the community.

Many thanks to these nonprofits for their tireless efforts to serve communities in need and to Jerry and his teammates for their compassion!

Read more stories like these on FedExCares.com

Feed the Frontline to Serve 10k Weekly Meals to Workers

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:46am

Originally published by Cox Enterprises

Feed the Frontline, the initiative established in April by the James M. Cox Foundation and Emory Healthcare to provide meals to Atlanta’s frontline workers, is now on track to serve almost 10,000 meals each week.  

The program now has more than 1,300 donors including individuals, foundations and corporate contributors and has raised over $1 million. Originally set to serve through May 1, the initiative will extend through May 31 and still needs additional donations in order to reach the program’s goal to feed all frontline workers through the end of the month.  

Feed the Frontline’s mission is to offer nourishment and comfort to Atlanta’s frontline healthcare workers serving in emergency rooms, ICUs and critical care wards at 19 Atlanta hospitals — as well as Atlanta police and fire rescue first responders.  

As the world continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, the opportunity to unite through generosity has emerged with Giving Tuesday Now, the global day of giving on May 5. To donate directly to Feed the Frontline and help provide meals to Atlanta’s frontline, visit http://feedthefrontline.emory.edu/.  

Helping the Helpers 

Across the country and in Georgia, medical professionals continue to adjust to long hours, increased stress and a new way of working to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

Gaurav Budhrani, doctor of anesthesiology and critical care at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, said the meals provide a needed morale boost.  

“Serving the healthcare needs of our sick patients in the ICU during these times can be rewarding but is also extremely challenging on both physical and emotional levels,” Budhrani said. “To leave the ICU momentarily and to be surprised with a delicious meal is a huge morale boost, and for that you have my gratitude.” 

Since April 3, thousands of meals have been delivered to Atlanta-area hospitals including Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, Piedmont Health, the Atlanta VA Healthcare System, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Northside Hospital and WellStar Health System. The meals come at no cost to the workers.  

“There are so many things to worry about right now and by having the Feed the Frontline program available to us, it gives us one less thing to worry about,” said Katelyn Camuso, a radiation therapist at the Winship Cancer Institute. “Taking care of our patients is our No. 1 top priority. I have benefited from the Feed the Frontline program by being able to have a meal freshly prepared and waiting for me during my lunch. This enables me to be fully prepared to tackle the rest of my day.”  

Feed the Frontline’s food service partners include Avalon Catering, Bazati Atlanta, Chef Linton and Gina Hopkins, Chez Montier Catering, DAS BBQ, Fifth Group/Bold Catering, Local Three, Southern Proper Hospitality and Tamarind Restaurant Group. 

About the James M. Cox Foundation 

The James M. Cox Foundation is named in honor of Cox Enterprises' founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where the company operates. James M. Cox was Ohio's first three-term governor and the 1920 Democratic nominee for president of the United States. The Foundation concentrates its community support in several areas including: conservation and environment; early childhood education; empowering families and individuals for success; and health.   

Media Contact 

Leticia McCadden 


The Consumer Goods Forum and Kin&Co Publish Report on Employee Health and Wellbeing

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 11:46am

 The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and Kin&Co have today published a global insights report on employee health and wellbeing in the consumer goods industry, one of the key themes tackled by the CGF as part of its Collaboration for Healthier Lives Coalition. The report, titled “Creating a Culture of Health - The Secret to a Productive, Resilient Workforce”, maps out the state of health and wellbeing within the global workforce and seeks to understand the role that business can play to better ensure the health and wellbeing of their employees.

Positive results show CGF members and other businesses across the globe are already taking action on employee health and wellbeing, with 78% of CGF members having policies in place. 60% of UK CEOs consider mental health in the workplace to be a top priority and 70% of employers have taken steps to enhance their physical environments to inspire and drive healthier behaviours. However, despite two-thirds of organisations deeming health and wellbeing programmes to be a pivotal element of their employee culture and brand, the number of employees who feel their employers are not doing enough to improve their health and wellbeing remains high.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, companies are expected to increase even further their focus on employee health, especially with regards to mental health as companies and employees come to terms with sustained periods of remote working and isolation.

In giving a definition for a “culture of health”, the report highlights the need for business to shift away from standalone policies on health and wellbeing in the workplace, and rather focus on driving change in behaviour and culture. The report delves into key insights from businesses making strides on employee health and wellbeing in China, Colombia, France, Japan, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In addition, new research on employees’ perspective on efforts from their employers is shared, and multiple case studies are used to illustrate and give tangible examples of how workforce wellbeing is being transformed by frontrunner companies. As a helpful tool to take this further, a step-by-step guide is offered for businesses that wish to implement or strengthen their employee culture of health and wellbeing within their workforce.

Commenting on the release of the report, Sharon Bligh, Health & Wellness Director, The Consumer Goods Forum, and Rosie Warin, CEO, Kin&Co, said, “Businesses have the opportunity to have a significant impact on empowering their employees and nurturing their health and wellbeing. This can lead to widespread, positive effects even outside the workplace, and this need has only been exacerbated further by the Covid-19 pandemic. The business case for investing in employee health and wellbeing is clear, as this enhances individual performance and ultimately benefits company performance. Through this report, we see an improved commitment from industry to drive positive change in the area of employee health and wellbeing and encourage cross-sector collaborations that are essential to achieving success at scale”.

The CGF and Kin&Co thank all the companies and organisations involved for contributing their valuable insights for the report: Ajinomoto, Barilla, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, GAIN, Global Business Group on Health, Grupo Bimbo, Johnson & Johnson, Kao Corporation, L’Oréal, McCormick, Migros Ticaret, Nestlé, Norgesgruppen, PepsiCo, Tesco, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Walmart.

