by Roger Stephenson, Stephenson Strategic Communications

Late in 2014 more than 100 leaders from across the New Hampshire business community met to discuss the impacts on their companies due to changes the state’s historic weather patterns.

Members of the host committee for the NH Weathering Change forum came from all ten counties.  Participants were on hand from seven New Hampshire banks and a dozen local chambers of commerce, along with officials from business associations including travel & tourism, grocery, and the ski industry. Individual businesses included manufacturing, transportation, farming, forestry, tourism and finance.

The diverse group of business leaders found agreement that weather events are a business risk and they are becoming increasingly significant, and that one of the most accessible ways to adapt to it is by implementing clean and diverse energy technologies that contribute to increased resiliency.

The issues surrounding the trends of a shifting climate are complex, but when the report was released last fall host committee member Steve Duprey said, “If you assume that climate change is not man-made, that it’s natural, and we do nothing but take steps to improve our technology, 20 to 30 years from now, our children will be left with a better environment. If we do nothing, and find out 20 to 30 years from now that we were wrong, how do we look at our children and grandchildren and explain why we let this opportunity pass.” move forward in New Hampshire when all sectors of the political spectrum engage together to find balanced, effective, locally-driven answers to the complex situations we face in the modern world. This is particularly true with environment energy, and similarly large and complex issues. The Nature Conservancy and The Environmental Defense Fund are working together in New Hampshire to encourage a more open and balanced discussion of the merits of different policy alternatives that will increase use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

Acknowledging that many of the discussions on resilience have been among state and local governments and scientists, leaders at the NH Weathering Change forum said in response that without the private sector at the table, important opportunities (both for the communities and the bottom line) may be lost.  Businesses need to make sure that they have a voice to ensure government understands the issues that the private sector has to deal with, and understands the things businesses have to worry about in order to remain profitable.

Member businesses of NHBSR lean towards the triple bottom line, and understand that environmental impacts can mean impacts to profits.   Take the time to read New Hampshire Weathering Change; the value of this report is that it illustrates broad concerns, and invites a range of ways in which business leaders, chamber boards, Rotaries and others might contribute to the dialogue.   You can help raise awareness and build upon what the participants began by sharing copies of the report with your friends and colleagues.     

Hard copies of the report are available by contacting Roger Stephenson:

If this has been helpful please let us know along with other topics that you would like to hear more about. Thank you.



A conversation with Kevin Stickney, Founder of Calypso Communications

Everyone has a story to tell, and here at NHBSR we jump at the chance to get to know our members through a different lens while they tell us their tales.

What we found most intriguing about Kevin Stickney’s story were the experiences and events that inspired him to start Calypso Communications. If you look at his profile on the Calypso website, you’ll see he’s earned a 99.9 percent rating on his “mastery of the written word,” along with a 90 for “leaving rogue coffee cups around the office.”  During this conversation we focused on the words, and we hope this feature meets his standards.

At NHBSR, we are lucky to have Kevin as a new board member, where he serves on the governance committee. We are also extremely fortunate to have Calypso as NHBSR’s social media sponsor—helping us engage audiences in conversation about corporate social responsibility and sustainability, upcoming NHBSR events, and the great things our members are doing here in New Hampshire. (We’d like to make a special callout to Calypso’s Devan Meserve, who has been an amazing help in keeping NHBSR’s social media life vibrant.)

We sat down with Kevin recently to learn more about his work, where he finds inspiration, and his connection to NHBSR. Growing up, Kevin loved the written word and was an avid writer and reader. In juxtaposition was his fascination with mechanical engineering, technology, and understanding how things work. He majored in English literature at Union College. After school, he joined the Peace Corps and was assigned to a village in Korea where he taught English. Given the rural location, there was time to explore other endeavors beyond the classroom. As luck would have it, Kevin discovered a farmers cooperative building irrigation systems nearby, and he was welcomed to get involved and support their efforts, allowing him to pursue his love of engineering.

