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corporate citizenship

IKEA Joins Costco, Gap in Voluntary US Wage Hike

Posted by Dale Buss on June 27, 2014 09:54 AM

IKEA joined a still-limited list of US retailers that is raising minimum wages voluntarily even as the issue of boosting the legally required minimum pay for low-wage workers continues to roil American business and politics.

The maker of inexpensive Scandinavian furniture said that it will raise the average hourly minimum at its 38 US stores to $10.76 an hour, a 17 percent increase, with actual new pay rates varying locally depending on the cost of living in a particular area. The new average would be $3.51 above the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The new policy will raise the pay of about half of IKEA’s 13,120 US employees.

“This stems back to Ikea’s decision to create a better everyday life for our people,” Rob Olson, IKEA’s acting president for the US and its CFO, told the New York Times. “We of course are investing in our co-workers. We believe they will invest in our customers, and they will invest in IKEA’s stores.”

Plus, he told USA Today, the company can absorb the pay increase partly because it has cut costs in recent years. The wage hike will narrow profit margins but ultimately should benefit the bottom line, he said. IKEA has no plans to raise prices, cut staff or reduce hiring. The move also is a “shrewd business tactic that helps retailers attract top talent,” an economic analyst told The Huffington Post.Continue reading...

cause marketing

Bees, Please: Cascadian Farms, Burt's Bees Make Saving the Bees Buzz-Worthy

Posted by Dale Buss on June 24, 2014 04:26 PM

General Mills’ Cascadian Farm Organic brand is the latest to make pleas for bees. Joining other brands with their ears to the earth, Cascadian Farms has been donating $1 to the cause for each box of its Buzz Crunch Honey Almond Cereal that's sold. 

The plight of bees is only worsening; populations of pollinating honey bees have been rapidly declining across the country over the last several years in a problem known as colony or hive collapse.

Conservationists and farmers have variously blamed the problem on a virus and on environmental causes, but no one has been able to nail down exactly what the problem is—nor a solution. It’s important because honeybees, some bumblebees and Monarch butterflies are “pollinators” that make possible the seasonal proliferation of about 90 commercially grown crops in North America and many flowers, adding about $24 billion to the US economy.Continue reading...

sustainability

Walmart Sets the Stage with Commitment to Solar Energy

Posted by Sheila Shayon on May 13, 2014 11:02 AM

While Walmart may be on the wrong side of the minimum wage debate for the Obama administration, the world's biggest retailer has won praise in another department: renewable energy. 

President Obama recently paid a visit to a solar-powered store in California as he continues to push his policy to make renewable energy a U.S. priority. “We believe this is the first time a sitting president has visited our stores and we are proud to host the President and to hear his vision for a clean energy future— with good American jobs," said Walmart US CEO and President Bill Simon.

Walmart is the No. 1 commercial solar energy user with 89 megawatts at 215 locations and is recognized as the largest on-site renewable energy user in America by the EPA’s Green Power Partnership. The annual Solar Means Business report released in October ranked America’s solar leaders by install capacity with Walmart at No. 1, followed by Costco, Kohl’s, Apple, IKEA, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, McGraw Hill, Staples and Campbell’s Soup rounding out the top 10.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Gap Looks to "Do More" with Wage Hike, But Will Walmart Follow?

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 20, 2014 01:37 PM

During President Obama's State of the Union address last month, he asked businesses across the US to raise their minimum wage to $10 an hour, even if Congress wasn't going to force minimum wage above its current $7.25 rate, though it plans to pay its own workers $10.10 starting next year. 

It seems at least one major US company was listening. Gap Inc. announced that it will voluntarily increase its minimum wage to $10 per hour in June of 2015 after boosting its pay rate to $9 per hour this year, Reuters reports. The increase will benefit about 65,000 workers across the company's Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands.

Harking back to the directive from founder Don Fisher to "do more than sell clothes," the company said that "after many months of consideration, we've made a business decision that's right for our brands, good for our people and beneficial to our customers."