Download a copy of the report.

About The Consumer Goods Forum

The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises more than 50 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit: www.theconsumergoodsforum.com.

About Kin&Co

Kin&Co is a multi-award winning next generation management consultancy specialising in purpose, culture change, and employee engagement. With offices in London and Toronto, Kin&Co is transforming the business world so that leaders and organisations are led by purpose and have resilient, adaptable cultures. Find out more about Kin&Co at www.kinandco.com. 

For further information, please contact:

Sharon Bligh
Director, Health & Wellness
The Consumer Goods Forum

Lee Green
Director, Communications
The Consumer Goods Forum

Northern Trust Provides $100 Million in Small Business Support

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 5:45pm

Northern Trust Corporation (Nasdaq: NTRS) announced today it is providing $100 million in low-cost funding to assist Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) as they provide loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“This funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will help meet urgent demand among small businesses and non-profit groups,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Grady said. “Since 1995, we have provided capital to CDFIs with flexible terms and low rates to facilitate lending in underserved communities.”

Under the CARES Act, the PPP facilitates bank loans to small businesses guaranteed by the Small Business Administration to help cover payroll and other expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. CDFIs provide loans, investments, financial services and technical assistance to underserved populations and communities.

“These investments facilitate the rapid deployment of PPP loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations by providing low cost capital to bridge the timing between the making of loans and reimbursement by the Small Business Administration,” said Connie Lindsey, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. “In turn, the funds will assist the small businesses that form an integral part of our communities.”

Northern Trust’s partners in these investments include:

  • Self-Help Fund ($50 million) -- a national CDFI with community development credit union branches in Illinois, California, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. Self-Help has assisted more than 1,100 PPP borrowers with a median loan size of $35,000. Illinois legacy Second Federal and Seaway branches are part of the Self-Help network of credit unions.

  • National Development Council (NDC) CDFI Subsidiary Grow America Fund (GAF) ($25 million) -- a national SBA lender.

  • immito ($10 million) -- the SBA subsidiary of Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national social enterprise.

Other recipients include:

  • Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs: provides SBA lending in in Atlanta and Northern Georgia.

  • Black Business Investment Fund: provides SBA lending in the state of Florida.

  • PeopleFund: provides SBA lending in Texas.

  • Virginia Community Capital: provides SBA lending in Virginia.

  • Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation: provides SBA lending in Wisconsin.

For those small businesses that are not able to access PPP loans, Northern Trust is investing in CDFIs that provide small business loans through state COVID19 small business loan pools, such as the Illinois Small Business Emergency Fund and the San Francisco Hardship Emergency Loan Program.

This investment is aligned with Northern Trust donating $3 million to support organizations serving those directly affected by the pandemic.

About Northern Trust
Northern Trust Corporation (Nasdaq: NTRS) is a leading provider of wealth management, asset servicing, asset management and banking to corporations, institutions, affluent families and individuals. Founded in Chicago in 1889, Northern Trust has a global presence with offices in 22 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and across 22 locations in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. As of March 31, 2020, Northern Trust had assets under custody/administration of US $10.9 trillion, and assets under management of US $1.1 trillion. For more than 130 years, Northern Trust has earned distinction as an industry leader for exceptional service, financial expertise, integrity and innovation. Visit northerntrust.com or follow us on Twitter @NorthernTrust.

Northern Trust Corporation, Head Office: 50 South La Salle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603 U.S.A., incorporated with limited liability in the U.S. Global legal and regulatory information can be found at https://www.northerntrust.com/united-states/terms-and-conditions.

12 Resources for Nurses on the Frontlines of COVID-19

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 2:45pm

Originally published on LinkedIn

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard from nurses and leaders of national nurses organizations about the critical challenges nurses and other health workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 are facing, such as a dwindling inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE), a need for proper PPE training, concerns over nurse burnout and uncertainty about the nature of this virus. They’ve also expressed the need for credible, easy-to-access resources that can help equip nurses to overcome these challenges. 

While many nurse and health organizations around the world have mobilized their resources and experts to create toolkits and guidance that can help inform, protect and support the integral health workers on the frontlines of COVID-19, I’m sure that many of you haven’t had the time to search them out.

While not an exhaustive list, I thought I would share a few of them with you today that I have come across, which include where to find real-time updates, best practices and guidance, mental health and resilience resources and free online training modules. I hope the wide range of information they have to offer is helpful for you and your teams.

Real-Time Updates

Best Practices and Guidance

  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put together a comprehensive guide on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 and what to do if you think you are sick. They have also created special guidance for various health settings, a PPE Burn Rate Calculator, guidance on how to minimize risk and a preparedness checklist for healthcare providers.

  • The Johnson & Johnson Institute, which educates 210,000 healthcare providers each year, has expanded its collaboration with Advances in Surgery to help provide the latest information about COVID-19 to nurses, surgeons and other healthcare providers. The AIS resources, available for free through the Johnson & Johnson Institute online platform, is updated in real-time with the latest news and provides critical virtual training for COVID-19 care, such as an online mechanical ventilation course. There's also a 24-hour chat forum for healthcare providers who have urgent questions.

  • The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) has compiled a full list of resources for hospital preparedness, reducing infection, navigating supply shortages, self-care strategies and more. They have also created a COVID-19 Support page that includes modules on cleaning the OR, hand washing, donning and doffing PPE.

  • The Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) has compiled a guide with general information around the novel coronavirus, PPE safety information, resources for patient care and nursing practice guidance.

  • The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has compiled a list of resources that include practice guidelines, some specifically for mothers and their newborns at-risk for COVID-19, as well as self-care resources.

