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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CSR Author Spotlight: Veronica Scheubel

Born in: St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canda
Lives in: 'The Vermont of Germany,' the Red Hair Mountains (about 100 miles east of Cologne and north of Frankfurt) with German high school sweetheart, after 22 years apart.
Educated at: Educated at: Baccalaureate in Germany, Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal and Masters in Organisation Consulting at Ashridge Business School in the UK.
Favorite CSR Book: Adrian Hodges' and David Grayson's Everybody's Business, as it was the first book to educate the world about CSR.
Favorite non-CSR book: Kenneth Leung's The Zen Teachings of Jesus (it's not a religious book); Edward Said's Representations of the Intellectual, Milan Kundera's Immortality.
Favorite movies: 'Il Postino,' 'Monsoon Wedding,' 'Smoke,' 'Smoke Signals,' 'The Royal Tenenbaums,' 'Gosford Park,' 'Lisbon Story,' 'Lost in Translation,' 'Eat Drink Man Woman'.
Favorite musician: Jazz trumpet player Chet Baker on 'The Best of Chet Baker Sings'
Favorite CSR report: SAP - for being accessible from mobile tablets, for the interaction and engagement, for the view of developing sustainability reporting as a journey.
If I could, I would ...: Go live in Buenos Aires for a year or two and then explore business opportunities in India!

Having co-authored, with Nick Lakin, number 7 on the Cambridge University Sustainability Leadership Programme's top sustainability books of 2010, together with over 10 years of hands-on business practice and consulting experience, Veronica Scheubel, former Senior Corporate Responsibility Manager at Nokia, is a superstar amongst experts in how to mastermind and execute ways for businesses to engage with the community. Her book, Corporate Community Involvement: The Definitive Guide to Maximising your Business' Societal Engagement, (Greenleaf, 2010) is the most comprehensive, practical and well-researched guide available for those wishing to devise, plan, manage and succeed in delivering business engagement with local communities and employee volunteering programs. According to Veronica, there was a clear gap in the market for this kind of book: "Nick and I noticed that between the two of us, we had written so many internal company manuals on how to practice Community Involvement from inside a company. Nick asked why nobody had ever thought of turning this into a book, so companies don't have to re-invent the wheel. He convinced me that the two of us had to do that, so we set out to write our book. Working to a strict schedule, we got it done in 6 months. It helped that we had our previously-written manuals to refer to, and that we had all our personal experience from managing global Community Involvement programs to draw on."

Since publication, Corporate Community Involvement has generated positive reactions. Veronica mentions that "quite a few people have contacted us to let us know that they found the book really useful, particularly the Chapters on Strategy, Employee Involvement and how to operate as a company-internal change agent." According to Veronica, the most important messages in the book for succeeding in community involvement are: "Be strategic and contribute your company's core competencies, engage in real cross-sector partnerships in the community, and involve key functions in the company as well as employee volunteers."

The practice of community involvement is by no means uniform across all companies, according to Veronica. "As with so many other aspects of corporate life, there are the visionaries, the early adopters, the early majority, the late majority and the laggards. What strikes me after more than 10 years of my own work in this area is that we still have players in every field! We have visionaries like IBM, early adopters like Nokia, many companies in the early majority, but shockingly many companies still in the late majority that are still dabbling in philanthropy and are only just discovering Community Involvement. And then of course, there are laggards that still claim Community Involvement is not relevant to them and that shareholder value is all that counts ... The 'early' half encourages and enthuses me while the 'late' half creates the gap versus my expectations and shows me that there is still so much more work to do!"

Most of Veronica's professional time is spent in organizational change and corporate responsibility consulting, training, executive coaching, team development and Action Learning. She is also active in The Partnering Initiative at the International Business Leaders Forum in London which leads in matters relating to cross-sector collaboration. Veronica is an Associate, offering training, facilitation and mediation, including a three-day certification training in cross-sector partnering practice, offered in different countries. In addition, Veronica and her partner bought a home with a garden and, for the past two years, have been busy with renovation and redecoration. They both enjoy travel and the sun, hiking, cooking and nice restaurants, movies and good books. Every few days, they 'borrow' the neighbor's four year-old twin boys for a play session which is fun for all.

But this does not prevent Veronica from considering what her next book will focus on: "A few colleagues and I are really passionate about the opportunities of bringing organizational change consultants together with Sustainability Managers in companies, as we have experienced first-hand how much can be achieved for embedding Sustainability throughout an organization when both work together and pool their knowledge, resources and approaches. It is still a very new message out there, and we are a small cohort, but we'd like to spread the word and the practice, so there will have to be a book about it!"

Indeed, Veronica has a passion for making change in organizations more accessible. "The world is changing, and participative approaches within organizations as well as with stakeholders will become increasingly important and unavoidable. This is where I see a focus of my work - I'd like to support people in organizations, who might be used to the 'old ways' and perhaps a bit unused to and afraid of 'sharing power', in familiarizing themselves with new concepts, trying them out and experimenting with them. As a facilitator, I can help create a 'safe environment' for that." As Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said, "The only constant thing in life is change." Anyone who can help us navigate that is playing an important role in society, and Veronica, both in her practice and with her book, surely demonstrates what it means to be an agent of change.

