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What Do People Want After #OccupyWallStreet?

Reform Wall Street or Repair the Tear in the Local Economy &  Social Fabric

By Lavinia Weissman


Boulder Co

On October 20th, I read Don Tapscott’s exceptional Huffington Post, Three Principles for a New Wall Street This is Tapscott’s view on what is needed  to repair the Wall Street.

 No one will argue, that Don Tapscott’s Huffington was an intelligent and educated view.

This editorial, sparked by the movement of #OccupyWallStreet, is a statement of meaning and power. Yet, I found it  confusing for  the ordinary person without wealth, working hard to survive the mess we are living with in American and what if anything that he proposed would impact the lives of so many torn now?

Don’s  opening remarks captured my attention:

To many it feels like just that. The financial services industry is in desperate need of reform. Many bankers have behaved as secretive corporate titans serving only their own interests, and insist the devastating consequences are not their fault. They are failing to fulfill their obligations to society — in some cases, even to shareholders — and a growing number of critics view the day-to-day behavior of the financial services industry as unacceptable. If the industry doesn’t initiate reform from within then it will eventually have more extreme reform imposed from outside.”


I completed reading this article and found myself as a woman with a lot to say that I have not see written that many women I know do see.

Not many men will speak from our view of  how the financial service industry has failed us.

My Synthesis of Tapscott’s Editorial

Don’s editorial it is written from a systemic overview and perspective that the solutions lie within a new formation of integrity and transparency on a global scale. Once again, a leader is pointing out the board room perspective for the big financial service companies and investment banks.

Don’s thesis is based on a financial system of a sizeable deposit mass, larger than the sum of a  local community can create.

This creates a senior debt managed as a corporate asset for a core group of economic decision makers and shareholders. The focus become how to leverage returns from aggregation and spiraling consumer banking fees.

Transparency as defined in this context shapes from an issue of checks and balances and compliance reports rather than a source of measurement for how a community and its residents sustain health and thrive from creating sustainable market value that serve a consumer need identified by a social network analysis drawn from people with local voice or exemplary pulse taking capabililty


The Tear in the American Social Fabric from a Woman’s View


The very fabric of our country is torn in many places on the map.

The places on the map are actually not cities, rural areas, counties, states or a very torn apart country served by a broken finance system and politics.  Occupy Wall as a movement by today, spread to 1039 local communities across 87 countries. 

The tear in the fabric of this country is the millions of broken hearts of people, who no matter what they do, cannot take care of themselves as we have been taught to do and in a way that defines us as Americans.  It translated into a Republican view of “the haves and have nots, “ in the late 1990’s post the failure of the Democratic Welfare Reform.

As a woman, I  represent so many who have not had their voices heard in bank, law or compliance; our interests for banking and funds becomes even more fundamental.

The tear in the fabric for women is often exceptionally extreme.  We are the ones that are often called on first to manage and resource a special needs or chronically ill child or challenged elder.  With the rise in chronic illness to 1 our of every 2 people in this country, we are also the first derailed from the economic system that sustains us, especially when we are sole provider for ourselves or children.

As Rachel Qulter reminds us of how she finds this hope through the Myelin Repair Foundation:

We continue to be discounted in the work place as people of value.

The women, i know personally have  completed graduate education with significant debt.  Many after school have been challenged to obtain jobs in this economy or opted for self-employment. They become more so than men, up until now, burdened with significant challenge to support home and family.

Around 2004, I was invited as a journalist to participate in a financial service conference for an alumnae group of women at a top 10 MBA program. I was told when offered the invitation, I could not reveal the discussion in any factual way that was launched with an speaker from Catalyst, a women’s research think tank on the status of women’s capacity to lead in corporate settings.

As a skilled pulse-taker, I observed a view that there was no permission to give public audience to. All but 1 of the female leaders who spoke or sat on panels, had a child or a family member chronically ill. One woman, of significant personal resource left her job after witnessing a significant breach of ethic in a financial security firm, that is in public view.

A few women spoke about battle with life threatening illness and the cost of that and the impact on them personally and how they change. A chairwoman in banking ( a hard position to obtain) offered a mea culpa and apology for the cost of her career choice to her daughters, her exhusband and herself.

For me, it has been years of waiting, networking and praying to build a network of women friends, who know this kind of experience like me.  The women from the university conference are women who primarily know personal wealth and “buy their support systems,” that most of my friends cannot.

For years I was an outsider in what I call fundamentalist spiritual support groups in economic communities of wealth, where often the teachers, the coaches and others spurned people who lived the circumstance I live has being stuck in a limiting beliefs or having brought their circumstance to their door.

Trust me when I say, no woman (and often husband) selects to give birth to an autistic children or a premature baby requiring neonatal care that can accelerate into the hundreds of thousands and bankrupt a family. No woman that I know wants to ignore her elderly parents with Alzheimer or Parkinson Disease and then has to face the question for how long? And how will I continue to support myself and cope with this?

This is now an all too  common examination for women and men.