Mental Health and Resilience

  • The mental and physical toll this crisis is having on frontline health workers is rapidly becoming an epidemic in itself – the current pandemic response demonstrates the essential, tireless, innovative and too-often undervalued role of health workers in ensuring strong, resilient health systems. That’s why – as part of Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to health workers through the Center for Health Worker Innovation – we have joined First Responders First, an initiative to support and sustain the health and well-being of frontline workers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the days to come. First Responders First will provide evidence-based content, tools and resources specifically designed to improve the resilience and well-being needs of frontline health workers and their leaders in times of crisis, recovery and rebuilding. Visit the resources section of the First Responders First site to learn more.

  • During this unprecedented time of fear and stress, nurses are at high risk for mental health issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. The American Nurses Association (ANA), through their Healthy Nurse Healthy Nation platform, have created a mental health guide with articles, advice and hotlines for nurses and their employers.

  • The American Psychiatric Nurse Association (APNA) is offering COVID-19 nurses' mental health resources for psychiatric-mental health nurses, which also includes current information, policy updates and self-care tips.

Supporting the Nursing Community

Free Online Training

  • Nurse.com is offering a free COVID-19 course to help nurses stay apprised of new information and take advantage of education resources. This course is being offered courtesy of Nurse.com and Relias until September 17, 2020 and takes less than three hours to complete. You can take the online course here.

  • IntelyCare is offering free COVID-19 nurse training certification in a new interactive course, which can also be done on mobile, to help educate nurses on the latest practices and expectations in treatment and prevention.

I hope that this list is helpful for you and nurses in your network. I will continue to keep an eye out for resources and update this list with new information as it becomes available! 

On behalf of Johnson & Johnson, thank you to all nurses and frontline health workers around the world who are working in this health crisis. Please know that we will never stop listening to your needs and supporting you, just as we have done for over 120 years.

COVID-19 Outbreak Didn't Stop This Lifesaver

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 2:45pm

Originally published by DKMS

It was late December 2019 and Will was packing his belongings and preparing for the trip from NYC to Texas to visit his parents for Christmas.  In addition to the usual excitement around the holidays, Will was particularly looking forward to this Christmas, as it would be his first since getting engaged to his fiancé earlier that year.  So when he saw a call coming in from an unknown number he ignored it and didn’t think twice, after all, his flight was only in a few hours.  Then he saw an email come in that made everything come to a grinding halt. It was DKMS that was trying to contact him: he had been found as a possible match for a blood cancer patient in need of a transplant.

It initially took Will a moment to remember how and when he had first signed up.  Some friends had been holding an event on campus at the University of Texas in Austin back in 2012 and he had registered; both to help his friends out and because it seemed like a good thing to do, even if it was unlikely he’d be called.  Now, nearly 8 years later, Will’s world suddenly snapped back into motion.  He contacted DKMS, told them he was headed home for the holidays and wanted some time to do some research and chat with friends and family.  By the way he returned to NYC Will’s thought process was clear: he might literally be the difference between life and death for someone, how could he not move forward with donation.

Throughout January and February Will and his DKMS Coordinator, Tami, went through additional health screening questions and blood work to ensure he was the best possible match for his recipient.  By the end of February everything had checked out, Will’s donation date was set for late March, and all that was left to do was wait for the day to come and hope that nothing changed.  Meanwhile, the world outside was beginning to experience an unprecedented change that few, if any, could have predicted or prepared for.

At the end of January the U.S. diagnosed its first case of COVID-19, the virus that had taken root in the Wuhan province of China and quickly spread to the rest of the world, sparking a global pandemic. On February 29th, just a few days after Will and Tami had set the date for his donation the first death from COVID-19 was reported in the U.S.  By March 13th Will was watching diagnosis and deaths in NYC increase exponentially day after day and was beginning to be seriously concerned for the health of himself and his family.  He phoned Tami to let her know that he was going to visit his parents to make sure they were okay, but was still planning on flying back to NYC to donate on the scheduled date.  

In the days following his arrival in Texas sports leagues across the country canceled their seasons, NYC suspended schools and began requesting people work from home if possible, and there were now cases in every state in the country.  He felt the weight of responsibility to his recipient, knowing that if he backed out now they would not survive, but he couldn’t help but feel concerned for his own health, as well as his family.  With a week to go before his donation Will called Tami to see if there was anything that could be done.

“It was an extremely difficult decision,” Will explained. “I had this overwhelming sense of duty to the patient, knowing I was their only chance at survival, but at the same time the prospect of returning to what was quickly becoming the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the US was unnerving.”  Fortunately for Will, Tami listened to Will’s concerns and without a moment's hesitation began reorganizing everything so that Will could donate in Texas, while keeping to the same schedule so that the patient wouldn’t experience any delay in receiving the transplant.  On the same day that Will was supposed to be donating in NYC, now home to the most cases of COVID-19 in the country, he was laying in a bed 2,000 miles away, watching as his stem cells slowly connected and thinking about the stranger who would soon be receiving them.

Read more about how to help delete blood cancer with DKMS

Delivering PPE to the Front Lines in Louisiana

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 11:45am

In April, Louisiana State University (LSU) began large-scale production of personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of its statewide response to support medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. International Paper provided 800 corrugated boxes to assist with the safe transportation of the PPE.

When Adelyn Shankle, college relations manager for International Paper, first learned of the university’s effort to produce gowns for Louisiana’s doctors and nurses, she asked how International Paper, one of the largest producers of packaging, pulp and paper, could help. Learning that LSU needed boxes to transport the gowns, she worked with the company’s community engagement team to source an appropriately sized box that would package 25 gowns at a time.

“Our boxes are essential to safely transporting these products,” said Shankle. “We have eight facilities in the state of Louisiana, and we’re proud to not only support a campus partner but also the communities where our more than 1,700 employees in the state live and work.”

