By Joseph Keef, President and CEO of Pax World Funds, NHBSR Member

Over the past several months, we have witnessed a parade of famous names linked to sexual harassment and assault scandals – Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Louis C.K., Mario Batali, Democratic Senator Al Franken, Republican Representative Trent Franks – and there are likely more to come.

We have also witnessed brave women coming forward and the meteoric rise of the #MeToo movement, Time Magazine bestowing “Person of the Year” honors for such bravery, and women in the entertainment industry launching “Time’s Up” to clean up showbiz.

This has all the markings of a turning point in the fight for gender equality.  If so, we should be careful not to focus exclusively on individual behavior – be it individual misconduct or individual bravery – such that we miss a larger lesson about organizational behavior and how institutions can build positive cultures where sexual harassment and violence are no longer tolerated.

There can be no doubt that male predatory behavior against women needs to be confronted and stopped.  However, while changing individual behavior is certainly part of the answer, it is not a sufficient answer because women will continue to be at risk unless and until we usher in larger changes.  These changes must take place at the organizational level so that workplaces – be they movie studios, network news rooms, corporate C-suites, factory floors or the Halls of Congress – are made safe.

By focusing on organizational behavior, I also think we can help people feel empowered to be part of the solution.

As the President of a financial services company, I am particularly optimistic that investors can be part of the solution, and that if we apply a gender lens when we invest, we can change organizational behavior and advance gender equality in the workplace.

How do we do this?  How do we change workplaces so that all employees, particularly women, are safe and secure, respected and listened to, empowered and advanced?

Culture and Governance

First, we need to understand that workplaces plagued by harassment and violence generally have two fundamental flaws: (1) poor cultures, and (2) poor governance.  Second, we need to understand that one key to building stronger cultures and better governance is embracing greater gender diversity in corporate leadership.

First, culture: A company’s culture encompasses its mission and values and includes not only the way employees are treated but the way they treat each other.  A culture that fosters mutual respect, tolerance, teamwork, diversity and inclusion, collaboration, innovation, and an abiding commitment not only to employees but to the larger community is a culture where sexual predation, harassment and violence are not tolerated.  Conversely, a culture where predation, harassment and violence do occur is a culture that is failing in fundamental ways.

Many things can be done to improve a company’s culture but one critical building block is a gender diverse leadership team – more women on the board and in senior management.  Numerous studies have shown that more women in corporate leadership is correlated with improved financial performance.1  But other good things happen too: greater transparency, collaboration and innovation; more robust dialogue, greater due diligence and improved decision making; better talent cultivation and retention; more effective risk mitigation and crisis management; improved ethical orientation and corporate social responsibility; and yes, positive changes in the behavior of men and better protection against sexual harassment.2

Simply put, ending sexual harassment requires a stronger, more positive workplace culture and the key to a better workplace culture is more women in leadership.

Second, governance: A company’s governance is essentially the system of rules, norms, policies and processes through which it operates, including effective oversight and accountability.  Where governance is strong, and oversight and accountability are taken seriously, sexual harassment and violence are less likely to occur.  Again, research suggests that governance is stronger where women are better represented on corporate boards, on key board committees, and in senior management.  Studies have shown that female directors have better attendance records than male directors, make board and committee monitoring more careful and exacting, and that boards with a critical mass of three or more women score higher on a range of organizational issues including leadership, accountability, innovation, motivation and work environment.3  When women are at the table the discussion is richer, the decision making process is better, management is more innovative and collaborative and the organization is stronger.

Eliminating sexual harassment and violence in the workplace requires strong cultures and strong governance, and these in turn are boosted by more women in the boardroom and more women in senior management.  Gender diversity may not be the only answer to eliminating workplace harassment and violence, but in my view it is the key answer.

Does anyone really believe that companies with all-male boards and male-dominated management teams will make the elimination of sexual harassment and violence top priorities?  The question answers itself.

Yet women only hold 24% of corporate board seats and 17% of senior management positions in the Year 2018!4

This needs to change – and this we CAN change.

Gender Lens Investing

Investors need to be the key constituency for promoting greater gender diversity on corporate boards and in the corporate C-suite.  After all, it is shareholders who own these companies, and corporate boards are supposed to represent the shareholders’ interests. If diverse leadership teams perform better than non-diverse leadership teams, as the research suggests, then it is in the shareholders’ interest and it is the board’s duty to embrace greater gender diversity.

So, who are these shareholders/investors I am talking about?

Well, you and me: together, we probably own shares in most major U.S. corporations, either through mutual funds, or our 401(k) Plan at work, or through our financial advisor.

And how can we, as investors, convince companies to embrace change?

It’s simple: By investing with a gender lens.

Gender lens investing, a fast-growing sector within the financial services industry, integrates gender concerns into investment decisions to yield positive financial returns and positive social outcomes for women.