After his return to the U.S. in 1980, Kevin joined environmental pioneer Wheelabrator-Frye Inc., where he eventually became VP of public affairs. He spent 16 years there and loved the challenge of translating complex projects and environmental science into understandable language for a wide range of audiences. In this job, he had a hard time finding outside agencies that understood the technologies and issues he worked with. This challenge is what prompted him to start thinking about starting a strategic communications firm poised to serve complicated industries.

When the moment was right, that’s exactly what Kevin did. Since founding Calypso (with business partner Paul Young) in 2000, Kevin has seen a rapid shift in how companies communicate technology, especially those shrouded in intricate issues that make the communication process multifaceted, yet critical. He’s also seen an increased need for accuracy, speed, and proper channel alignment. Largely based on his interests, Calypso has gravitated toward working with clients in the energy, environment, and technology arenas, but now has a strong reputation in healthcare and private equity as well.

Calypso has purposely stayed small and focused. The company has been a member of NHBSR since 2013. When asked what attracted Calypso to a NHBSR membership, Kevin said the fact that many major NH companies have memberships signaled to him the importance of the organization and motivated him to get involved. He believes that sustainability is an integral part of Calypso’s day-to-day work in striving to help businesses remain sustainable and viable for the long-term. His team enjoys working to keep businesses healthy, which helps encourage smart and talented people to stay in the state. Kevin believes businesses and organizations need to create environments where employees feel supported and enjoy contributing.

Certainly, what we found in talking with Kevin is that Calypso is a small, but mighty firm, committed to their clients as well as to their team members. One  of the benefits of being small is that they work very collaboratively, so they can each offer insight and ideas to bolster other individual or team projects. We also know that they are a team that has fun together. cal-2015-teamphoto-web.jpg

Calypso had a big year in 2015 with a couple of noteworthy events. Early in the year, Houssam Aboukhater joined the team as Kevin’s business partner and managing director. Kevin and Houssam have known each other for a long time, stemming back to Wheelabrator days, so this is a reunion of sorts. Houssam brings extensive business management and operations experience to Calypso. He has held executive positions in the manufacturing and private equity industries, and most recently was managing director of a European holding company that owned and operated numerous major hotels. His broad experience in hospitality, as well as with international business development, will serve to expand Calypso’s partnerships in many industries.

The second exciting event, which coincides with Calypso’s 15th anniversary last June, is the office’s move from Bow Street to Ladd Street (still in the heart of downtown Portsmouth). The team has embraced the new space and loves being part of the vibrant downtown community.

Calypso works with all industries, but the team most enjoys working with companies that are creative, progressive, and that value employees and want to grow. For anyone interested in learning more about Calypso Communications, Kevin welcomes a conversation. You can reach him at 603-431-0816 or via email at

We hope you’ll have a chance to meet Kevin and some of his team at the Spring Conference, where Calypso is the presenting sponsor, or at another upcoming event.



by Devan Meserve, Calypso Communications

A cold, windy start to April has many of us daydreaming of May’s flowers and warmer temperatures. With this milder and more pleasant weather comes a fantastic event hosted by New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. NHBSR’s Annual Spring Conference is set for May 10, 2016, and will bring together business professionals and organizational leaders from across the state, along with local and national leaders in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).


The pool of conference attendees is diverse—an attribute that makes this event uniquely attractive. But, it also means that reasons for attending will differ among individuals. As a twenty-something Seacoast native working in marketing at a communications agency, I’ve got my own reasons for registering to attend A Story Worth Sharing: The 

Chapters of Your Sustainability Journey—four to be exact:     

~Simon Mainwaring as the keynote speaker. I just have to come right out and say it: this guy is coming to New Hampshire and you don’t want to miss it! Mainwaring is an impressive keynote speaker and NHBSR is lucky to have him. I think he’ll bring an invigorating energy to not just his keynote but also the entire conference day. And I don’t just say this because he gets my generation. He runs a successful company that helps businesses like TOMS grow while driving social impact. He’s written a New York Times bestseller. And he’s actively blogging, tweeting, and speaking all over the place. He’s squeezed NHBSR’s Spring Conference into his busy schedule, and I’m eager to hear what he has to share with us. 