Staffed entirely by LSU employees, the university’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center, or PMAC, has been put to work producing 1,000 heavy-duty, reusable medical gowns daily. International Paper boxes will enable the transportation of 20,000 gowns to hospitals in Louisiana, coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP).

“We are grateful for the donation of 800 boxes by International Paper as LSU continues its statewide fight against COVID-19,” said LSU Interim President Thomas C. Galligan, Jr.

Thank you to our team members in the Olive Branch, Miss. Box Plant who are safely working to produce these essential boxes every day.

Click here to learn more about LSU’s novel PPE production effort.

About International Paper

International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and Russia. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods and enable worldwide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue, and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness; and papers that facilitate education and communication. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., employ more than 50,000 colleagues and serve more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries. Net sales for 2019 were $22 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit internationalpaper.com.

Contemporary Art Inspires Students Competing in the 16th Annual Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 11:45am

The principles of contemporary art was the theme that inspired students at Ryerson School of Interior Design to design and build chairs for the 16th Annual Wilsonart Challenges Student Chair Design Competition. Beyond basic form and function, each design was also informed by how students used expressive and stylistic contemporary elements such as movement, proportion, contrast or balance. When creating their chairs, students used patterns from the Wilsonart® Laminate Collection. The winning chair and five runners up can be viewed here.  

Wilsonart, a world-class innovator of next generation engineered surfaces, created Wilsonart Challenges, which is both a sponsored class and a competition. During the year-long program, students learn how to design and build a one-of-a-kind chair, as well as how to prepare for a major trade show. Introducing the program more than a decade ago, the Wilsonart Challenges is the longest-running sponsored student design class in North America.

Each year, a different design school hosts #WilsonartChallenges. This year, Wilsonart worked with The Ryerson School of Interior Design and with the University’s Creative Technology Lab at FCAD, an advanced technology-based workshop that supports creative research, specialized curriculum and entrepreneurship activities across all nine FCAD Schools and Ryerson Zones. It is the first year Wilsonart Challenges has been held at a school in Canada.   

Amy Yan won the 2020 competition with her design “THE NOT LOVESEAT.” Her chair is a playful commentary on the dualistic nature of both human relationships and architectural volumes. The two curved seat backs appear to be under significant tension as though the chair is being stretched apart by the sheer volume that make up the two seats. The resulting image could be a heart or viewed as a peace symbol suggesting that the chair embraces the dualities of love and peace along with the notions of splitting and separation. Amy’s chair poses a fundamental question; can these seemingly opposing notions exist together? Going a step further, can they even exist without each other as conflicting as they may seem? The judges noted that Amy’s chair was the perfect dialog between art and design.    

“Ryerson emphasized hands on knowledge of materials more than any other school we have ever seen. The result is the outstanding quality in craftsmanship of the final chairs,” noted Grace Jeffers, Design Historian and Wilsonart Challenges Program Director. 

“From a chair that explored the contrasting relationship between life and death to one which offers a playful commentary on the history of art and design, this year’s students have beautifully expressed both stylistic and functional elements of contemporary art,” noted Tammy Weadock, Communications Manager at Wilsonart. “Contemporary art is an ideal guidepost for designing with laminate, a modern material which inspires new designs and applications each day. Once again, we are overwhelmed with the students’ creativity and the artistry used to design and build these beautiful chairs.” 

# # #

About “Wilsonart Challenges…”
‘Wilsonart sponsors “Wilsonart Challenges…” a student design scholarship program to foster the careers of emerging furniture designers in North America. Now in its 16th year, this competition challenges students at a design school to create a unique chair that uses Wilsonart® Laminate to answer a specific design challenge. 

About Wilsonart         
Wilsonart, a world-leading engineered surfaces company, is driven by a mission to create surfaces people love, with service they can count on, delivered by people who care. The Company manufactures and distributes High Pressure Laminate, Quartz, Solid Surface, Coordinated TFL and Edgebanding and other decorative engineered surfaces for use in the office, education, healthcare, residential, hospitality, and retail markets. Operating under the Wilsonart®, Arborite®, Bushboard™, Durcon®, KML®, Laminart®, Mermaid™, New Leaf, Polyrey®, Ralph Wilson®, Resopal®, Shore™, Technistone® and Wetwall brands, the company continuously redefines decorative surfaces through improved performance and award-winning designs. For more information and samples visit www.wilsonart.com or connect with us on Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

About Ryerson School of Interior Design
Housed under the Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson School of Interior Design is in a renovated post and beam warehouse in downtown Toronto. It is one of Ontario’s oldest university degree-granting interior design programs. Started in 1948, the school has earned widespread industry respect due to the accomplishments of faculty and alumni.

The schools’ teaching is grounded in a commitment to experiential and hands-on learning. An internship requirement, completed before graduation, is an integral part of the preparation for the educational experiences possible at the school.

Internationally renowned Azure magazine named the Ryerson School of Interior Design one of the top eight interior design schools on the planet alongside Parsons the New School for Design and the Rhode Island School of Design, among others. For the honor, one hundred international architects, interior designers, industrial designers and other practitioners weighed in: “Ryerson dominates the discussion about the best interior design school in Canada, and graduates are equipped with the necessary technical skills to hit the ground running when they leave school.”    

ESG Disclosure #1 Topic of Engagements in 2019 Between T. Rowe Price and Company Managements

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 8:45am

In an era of rising concerns about climate change, T. Rowe Price reported today that environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure issues became the number one topic in its voluminous engagements with the managements of companies around the world in 2019.  Looking to the future, the $1.01 trillion[1] global asset manager said that the rising risks associated with climate change will impact virtually its entire universe of portfolio holdings to varying degrees.  Therefore, climate change alongside other ESG factors is being increasingly factored into analysts’ evaluation of company fundamentals.