It  translates into a economic, emotional and spiritual issue at the root of challenge to women working in the institutional world. I believe from the perspective of a corporate financial service global firm is unlikely to ever be addressed. Yet when the firm causes harm, watch out, what is not reported in a compliance report is the harm to people who are dealing with the financial stress of chronic and life threatening illness.


What Does this Have to Do with Financial Service Industry?


My own struggle with Tapscotts’ editorial was the cry for more regulation or self-repair by a global industry that has not impacted harm of the “tear in the fabric.”

For years, I have not seen corporation or non-profit institution or government regulation or program repair or alter this tear to impact the health of people who live at the edge of the tear in our social fabric in local communities.

There is a lot of work ahead for all of us, not just the change agents like me.  Recently I received an email from a man, who has worked with me to alter my thinking, just as my spiritual support system that I draw on from women like me.

To me successful economic change reaches beyond the peer-to-peer arena that has pre-occupied much of the self-anointed leadership of the sustainability movement and has the potential to move sustainability practice into the hands of the masses – where it has always belonged.

As I welcome in more advice and shift the focus of my own work from the tradition of media and consulting to focus on repair of the social fabric through economic development, I have to thank a few remarkable people, who don’t want to be thanked for showing a new direction for me to guide my own spirit in these challenging times and construct a new view of myself and a view of my work that I can construct with others for more impact.

It requires imagination and a new style of conversation that generates change.

As my long time friend, Bill Shireman, President and CEO of the Future 500, another Huffington Poster  recently stated,

If we do not see the world as magical, then we are not awake!”

My response to Bill is,

Magic invites a new form of conversation that unites the practical nature of economic and business with a value that every person you know can sustain and if in the process of working with others, that person makes a real difference, I am happy to see them thrive.”

I am now putting to pen, speech, presentation and media what is in my imagination that can spark concrete local change to infrastructure for health to build repair and a new future for our children. I welcome you to join your magic and imagination with me.


Author’s bio: Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of

As a speaker, she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.

As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with. She has a private practice where she works with women to embrace the experience of chronic illness that challenges their livelihood and form of work.


Publisher’s Letter – Introducing TSOMU Fall Issue – 2011

Letter from the Publisher

Lavinia Weissman

Boulder, Co


Our next series of articles will focus on “accelerated change.”

9/11 – 10 years later – represents an unfortunate trend in human behavior that occurs immediately after a natural disaster or catastrophe of massive harm.

The 1st responders performed the heroic deed of rescue, recovering the dead and creating some order to the destruction.

But after this initial phase of recovery and response, one has to ask if any leader stepped up to observe, monitor and act on the outgrowth of harm to the people, economy, environment and habitat?  And why was there no response to accelerate the response to this growing harm?

What happened post 9/11?

The Bush Administration, the US EPA Director and Mayor Guiliani assured the public that New York City air quality was fine. We now know that is wrong.

Over the past 10 years, a growing evidence base of medical harm that includes a variety of cancers and pulmonary/lung related diseases and more.

Response to this growing medical evidence data base  has multiplied the frequency with which NY Firefighter and World Trade Center survivors are stricken with pulmonary and lung related disease or encounter cancer and die.

Tom Zeller, a Huffington Post reporter, on 9/9/2011 reported on how this struggle for help for these victims is just beginning to take form 10 years after the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Zeller interviewed John Feal, a retired Ground Zero disabled worker who sustained an injury at the site, offered his perspective post injury that took half his foot;

“I don’t need a doctor or a scientist or 12 years of college and a Ph.D and an MBA — no offense to them — but I don’t need anybody to tell me that 9/11 didn’t cause or did cause cancer,”

Feal’s own struggle to win compensation for his injury prompted him to establish the nonprofit FealGood Foundation to help 9/11 responders cope with the physical, mental and financial fallout of that day. He said he’s getting more and more requests for help from cancer sufferers.

How 9/11 prompted my thought leadership and journalism

After 9/11, I stopped watching mainstream news. I tired  from what I perceived to be unproductive forms of protest, denial and debate.

It was clear to me that the mainstream media audience needed a new form of journalism and post event response that was going to repair or prevent future harm from events like 9/11, Katrina, Haitian Earthquake, tsunamis, hurricane and earthquakes.

Like many other citizens, I concluded that events like these were accelerating because of the denial of the politicians, government officials and commercial business around the world.

The tangible evidence of this acceleration was evident to any American with the new-formed reality that 1 out of 2 Americans now live with a chronic illness sparked or complicated by environmental and chemical toxins.

Based on this observation, I shaped a question from which to grow my investigation and learning:

What does it mean to pay attention and stop denial?

I turned my attention more aggressively to identifying communities of people in business and the public sector that dared to form innovative responses to sustain a future for our children.

Many groups have formed with a mission to discover what it takes to turn the societal impacts of what we do when we go to work, reside in local communities and sustain the health of our family economically.

Each group is building a quality of life that assures us the best health possible, whether we are living, working or dying; and by joining with a learning community, over time each group creates its own “story of meaningful use.”