~NHBSR’s statewide professional network. I spend most of my days in Portsmouth, but I jump at the opportunity to explore more of our state. NHBSR’s network extends consistently across the Granite State and offers valuable connections for learning about the many different CSR-minded organizations and businesses that choose to call NH home. These professionals lead active lives in their respective cities and towns, but NHBSR’s annual conference presents an exclusive opportunity to bring everyone together in one place for a fulfilling, collaborative, and inspiring day.

~Customized content to meet you where you are. Following Mainwaring’s keynote that will explore how brands are positioning themselves to lead in business, sustainability, and social impact, conference attendees will be invited to break out into sessions that are customized to align with where your specific business or organization is on its sustainability journey. This customization will allow participants to better engage with conference content and leave prepared to take meaningful action toward setting and advancing CSR goals.

~A refreshed and refocused attitude to bring back to the office. There’s something about returning to the office after a conference that’s pretty darn awesome. A conference offers a new environment—away from desks and computers—where we’re forced to engage differently with content and people. Our brains like absorbing ideas in new settings. (Duh! It’s why we all loved field trips as a kid.) The conference experience encourages us to embrace keynotes, conversations, presentations, and activities with a clear mind, and what we learn during participation we bring back to our jobs, along with a refreshed and refocused mindset.

You can register for the conference and learn more here. And, if you’re planning to attend in May, stop by the Calypso Communications table to chat. Or tweet me at @devanrosey with #NHBSRSprConf!

A conversation with Allison Viger, JMD Industries

We are delighted to have JMD Industries join as a new member of NHBSR. JMD Industries, located in Hudson NH, specializes in electroplating and finishing services including zinc plating, anodizing, chromate on aluminum and more. For those of us who can’t quite visualize what this means—take a look at your cellphone, computer or common medical devices. Chances are there is at least one piece in each of those items that JMD has had a hand in. With over 3 million pieces processed a year—the chances are high. Their work covers a number of industries—aerospace, medical devices, computer components and more.

We recently caught up with Allison Viger, who in partnership with her brother, James DeDeus, carry on their family’s business that started in 1977, one that actually can be said to have started in the 1930’s.

As we know, everyone has a story and we would like to share a little history on JMD and how they’ve come to be where they are now. Allison and James’s grandfather on their mother’s side owned and operated an electroplating company called Essex Chrome Plating located in Methuen, MA. During the second World War the company had a “captive” client—that of the US military—which provided consistent work for a number of years. Roll ahead several decades to when their parents met each other and their father went to work for his father-in-law at the company. Their mother was one of seven children and with none of her siblings having an interest in taking on the family business it fell to Allison and James’s parents. After their grandfather passed away their grandmother kept the business open for another year and a half before ultimately closing.

Fast forward to 1977 and Allison and James’s father decides to open his own business, JMD Plating, which started with a loan from the Small Business Administration to get up and running in Lawrence, MA. Inspired by a long time friend and colleague, Eddie Mistal, their father started by primarily restoring auto parts—chrome bumpers and the like. By the 1980’s the focus shifted to commercial industrial components. In the late 1980’s they were approached by Digital to be a captive provider, which led to purchasing property in Hudson and moving operations there. As Digital downsized in the region, JMD Industries transitioned their focus to the growing manufacturing sector in New England.  JMD is a service provider – taking their clients’ parts, treating them with finishes and getting them ready to ship.

JMD customizes customer products by adding their brand name or logo using silk screening and part stamping. In addition to metal finishing services, JMD also offers product and finish selection consulting, research and custom process design, and assembly and custom packaging.

JMD Industries currently serves customers in all 50 states, as well as Canada and overseas. JMD Industries is dedicated to offering quality metal finishing services in an environmentally sound business model.  Electroplating and finishing providers are generally large consumers of raw materials and energy.  Allison and James believe strongly in doing the right thing when it comes to the environment. They are proactive when it comes to compliance and believe it is the driving force behind positive change. They put considerable energy into “greening up,”, and are actively pursuing options for reducing overall use of raw materials, commodities and energy. For them conservation is paramount and they plan to keep it that way.