According to the firm’s second annual ESG Report, ESG is being ingrained into its investment processes, impacting how it interacts with thousands of company managements in its portfolios and how it casts its proxy votes, and influencing its advocacy efforts to protect shareholder rights.

The report also presaged the profound changes in corporate governance that might arise in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It is too early to draw conclusions about the long-term effect this virus will have on companies and economies, but what is clear at this stage is that the culture and values of corporate issuers around the world are being tested like never before,” Donna Anderson, Head of Corporate Governance, said in the report. 

“Companies’ previous statements about their management of human capital, health and safety, community involvement, and the overall importance of stakeholders to their businesses will be assessed in a whole new context.  We predict that these topics will become central to the engagement that takes place between investors and corporations.”

The firm’s fundamental investment process is supported by a proprietary Responsible Investing Indicator Model (RIIM) that proactively assesses responsible investing profiles of more than 14,000 corporate and sovereign entities, globally. The RIIM analysis spans more than 20 indicators,[2] such as supply chain (environment), employee treatment, and business ethics to evaluate companies’ ESG risks and positive characteristics. In addition, applying RIIM portfolio analysis can help quantify the amount of risk pertaining to ESG issues across a portfolio manager’s whole portfolio and compared to the benchmark.

One example of ESG integration in action is the assessment of AIA Group, a pan-Asian insurance provider. Analyst Zenon Voyiatzis notes that investors continue to underestimate the durability and resilience of the growth achieved by AIA Group. However, the Responsible Investing team’s analysis confirmed AIA’s robust environmental management program with a particular emphasis on climate change factors. The company incorporates ESG factors such as water scarcity, climate change, environmental regulations, and labor issues, across all asset classes in which it invests, thereby reducing exposure to potential downside risks. This input provided further support for our overall investment analysis[3].

Alongside RIIM and its fundamental research platform, T. Rowe Price implements its investment-driven engagement program to ascertain how its investee companies are building environmental sustainability into their long-term strategic planning, and to guide them towards industry best practice. This includes the firm’s advocacy for aligning ESG disclosure with global frameworks that emphasize financial materiality, namely the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).

Maria Elena Drew, Director of Research, Responsible Investing said, “Our clients are increasingly concerned with understanding environmental-related risks within their portfolios. For us, environmental data is a key component within our responsible investing indicator model, which integrates into our broader investment process. As part of our commitment, we’ve been active in using our scale and influence to drive positive change. In fact, ESG disclosure was our #1 engagement topic of 2019, with environmental disclosure a feature of 38% of our ESG engagements.

“Our engagement activities have sought to nurture steady improvements in ESG disclosure by helping companies understand how we use ESG data in their investment analysis and decision making, how our clients process ESG data to evaluate their aggregated portfolios, and how they should report environmental data –as there is no uniformly adopted standard.”

T. Rowe Price uses its proxy voting power in a way that complements the other aspects of the firm’s relationship with investee companies, including engagement, investment diligence, and investment decision making. T. Rowe Price believes the scale and scope of its business puts it in a powerful position compared with many of its peers when carrying out ESG engagements with companies.

While the firm consistently supports effective, well-targeted proposals that reflect its concerns as an investor, we believe it is debatable whether many shareholder resolutions represent a meaningful solution to various ESG-related challenges. In almost every instance, shareholder proposals are non-binding votes that are opposed by the company’s management and board. Based on the firm’s experience, one-on-one engagement with companies produces better outcomes than shareholder resolutions. It’s also important to note that out of 64,249 proposals that T. Rowe Price cast a vote on globally in 2019, only 0.5% were dedicated to environmental and social issues.

In 2019, T. Rowe Price continued to evolve its stewardship program:

  • The number of meetings with management exceeded 11,000 (with 656 classified as ESG engagements);

  • Cast proxy votes on 64,249 proposals at 6,350 meetings globally – representing 99.2% of all meetings held.

Contact Us

Brian Lewbart

Edward Giltenan

Heather McDonold

Founded in 1937, Baltimore-based T. Rowe Price Group, Inc., is a global investment management organization with $1.01 trillion in assets under management as of March 31, 2020. The organization provides a broad array of commingled funds, subadvisory services, separate account management, and related services for advisors, institutions, financial intermediaries, and retirement plan sponsors. The company also offers sophisticated investment planning and guidance tools. T. Rowe Price’s disciplined, risk-aware investment approach focuses on diversification, style consistency, and fundamental research. For more information, visit troweprice.com.

Important information

This material is being furnished for general informational and/or marketing purposes only. The material does not constitute or undertake to give advice of any nature, including fiduciary investment advice, nor is it intended to serve as the primary basis for an investment decision. Prospective investors are recommended to seek independent legal, financial and tax advice before making any investment decision. T. Rowe Price group of companies including T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and/or its affiliates receive revenue from T. Rowe Price investment products and services. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. The value of an investment and any income from it can go down as well as up. Investors may get back less than the amount invested.

The material does not constitute a distribution, an offer, an invitation, a personal or general recommendation or solicitation to sell or buy any securities in any jurisdiction or to conduct any particular investment activity. The material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in any jurisdiction.

Information and opinions presented have been obtained or derived from sources believed to be reliable and current; however, we cannot guarantee the sources’ accuracy or completeness. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. The views contained herein are as of the date noted on the material and are subject to change without notice; these views may differ from those of other T. Rowe Price group companies and/or associates. Under no circumstances should the material, in whole or in part, be copied or redistributed without consent from T. Rowe Price.

