Tag Archives: corporate responsibility

Books Double as Subway Tickets in Brazil


To promote reading and celebrate World Book Day, Brazilian book publisher L&PM Pocket created an innovative line of mini-books that had an unusual twist – the books doubled as free subway tickets in Sao Paulo. The campaign was part of a program to encourage more reading; on average, Brazilians read only two books/year, finding it hard to have the time to read. The solution: read while riding the subway.

The books were distributed in Sao Paulo subway stations and contained a built-in RFID card that could be read by subway turnstile scan systems. People picked from 10 different book genres, including cartoons, romance, poems, classics, and mysteries. Each book came charged with 10 free subway tickets. The books are also re-usable, capable of being recharged online and then given to another rider to enjoy. In all, more than 10,000 books were distributed and the program is expected to expand to additional cities in Brazil.

What are you reading on the subway?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How much do they read? How much do they think people read in general?
  2. What are the obstacles to reading more books?
  3. Show the video: https://vimeo.com/agenciaafrica/ticketbooks
  4. Divide students into teams: Have team develop an innovative campaign related to a public service need such as reading, conservation, safety, or similar topic.
  5. Have each team present their campaign and debrief the exercise.

Source: Ad Age Daily, Creativity Online

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Social Mission – Certified B Corps.


Many companies state that they are socially and environmentally responsible, but it can be difficult for consumers to know that these statements are actively enforced. There has historically been a distinct lack of transparency of about social responsibility. However, this is slowly but surely changing with the adoption by many companies of Certified B Corporations standards.

More than 1,200 companies in 41 countries and 120 industries have become Certified B Corps, voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. In short, these organizations work to be the “best for the world.”

Companies are certified by the non-profit B Lab. For companies to earn the designation, they must score points on a lengthy questionnaire that includes topics such as diversity of executive ranks, pay for the lowest-paid employee, and companywide recycling programs. Notable companies earning the certification include Etsy, Patagonia, Warby Parker, Plum Organics, and Ben & Jerry’s. Check it out – be the change.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the concepts of corporate social responsibility. What are essential components?
  2. Before showing the Web site for B Labs, divide students into teams and have them identify companies that they think act in a socially responsible manner. Do they patronize these businesses?
  3. Show the Web site: https://www.bcorporation.net/ There are various videos and information on the site.
  4. Have student teams analyze the information. Then, using this information, develop a business plan that meet the certification criteria.

Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, other news sources

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The question: “Why?”


What makes a company great? It isn’t just profitability or growth. There are many companies that achieve both of those, yet still remain mired in negativity or conflict. And, what makes a great leader? It isn’t just managerial skills, it’s something that goes beyond, something that inspires and resonates with people – especially customers.

In this TED Talk, Simon Sinek attempts to answer the question of ‘why’ and explain how great leaders inspire action. His concept: the golden circle. At the center of the golden circle is the answer to the ‘why’ question.

Every organization knows ‘what’ it does, but very few know ‘why’. Making a profit isn’t enough to answer ‘why’ – profit is a result, not a purpose. The ‘why’ needs to focus on the purpose, the cause, and the beliefs. It should be why we get out of bed in the morning and attempt to make a difference in the world. People don’t necessarily buy ‘what’ you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by asking students to define what makes a company great. Ask students if there are companies that they will not shop at – and ask why. On the other side, ask if there are companies that they will shop at – and ask why. What makes these companies different?
  2. Discuss the importance of leadership in organizations and how having a clear mission, vision, and values impacts organizations.
  3. Show the video: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action
  4. Following the video, divide students into teams. Have each team review the mission/vision/values of an organization of their choosing. (Good companies for this are Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker, and Quirky.)
  5. Next, have the teams write mission/vision/values for a new company.
  6. Write the statements on the board and discuss the implications to the organization and to its customers.

Source: Ted.com

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