The company was built on a foundation of exceptional and consistent quality, fast turn-around and outstanding customer service.  As JMD continues to grow, they are implementing new, and unique to the industry methods of supporting their customers.  All of which would not be possible without a team of dedicated and knowledgeable employees.

Allison and James’s goal is to have JMD be an employer that attracts quality team members and one that people want to work for. Allison oversees human resources – benefits, safety, HR and environmental compliance. James is the president and manages the day to day operations.

They both welcome conversations with other NHBSR members and can be contacted either by phone or email.

James S. DeDeus -, 603-882-3198
Allison Viger-, 603-882-3198

Please help us welcome them to the NHBSR family!




By Joseph Lajewski, NH Electric Cooperative

Energy efficiency is a sustainable business opportunity that can provide measurable financial returns directly to the bottom line for decades.  street_lights_before_and_after.jpgThese projects make better use of resources and will often also provide many other benefits like improved comfort, a better working environment, and reduced maintenance.

Implementing an energy efficiency plan is often not a priority for businesses who are faced with the challenges of demanding daily schedules.  In addition, the lack of technical expertise to know where to start and how to decipher between legitimate energy efficiency opportunities and lofty unrealistic claims by some companies end up resulting in inaction and lost opportunity. 

So where and how do you get started?

The first step is to identify the potential opportunities within the building and to prioritize them.  Taking this approach allows you to create a multi-year plan instead of addressing emergency issues as they arise. 

In many cases, opportunities may have already been identified by in-house personnel and are the foundation of the energy efficiency project such as a problematic boiler.  Often, the majority of the opportunities to improve efficiency go unnoticed, but there are several approaches to help identify these opportunities. 

The first step should be some self-analysis which can identify opportunities.

Start with lighting.  Do you have old inefficient incandescent, HID, or fluorescent lighting?  Does your exterior lighting operate all night long?  A retrofit to LED may provide up to 75% energy savings while delivering years of maintenance free lighting.  Also, unlike traditional fluorescent and HID lighting, LED’s do not contain mercury so they do not have special costly disposal requirements and are environmentally friendly.


Do you have a need to cool or heat a space?  An air-sourced heat pump or “mini-split” may be the solution.  These units have cooling efficiencies as high as 33 SEER which is 2-3 times as efficient as a traditional ENERGY STAR window AC’s.  They can also provide heating at a very high efficiency since they are not creating the heat, they are just moving it from one space to another.  In many cases this can become your primary system while your current system is left in place as a back-up or just to provide supplemental heating and cooling.




Do you have ice dams on your roof, or are you using heat tape to prevent them?  Ice dams are an indication of significant heat loss through the roof and can lead to high heating costs, leaks, mold, and structural damage.  If you are using heat tape to prevent/melt the ice dams you are not solving the problem, you are wasting energy twice—first with the heat loss that causes the ice dams, and second with the heat tape to prevent/melt them.  The solution to the problem is to weatherize the building and focus on stopping the air leaks within the building.  This can provide significant energy savings, vastly improving comfort, and help minimize water damage.

Upfront Cost vs. Operating Cost

Budget constraints generally dictate that the lowest upfront cost option is the option that is chosen.  While this may seem like the fiscally responsible option, it often turns out to be the most expensive approach.  Because most equipment will be in service 10-20+ years, you will pay higher energy costs for a long time when you chose the “cheap” option.  The utility incentives for the higher efficient piece of equipment will pay for a majority of the additional cost and yield long term energy savings.

Your local electrical or gas utility may be able to provide a walkthrough audit at no charge to assist you in identifying opportunities.  They may also be able to provide a design build contractor that can prepare a detailed job proposal and energy savings analysis.  In addition you may be able to receive a 35%-50% incentive on the installed cost of the project. Program funding is very limited and is on a first come basis.  All projects need to be pre-approved prior to starting in order to qualify.

The bottom line is that implementing energy efficiency programs can support other sustainability efforts by providing the revenue stream from the energy savings.  Watch for our webinar series later this spring with more ideas!