The material is not intended for use by persons in jurisdictions which prohibit or restrict the distribution of the material and in certain countries the material is provided upon specific request. It is not intended for distribution to retail investors in any jurisdiction.

© 2020 T. Rowe Price. All rights reserved. T. ROWE PRICE, INVEST WITH CONFIDENCE, and the bighorn sheep design are, collectively and/or apart, trademarks or registered trademarks of T. Rowe Price Group, Inc.

T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.

[1] Firmwide assets under management include assets managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and its investment advisory affiliates as of March 31, 2020

[2]A complete list of RIIM risk indicators is available on pages 8-9 of T. Rowe Price ESG Annual Report

[3] The specific securities identified and described do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold, or recommended by T. Rowe Price, and no assumptions should be made that the securities identified and discussed were or will be profitable.

Back to the Fundamentals of Human Trust with Schneider Electric

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 5:43pm

 Back to Fundamentals with Schneider Electric - Our world is facing an unexpected ordeal. As we all grapple with how we can collectively beat COVID-19, I reflect on what has changed in our world, how our perceptions and interactions are being shaped in this new reality. This unique time in history reminds us of the true fundamentals of human life.

Trust is everything

Today’s crisis is challenging our core notion of trust. We are pushed to view each other as threat, our response to implement distance. But at the same time we have widespread trust in our society. Trust that each of us will enact the same social behavior to contain the spread of disease. Trust that we can rely on specialists for care and healing, for food, without the time nor capacity to check on their safety procedures. Trust that we can rely on organizations to fulfill the basics of life: water and energy. Trust that we will all adapt to the everchanging orders from authorities. Trust that everybody is playing their part in society, with honesty and rigor. 

In our new daily life, we are required to trust more because we can no longer check and control. We share information more transparently as we are facing the same urgent challenge. We tolerate mistakes more than before and focus on solutions rather than finger pointing. We realize that this makes everybody’s task more efficient, fulfilling and satisfactory. We will probably discover that many things we were doing could be done differently or perhaps, stopped altogether. The crisis breaks the walls and builds stronger bridges; public and private engaging together, competing companies collaborating to step up manufacturing or sourcing of medical equipment.

Defiance is defeated by the immensity of the challenge we must face together. The only way out is with trust, in times which undermine it.

Everybody needs somebody

Everybody has a role

We rediscover how interconnected our society is. We assume our mission in the new conditions with the flexibility to support our community with what we have. Medical professionals on the front line, teachers educating the next generation remotely, operators of critical energy and water networks, garbage collectors and supermarket workers. We all need to try our best to keep the world running, and, except for the most vulnerable of us, everybody is needed on deck. At Schneider we have the responsibility to ensure the 24x7 service continuity of the critical industries, in all the countries and communities we operate in. In hospitals, data centers, grids, water plants, and cold chains of food and pharmaceutical. Our mission is to make sure that Life Is On, everywhere, for everyone, at every moment. And that is possible because our people keep manufacturing, our office teams keep answering, and our service teams keep responding.

Beyond our own neighborhood, we all become more conscious of interdependency. Suppliers, manufacturers, and customers open books and communicate to ensure continuity of service together. Tense relationships become much more collaborative when we all realize we need each other to keep operating.

The time of people

People reveal themselves in the crisis. I am heartened and amazed to witness the energy, creativity, commitment and determination of so many people. They propose ideas and solutions to face unexpected challenges. We see solidarity and altruism developing in many places. At Schneider, the teams worked with partners to develop ventilators, secured new workstations to ensure continuity of service, rapidly contributed to new hospitals builds and financed community relief projects. All of this being spontaneously initiated and ingeniously executed in no time locally.

Read the full article on LinkedIn

Mohawk Donates Carpet to Three Schools Through Georgia United Foundation’s School Crashers Program

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 2:43pm

Georgia United Credit Union is excited to announce Mohawk Industries will donate Mohawk Group commercial carpeting to three deserving schools as part of the Georgia United Foundation 2020 School Crashers® program. Mohawk’s generous donation will provide carpeting for media centers at Avondale Elementary School and Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. Additionally, New Hope Middle School in Dalton will receive carpeting as part of a new sensory room for students with autism and special needs.

“When the new school year begins, hundreds of students will take pride in their learning spaces, thanks to Mohawk’s generosity,” shared Kim Wall, director of business and community development at Georgia United.

“Having had the opportunity to volunteer at one of the crashes last year and see the difference that this program is making in our communities, it’s exciting to watch this partnership continue to grow,” said David Dembowitz, senior vice president of education and government for Mohawk Group. “The learning environment plays a crucial role in the development of the students and faculty it serves, and we are honored to be able to lend our expertise in education design once again.”

In total, seven schools will receive facility improvements as part of the 2020 School Crashers program.

  • Hillcrest Elementary, Dublin – Playground Makeover

  • New Hope Middle School, Dalton – Sensory Classroom including Mohawk Group Carpet

  • B.B. Harris Elementary, Duluth – Playground and Outdoor Classroom Makeover

  • Jolly Elementary, Clarkston – Playground Addition

  • Walnut Grove Elementary, Suwanee – Pre-K Inclusive Playground Makeover

  • Booker T. Washington, Atlanta – Media Center Carpet by Mohawk Group

  • Avondale Elementary, Avondale Estates – Media Center Carpet by Mohawk Group

“Over the last six years, School Crashers has provided 43 makeovers with improvements valued over $1,300,000. We look forward to our seventh year of serving our communities and strengthening our school systems by providing inspiring learning spaces for students to experience when they return to school this fall,” stated Debbie Smith, Georgia United CEO and president.

The schools will work with Georgia United this summer to complete their requested improvement projects.