Sustaining TSOMU Proof of Concept

This past summer, drawing on dialogue with my personal advice network that includes Trina Hoefling  and Bernie Kelly, I developed a monetization model to sustain and its companion page on Facebook.

The model as a business model moves beyond the concept of virtual collaboration to defining partnerships linked to the magazine for public and private educational communities that are shaping through dialogue, inquiry and stories of meaningful use, concrete stories of meaningful use.

What is unique about these communities is that they incubate ideas, build a deliberate and organic discovery process to shape activities of applied learning that impact the health of the environment, economy, people, and habitat

The editorial direction and format for these public and private communities will growing into a live educational journal. The community can report on their learning and the discovery of outcomes and metrics that have shaped out of hard work and investment with the intention for meaningful impact and response to harm from the perspective of the Earth Charter Precautionary Principle.

TSOMU public community access will offer current reports on how these learning communities take shape and archive these communities’ stories of meaningful use (applied learning).

The private communities integrate and contract with me and other associates in TSOMU’s professional community to capture the story of action research learning labs that are structured to accelerate applied learning through the building of trust. This happens in an incubated learning environment that invites accelerated learning through the use of investment and shared resources.

An Innovative Market Ready Publishing Format

For the past 3 years, I have carried out the hard work of proof of concept for this new monetization model for producing a web-based magazine on the web of sustainable value.

For each learning community that TSOMU serves, we will capture the story that brings a project to life through advocacy and inquiry. Trust building is basic to this concept of applied learning.

Over the next year, parallel to shaping the performance of this publishing venture, I will work with representation from all our stakeholders to set up and put to use a performance and accountability system to measure how this magazine contributes to sustainable value of all the communities we serve, public and private.

Our goal is to attract community participation (public and private) and design a form of communication and reporting that is not excessive or confusing to support our readers and clients to do the work that measures tangible impact and outcome.

Why is this of Value Now?

The Secretariat General of the United Nations on 14 July 2011 issued a report on the role and functioning of the UN Global compact.

This 10 year performance review found the membership of the UN Global Compact had failed to build the performance model that embedded sustainability through global companies beyond the walls of corporate headquarters into subsidiaries and the supply chain.

This review followed a report from George Kell, Executive Director of the UNGC, on the impact of UNGC’s 6,000 members over 130 countries.

This performance review of the UNGC’s work over the past 10 years parallel’s the lack of response to the growing harm that has taken form as a result of 9/11.

This assures the intelligence and heart of why the publication of is so timely. The articles featured in this next cycle of publishing include contributions and editorial from

Jochen Kleef, Chairman EcoPoints Asia

Bernie Kelly, Principal, Intelog Health

I hope as our reader, that as you select and read articles that are relevant to you and you will join the dialogue for accelerated change and applied learning that this magazine serves.

Take a minute to add your thoughts  (comments)  to what you think of our agenda and help to build our community of accelerated change to embed sustainability.

Lavinia Weissman

WEAction Research Briefing: George Kell, #ungc 2010 Update

Live from the UN Press conference –

UN Global contact outreach through 6,000 companies over 130 countries. This is a small fraction of companies to impact societal scale change for sustainability.

Goal to increase this outreach through 20,000 companies by the time RIO is launched.

For Immediate Release

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

Source:  Press Conference Live @ UN Global Compact Press Conference

Written Report:  Press Release fro UNGC

George Kell, Executive Director of UN Global Compact provide this overview summary and analysis of UNGC progress over 2010.

Of the 6,000 members surveyed,

1. The percentage of UNGC member  corporations bring about change as a result of UNGC engagement is up to 80%.

2. The 6,000 have the power of 25% influence at the front end of issues of the 80,000 total multinational companies.

3.  75% of multinationals are only beginners building awareness.

4.  Ownership form a great influence

  • Public owned companies have 57% of impact;
  • State owned – 32%
  • Private owned – 18%

5. Size matters; Large companies working the issues the most, although within their subsidiaries there is only a 28% implementation.

6. Huge gaps on policies and supported by CEO’s and actual implementation and specific action, corruption, human rights, environmental issues and cuts across all areas of implementations. Awareness is high on material, risk and compliance sides.  Execution and implementation continues with very high gaps.

7. Supply chain continues to be one of the most significant gaps. Details on this at pp. 24-25.

8. Good news in 6,000 participants in survey taking action with NGO”s, MDG’s and 70% increase in concrete actions.

9. Response on environmental issues accelerated.

Projection for the future: UNGC is going strong,

Challenges:   implementation to drive quality.

Priority: Accelerate attention on human rights, corruption and environmental programs for implementation and execution.

Leadership foot print most critical in commercial domains for societal long term goals.


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Larry Lessig, Harvard Law School- “Law Chokes Creativity and Democracy”

Democracy is Dependent on People and Trust – Funders do not Represent People!

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

I took a walk with my friend Tess Pope today. Tess and I are in someways very like souls. We had a delightful time walking around the historic Forest Hill Cemetery– walking and chatting as only two women do.