Residential Energy Performance Association NH
Building Performance Institute

Heat pumps:
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (EEP)

Energy Star Fixtures                
Energy Star Bulbs

Design Lights Consortium

Business Savings Profiles                  

A conversation with Brett Cromwell, Global Communications Manager, Medtronic Advanced Energy

We are excited to welcome Medtronic Advanced Energy to the NHBSR community. Medtronic Advanced Energy (MAE) is a medical device company that develops and sells surgical instruments. They are based at Pease International Tradeport where they have been for more than eight years though the two main technologies they are known for, the PlasmaBlade™ and the Aquamantys System, have a much longer history. The technology that eventually became Aquamantys started in Dover in 1999 as TissueLink Medical and then became Salient Surgical in 2008, before being acquired by Medtronic in 2011. The PlasmaBlade was originally developed by a company called PEAK Surgical in Palo Alto, California, in the early 2000s, and was acquired on the same day as Salient Surgical.medtronic_photo.jpg

The Advanced Energy team is a relatively small division (500+ staff) of Medtronic, a global company with more than 80,000 employees. This local team feels they have the best of both worlds—the ability to maintain their strong small company culture while having the benefits, resources, and support of a big company.  When one walks through the front doors of the office, they are greeted by a sign which reads—Every day through these doors walk the best people in the medical devise industry. It is apparent from speaking with team members that they are committed to the work they do and it is personal.

This was certainly true this last year when Suzanne Foster, Vice President and General Manager of Medtronic Advanced Energy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her journey from diagnosis to surgery and then recovery has been a very personal one with her team. Appreciated for her commitment to transparency with business, Suzanne showed this same transparency with her illness. Incredibly, the technology that her team developed was used to successfully treat her cancer. Her personal journey now includes first hand knowledge of a product created to provide a better patient experience and a quicker recovery. Working in an environment where employees are helping people with technologies that have a positive effect on their health every day clearly resonates on multiple levels. Patients are at the center of all that they do.

Having been voted as the #1 Best Company to Work For two years in a row by Business NH Magazine and NHBSR, employees are extremely proud of the company they work for, as you might imagine. The process of creating and submitting the application is no small endeavor, as those who have applied know; however, they believe that engaging a diverse team helped capture the full picture of what makes their company worth celebrating. Many give credit to Suzanne for leading the strong and supportive culture that maintains the close-knit feel and energy of a startup.  Hiring people who are passionate about the company’s Mission is critical to their success. As Suzanne herself said in her 2014 interview, “This is fundamentally what brings us together—we are inspired by what we do, about improving health care and making surgery better for patients. This bonds us together, and we know this is making a difference.”

The company promotes a vision called “Energy Everywhere,” which means that everyone at the company is encouraged to share ideas and energy.  There are both formal and informal ways that employees have an opportunity to participate.  The Global Inclusion Diversity & Engagement (GIDE) committee is one such group that was implemented company wide in 2012. This strategy charges leaders, managers and employee groups and networks to accelerate their inclusion and diversity efforts. The goal is to leverage different perspectives, backgrounds, cultures and generations in an effort to build a more inclusive environment. Employee Resource Groups are another important aspect of the company’s professional development. These networks provide employees who have similar interests and backgrounds with additional opportunities to leverage professional development through global mentoring, networking and learning sessions and allow them to share a collective voice on important issues. The Advanced Energy division has groups for women, young professionals, and veterans to name a few.

We don’t want to forget the fun quotient that is so important to having employees feel connected and valued. Medtronic has a number of wonderful benefits for employees, including weekly yoga, a volleyball court, and a foosball table, along with professional development and educational opportunities you can read about in the attached Business NH Magazine and NHBSR writeup


They also sponsor annual events like “Wear Pink,” which goes hand in hand with their PlasmaBlade device being used in mastectomy procedures. The Wear Pink event takes place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the NFL adorns itself with the color pink in October, MAE changes the handle of its PlasmaBlade to pink as well. Creativity and innovation certainly have some fun in them as well. The Advanced Energy team is in the process of creating an Innovation Room that will provide employees a dedicated area where they can think, brainstorm, and explore ideas. With a wild colored rug on the floor, you can feel the energy already!