My company has been part of the gender lens landscape from the beginning, and in 2014 we launched the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX), the first mutual fund to invest in the highest-rated companies in the world for advancing women through gender diversity on their boards and in executive management.  Of the companies in the Fund, 99% have two or more women on their board and 91% have three or more women on their board.  Women hold 35% of board seats and 29% of senior management positions among companies in the Fund, vs. global averages of 24% and 17%, respectively.5  In other words, the Fund provides the opportunity to invest in companies that are global leaders in advancing women, and on the front lines of battling harassment, violence and inequality.

Other companies are beginning to offer gender lens strategies as well.  Recent papers by Veris Wealth Partners and the Wharton School Social Impact Initiative describe the landscape of gender lens investing, including various funds available to invest in as well as how these strategies can potentially improve the lives of women.6  A recent book, Gender Lens Investing, provides a smart summation of what is happening in the field. 7

As investors, we now have the opportunity – and a range of choices – if we want to invest in companies that support women and promote gender diversity.  By seizing this opportunity, we can not only support companies that are supporting women; we can also promote better cultures and better governance in corporate America, and make a genuine difference when it comes to sexual harassment and violence.

In fact, we can not only invest in companies that are advancing women, we can also put pressure on companies that aren’t doing enough.  A key element of gender lens investing is engaging with companies, encouraging them to do better.  For example, since 2010 my firm has voted its proxies against or withheld support from more than 1,100 corporate board slates due to insufficient gender diversity, and we then register our concerns by writing letters to the companies explaining why we opposed their board slates.  We also file shareholder resolutions asking companies to add more women to their boards.  As a founding member of the Thirty Percent Coalition, we have worked with other institutional investors to convince over 150 companies to add women to their boards.

We have also filed shareholder resolutions asking companies to conduct pay audits to determine if disparities exist between male and female employees.  We convinced Apple – the biggest company in the world – to take such steps and a shareholder resolution we filed with Oracle received a majority of votes from outside shareholders.

We even petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to require companies to disclose pay ratios between male and female employees.  While I don’t expect action on this petition under the current administration in Washington, I do believe that more disclosure and transparency will eventually incentivize companies to do more to close the wage gap.

The point is this: our investments can make a profound difference when it comes to promoting gender equality.

Time’s Up

So, would you rather be invested with companies that care about women’s issues and are working to advance women or do you invest through financial advisors or mutual funds that pay no heed to the urgent call for gender equality that is rippling across our nation and across the globe?  The choice is yours: you can be part of the problem or you can be part of the solution.

And if Hollywood wants to be part of the solution, and Hollywood stars really want to say, “Time’s Up” when it comes to gender discrimination and violence, they can put their money where their mouth is – and where their values are – by changing the way they invest.  Believe me, their money, if invested with a gender lens, could make an enormous difference.

The choice is ours.  When it comes to ending discrimination against women and promoting gender equality, each of us – through our investments – really can become part of the solution.  It’s high time we did.  Time’s Up!


Read the original article here

by MeiMei Fox, Forbes Contributor

“Businesses hold most of the resources in the world, and I believe they have a responsibility to be part of the solution to many of the world’s most pressing challenges : poverty, hunger, climate change, etc. The state of the world demands that businesses step up to do their part.” So says Atlanta McIlwraith, senior manager of community engagement and communications at Timberland.


[Photo: McIlwraith celebrating Timberland's two-millionth tree planted in Northern China’s Horqin Desert. (Courtesy of Timberland)]

The global lifestyle brand works hard to make its products responsibly, protect the outdoors, and serve communities around the globe where employees live and work. Lately, McIlwraith's focus has been on meeting with potential partners who can help bring Timberland’s urban greening efforts to life. From 2001-2015, the company planted 8.7 million trees. They plan to make that 10 million trees by 2020.

In a nutshell, McIlwraith’s role involves building partnerships, driving community impact, and telling stories. She leads a team of Global Stewards, passionate employees who volunteer for a two-year term to drive service and corporate responsibility in their locations, adapting global strategies in locally-relevant ways. She also manages Timberland’s award-winning Path of Service volunteer program, which provides employees with 40 paid community service hours per year. For partnerships, McIlwraith recommends and manages Timberland’s relationships with nonprofit organizations that align with company goals.

atlantamcilwraith_blog_2.png[Photo: McIlwraith led volunteers to reconstruct gardens in the South Bronx, NY. (Courtesy of Timberland)]

As a child, McIlwraith already was deeply connected to her life purpose, which was to save the environment and help people less fortunate than herself. It wasn’t until she got to college, however, that she learned how to channel that concern through activism. Her first jobs focused on community organizing for an electoral campaign and then Public Citizen’s CongressWatch in Washington, D.C.

While living in D.C., McIlwraith had an idea to launch her own socially responsible business. Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was her inspiration. McIlwraith read Roddick’s book, Body and Soul:  How to Succeed in Business and Change the World, to determine the best way to approach the business leader, and found that she couldn’t put it down. “I literally stayed up all night to finish and walked away with an overwhelming conviction that I needed to work with Anita,” McIlwraith said. Eight months later, she had secured at job at The Body Shop, designing and launching the company’s public awareness and action campaigns for its U.S. retail stores.

