Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change

Systems-Overload is pleased to take part in the 2009 Blog Action Day where the focus is on Climate Change this year. This is the third year that we've participated (here are our posts from 2008 and 2007). Climate Change has become quite a popular topic over the last several years and many companies are trying to brand themselves as green and world leaders are at least paying lip service to the subject but so much more needs to be done and can be done.

In the area of climate change I see several issues that have encroached into this space, making it more complicated and seemingly unmanageable.

  • Many global/multinational corporations have expanded at alarming rates into emerging markets.
  1. Easier and hire and fire workers and less worker protections
  2. Less environmental regulations to deal with
  • The governments in these emerging markets don't have the necessary infrastructure
  1. Additional costs borne by the new localities
  2. Tax subsidies/abatements provided to lure in new business
  3. Don't have experience writing environmental and labor regulations to be enforced upon global companies
  4. Don't have proper agencies with proper personnel to keep companies in line
  • Governments in the areas that are losing plants and jobs don't have the necessary international cooperation needed to enforce "good corporate citizenship responsibility" on companies
  1. They have lost tax dollars and the budget necessary to enforce the laws that are already on the books
  2. They're too distracted by the Global Financial Crisis to stop job losses
  3. Corporations have too much lobby power and can easily impact pending legislation via a variety of means
  4. It is too easy for corporations to move
  • Too much focus on "maximizing shareholder value" and executive profit, without regard for long-term impacts on health and viability of the company's clients, employees, and the communities that they do business in

Having identified some of the problems that are making climate change unmanageable what can be done? What can you do?
  • Let your elected and corporate leaders know that you don't approve of this any longer.
  • Write to your elected and corporate leaders, be sure to include company boards, CEOs, congressmen, and senators, as well as presidents, and so on
  • Let businesses know that you won't buy their products as long as they act irresponsibly
  • Let your government know that any contracts that they sign with such businesses need to impose some form of responsibility on those that they do business with. When you're paying the bill, you can set some conditions!
  • Let business that you do business with know that if they have contracts with irresponsible vendors that you won't do business with them any longer. Supply chains can be very long today and you'd be amazed at how many vendors your average business has dealings with
  • Make your family and friends aware of things that you've found out and encourage them to join in on any boycotts
  • Before buying a product or service check to make sure that the company is truly an ethical company as well as being environmentally responsible
  • A well known IT company is a poster child for what is wrong with companies today
  1. They paid its CEO over $107 million dollars over the past four years and six top executives (including the CEO) combined for compensation totaling over $140 million dollars in 2008.
  2. This CEO saw his compensation grow from $25 million in 2007 to over $42 million dollars in 2008, a 68% increase.
  3. This company has laid off 40,000+ employees during the current CEO's tenure with most of those jobs being moved into emerging markets (off-shoring)
  4. This CEO requested a "voluntary" 5% may cut from the employees earlier this year and told the employees that he was taking a 20% pay cut (but this is off his base salary, before all his bonuses) and for most normal employees 5% can make the difference between making mortgage and car payments and have a huge impact. The company has made billions in profit the last few quarters, so the pay cut wasn't necessary for the company's survival (unlike some more notable companies that have really been fighting for their very existence).
  5. Many IT companies are moving more and more jobs to off-shore locations. If this companies want to continue to do this type of activity, they should have to make sure that all employees that have been made redundant have "comparable" positions, or pay until they find such positions! Business needs to work more with government to make sure that local education meets their needs, not that this is used as an excuse to move more positions off shore.
  • Give some serious thought to where you buy your stuff, not just what you buy
  1. One well known and very large retail company is known for not paying their employees very well, many of this company's employees are making wages that put them just above the poverty line and some aren't able to pay for health care coverage. This should not be allowed
  • Buy from and support local companies and products whenever possible. The company mentioned above has a reputation for going into a community and forcing several local businesses into closure because they can't compete on price and volume. It is the local companies that are more likely to be active in the community and do the things that used to make our towns nice places to live in

  • Let your corporate and government leaders know that you want to see more international cooperation. Corporations should not be above the law. If companies move headquarters to avoid their tax and other responsibilities, they should not be permitted to do business in your area. Can you imagine a company today that doesn't want to be able to see its goods and services in America, if they couldn't sell in this market, they might not be in business for long
America has the largest economy in the world and has a huge impact on the rest of the world. The financial crisis has shown how interconnected things have become in the last few years. It is time for consumers and taxpayers to "encourage" our businesses to be the responsible enterprises that they should be.

Photo credit: Industrial 4 courtesy of kkiser.
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