Should you have questions or want to learn more you can find information on their website. If you’d like to speak with a person, you can contact Brett Cromwell, Global Communications Manager, at 603-742-1515. He’d be happy to chat with you!

The Advanced Energy team looks forward to connecting with fellow NHBSR members in the year ahead!




The core of Robin Eichert's work at PeopleSense Consulting is helping create healthy organizations and strong team members. NHBSR has seen firsthand, the value of her approach in building our small team!  With a new year comes an exciting new resource from Robin.  She brings the extensive experience she has gathered through her management consulting work to the broader community through her new program, the Learning Resource Center.

Robin is a big fan of NHBSR, having been an active member since 2009. In addition to attending many events, she serves on the membership committee and has provided hiring support to NHBSR in recent hiring efforts. She says she is inspired and encouraged by fellow members who understand the importance of people to the sustainability of their organizations. Robin loves her role as a preliminary judge in the "Best Companies to Work For" competition. Volunteering is important to Robin and she was featured in the January 2016 issue of the Monadnock Small Business Journal. The article is entitled, "Volunteering: It's Good for the Community and Good for Business."

It is clear from speaking with Robin and reading about her work that she draws many lessons from her relationship with her dog Grace who offers insights and parallels to our own human relationships. It is a good reminder that our furry friends are great teachers as well. As she shares—work environments can be stressful, but they don’t have to be if we have the right tools for having healthy conversations, which in turn help us build strong employee and management relationships.

The Learning Resource Center is an online library of informational videos offering answers to the types of employee-related questions she is asked about regularly. The inspiration came from a group of existing clients, whose time is limited and who need answers quickly, particularly around the topics related to hiring a new employee. Limited time doesn’t always allow for a one on one consultation. Robin realized that creating a resource library that covered a range of topics around the hiring process, managing, and communicating would allow her clients to have access to information whenever they needed it. The videos are short and focus on a particular topic so you are able to get right to the heart of the workplace situation you may be facing. The Learning Resource Center is available to members 24/7 and has two membership levels available depending on what your organization’s needs may be.  With more than 25 videos currently available Robin will be adding two new videos each month. She certainly invites ideas for topics that others would be interested in learning about.

Take a few minutes to visit one of Robin’s great videos from the Learning Resource Center. This one is called Clear Communication Becomes Dog's Play

The Learning Resource Center is the result of a year’s work and we can say it’s worth the wait—there is a wealth of information available. This library is a wonderful resource for small business owners and managers of any organization who are searching for professional development opportunities.

You can learn more about Robin and sign up for her free popular blog, called Graceful Leadership, at her website.

We hope that you’ll check out her new resource and hopefully have a chance to speak with Robin at an upcoming event as well!
Robin is offering a special trial for NHBSR membersVisit PeopleSense Consulting and use the coupon code 'NHBSRfriends' and try out the membership for just $10 for the first 30 days! You can cancel at any time or renew at the regular rates. 

By Shuili Du and Deborah Merrill-Sands


Over the last decade, corporate social responsibility and sustainability has occupied a prominent place on the global corporate agenda, with an ever increasing number of corporations engaging in responsible and sustainable business practices to create social and business value. Nevertheless, from Nike’s sweatshop crisis in the 1990s, ethical controversies of Walmart in mid-2000s, to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, and now Volkswagen’s emissions scandal in 2015, we see that every few years a severe, high-profile corporate ethical scandal occurs, capturing the attention of the media and damaging the public’s trust in the corporations and their social accountability.

On Jan. 4, the U.S. justice department sued Volkswagen in federal court, questioning Volkswagen’s efforts to restore its credibility and accusing the company of impeding and obstructing regulators’ inquiries and providing misleading information. Back in December 2015, Volkswagen characterized its emissions scandal as a “chain of mistakes,” which is a gross understatement.  The company has equipped a staggering 11 million diesel cars since the 2009 model year with software – called a “defeat device” — used to cheat on emissions tests; when not being tested, the cars emit up to 40 times the allowable levels of nitrogen oxide pollution.  This emissions scandal is a disturbing case of systematic corporate fraud that has harmed customers, governments, and the health and well-being of citizens in the societies in which Volkswagen has been given the license to operate.