Eventually, McIlwraith landed on corporate social responsibility (CSR) as the place where she wanted to play, and Timberland has proven a great place for her to do so. Her job allows her to make a difference on a global scale and empower others to do the same – whether by supporting a community garden in the Bronx that enables residents to grow their own food, or helping reforest Haiti and improving farmer incomes in the process.

McIlwraith finds that cynicism and apathy are some challenges she faces in her chosen career path. But, she says, “the reward is knowing that I’m part of creating a successful model of sustainable business. I am proud to work for a company that sets an example of doing well while doing good. I don’t have to check any values at the door to get my job done at Timberland.”

McIlwraith offers this advice to young people who want to make a career change or start a new career that is aligned with their life purpose. “Be curious, take risks, and trust your gut. Leverage your networks. Learn what you need to do to get hired in that field and read relevant books, follow the news, take a class, and/or join a professional network or association with people who can guide and mentor you (like Net Impact). Volunteer in your community on specific projects that can help you have a meaningful impact while developing the skills and experiences you’ll need to make your case to potential new employers. Ask for feedback on every interview so you can learn and improve. Finally, don’t give up. The right opportunity is out there for you; you just need to find it.”

Read the original article here  

(Photo credit: Greg West Photography)

Member Feature:  A conversation with Delise West, president of Human Resource Partners 
Office Locations: Dover and Concord, NH

We had an opportunity to talk with Delise West, president of Human Resource Partners (HR Partners), one of ournewest members. Founded in 2003, HR Partners will be celebrating 15 years in 2018. Delise explains that she started the company for a couple of reasons— family being first and foremost. Her position as U.S. Human Resources Director for an international biotechnology company required too much travel and as a new mother this position was no longer a fit. At the time Delise had been working with her sister-in-law, a small business owner, on some HR issues. It was through this work that gave her the insight that small and medium-sized businesses have HR needs but are not at a size that warrants hiring an HR professional on staff. Delise reached out to the former Women’s Business Center in Portsmouth and tapped into their resources to get started. New Hampshire’s business foundation is primarily comprised of companies with under 100 employees, many with fewer than 50 employees.  HR Partners’ focus is to be the HR department for businesses of this size. She shares that at the time she started the business, clients didn’t understand the full breadth of HR. She quickly learned that she had a lot of education to provide to prospective clients in order for them to understand that what HR does isn’t just benefits and payroll or hiring and firing. Where Delise and her team really add value is by bringing a more strategic look at HR to support a client’s business goals and objectives while also focusing on workplace culture and employee productivity. The team often works with managers and their teams to help navigate some of the issues that come up. Workplace culture is a topic that more and more companies are focusing on as employees and potential employees look to culture as a deciding factor when determining the company for which they will work.

In 2008, HR Partners faced a pivotal moment, when its biggest client cut their workforce in half and this client exited. It was at this time Delise knew that in order to scale the business it was essential she hire her first employee and spend more of her time focused on marketing and business development. Tonya Rochette, VP HR Solutions based at the firm’s Concord office, was hired and is now Delise’s business partner. The staff now totals 7, with plans for future growth. Over time they’ve found the service delivery model that works best for their clients is an ongoing monthly retainer where her team becomes an extension of the client’s team which includes a regular onsite presence at the client’s location. Using HR Partners as their outsourced “HR Department” afford a client’s leadership to stay focused on their core strengths so they can be less distracted and grow in turn their business.  

Tonya and Pubali Chakravorty-Campbell, VP Operations and Organizational Development, went through Leadership NH together—and made a wonderful new connection. Two years ago Pubali, a former business owner herself, joined the team, bringing her extensive talents including business operations, executive coaching, organizational development and training. Pubali’s skillset has been a great addition and many of HR Partners’ clients have already benefited from her talents.

When Delise talks about sustainability, she looks at their model for the work they do, focusing on hiring people on a part-time basis, which gives employees the flexibility they are looking for in their life. Many work from home or work at a client’s location, offering a great deal of flexibility with schedules.

We asked Delise what gets her excited about her work and she answered that having an impact on a client’s business so they are more successful is very meaningful. To help a client retain employees longer, communicate better, improve the success of a new employee or supervisor transition into their role, are all aspects of this fulfilling work. Educating and reminding people about the importance of effective communication remains a critical piece of their work.

Delise shares that she’s always been socially conscious, so she was excited to learn about NHBSR and it made sense to join as a member. She and her team as excited to learn more about what other organizations are doing and how they are making an impact.

Please help us welcome Delise and her team. Many of you may have met Pubali, who was a speaker at the Spring Conference in May.

You can reach Delise at …, 603.749.8989 and learn more about HR Partners at

by Bea Boccalandro


We take a third of our waking breaths at work. As if this hefty contribution of time weren’t enough, we also invest emotionally. We agonize over a conflictwith a colleague, obsess over a forthcoming presentation, rejoice in attaining a quarterly goal and otherwise live the ups and downs of our workplaces.