Georgia United team members, local communities, donors and business partners, look forward to volunteering to help improve the learning environments for the students and faculty. All volunteer efforts will follow current CDC guidelines. Visit GUCUFoundation.org/schoolcrashers to learn more about the program and follow the credit union on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to watch the schools transform over the summer.

About Georgia United Foundation
Georgia United Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life for children and families in the communities they serve through impactful programs funded by way of corporate contributions and delivered through volunteerism from the credit union and community partners. The Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization and is the philanthropic arm of Georgia United Credit Union. Visit GUCUFoundation.org to learn more.

About Georgia United Credit Union
Georgia United Credit Union is an award-winning financial leader and partner in education. Headquartered in Duluth, Georgia United is ranked as one of the state’s largest credit unions with over $1.5 billion in assets, 168,000 members and 19 branch locations. As a full-service financial institution, they offer competitive products and services for every stage of life. Visit GUCU.org to learn more.

About Mohawk Group
As the world’s leading producer and distributor of quality commercial flooring, Mohawk Group believes that better floor coverings emerge from better design, innovation, sustainability, project solutions and operational excellence. Mohawk Group addresses the unique challenges and opportunities in contract interiors with a comprehensive carpet and hard surface portfolio of all types and price points. As the commercial division of Mohawk Industries, the company has a heritage of craftsmanship that spans more than 130 years. To learn more about our full line of flooring products, please visit MohawkGroup.com.


Quakes to Coronavirus: Red Cross Delivers Relief With Help From FedEx

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 2:43pm

Pictured in the photo accompanying this post is American Red Cross Regional Executive Lee Feliciano in Puerto Rico. Lee is surrounded by communications and IT equipment, delivered by FedEx through donated shipping services provided year-round. The equipment pictured was used by the Red Cross in their relief response to the earthquakes earlier this year.

For many years FedEx has provided donated shipping services to the Red Cross to help transport various items including communications and IT equipment in preparation for and in response to disasters.

Sometimes the Red Cross knows in advance an area that will be impacted by an impending disaster such as the area where a hurricane will make landfall or where flood waters are anticipated in a specific area. In these instances, they are able to establish a command center ahead of the event. They then use the sophisticated equipment delivered to the center to maintain contact with their staff and volunteers in an affected area and to help manage their response.

In the case of the earthquakes and aftershocks hitting Puerto Rico, there was no advance notice. However, FedEx was able to reliably and quickly deliver their equipment to help enable their relief efforts after the disaster hit.

In the case of the coronavirus pandemic, Red Cross is using their in-kind shipping account with FedEx to maintain a sufficient supply of blood products for patients nationwide, whenever and wherever it is needed most.

For more than 25 years, as a charitable supporter, FedEx has helped Red Cross deliver relief in response to earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods - and now, a pandemic. We admire and respect Lee Feliciano and her team for their relief work in Puerto Rico, and we deeply appreciate the work that Red Cross staff and their countless volunteers are doing in response to the pandemic.

From quakes to the coronavirus, Red Cross delivers relief, with a little help from FedEx.

About FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $70 billion, the company offers integrated business solutions through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 475,000 team members to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. To learn more about how FedEx connects people and possibilities around the world, please visit about.fedex.com and fedexcares.com.

***Image published with the permission of the American Red Cross

Aramark Recognized Among DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 2:43pm

Aramark has been named #23 on DiversityInc’s listing of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity, up six spots from 2019.

DiversityInc, the producers of the gold standard in the U.S. for ranking companies for diversity, equity and inclusion, announced this week that Aramark had moved into the top 25 of their Top 50 list. The DiversityInc Top 50 list, issued yearly since 2001, recognizes the nation’s top companies for diversity and inclusion management. These companies excel in such areas as hiring, retaining and promoting women, minorities, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ and veterans.

“It is a true honor to be recognized among the 50 most diverse companies by DiversityInc,” said John Zillmer, Chief Executive Officer of Aramark. “Our goal is to foster an inclusive culture that values and leverages the differences of our team members and reflects the diverse customers and marketplaces we serve around the world.”

“Leaders of DiversityInc Top 50 Companies understand that nurturing an inclusive environment where everyone has a sense of belonging drives profitability and results in a competitive advantage, especially during a recession,” CEO of DiversityInc Carolynn Johnson said.

Aramark’s diversity and inclusion efforts have been well recognized, including being named a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality,” from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2020 Corporate Equality Index (CEI); a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by the Disability Equality Index with a 100% top-score; and Reader’s Choice Top 50 Employer from Careers & the disABLED Magazine.

To view the entire Top 50 list and specialty lists, visit http://www.diversityinc.com/top50 or follow the conversation at #DITop50.

Johnson & Johnson Recognized in the U.S. by ENERGY STAR as a “Partner Leader on Climate"

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 2:43pm

Originally published on Linked In

On this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, I am proud to share that J&J is recognized in the U.S. by ENERGY STAR as a “Partner Leader on Climate”. We have had a long-standing commitment to the health of our environment because we understand that environmental health and human health are inextricably linked. we work to reduce our carbon footprint because we recognize that energy reduction and clean energy projects are good for the environment and for human health.

About Johnson & Johnson
At Johnson & Johnson, we believe good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress. That’s why for more than 130 years, we have aimed to keep people well at every age and every stage of life. Today, as the world’s largest and most broadly-based healthcare company, we are committed to using our reach and size for good. We strive to improve access and affordability, create healthier communities, and put a healthy mind, body and environment within reach of everyone, everywhere. We are blending our heart, science and ingenuity to profoundly change the trajectory of health for humanity. Learn more at www.jnj.com. Follow us at @JNJNews.