I would like to thank Veronica Scheubel for sharing her insights and for her great guide to Corporate Community Involvement which features highly on my always-keep-close book list.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices  Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website

Monday, May 9, 2011

The HIP Investor

By R. Paul Herman

Published by John Wiley and Sons Ltd

ISBN: 978-0-470-57521-3


In The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World, R. Paul Herman - creator of the HIP methodology and a leading investment manager - introduces a systematic approach for investors that is designed for more attractive profits and positive human, social, and environmental impact. Based on comprehensive research of the S&P 500, HIP assesses and values measurable results over well-intentioned policies and philosophies, and shows how higher-performing companies can deliver both human impact and profit for shareholders. This HIP approach is shown to outperform the financial returns of the S&P benchmark in both up and down markets.

Written for investors of all types and their financial advisors, this detailed guide will help you construct a portfolio of firms that are boosting their bottom line by meeting five core human needs. Leading firms benefit customers, engage employees, and deliver sustainable, profitable growth for their investors through innovative products, measures, and decision making. Each chapter reveals a fundamentally strong analytical approach enriched with real-world case studies that show you how your portfolio can capture substantial financial returns and generate positive impact while also mitigating risks.


Whether you are an investor or not, The HIP Investor will teach you a lot about how businesses can make profit while having a positive impact on society and environment. The Hip Investor is not a theoretical discussion. It's a highly practical, well-researched, coherent encyclopedic guide, full of examples of how businesses have leveraged their capabilities to create better business and a better world. The proof is that the HIP (human impact and profit) investment portfolio outperforms multiple benchmarks , for example, the HIP 100 has done 4 percent better than the S&P 100 every year between mid-2004 and 2009.

The HIP methodology was masterminded in 2004 by R. Paul Herman, after he gained a finance degree at Wharton and worked at McKinsey & Co. on incentive regulation in the energy sector and advised Fortune 500 corporate clients on investments. The HIP method identifies five core dimensions of the way companies drive financial, social and environmental value through innovating new products that improve the quality of life, operating with higher environmental efficiency and effectively managing their social impacts. An analysis of the extent to which a company embraces the concepts and practices in these five dimensions can produce a HIP Scorecard with over 20 indicators whose value indicate positive results for society, thereby providing a useful tool for investors, because, "typically, the better the human impact performance, the bigger the profits". The HIP methodology overlap to a large degree with other leading rankings of corporate responsibility or sustainability practices, though it also offers a fresh way of looking at companies and their impacts, providing specific quantifiable metrics in each of the five HIP dimensions.

The five core dimensions of the HIP methodology are:

1.Health: refers to both physical and mental well-being, including quality of life.

2.Wealth: encompasses ways for people to earn more, save more or better secure their financial future.

3.Earth: covers the water we drink, the air we breathe and the overall ecosystem balance.

4.Equality: seeks fair representation, whether classified by gender, ethnicity or income class.

5.Trust: includes open, transparent information and ethical and respectful behavior.

The HIP investor builds an investment portfolio using data collated and analyzed in these five categories to produce an overall performance scorecard, showing how HIP a company is, and how the company's HIPness stacks up against other companies in the same sector or in general.

The author has not been content to simply explain the methodology. The HIP Investor is one of the most extensive and detailed catalogs of corporate sustainability-related practices as I have read in the past few years. Examples abound from almost every company you can think of, from the leaders to the laggards, culminating in a persuasive argument which substantiates the need for a HIP mindset, HIP practices, HIP analysis and HIP investing. Additionally, the author presents a set of sector "face- offs" comparing the HIP scores of giants such as PepsiCo / Coca Cola, Procter and Gamble / Colgate-Palmolive, Dow / DuPont, Raytheon / Lockheed Martin, Verizon / Sprint, J.P. Morgan Chase / Bank of America, McDonald's / Starbucks, Microsoft / Apple, Walmart / Target and Chevron / ExxonMobil, which have also been published on

In the final sections of the book, the author teaches potential investors how to build a HIP investment portfolio, maintaining that the HIP approach leads to more appropriate valuations than sector-weighted approaches as adopted by S&P 500 and others and providing insight on a wide range of investment options. Finally, R. Paul Herman ends up with his optimistic view that a HIP world is possible and that investors have the power to create it and reap the rewards, both in financial and non-financial terms. A HIP world is one where corporations compete in areas which add positive social and environmental impact. With $175 trillion in global financial assets available to investors, Herman maintains that there is certainly a sufficient supply of capital to make a HIP difference.

R. Paul Herman makes a convincing argument for HIP. Understanding companies from a perspective of the three core HIP investor questions (How HIP are the company's products? How is the company measuring its human, social and environmental impact? How do existing management practices reflect a HIP approach?) presents a novel way of evaluating companies' long-term sustainability and predicting their long-term financial performance. Using the 5 core HIP scorecard factors to assess companies provides a tangible framework for investment decision making. Even if you are not an investor, you are probably a customer, an employee, a supplier or even a community member and the HIP approach can help you decide whether to engage with a company in one way or another. I guess that to write a book about HIP investment, you have to be pretty HIP yourself, so I find myself compelled to round of this review with three cheers - HIP HIP Hurray - for the highly HIP R. Paul Herman and The HIP Investor.

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via  on Twitter or via my website
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