No wonder we arrive home barely capable of boiling water for a macaroni dinner. Work consumes whatever enthusiasm, brilliance and patience we might have possessed upon awakening. The next day we repeat the cycle of expending most of our time and energy at the plant, store or office. 

In other words, work is rarely a sideshow to life. Most often, it’s the immobile core around which we find time to enjoy neighbors and family, pursue interests, find love and raise children.

Yet, the most common critique I get of my presentations is that, by helping people to make a social impact from their everyday work or to “job purpose,” I overvalue work. Our personal lives, not our jobs, are meant to fulfill. Work is merely a mechanism to affording a fulfilling personal life, say my critics. 

Don’t think that I’m a dour workaholic disinterested in family, friends and fun. I’ve turned down speaking engagements because they conflicted with my mom’s birthday, a weekend of skiing with friends and, most pathetic of all, my need for sleep. Clearly, I’m not a paragon of career ambition. Like my critics, I confer more importance to my non-work life than to my work life. Most of us do. That hardly means, however, that we should accept work that depletes rather than enriches. 

I baked a bland quiche once (well, OK, several times). It delivered calories and eliminated hunger pangs but had no other positive attributes. I cleverly tried to highlight the silky chocolate mousse and free-flowing alcohol during dinner conversation, but these could not redeem the meal.

Sadly, many of us have jobs like my quiche. Our labor allows us to meet basic needs like food, shelter and safety, but feels dull. We, therefore, downplay work. We autopilot through five-sevenths of our days, re-engaging with life on Friday evenings for two precious days. Yet, under the dead weight of our jobs, we’re unable to pull ourselves out of the workweek doldrums to claim a rewarding life. This explains why if we’re very dissatisfied with work, it’s almost certain (84%) that we’re not very satisfied with life.[1] Similarly, if our job satisfaction drops by 10%, our life satisfaction drops, on average, by 6%.[2]

Creating a fulfilling life around drab work is as difficult as creating an extraordinary dinner around a flavorless main course. It’s a heck of a lot of work for a minuscule chance at success.

It’s time we accept that our best chance at a fulfilling life is through fulfilling work. This week, I challenge you to explore what changes to your job would make it, and thus your life, more rewarding. Let me know what you discover.

Bea Boccalandro is founder and president of VeraWorks, a global consulting firm that advises executives and helps brands make a positive social impact, including Aetna, Bank of America, Disney, FedEx, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Levi’s and PwC. Bea focuses on “job purposing,” the management practice of heightening employee engagement, performance and wellbeing by igniting everyday jobs with social purpose. To learn more about job purposing, download Bea’s free Job Purposing Essentials paper for managers, or follow Bea here on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

[1] Tom W. Smith, “Job Satisfaction in the United States” (Chicago: NORC/University of Chicago, 2007).

[2] Happiness Research Institute and Krifa, Job Satisfaction Index 2017 (Copenhagen: Happiness Research Institute, 2017). 


by Bea Boccalandro

Think your fancy modern job is better than the primitive jobs of our ancestors? 

caveman_beaboccalandro_image.pngMaybe not. 

It’s unlikely cave dwellers grumbled about the day they endured to put dinner on their stone tables. Anthropologists believe pre-historic humans legitimately enjoyed working. The legacy of these happy laborers appears to survive in our genes. Why else would so many of us hunt deer, catch fish and gather berries for fun?

What's more, our modern view that work is the unpleasantness necessary for survival would confound our forefathers and foremothers. Hunter-gatherer communities didn't even have a word for “work.” Procuring food and shelter were not distinctly different from playing with the kids or drawing on the cave wall.

We upright and suited modern humans, on the other hand, mostly see work as a necessary transaction. Fewer than half of Americans are happy workers, per research by the Conference Board. We don’t only have a word for this unpleasantness, we have several: Labor, grind and toil, to name a few more.

Why has work devolved from fulfilling to depleting over the centuries? Mainly because we inadvertently stripped it of social purpose. More than just a way to feed our nuclear families, the work of generations past inherently made a positive social impact. Hunting and consuming a wooly mammoth, for example, was a community endeavor that fed and clothed dozens of individuals. It felt meaningful and connected.

Don’t sharpen your flint and rush into the forest just yet. There is a way to keep today's comfortable jobs and recover the fulfilling purpose that is our legacy. It’s a practice called job purposing that stretches jobs, just a tad, to make a positive social impact through everyday work. If you work at a restaurant, job purposing might entail serving a meal to homeless individuals after closing or sourcing ingredients from local family farms. If you're a hairdresser, job purposing might be a matter of becoming trained on local domestic violence services and connecting clients when appropriate. Whatever your job, you can twist it towards social good. For six simple ways to do this, see prior post. 

History of work expert Richard Donkin says that “The creatures that stepped down from the trees and began to roam upright over the land appear to have developed something beyond the need to survive ... they seem to have moved with a sense of purpose.” Donkin believes this has been passed down to us. “If anything drives our organizations today it must be a similar purpose.”

What can you do today to reclaim your legacy, as a human, of purposeful work? (Whatever you decide to do, I would love to hear about it.)