There is something I love about the peace there that is not lost in the nature of death, but actually involves the signs of life and beauty and quiet that is hard to find in a city location like Boston.

Tess and I both share an understanding of what an ordinary person needs in life to work, support a family and keep at it in good times and bad.  Yet we seem right now to live at a time, when the dominant voice in the press has lost the understanding of that. I have been finding it difficult to connect with people like this with any real frequency.  So I really enjoyed my walk and time with Tess.

You see we both believe that just a few people can make it hard on the vast majority of folks.  It is what is underneath the bullying of kids in school, the inability of chronic people to get diagnosis and treatment.   It gets more complicated by the amount of time you have to advocate for your kids and care for your parents.

When the bureaucrats ask you to fill out a form, that means to them everything is black and white. When a ordinary person needs help with something, if they are lucky this implies a conversation between you and friends or coworkers that if your luck might be based on a value for give and take.

Tess and I talked for a bit about her recent experiences with her kids in high school in Boston (and the bureaucracy that this implied) and how she was able to work it out for her kids with them and the teachers/and others involved.  I told her my dream had become to think about any kind of government shut down as something of value that offered people the chance to really work things out in community.

When we got back to Tess’s house, she asked me if she could share this video with me on her ipad.  It is a video presentation by Larry Lessig to Harvard Law School Think Big Forum, produced on February 17th, 2011 — Tess felt it illustrated a bit of what we are both feeling about how bureacracy is standing in the way of people.

In 10 minutes time, Lessig explained corruption and how it has impacted democracy.

Would you believe that only 11% of people believe in the US Congress today.  More people in 1776 believed in King George at the time of  the American Revolution than people believe in the US Congress today.

The message of this video is simple — Congress has to be dependent on the PEOPLE alone. To maintain trust and independence, you have to maintain relationships with people, not the institutions they are guiding agenda for. The dependency of the people is displaced by dependency of raising money by  avoiding confrontation with anything the donors object to.

Within Lessig’s message he explained that  today’s policies respond to the needs of the most affluent and engendered a system of dependence that has resulted in  75% of Americans losing confidence in Congress and other institutions.

Lessig went on to share some feedback that  Arnold Hyatt, no. 2 Democrat contributor to the Clinton campaign gave President Clinton in 1997. At the time, Hyatt was President of Stride Rite Shoes, which has since been acquired by Collective Brands.   Hyatt explained that President Clinton needed to address a reluctant nation in the same way that in 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the nation to convince them to wage war in order to save democracy.

I find this thought from Arnold Hyatt very intriguing in simplicity and the fact that Clinton at the time of this meeting so strongly objected.  It is now 2011, I think many family put their trust in Stride Rite shoes for their kids (Keds and Converse).  When I was a child growing up in Boston, my dad’s community of investors and business associates included a member of the family that founded Stride Rite.  Stride Rite over time grew into one of the early stage leaders of CSR.

Those shoes were very expensive in those days for a family of 4.  My father and many other families learned to trust Stride Rite and paid the little extra to assure their kids developed healthy feet to walk on through out life. This was how I was taught CSR. CSR was something that a company did and translated to their customers that sustained an impact for the customer; in this case — insuring kids developed healthy feet.

There is something in Lessig’s presentation that appeals to me. I reminded me of how much I long to live my life in a community again for work and residence that is committed to building this kind of healthy trust. Where I feel my back is watched and has a community force that surrounds it that protects me, my health and my earnings so I can sustain.

I wonder if President Obama has listened to this broadcast produced at his alma mater?  What do you think? Do you think any member of Congress could appreciate and understand Lessig’s presentation?  Can we construct a people driven democracy as an alternative to the current corruption and chaos in WDC now threatening government shut down? What do you think?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Launching an Action Research Lab to Impact Health

Warning: Living and Working in Most Countries is Bad for the Health of Most People!

By Lavinia Weissman


Boston MA

I believe if I surveyed people I know and respect, the survey would conclude that incremental change has never been a sufficient response to all we know that is harmful to the global economy right now.. I also believe for that my quality social network would represent some remarkable insights into what is next. Within my network there are 3 streams of thought in order of least impact.

  1. People who want change but are skeptical that accelerated change is possible.
  2. People who have authored the thought leadership for accelerated change.
  3. Leaders, who know how to build and lead into practice practical scale projects that are a foundation for accelerated change.

The accelerated change  we are looking for has stopped denying the acceleration of harm and its consequence that people are living with around the world that needs a response and recognizes the significant cash investment that is required to find a response to the harm that is far greater than fixing the harm.

These are people who understand that in the United States our systems of economy that assure an system of living ecology are broken beyond fixing. They include how we assure

  • Accessibility to quality education;
  • Access to an employment track  that sustains any person able to work competently with livable wage;
  • Resources for health (not health care) that can be adopted into how people live and work;
  • a response and resources for health to half the population of the United States that now lives with a chronic illness, so these people can live in health and sustain;
  • Replacement of broken infrastructures leaking environmental toxins and chemicals that prevent people and regions to replace community and regional infrastructure that impacts our use of energy and assures sustainable housing and networks of communication that assure impacts of health.