The effects of such corporate crises are profound and lasting. Volkswagen’s market value dropped by 23 percent in September 2015, after admitting diesel emissions cheat. The company’s sales in the U.S. declined almost 25 percent in November 2015 alone. The estimated total cost of the scandal is projected to exceed $8 billion. Much more difficult to estimate are the invisible and long term damages to the company, such as the negative impact on brand trust and reputation, customer satisfaction, employee morale and loyalty, and investor confidence. Trust, once lost, is notoriously hard to regain.

Even more importantly, there is an externality effect. Deceptions such as those perpetrated by Volkswagen not only tarnish the reputation of other automakers and even corporations in unrelated industries, but they also undermine the public’s trust in the business, and heighten consumers’ cynicism about greenwashing – and now greenfrauding.

It is yet to be seen if Volkswagen can salvage itself from the scandal. Its actions to date in handling this scandal are far from adequate. If history is a mirror, Volkswagen should draw lessons from companies that have encountered similar crises in the past. For example, Nike witnessed public outrage and massive consumer boycotts against its sweatshop labor practices in 1990s, and ever since has executed one of the greatest image turnarounds. Nike established and reinforced a code of conduct for labor practices, hired external professionals to audit its suppliers, and increased transparency of its labor practices by detailing its performance in its annual corporate social responsibility reports. Indeed, Nike has been applauded for its leadership in partnering with independent industry organizations, such as the Fair Labor Association, to foster industry-wide changes in building sustainable supply chains.

If Volkswagen is to succeed in resurrecting its image, it should act decisively.  It needs to accept full responsibility as an organization, not as a constellation of individuals, for its emissions scandal. It has to lay out a credible plan for how it will truly reduce emissions and verify its compliance with regulatory standards.  It needs to counter its stigma by making significant, long-term R&D investment to position itself as a leader, rather than a laggard, in technology development to reduce emissions while enhancing performance. And, it needs to establish stronger accountability structures and practices, as well as fostering positive changes in its corporate culture, to hold the short-term profit motive in check and prevent any future fraud.

Volkswagen gives us a stark lesson in how businesses should (not) approach social responsibility and sustainability. Deceiving stakeholders by paying lip-service and treating sustainability as façade is never going to deliver true value for the company nor for society. Indeed, as we have seen, it engenders significant costs.  Research shows that business value is created when social responsibility and sustainability are embedded in the company’s culture and core business strategies. When done right, companies benefit from a more favorable corporate image, greater customer loyalty, higher employee morale, and enhanced organizational learning and core competence.  And, in turn, societies benefit from harnessing the power and resources of corporations to address pressing social and environmental challenges.

Photo credit: ©

Dr. Shuili Du is a marketing professor at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire. Her research expertise lies in understanding various ways corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability initiatives create business value. She has published research in many premier journals and has consulted to various corporations on their CSR and sustainability strategies.

Dr. Deborah Merrill-Sands is Dean of the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.  Trained as an anthropologist, she is an expert in diversity and women and leadership.  She has worked in the area of socially responsible business for the past 10 years.   Prior to her career in academic administration, she worked internationally as an applied researcher on issues of food, poverty, and economic development.


We are delighted to have Susan O’Neil and her team at @Website Publicity renew their membership with NHBSR. They are looking forward to re-engaging with the NHBSR community, recognizing that it’s important to play a role in the larger business community. We had a nice conversation with Susan recently that we’d like to share with you. Hopefully you’ll have a chance for your own conversation sometime this year.susanoneil.png

Susan’s story is one of the unexpected surprises that come from taking a leap of faith and making a change. In her case, she and her family left their home and community in Vermont and moved to Peterborough NH where her husband took a new job. Once her kids were settled into school, she began her own job search. Life-work balance was incredibly important and something she wanted to maintain as she moved forward.