Bea Boccalandro is founder and president of VeraWorks, a global consulting firm that helps companies — including Aetna, Bank of America, Disney, FedEx, Hewlett Packard Enterprise IBM, Levi’s and PwC — contribute to societal causes. Bea focuses on “job purposing,” the management practice of heightening employee engagement, performance and wellbeing by offering them the opportunity to make a societal impact through their everyday jobs. To learn more about job purposing, download Bea’s free Job Purposing Essentials paper, or follow Bea on Twitter.

MEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Ashley Larochelle, Vision Activation Manager



We’re all familiar with line “Love makes the world go ‘round,” but what about food? Doesn’t food make the world go ‘round, too? “I think you can make a case for that,” laughs Ashley Larochelle. Ashley is the vision activation manager at the New Hampshire company called MegaFood. If anybody can make the case, it’s Ashley and her colleagues!

Founded in 1973 in Derry and now based in Londonderry, MegaFood manufacturers and sells whole food supplements nationally and, increasingly, worldwide. The firm’s two brands, MegaFood® and INNATE Response Formulas®, were launched, respectively, in 1983 and 2003 when the company was named BioSan. In 2012, Robert U. Craven became CEO following the retirement of company founder Carl Jackson, and BioSan became FoodState, now MegaFood.

Producing wholesome and nutritious supplements has always formed the “what” of MegaFood's business; Ashley says the “why” is something everyone at the company has been doubling down on in recent years. “Our mission is to improve lives and inspire others to do the same,” Ashley explains. “At MegaFood, we’re all about community, and community begins at home in the way the company treats its employees and in the way we steward the environment.”

foodstate_1.jpgFor starters, the company’s employee-run Wellness Warriors bring health and wellness close to home by helping to make MegaFood a healthy place to work through organized team runs, lunch and learn events, educational posting, and reimbursement not only for gym membership but also for the purchase of home exercise equipment and videos and membership in local CSAs. A second employee-run group, of which Ashley is a founding member, is the Culture Club. Drawing members from every corner of the organization, the CC has introduced some pretty neat community-building initiatives. These include quarterly Town Hall meetings for all staff, 24 hours of paid, community volunteer time, and an annual MVP program for employees who really wow their managers. A leadership development program called Flight School developed at MegaFood offers managers a platform to develop best practices while strengthening company culture

foodstate_2.jpgAs a green company, MegaFood uses primarily unboxed, glass bottles in its product packaging and, in 2016, was able to conserve over a million gallons of water used in its manufacturing processes by updating some processes and equipment. The company dedicates its sourcing efforts to supporting small, family-owned enterprises doing business on a smaller scale. “We source locally wherever possible,” says Ashley, “but regardless of where a particular ingredient comes from, we are fanatical about its purity and just as fanatical about being transparent to our customers.”

In the growing, multi-billion dollar natural products industry, MegaFood enjoys no inconsiderable national renown for its unabashed advocacy of making trust and transparency the key differentiators setting the good players apart from the not-so-good players. To walk the talk and drive the point home, MegaFood became the first company in the nation to offer 24/7 live streaming of its manufacturing facilities and to post, unabridged, all reports from third-party quality inspections.

With BHAGs* such as “ending nutritional poverty,” “changing the world,” and “improving lives and inspiring others to do the same,” MegaFooders rarely lack for lots of motivation in their daily work. And who can blame them if they do agree that love isn’t the only thing that makes the world go ‘round?

Please help us welcome Ashley and the MegaFood team!

Ashley welcomes the chance to speak with anyone who is interested in learning more. She can be reached via email at or by phone (603) 216-0910. 


* Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goals


The way businesses engage in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is changing.  carterfoster.png

Take Timberland as an example. In 2015 the outdoor lifestyle brand created 84 percent of its footwear products with at least one material containing recycled, organic, or renewable content. It has planted more than 8 million trees since 2001. To date, Timberland employees have served over one million volunteer-hours in communities around the world.

The bar is being raised for small businesses, too.

In part, this is because the Millennial workforce is demanding it. A study by Intelligence Group found that 64 percent of Millennials say they want to work for a company that’s striving to make the world a better place. As consumers, people are becoming more aware of the practices company’s take – or fail to take.

Further, more businesses are finding that CSR programs help grow their business.

Recently, the Calypso team attended the annual New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR) Spring Conference. Each year, speakers and attendees show how driven they are to better the environment, society, and the workplace.

The presentations this year left the audience with a cohesive message: People are at the center of everything you do. People are your business, your customers, and the driving force behind change.

As keynote speaker and author Andrew Winston said, “Business cannot thrive unless the planet and its people are thriving.”

With all this in mind, it’s startling that more businesses are not adopting CSR programs into their business.

In our experience, while most clients are open to developing a CSR program, others meet it with heavy resistance. Often, this comes from a misunderstanding about how a CSR program can work for their business. But as successes have shown, it’s not as dramatic a risk some may believe. Or they see it as incongruous with their business goals. But this is only true if you fail to account for the wide array of CSR options.