Ultimately, the building and discovery of this kind of change that is of societal scale based on a value for health for people, planet, environment and economy is fundamental to how we build capacity for an ecological system that assures life and health within the realm of science, technology and humanity that shapes our eco-systems to thrive or destruct.

In recent months, I have been quietly reflecting on how to construct a list of people to invite to a meeting sometime in the next six months who understand and are acting on this agenda to accelerate a change that impacts through a combination of their efforts over 1B people living in a global economy.

It is my intention that the first group of leaders that I convene through a personal invitation will join this community (30-50 people in size) to form a portal of opportunity that builds a new way of how the United States relates to a global economy while building a system of relationship that returns health to its local communities.

Government is the least prepared to do this and it has to be a hub  of leadership that draws across every sector participating to build a new global economy that sustains and measures health for people, earth, environment and economy.

That thinking has been validated by the Rockefeller and Skoll Foundations. But now in the US, there is a reality of government shut down and daily monitoring of government in chaos @ Huffington Post. Americans now believe it is not either the Republicans or Democrats fault. The chaos is due to both in creating an ineffective government.

The 2012 Presidential election and campaign cost is already proejcted at $2b. If we stopped spending the billions of dollars in media, advertising and corporate lobbying of government officials, we would have significant cash resources  to create a system of education.

Two Billion would more than adequately fund in my opinion education for people on  how to live  ecologically that assures a respect for living on the basis of “doing no harm,” and operating out of values that teach everyone the impacts, good and bad, on our communities, people and culture that help all of us sustain.

When I first started thinking about how to write this article, I wanted to learn how to write something that would stir people’s thinking as a call to action rather than build another causal campaign. I sought inspiration from other media and people I respect.

I reviewed a few web-broadcasts.  One was  organized by Aman Singh, @vaultcsr, Reimagining CSR as an Engine of Innovation, Profitability and Purpose. Immediately after watching this broadcast, I went thought the new broadcasts promoted by the  Skoll World Forum of Social Entrepreneuership.

What was contained in all the broadcasts and articles was of value without question. What was  not made clear is how these events would influence others to carry out real time accelerated change.

By real-time accelerated I change, I mean change that will produce a tangible shift in the  global economy to sustain people by building capacity for people to solve the problems that are not being solved, e.g. the lack of jobs for the workforce, resources for people who are ill and assurance of access to the education of systemic scale that builds an infrastructure that educates people to live in health and do no harm to their health, the health of others, the environment, earth and economy.

Could any of these events influence more rapid constructive response to the harm now alive in Haiti, the Gulf Region and Japan?

Beyond Skoll and Vault’s broadcasts, I found qne reread 2 articles describing recent personal trauma to Joe Sibilia and his mother in Springfield MA. These episodes while far less dramatic than Katrina and the BP Oil Spill  reflected  to me ultimately the worst effects of a bad global/country  recession   on a local community of no fame and how it works to survive without any real glamor.

The commentary, story and thoughts in both these reports are a demonstration to me of why the harm of a few is having such negative impact on so many.

Joe was a keynote speak at the 2011 Intertek Ethical Sourcing Forum, where he received news that his mom had been attacked in her home in Springfield MA where Joe and all his family lives and which is where he chose to establish headquarters for  In this community, Joe described

– the scene of both attacks – was the area in western Massachusetts where CSRwire is based. “There are 1,200 young men between the ages of 17 and 24 that all share these characteristics,” he started, “they are convicted felons, they’ve never held a job, never graduated from high school, they don’t have a GED and they have no male role-models.”

Events like these alter a person’s perspective. Shortly after Joe was informed of the attack on his mom, Joe altered his hour long keynote and gave this  5 minute brief keynote captured by  Emily Drew, a journalist with @ CSRWire talkback.

Sibilia said his team chose to base CSRwire in this troubled community because they want to be a part of the solution. He implied ethical sourcing – the theme of the conference – was part of a larger cultural shift, where people are becoming more aware of how their own social and economic choices affect those beyond the transactions:

“In the future you’ll decide who you do business with based on their values, where they operate, what they do, how they think, what they believe, if they can be trusted, whether they really do what they say they’re doing. And you will create a new economy based on ethical business practices. And then you won’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or having your mother attacked. The wealth will be a bit more distributed and society will be a better place for us to live in. I really can’t emphasize enough that the work you’re doing is so inspiring to me.”

At the time of Joe’s keynote, I was  in Western MA to visit with a long time colleague, who has always had my respect; David Surrenda, the new CEO of Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.

David and I had a brief conversation where I got a clear understanding of his current mission as a global educator and leader.  I took a tour of the facility at Kripalu. In organizing my plan and budget, I wanted to evaluate Kripalu as a potential location for the meeting I plan to produce related to this article.