Schneider Electric Foundation Joins #GivingTuesdayNow, a Global Day of Giving in Response to COVID-19

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 5:42pm

Schneider Electric, the leader in digital transformation of energy management and automation has announced that it will participate #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving and unity, taking place on May 5, 2020 as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

This day is organized by GivingTuesday (promoted by United Nations Foundation) and is being held in addition to the annually scheduled GivingTuesday that will still take place on December 1, 2020. This global event aims to inspire grassroots generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and non-profits around the world. #GivingTuesdayNow focuses on opportunities for connection and kindness to give back to COVID-19 impacted communities and causes, while practicing safe social distancing.

To celebrate #GivingTuesdayNow, Schneider Electric Foundation encourages employees, suppliers, customers and partners all over the world to contribute to the “Tomorrow Rising Fund” launched in early April to support emergency response and relief activities post-Covid-19. This “Tomorrow Rising Fund” will help vulnerable, homeless and elderly people, and longer-term reconstruction activities and education and professional training for the most disadvantaged in our communities. Schneider Electric employees and partners can get involved by making financial donations or volunteering. All financial donations will be matched by Schneider Electric Foundation.

The Tomorrow Rising Fund focuses on three priorities:

Since it’s launch, more than 40 countries where Schneider operates have got involved in the fund’s efforts and 19 projects are already identified.

Response: part of the money raised will go to the most vulnerable, homeless people and families struggling with poverty, who live close to Schneider entities. For example, projects to support 8 hospitals in Italy and the distribution of 50,000 food parcels to 351 villages in Lebanon

Recovery: using funds raised to support education and professional training programs. Schneider Electric aims to train 1 million of the world’s most disadvantaged people before 2025 as a vital step to shape and rebuild the future of affected communities. For example, Tomorrow Rising fund will benefit projects to support low income technical students in China.

Resilience: by extending fundraising efforts beyond Schneider’s network of 130,000 employees to the broader ecosystem of partners and proposing digital voluntary missions. Every week, Schneider employees engage and celebrate colleagues, families and friends who make a positive impact. There are stories from all over the world, such as the US team producing face shields on 3D printers or a UK employee-volunteer who ran a marathon on his treadmill.

About GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Call to Action! Alliance for Water Efficiency Seeks Support for WaterSense in Comments to the EPA

Thu, 05/07/2020 - 2:42pm

In response to a Federal Register Notice on the WaterSense® Program published on April 10, 2020, the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE) is now calling on water and sustainability professionals to answer with a strong show of support for the WaterSense labeling program and the objective, scientific evidence on which product specifications are based.

AWE has prepared detailed comments and encourages all supporters of the voluntary WaterSense program to join in the effort to maintain rigorous, science-based performance standards.  More information on how to send letters and to join the AWE letter can be found here.

The EPA WaterSense program has been a tremendous success. Public and private utilities in all 50 states tailor successful water conservation programs around consumer use of WaterSense-labeled products. And because of the connection between water and energy use, the 3.4 trillion gallons of water saved to date by WaterSense have resulted in 462.5 billion kilowatt-hours of energy that don’t have to be used to treat, pump and heat water.  These savings have resulted in an average financial benefit to consumers of $380 annually and $84.2 billion total in avoided water, sewer, and energy bills since the program was created in 2006.

WaterSense bases its product specifications on measured values of performance that are tested in a laboratory and certified by a third-party certifying body.   Testing includes the volume of water used to flush a toilet, or the maximum flow rate of a showerhead or faucet aerator under specific pressure conditions. These measured test values ensure that products receiving the WaterSense label are capable of meeting established, measurable performance criteria.  

The Federal Register Notice asks if the EPA should veer from reliance on measurable performance metrics to include “customer satisfaction” criteria in the WaterSense product specifications and guidelines. AWE believes this to be particularly problematic because customer satisfaction with a plumbing fixture depends greatly on the quality of manufacturing, the cost, the customer’s own expectations, the actual installation of the fixture, the water pressure in the building, and the appearance of the fixture. These are all difficult to measure. Including customer satisfaction criteria in the WaterSense specification process could thus introduce uncertainty and bias into what has until now been a fair and scientific process. Customer satisfaction is a comparatively vague concept which cannot be measured in a laboratory the same way as flush volumes and flow rates can. This type of research instead examines the nexus between customer expectations, perceived quality, and perceived value, all subjective findings.

“Customer satisfaction criteria do not belong in WaterSense product specifications themselves,” said AWE President and CEO Mary Ann Dickinson. “But there are reasonable and important uses for customer satisfaction information within WaterSense, such as informing the EPA about Americans’ opinion of the WaterSense brand and their experience with WaterSense labeled products in homes and businesses. This information could help EPA guide the direction of the WaterSense brand and program. However, it would not be reasonable or correct for EPA to include customer satisfaction requirements within individual product specifications,” Dickinson added.

ENERGY STAR hired JD Power and Associates and other specialized firms to conduct customer satisfaction surveys about products that receive the ENERGY STAR label.  All of these surveys were focused on satisfaction with partnerships, utility programs, and the ENERGY STAR brand, and did not cover topics like the wattage of light bulbs, the duration of dishwasher cycles, or any product-specific information. Recent JD Power research answered the question, “Does an ENERGY STAR Partnership Increase Customer Satisfaction?”

The Federal Register Notice also included a summary of the review of WaterSense product performance criteria, conducted as required under the authorizing legislation, the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018. Based on this review, the EPA made the decision not to revise any WaterSense product specifications at this time.  But the Federal Register Notice does make clear that these specifications could be re-evaluated based on customer satisfaction information.

“AWE supports EPA’s decision not to revise any specifications at this time,” said Dickinson, “but we believe it important that product specifications move forward and advance over time based on adequate study and research.  WaterSense product specifications should keep up with changing times and technology.” 

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