Whatever your specific case is, here’s what must be account for to make your CSR a success:


Not every program will work for you. And you shouldn’t try to affix something to your business that doesn’t feel right. But that’s not an excuse for doing nothing—in fact, inaction could be seen as equal to bad action.

Whatever shape your CSR takes, it needs to be authentic to your business model, its leadership, and its employees.

Consider the now-pulled Pepsi commercial featuring Kendall Jenner. This is a great example of what could result from inauthentic social activism. Before the ad aired, neither Pepsi nor Kendall Jenner was associated with the cultural movements portrayed. What resulted was a tone-deaf flop, not a groundbreaking social statement by Pepsi.

Compare Pepsi’s flop to the Ben and Jerry’s Democracy campaign. Chris Miller discussed the planning and execution of this campaign during his NHBSR keynote. The numbers he shared were quite impressive. Not least among them were the thousands of people they helped register to vote, and a 7:1 ROI they saw as a result of their activism.

“Combine issue advocacy with marketing. And build a better business.
And build a better world.” – Chris Miller

You might be saying that Ben and Jerry’s has a history of doing that sort of thing, so of course it went well. And that’s exactly the point. The more dedicated—either through a track record or noticeable support—the less it will seem off-brand, exploitative, and phony.

Timberland, unlike Ben and Jerry’s, does not immediately bring to mind bearded liberals in Vermont. Yet they too have robust CSR and sustainability initiatives.

At this year’s NHBSR, Margaret Morey-Reuner, director of strategic partnerships for Timberland, and Bill Besselman, executive vice president of Thread, spoke about their partnership, which helps Timberland bridge CSR and sustainability initiatives. During their session, Morey-Reuner explained how their partnership with Thread is one of many ways the brand strives to be a responsible community partner. Often, Timberland can help achieve business goals with their CSR and sustainability initiatives.

For instance, say Timberland has a CSR initiative to help farmers in developing countries. They could place more of their efforts on cotton farmers and help the farmers reach a certain yield. Then, Timberland can shift that relationship from philanthropist to business partner, thus achieving one goal of helping farmers, while achieving a second of using only organic cotton.

There are many ways to tie business goals to a CSR initiative. If a company wanted to cut operational costs, it could lower its carbon footprint and in return, save money. If you’re having trouble creating the right teams, invest in your employees’ well-being. Just look at what W. S. Badger Co does. Talk with one of their employees. You’ll quickly learn how dedicated they are to the brand and how proud they are to work there.


Having a plan to better society is not the same as being better for society. That much should be obvious. You may have felt it in meetings before. Your team shares awesome ideas to help cut trash consumption or wants to plant a company garden in the open field next to your building. Then come researching solutions, contacting partners, organizing employees, getting board members to fund the project. The stack of action items can demoralize even the most hardened advocate.

To paraphrase Bill Besselman of Thread, there’s no shortage of great ideas. The problem is actually turning an idea into action. Plus, it’s difficult. That’s why you should align your CSR with the values of your business or its employees. It’s much less difficult to do things when they are a business priority.

Whatever you do, don’t be like Volkswagen and other companies that have set lofty and have failed, sometimes disastrously, to follow through. Here are three things to help you implement your successful CSR program:

  • Create your CSR program with a long-term goal in mind. Whatever issue your CSR program hopes to tackle, it likely cannot achieve it in a day. Cut yourself some slack by taking small actions that can build up to a larger, more impactful result.
  • Next, engage your employee base. Poll them to see what issues they care about or how they want to help. As mentioned above, people are motivated and inspired by a company they feel is making the world a better place. Listen to that motivation and put it to good use.
  • Finally, don’t forget to track your progress. A CSR program, like any feature of your business, should measure and report its progress. A successful CSR program sets realistic and measurable goals and prioritizes action items. Whether it’s for internal or external use, you should be tracking all the actions of your CSR programs.


Once you’ve created a successful CSR initiative, don’t forget to share it with the public. Unfortunately, this is one of the most overlooked aspects of a CSR program. But it could be your business’ biggest success at gaining positive media attention.

Sharing the great things your business does can create lifelong advocates for your brand. It can boost employee morale—who doesn’t want to brag about their great employer that’s making news?

Plus, your influence can lead to more businesses doing right by their employees, their community, and the world.

Carter Foster is a Digital Marketing Coordinator for Calypso Communications, 603-431-0816 or
You can read this blog and more from Calypso Communications here


Member Feature: a conversation with Eric Cimon, Jewett Construction Company


We all have an appreciation for a solid roof over our heads, whether at home or at work. Speaking for myself there has  been a time or two when I’ve hadto learn more about my roof than I would have liked – New England weather will do that! Having a sound structure overhead and foundation underfoot is something that most of us probably do not think about every day.   I recently had the opportunity to speak with a company and new NHBSR member who makes high quality building construction the top priority for their customers.

We sat down with Eric Cimon, Director of Marketing for Jewett Construction Company, to learn about the company —where it started and how the industry, and the organization, has changed over time, as well as Jewett’s commitment to giving back to the community.