"I applaud Gap for announcing that they intend to raise wages for their employees beginning this year," President Obama said, according to Reuters.

It remains to be seen if Walmart, the largest private employer in America, will follow. Numerous protests demanding that Walmart raise its minimum wage have been ongoing over the last year, as the company made headlines for refusing a pay increase in Washington, D.C. and other pay-related incidents around the holidays.Continue reading...

brands with a cause

Apple for the Teacher: Tech Brands Support US ConnectED Schools Plan

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 4, 2014 01:56 PM

President Obama has scored some major progress on his ConnectED initiative thanks to a little help from some major brands. The program, which was launched in June, advocates for high-speed internet and education technology in every classroom, as well as training teachers on the benefits of tech in the classroom by 2017. 

The President has challenged the FCC, Federal agencies, Congress, the private sector and communities to rise to the test. As announced today as part of the White House's ConnectED (or #ConnectED) initiative, US companies are answering the call by committing more than $750 million to deliver cutting-edge technologies, devices, free software, teacher professional development, and home wireless connectivity.

“Today, fewer than 30 percent of schools have the broadband they need to teach using today’s technology; under ConnectED, 99 percent of American students will have access to next-generation broadband by 2017. That connectivity will be the bedrock of a transformation in the classroom experience for all students, regardless of income," the White House said in a press release.Continue reading...

tech talk

Tech Giants, Obama Converge Over Surveillance, Healthcare.gov Concerns

Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 17, 2013 07:37 PM

It seems to be tech week in Washington, D.C., as some of the country's top technology leaders met with President Obama to discuss several topics, including security and goverment surveillance. 

Since the Edward Snowden/NSA scandal broke earlier this year, consumers and tech innovators alike have been concerned about the government's practices of monitoring emails, social media activity, and phone conversations—behavior that was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge this week. According to The Verge, the President plans to discuss the economic effects of such unauthorized leaks, as well as how the government can further work with the tech sector to create jobs, and most importantly, how it can help to fix Healthcare.gov. The White House is even hitting up kids for ways to better use technology to learn.

15 leaders, including Apple CEO Time Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, as well as other high-level representatives from Zynga, Google, Etsy, Netflix, Dropbox, AT&T, Comcast, and Yahoo! were among those in attendance.Continue reading...

political brands

Clever Advertising Can't Rescue Obamacare On Its Own—But It's Trying

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2013 12:49 PM

As President Obama addressed the growing travails of Obamacare today, the marketing juggernaut for the troubled Affordable Care Act has continued. Not surprisingly, a lot of the ads—some from state-run health-insurance exchanges and allies that are carrying the load for local Obamacare rollout—are targeting the Millennial generation.

Younger, healthier Americans need to carrry the fiscal load for Obamacare if it's going to work out financially. But so far they're not biting much, just as most Americans have been slow to embrace coverage by signing on at HealthCare.gov. Less than 2 percent of the 7 million Americans federal officials expected to sign up for new health insurance under Obamacare actually did so in October. And so the President on Wednesday was at a press conference dealing with the political fallout.Continue reading...

what's in a name

Redskins Owner Vows to Keep Name Intact, but Oneida, Regulators May Have Other Plans

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 10, 2013 07:12 PM

Plenty of people have been trying to get the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their name for decades, but team owner Daniel Snyder delivered what all should regard as a pretty sound statement denying such a request.

In the last few days, “NFL officials agreed to meet with the Oneida Indian Nation," which had purchased radio ads in the team's market urging Snyder to drop the name, the Washington Post reports. Even President Obama threw his voice into the mix, noting that he’d consider changing the name if he were the owner. The Oneida staged a protest Monday in Washington and the National Congress of American Indians released a poster that showed baseball hats featuring racist team names such as the "New York Jews" and "San Francisco Chinamen."Continue reading...

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