Following my meeting with David, I spent the weekend at Kripalu and found it a good place to just quietly reflect on what I want and how to organize my strategy for launching a professional leadership group committed to accelerating change.

I am still reflecting on the conversation I had with David, unrelated to my facility tour.  David gave me a context for thinking that aligned with my passionate belief that health is far more than health care and sustainability will not integrate into our eco-economy until society and the communities it contains define what that means drawing on views from every sector and locally applied to culture and local economy.

David Surrenda’s fearlessness and history as a CEO, NGO Exec. Director, Consultant and Educator inspired me. I needed that kind of refueling. I had become very tired of having to always self-sustain and am working hard to change that.

While there are many people giving thought to what i think about, the world pace and form of working has become isolating and I know as many do that real time accelerated change cannot be achieved if people do not learn how to convene in learning groups that apply their learning.

The meeting I have in mind is about creating a portal gateway to a global community of people who convene, learn and apply.  I believe Kripalu Yoga and Health Retreat Center is an extraordinary place to convene the people who integrate the thought leadership for application in local communities influenced by global economies.

Let me know what you think about how to build an action research lab for accelerated change? How do you fit? What needs would have to be addressed to synthesize an energy of impact that embeds sustainability into the culture and impacts change of societal scale?  Can you show yourself to be a person who can contribute value to this kind of conversation?  Why?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

CEO Pay , Corporate Taxes- One Woman’s Think!

Do We Protest or Change to Sustain?

by Lavinia Weissman

@workecology  (twitter system problem has not yet been repaired: please be patient)

Boston, MA

Everyday there is a sensational headline or more,  protesting CEO Pay. This topic is complex and far more complicated relative to industry and sector.  In Massachusetts, where I live – advocates from government, industry and non-governmental organizations are getting active in the analysis and scrutinizing the need for change.

CEO pay seems to seep into many other complex issues, e.g. rising cost of health care, CEO performance and ethics, and legislation that protects major corporations from paying taxes.

Yet, I don’t believe we will get out of the squalor and mess government is in financially that is complicating the global economy and stripping citizens of their ability to sustain, if we keep perpetuating the same discussions about corporate greed or tax dodging.

As the US Government continues to face a shutdown because our politicians cannot agree – is compliance, scrutiny and protest going to be our only tools to spark change.

As I read the news over the past weekend, I was reminded to two notable observations from my own research,

1. Jared Diamond, winner of the Pulitzer Prize wrote in Collapse: How societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Historically, Diamond has been chastised by environmentalists as “being in bed” with corporations Diamond reminds us that when he visits a corporation, he writes honestly and factually.

On some properties he has seen destruction and on others he has seen caution and he wrote his book, Collapse with this value in mind,

“My view is that, if environmentalists aren’t willing to engage with big businesses, which are among the most powerful forces in the modern world, it won’t be possible to sole the world’s environmental impact problems.”

2. Tyler J. Elm, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc, Former Senior Director of Corporate Strategy and Finance, identified a new form of perspective in th examination of global companies;  Of the 100 largest world economies, 42 are corporations (not countries).

This argues for the merit of looking at a corporation that is an economy, e.g. Wal-Mart and General Electric from different filters and questions than companies that are not performing to the scale of a large global economy.

This also provides an interesting perspective from the view of transparency and analysis about forming a new generation of activity to reform taxes, compensation and CEO performance in my my mind.

In my mind right now the tradition of how NGO’s protest and debate and how media reports is limiting. This is the case particularly in the United States to  where the value for sustainability conflicts with a diverse input from outside the corporate sector that argues for scrutiny, compliance and legislation to change the problems we perceive as sole focus for solution.

Based on the recent press that GE paid no taxes in 2010 after posting profits of $14.2B, I had a citizen’s reaction of “What?” Given conditions of our schools, health care system and more: I was torn about the degree to which corporations do not pay taxes. But hidden in my story is a strong view I have that US government of all levels, Federal, State, City do not perform.

Do I focus my time on protesting corporate tax dodging?  How do I deal with my stress that  government in my country is focused on spending rather than focused insuring our spending carries us forward into a future and that all sectors align with this value in action, not just government?

If GE paid taxes, how much of this money now would be wasted in a time where our government is not performing for a majority of its citizens.  I have become mixed in thinking about taxes, since US government  is not performing?

I am disappointed on the corporate side as to what they can do with profits to create new jobs, increase access to health insurance and over haul their compensation and benefit schemes to recognize the rise in chronic illness, stress and the average American’s inability to insure the 4 pillars of sustainabillty – a job, a doctor, a home and education.

The Latest Focus for Protest – Corporate Tax Dodging.

From the corporate perspective, wheels are spinning about corporations who do not pay taxes. Political activist, Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC is one of the quality voices in the NGO movement questioning why corporations do not pay taxes.

Collins lives with his family  in a neighborhood of Boston, known for its grassroots and political advocacy, Jamaica Plain. He has become one of the leading voices documenting, analyzing the complexity of the issue fills the blogSphere with a quality of advocacy journalism that is exceptional.