Jewett Construction Company is a family-owned business started by Ed and Arlene Jewett in Raymond, NH in 1972. 2017 marks their 45th year in business, and this longevity speaks not only to the quality of their work, but their commitment to the communities in which they have served. Jewett started as a small commercial company with just a handful of projects each year.  In 2000, Craig Jewett and his wife Alison, purchased the company from his parents. Craig and Alison had a vision to grow the company geographically beyond southern New Hampshire and today they serve clients throughout New England.  For the past several years, Craig and Alison have focused on accelerating the growth of the company and the experienced talent at Jewett Construction has allowed them to expand the size and scope of their projects significantly.

Jewett’s work focuses entirely on commercial projects—with auto dealerships, manufacturing, retail and recreational buildings being their core areas of focus. For these buildings, structural integrity is essential—and one way that Jewett is able to ensure that integrity is through a partnership with Butler building systems.  Butler incorporates up to 75% of recycled steel in their systems and the pre-engineered steel frames result in considerably less waste.  Also, today’s metal panels are not only much more attractive than ever before, they also offer a much higher insulation value, resulting in more energy efficient structures.

Jewett’s commitment to quality lies not only with their clients, but also with their community. Eric shares that Jewett has always been deeply committed to participating in and giving back to community projects. “We have intentionally sought out non-profit project opportunities and we continue to look for more. Giving back to the community and helping non-profits through a major capital investment is incredibly rewarding and it has been wonderful to see the community rally around these organizations.” Recent or ongoing Jewett non-profit projects included the Exeter YMCA and the Monarch School of New England in Rochester.

jewett_const-35-edithighres.jpgJewett is a small-town company with old fashioned roots. They are grateful to their clients, with more than 80% of their business coming from repeat or referrals. Craig is involved with and the company stands behind every project that they complete.  Eric shares that he and the Jewett team are looking forward to working with NHBSR to learn about what others are doing in terms of sustainability at their businesses. They have taken small steps, but acknowledge that there is more to do. Workplace culture in the construction business can be a challenge to bring about change, but Eric says a more progressive workplace is a goal of theirs and they are working toward it with much success thus far.

We are delighted to have both Eric and Jewett Construction join our membership. We know Eric from his previous work and are grateful that he sees the value of being a member of NHBSR with his new role at Jewett. We are also thrilled to have him bring his ideas and energy to NHBSR’s membership committee. “NHBSR is a wonderful organization of like-minded individuals who are committed to progressing social responsibility in the State of NH.  I have been fortunate enough to attend and participate in several NHBSR events over the past few years.  Each has led to valuable new business opportunities and the knowledge and inspiration to improve our workplace practices in sustainability, community outreach and more.” 

Eric welcomes the opportunity to speak with anyone about his work at Jewett Construction Company or about membership with NHBSR. He can be found at 603.895.2412 x23 or via email

Please help us welcome Eric and the team at Jewett!


by Beth Tener, New Directions Collaborative

b_tener_photo.jpgBrainstorming is a classic method for getting a group to generate ideas. A topic is suggested, people speak up with their ideas and suggestions, and someone writes them down. The technique is so commonly used and assumed to work, I was surprised to learn that research shows this technique is actually not effective. Keith Sawyer, author of Group Genius says, “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.”

So, how can we upgrade brainstorming to better access the wisdom of a group? And, for those interested in how to create effective networks and collaborations, how can we design this part of meetings to generate the most benefits to a network?

One simple technique, from Liberating Structures, is called 1-2-4-All.


Here’s an overview of how it works:

The group defines, or facilitator offers, an open question  to explore.
Each person takes five minutes to write their ideas down.
People pair up and share their ideas. At this point, they may find some common themes, a new idea may emerge from the conversation, or their ideas may fit together in a complementary way.
Each pair joins another pair to discuss the ideas and learning in a group of four.
Everyone returns to a discussion in the large group.

This simple technique overcomes the shortcomings of traditional brainstorming and generates the kind of benefits desired from networked collaboration. For example:

1-2-4-All is a way to access the inherent power and potential of a diverse group.When I conducted it with a group recently, a participant said she was struck by how the other pair of people took the question in a totally different direction than she had. The process helps surface the range of divergent thinking in a group. With access to multiple points of view, we gain more perspectives and can see where our own thinking is limited.
A traditional brainstorm process gives preference to the voices of those who are extroverted, comfortable speaking up in a group, have positional power, think quickly, and process their ideas by speaking them out loud. We get less access to the ideas and thinking of introverts, those less comfortable speaking in a group, or those who need silence to think. Power dynamics or low levels of trust will limit some from speaking up in a brainstorm.
This process greatly amplifies the potential for emergence. Any time you bring two people together or four people together, you have the opportunity for some new or better ideas to emerge from the combination. Consider the math on the potential for emergence for a group of 20 people. Brainstorming in the traditional way, the group has one conversation as a whole. With one conversation, most of the time 19 people are listening to one person talk. Using 1-2-4-All, here’s what you get:

20 individual ‘conversations’ where people can think and reflect on the topic before they are influenced by others in the room.
10 paired conversations
5 groups of four conversations
1 full group conversation

With the grand total adding up to 36 conversations. Consider the potential for richer learning and combinations of ideas in 36 conversations versus 1 conversation with the full group. And this can all be done in 15 to 20 minutes!