Ultimately, the opportunity that gave her this was working for herself. She hung out her own shingle and by doing so she was able to have both control over her work environment and her time.  Her goal was to create a place that was a pleasant place to work and was family-friendly. Her shingle read: O’Neil & Associates Public Relations.

Towards the end of 1997, when the web was gaining momentum a client asked Susan if she knew anything about websites. This question was the impetus for what Susan’s new direction would be—learning the tools that would help address clients' needs around publicizing their websites. Susan learned HTML, took a class on search engines, and began experimenting with words and phrases within the code on websites. Clients’ websites moved from obscurity to # 1 or 2 in Alta Vista within 24 hours.  What appeared to be magic, actually was the result of a focused effort to learn new skills and putting them to the test.  These efforts culminated with the creation of @Website Publicity, a highly professional company that focused on publicizing websites, not building then, through search engine optimization and public relations.

SEM and SEO. What do these mean? Everyone would like to have their websites be at the top of a Google or Yahoo search. Through Search Engine Marketing (SEM) you have two options—through paid search ads or through a focus on the quality of your website content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results, often referred to as “natural” results.” Through the use of keywords and search terms a website can come up higher in the results, but this takes strategic effort. SEM and SEO are just two of the things that @Website Publicity helps clients with. You can read lots about their offerings on their website.

Susan speaks more to the “why” of what they do versus the “what.” They believe that, when employees are allowed to put family first, they also take better care of their clients and co-workers. She believes transparency is critical for their team and clients. She and her team derive great satisfaction from helping their clients and they go home feeling good about what they accomplished at the end of the day.

Susan’s team and office are based in Peterborough. However, Susan recently moved her base to Manchester. Susan is involved with a number of nonprofits, including Tech Women / Tech Girls, and believes strongly in mentoring and giving back to the community.

And speaking of giving back…if you are a nonprofit you will want to stay tuned for an exciting announcement next week!  

large_neverworry.pngby Leila Murphy, Outreach Manager, NH Businesses for Social Responsibility

Life is busy-that is no secret. Sometimes it's hard to step away from our day-to-day responsibilities to think about what we each might do beyond a given hour, day or week. What if for a few hours every month you could exchange an email for a smile, a conference call for a face-to-face conversation, or a keyboard for the opportunity to use your hands to help build something for a park or school?  What if your company offered employees a community service program encouraging just this kind of participation and impact on corporate culture?
Job seekers are now looking beyond a job description and more closely at an employer's reputation. In the workplace are employees given opportunities to learn, to volunteer within the community and collaborate with community partners?   Is the company a good corporate citizen? Do they support causes that are important to their employees within the community, and are they thoughtful and responsible stewards of the environment?
Organizations themselves are exploring ways in which to weave social responsibility into the fabric of their company, making it an integral part of how their company and employees learn and grow. It's possible to have a thriving business and 'do good' at the same time. Organizations who have been successful on this front have fostered a culture that teaches and strengthens both the individual and company, which is essential to attracting and retaining good employees. High-quality people want to work for similarly great organizations.
We live in a world where bits and bytes are exchanged at an amazing speed, making business operations much more efficient and productive than they ever have been. However, with all of these ways we have to connect, sometimes it's difficult to have meaningful human interactions. But, it feels like change is in the air-people are seeking out these experiences-wanting to make meaningful connections both in and out of the workplace.medium_start_where_you_are.jpeg
 ' Doing good' has long been a part of many organizations' commitment to their community, but as we've seen and read, there are some who have begun to distance themselves from the pack by making philanthropy through engagement a way of life.  It's no longer just about doing good--its how business is being done. 

We invite you to think about your own company. Is there a particular social impact area that relates to your business that you could address as a company? Speak with your employees and invite them to be part of the conversation. Leaders in this arena stress that it's important to concentrate one's efforts on a single issue. What is yours? How will you choose to engage and encourage others to join you?

Please let us know your thoughts by posting a comment.