Chuck’s personal page on Facebook, provides a look into that complexity, why there is no easy solution and why it is so urgent to lead change in this arena as corporations that include GE, Bank of America, Verizon, and Federal Express.

Collins editorial on Huff Post Business is candid, factual and maps out the full agenda in a brief editorial, General Electric King of the Tax Dodgers.

And yes, General Electric heads this list of tax dodgers and some facts I know of that would not be posted to a tax analysis with regard to Jeffrey Immelt’s compensation over the past few years.

General Electric the Corporate Citizen Change Agent

As I indicated to Chuck Collins on his Facebook wall over the weekend, I think the fact that General Electric is what he describes as the “King of Tax Dodgers” is dedicated to Corporate Citizenship and all that implies to its governance and has embedded sustainability into its culture.

In review of my own research archives and identification of these facts, I wonder how the CSR practice of  transparency will apply to GE’s filing a return of $0 on its Federal IRS return?

With Obama appointment of GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s to the Federal Economic Advisory Panel this sets a stage for more controversy related to GE’s lack of tax payments and a need for transparency.

For naysayers, it is easy to take the position that Obama has made a mistake appointing a registered Republican to this position who heads a corporation that delivered $14.2B in global profit and $5.1B in US profits in 2010. GE claimed a tax benefit of $3.2B based on federal tax qualifications.

Last year, I covered a story on a meeting at the Paley Center called the #CSRdebate.  At the time, I attended this meeting, I felt that the success of this conversation reflected more a progress report on accountability, performance and success of embedding sustainability into a corporate culture.

General Electric has done all that leading globally initiatives that are impacting climate change, health and energy through their internationally respected initiatives of Ecoimagination and Healthmagination.

Within that story, George Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact pointed out

George Kell pointed out that the American tendency to shape conversations that are generalized does not work for construction of complicated issues that involve CSR.  Generalizations cannot empower what is needed to have a constructive CSR conversation.

Kell’s final remarks offered related to reporting on  the membership of the UN Global Compact  response of 20% interest to climate change that he anticipated would grow to 30% next year represented an indicator of importance.

It is still unclear of the 7700 members of the UN Global Compact how rapidly more than 10% of its members are actually embedding sustainability.  Yet, General Electric is a leader of that in forum and within the top 1% of performers.

Also represented in this event, was Bob Corcoran – Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, President & Chairman, GE Foundation. Bob outlined how GE’s core business strategy to embed sustainability into its culture is driven by its corporate citizenship program.

Ecomagination and Healthyimagination were driven by General Electrics’ innovation of sustainability venturing.

Immelt himself authored his plan, A Blue Print for Keeping America Competitive and published it in the Washington Post. The plan focuses on trade, export of US goods and job creation.

Over the last two years, GE has created over 6,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States as well as stepped up to investing in energy and health related businesses that create new companies and jobs.

In 2008, Immelt gave hope to a group of students at UC Berkeley Hass School of Business when he

In 2008 in  forum to UC Berkeley Hass School of Business, Immelt gave hope and direction for a future to these students, that so few know how to give at these times, shortly after the September 2008 financial market meltdown.

Immelt  has described  himself as a banker with “deep pockets, who also invested in people. Immelt differentiates himself from an investment firm because he devised and put into practice a sustainability framework that defined how General Electric could lead the world into the building of a sustainable economy.

Outside of GE, Immelt announced and carried through on plans to  invest in new ventures that are not entirely owned by GE. In some cases these small enterprises are competitors to GE divisions and businesses; creating a social network of coopetition as part of the GE Culture.

Immelt’s Compensation and How It is Managed

GE Directors and Immelt have align Immelt’s compensation based on long term strategy and current financial performance. In reviewing articles regarding his compensation; I have decided to begin to look at other companies closely in terms of ratio of profit, total sales and CEO salary. But doing this analysis was a good beginning.

While reports show that Immelt”s compensation for 2010 doubled, within the report were some explainations of adjustments from past years and a modification to how Jeffrey Immelt used General Electric resources of personal use. Directors viewed that Immelt performed well. In this context,

  1. He compensation doubled to a total of $15.2M based on profits of $14.2B.
  2. Shares offered in 2006 were cancelled because the company did not meet its performance expectations at that time.
  3. During 2 years of reduced financial performance, Immelt received no bonus.  The $4M received for 2010 was the first bonus he received in two years.
  4. In 2010, Immelt received $389,809 of other compensation by using the GE jet for personal business.  He has a new agreement to lease the jet for personal use and reimburse for the cost of its use.

What does the US need – Corporate Taxes, Lower CEO Pay or a Sustainable Economy

While I would not identify myself as a ‘libertarian,” I have to ask what would I prefer?  That a profitable corporation pay taxes ? Or create a tax systmee for sustainable economy?  Is there a simple answer to these questions. I think not.

For a company that is leading performance in the top 1$ for sustainable value, there is a real advantage to not protesting the problem, but opening a dialogue with this company to find out what change would benefit stakeholders and how.