People using this technique often note how the quality of the conversation has a greater depth because at each stage people have really thought about and considered the issues. With that foundation of having time to personally reflect, each conversation can be more informed and considered.
In every meeting we want to build the relationships, trust, and exchange among people, which the smaller conversations enable in a way one large group conversation does not.

In building networks and collaborations, the aim is to design activities that generate multiple benefits, as my colleague and network weaver Janne Flisrand illustrates well in this blog, Optimizing Network Design. Upgrading how we brainstorm provides a simple way to generate many more benefits in the same time. Another great method is World Café, as I discuss in this blog on The Multi-Dimensional Benefits of World Café.

In one of those welcome serendipities, as I was finalizing this post, via Facebook, I discovered this article about how the Innovative Coworking Spaces of 15th-Century Italy provided the rich environment for the Renaissance’s entrepreneurship and creativity. Those working in these spaces “conceived revolutionary ways of working, of designing and delivering products and services, and even of seeing the world.” This quote makes the point well:

“The coexistence of and collision among these diverse talents helped make the workshops lively places where dialogue allowed conflicts to flourish in a constructive way. The clash and confrontation of opposing views removed cognitive boundaries, mitigated errors, and helped artists question truths taken for granted. Today, we often recognize the need for these kinds of illuminating conversations without really making space for them in our organizations, either because organizations are too afraid of conflict or because people are simply too busy to try to expand their understanding of each other."

Beth Tener, Principal of New Directions Collaborative,located in Exeter, NH. Beth is a facilitator and strategy coach who works with collaborative initiatives that bring together business, government, and the social sector to address complex challenges, such as transitioning to a clean energy economy and revitalizing communities. Beth can be reached at (617) 939-3601 or

by Dr. Russ Ouellette, Managing Partner, Sojourn Partners


Our way of relating to each other seems to have slipped backwards a little. To know this, all I have to do is look at my Facebook feed.

Several years ago, my partners and I wrote a book (The Future of Everything: Strategies for Successful Business Behavior, 2015) that considered what organizations would look like and how they would work in the future. Based on research of past organizational theory, current social and business trends, and some formal research we did regarding relationships in the workplace, we discovered that our collective future really depends on how we all behave and relate. We also held several focus groups with different leaders asking them to articulate the best practices that worked well for them in their companies and forecast what they think their companies needed. The result was a very optimistic design of what work could be like in the future if we continued on our current organizational evolutionary track.

The outcome of all this playing and thinking was a vision for leaders, employees, partners, suppliers, etc. to behave better together with respect, trust and authenticity.  Seems obvious. We have great concepts being practiced like emotional intelligence, appreciative inquiry and mindfulness. And, it seems that the world was moving in that same direction. People were talking about big things like sustainability, inclusivity, education, change, creating great cultures at work that support the whole person - not just the one that shows up for a job. 

We were further encouraged by the millennial generation and how they approached their personal and work life as part of a greater community. The social tools they were creating and how they were incorporating these tools at work. The world was shifting too, paying attention to climate change, new methods of energy production, shared international trade and big solutions to sustain our cultures and our planet. All indications were that the future of everything depended on all of these things coming together through people working well together. We seemed to be evolving in a positive way.

For every positive opportunity, there is also a risk. During and after the recent events, like Brexit and our presidential election, it seemed as though all of these variables mentioned above were now working against us. Have we really created a sustainable environment for progress, inclusivity and great organizational cultures? Or has identity politics and the us-versus-them mentality so ingrained in the human condition that we can't find our way out of it?

Being an optimist I believe that we have positively evolved in our society and will continue to do so. All of these new realities of generation, demographics and social methods are working themselves out. To grow requires failure and setback, eventually leading reasonable people to adopt better methods and practices. As we learn to consume news, relate better, and share information, we will be compelled again to work together. For this to happen, we must demonstrate the thinking and behavior that we want to see in our society. We need to listen to each other, learn how to disagree, get more involved, be as engaged as we can, and always act with respect. So while we push back, lets do it respectfully, authentically and trust that those who we don’t agree with will eventually meet us somewhere in the future.

We must continue to move towards sustainability at work and in the world, creating positive relationships with those people we engage with inside and outside our companies. We will collaborate, innovate, and eventually find we can move forward using positive attributes to build, sustain and maintain great relationships at work. The future we want is still at hand, we just need to stay engaged in making it happen.

Dr. Russ Ouellette is the managing partner of Sojourn Partners, a Bedford-based executive leadership coaching firm.
He can be reached at (603) 661-4178 or He can also be twittered @RussOuellette or Facebooked –Sojourn Partners.