Issue 024 / 🤖 Trash Robots, Family Leave & The Letter That’s Sparking A CSR Revolution

Reconsidered is a bi-weekly newsletter curating thought-provoking content on corporate social responsibility, sustainability and social impact. Click here to subscribe. 

This Week's Five Links

BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our SupportThe New York Times
In what’s being called a watershed moment for corporate social responsibility, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink stressed in his annual letter that a company must "not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society". The letter marks the first time that a major institutional investment firm has made such a strong statement in support of CSR. Not only that, but Fink intends to hold companies accountable by adding staff to monitor businesses' response. Read Fink's full letter here

How One Mom Changed Lyft’s Paid Family Leave PolicySlate
If you have ever doubted the power of a single voice to create meaningful change, read this account of how a Lyft employee worked to expand the ride-share company's paid family leave policy — and succeeded.
👉 TAKE ACTION: Does your company have a crappy family leave policy? Sign up for this free Family Leave Workshop to learn tactics for shaking things up.

Will Cape Town Run Out of Water?Bloomberg
Cape Town may become the first major global city to run out of water, with “Day Zero” anticipated as early as May. The city points to historically low rainfall and rapid population growth as drivers — but it is also blaming citizens for not curbing their water use, going so far as to publish a controversial online map indicating how much water each household consumes as a way to shame high usage offenders. 

Why People Conveniently ‘Forget’ That Child Labor Made Their JeansMoneyish
A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that consumers have a tendency to forget or misremember troubling information on issues like human rights and environmental sustainability as a coping mechanism to avoid ethical conundrums. “Forgetting is a morally acceptable way to deal with this unethical information,” said lead author Rebecca Reczek.

2018 World’s Most Sustainable CorporationsCorporate Knights
Corporate Knights’ annual listing of the world’s most sustainable companies is out. This year’s ranking features French software company Dassault Systemes in the #1 spot and leading multi-nationals including Cisco Systems (#7), Autodesk (#8), Samsung (#10), Merck (#13), BMW (#17) and Philips (#19). The ranking factors in key performance indicators along the environmental, social, financial and innovation spectrums — but also, for the first time, the sustainability value of a company’s products.

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Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation, and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth. It will remain exposed to activist campaigns that articulate a clearer goal, even if that goal serves only the shortest and narrowest of objectives. And ultimately, that company will provide subpar returns to the investors who depend on it to finance their retirement, home purchases, or higher education.
— Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, in his Annual Letter to CEOs

Spotlight: Robots for Recycling


At Davos this week, The Circulars Awards celebrated seven companies and organizations working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Presented by the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders, in collaboration with Accenture, the annual awards recognized big players like IKEA, Philips and ABN AMRO Bank, as well as smaller ones like Apto Solutions, Banyan Nation and AMP Robotics, which took home the Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Digital Disruptor.

The Colorado-based start-up has developed a groundbreaking new technology called the Cortex Robot — an artificial intelligence-equipped sorting machine that identifies and separates recyclable materials from mixed waste streams. The technology can be installed in recycling facilities with little retrofitting and minimal change to existing operations, making it easy to scale.

With innovations like this, a circular world feels more and more within our reach. ♻️

Reconsidered is curated by Jessica Marati Radparvar. If you enjoyed reading it, please consider sharing it!