And a real dialogue is not based on protest, argument and debate–a dialogue begins with briefing sessions and gives the players opportunity to learn and absorb in an educational forum.

This kind of initiative is then structured  in a setting where participants can focus and think and ask question from which to generate questions that direct the participants in a new direction of thought that can be formed into a action strategy.

Embedded in this issue are issues of leadership, CEO performance, global versus local economy, size of company and a new view of a size of company that merits being defined an economy, readers what do you think? Is the world ready to redefine the GDP and spark new economic thinking that is sustainable and not about corporations or government and political feuds?


Authors bio:

Lavinia Weissman is an sustainable market leadership coach, journalist, and publisher of As a speaker she describes the new emerging patterns of markets shaped by sustainable market leaders and the social networks they work with and employ.  As a coach, Lavinia works with all her clients to inspire professional development that assures a person the opportunity to embed sustainability as a leader into the network and culture of people they work with.

Publisher’s Note: Please be patient while we figure out if Twitter can repair our @workecology id and recover our network.  By Friday 4/1, I hope twitter will resolve this and I will know by then what I have to do.

Is Road Safety a Relevant Issue?

by Frederic Page


Barcelona, Spain

The Commission on Road Safety, a Non-Standing Committee of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, has approved unanimously a motion urging the Government to include road safety as part of  Corporate Social Responsibility, in an effort to involve companies in the prevention of work-related traffic accidents.

The initiative calls for the Executive to make appropriate amendments in the Law on Prevention of Occupational Risks to include the assessment and the prevention of traffic accidents that occur as a result of work activity or commuting. According to the Committee’s recommendations, companies would have to report on their progresses on the prevention of work-related accidents and carry out studies and evaluations to identify – and fight – their causes.

The Committee also calls for the registration of work-related traffic accidents, a better coordination between the private and public entities involved, and security improvements in work-related travel. Finally, it asks for the creation of a “quality label”, awarded by the competent institutions and agencies, which would support the company’s commitment in preventing accidents among their employees.

As an incentive for the employer,  the Committee recommends the creation of an annual prize that would reward best practices in the field of occupational health and the quality of the inclusion of road safety plans in the Corporate Social Responsibility strategy of the companies.

This news has been received with mixed feelings in Spain, both by companies and the CSR community alike. One of the reasons, as stated by Professor Antonio Argandoña in his blog , is that this type of initiatives is a distraction from the “really important” CSR topics and that an “award” won’t change anything.

According to other comments, it is the role of the Government to deal with road safety. I don’t agree at all with those points of view. I do believe that road safety is a valid material issue for businesses, a clear area of concern for their internal and external stakeholders and has potentially a huge impact, economic, social and environmental on the companies themselves and the society in general.

In Spain, businesses lose thousands of working hours each year due to medical leaves of absence related to road accidents, that also cost thousands of lives. Industry research shows that typically workplace injury costs are met 40% by the employee, 30% by the employer and 30% by the community as a whole. The human cost is high, the financial cost as well.

Corporate reputation is also affected by employees driving behaviour. Did it ever happen to you to observe a dangerous driver in a company car, or truck, bearing the logo of their employer? What was your reaction? The impact on environment is high too, not only due to bad driving behaviours, generating huge amounts of CO2, but also because of accidents involving dangerous goods or substances.

In a recent post, CSR expert and author Elaine Cohen, writes that she believes that, in the next generation of GRI indicators, “G4″, “other issues that are not specifically covered in G3, should be considered, such as the issue of road safety and how companies manage employees who spend a lot of time on the road for work purposes, a significant source of fatalities and other accidents which endanger not only employees but the general public“.

I couldn’t agree more. Many companies already include road safety in their CSR plans and strategy. Some of them because they are directly or indirectly, related to the transportation industry, or vehicle manufacturers such as Ashok Leyland. Others, because they realize that there’s an opportunity for them to improve their workers well-being while impacting positively other areas such as the environment and public safety.

It is much better for an organization to be promoting a good news safety story such as winning an award, than it is to have to react to and suppress the outcomes of a major incident. Those companies also realize that their initiatives directly impact their bottom line and that they can gain a competitive advantage by being ahead of more reactive organizations.

World Health Organization data suggests that approximately 1.2 of the 5 million global injury deaths each year are road crashes. It’s clear that road safety is a major social issue. I believe that it is also a business issue. What do you think?

For our readers? What of these issues are relevant to you, where you work and reside?  I wonder what impact reduction of accidents would have on health care costs for every country? and the increase in chronic episodes of care for the victims of these accidents. Whose job is it, to convene all the stakeholders?


Frederic Page is a media associate with from Barcelona, Spain.  Frederic’s passion for sustainability grew out of a very eclectic background in industry and subject matter expertise. He is fluent in french, spanish and english.  As a result he is able to integrate a sustainability agenda  into his coaching and educational programs from understanding the perspective of culture, expertise and innovation.