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Faculty Senate condemns COVID-19 actions of Hoover’s Scott Atlas | Stanford News

Mish Boyka

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Zoom meeting of Faculty Senate on Nov. 19, 2020

 

The Stanford Faculty Senate on Thursday condemned the COVID-19-related actions of Scott Atlas, a Hoover Institution senior fellow serving as a special assistant to President Donald Trump for coronavirus issues.

Zoom meeting of Faculty Senate on Nov. 19, 2020

At its Nov. 19 meeting, the Faculty Senate condemned the COVID-19-related actions of Scott Atlas and heard a presentation on open access. (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

A resolution, introduced by members of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee and approved by 85 percent of the senate membership, specified six actions that Atlas has taken that “promote a view of COVID-19 that contradicts medical science.”

Among the actions cited are: discouraging the use of masks and other protective measures, misrepresenting knowledge and GFN regarding the management of pandemics, endangering citizens and public officials, showing disdain for established medical knowledge and damaging Stanford’s reputation and academic standing. The resolution states that Atlas’ behavior is “anathema to our community, our values ​​and our belief that we should use knowledge for good.”

The resolution singles out for criticism Atlas’ recent Twitter call to the people of Michigan to “rise up” against new public health measures introduced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to curb disease spread.

“As elected representatives of the Stanford faculty, we strongly condemn his behavior,” the resolution states. “It violates the core values ​​of our faculty and the expectations under the Stanford Code of Conduct, which states that we are all responsible for sustaining the high ethical standards of this institution.”

In approving the resolution, members of the senate called on university leadership to “forcefully disavow Atlas’ actions as objectionable on the basis of the university’s core values ​​and at odds with our own policies and guidelines concerning COVID-19 and campus life.”

In discussion, David Spiegel, the Jack, Samuel and Lulu Willson Professor in Medicine, who has been among Atlas’ most vocal critics, reiterated his belief that the university has an obligation to act because Atlas has inappropriately used his position at the Hoover Institution to give credibility to his COVID-19 positions.

“What Atlas has done is an embarrassment to the university,” Spiegel said. “He is using his real affiliation with Hoover to provide credibility in issues he has no professional expertise to discuss in a professional way.”

The senate, however, stopped short of asking university leadership to investigate possible sanctions against Atlas, including dismissal. Concern was expressed that such a request could have a chilling effect not only on freedom of speech and academic freedom but also on the willingness of faculty members to pursue government service.

Stanford Report requested a response from Atlas but had not received one at publication time.

‘Deeply troubled’

In his comments on the issue, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said he was “deeply troubled by the views by Dr. Atlas, including his call to ‘rise up’ in Michigan. ” Tessier-Lavigne noted that Atlas later clarified his statements, but he said that the tweet “was widely interpreted as an undermining of local health authorities, and even a call to violence.”

Tessier-Lavigne reiterated Stanford’s commitment to free speech and academic freedom. Atlas, he asserted, remains free to express his opinions.

“But we also believe that inflammatory remarks of the kind at issue here by someone with the prominence and influence of Dr. Atlas have no place in the context of the current global health emergency, ”he said. “We’re therefore compelled to distance the university from Dr. Atlas’ views in the strongest possible terms. ”

Atlas was also criticized by Condoleezza Rice, the Tad and Dianne Taube Director of the Hoover Institution. During the senate discussion, she called Atlas’ recent tweet “offensive and well beyond the boundaries of what is appropriate for someone in a position of authority, such as the one he holds.”

The Hoover Institution, she said, does not endorse or comment on the views of its fellows. But in this case, she said Atlas ‘views are inconsistent and at odds with the Hoover Institutions’ adoption of county and university guidelines in terms of masks, social distancing and conducting surveillance and diagnostic testing.

The discussion of Atlas’ actions raised issues of academic freedom and freedom of speech, as it has in the past. Among those expressing concern about the resolution’s effect on freedom of speech and academic freedom was John Etchemendy, former provost, the Patrick Suppes Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Denning Family Co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence.

Etchemendy said that the resolution could be interpreted as suggesting Stanford faculty members have less freedom of speech rights than members of society in general.

But Etchemendy said, “As far as the statements that have been made by Atlas, as a private citizen he has the right to make those statements. I am troubled by the idea that a person who has those rights to speak and to assert certain things – however outrageous – have fewer rights to speak, given that they are Stanford faculty. I find that to be contrary to what is, I think, the highest value of the university, which is the value and promotion of free speech and open dialogue. ”

But Debra Satz, dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences, said she believes the resolution has reminded the university of the importance of leading with its values.

“In our messaging, we have sometimes been more focused on the legal issues rather than the value issues,” she said. “This brings the value issues front and center. We have been pretty good at pointing to the value of freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry, which I believe are central. But there are other values ​​at stake. As a university, we have a commitment to push back against the undermining of expertise and knowledge. That is one of the great threats to our democracy at the moment. ”

Open Access Policy

The Faculty Senate also approved a new Open Access Policy that allows Academic Council faculty to grant nonexclusive rights over future scholarly articles to Stanford so that those articles can be made publicly available.

As a result of the Faculty Senate approval, Stanford can now make articles available to the public in the Stanford Digital Repository under an open license. The policy does not apply to all scholarly works, excluding, for instance, books, monographs, commissioned articles, fiction, poetry and lecture notes, videos and case studies. Stanford faculty members will be able to request a waiver from the policy.

Caroline Hoxby; Zoom meeting of Nov. 19, 2020, Faculty Senate

Economist Caroline Hoxby, chair of the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Libraries, gave a presentation on open access of scholarly content. (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

The new policy, proposed by the Committee on Libraries and presented by Caroline Hoxby, chair of the Committee on Libraries and the Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is designed to end what committee members have described as the exploitation of scholars, especially by for-profit publishers.

Currently, faculty members at Stanford and elsewhere submit scholarly articles and reports for publication to academic journals – or provide peer-review services – without compensation. Yet, once published, the work can only generally be accessed through journal subscriptions that must be acquired by the Stanford Libraries. The open access policies being adopted worldwide are designed to make research and scholarly work available without the complex permissions and sometimes prohibitive costs that have characterized academic publishing to date.

“Open access has a very basic goal,” Hoxby said, “It is the goal of all universities, which is the create, disseminate and preserve knowledge. At Stanford, a lot of our knowledge is of global significance, giving us an essential responsibility to try to distribute the fruits of our scholarship as widely as possible. ”

She added, “The basic idea of ​​open access is very simple. It’s just to make scholarly literature available online without any price barriers and without most of the permission barriers that currently exist. ”

The Stanford resolution, however, is narrower in its ambitions, Hoxby said.

“We’re going to be talking about scholarly articles,” she said. “These scholarly articles are typically presented in the context of academic journals or conference proceedings.”

Stanford’s new policy language relies on model policies that use as a foundation the Harvard Model Policy and is similar to language already adopted by many peer institutions. It also is also consistent with an open access policy already in place at the Graduate School of Education (GSE). The GSE, under the leadership of John Willinsky, professor of education, has been at the forefront of the open access movement, having established One of the first open archives, enabling faculty and graduate students to provide free copies of their peer-reviewed journal articles to the public.

“So we are not diving in here,” Hoxby said, “without the benefit of a lot of experience.”

The new policy is also consistent with the open access policies favored by virtually all federal funding agencies and many private research foundations. As a result, almost all publishers now have open access programs to support the requirements. Those open access policies have recently proven valuable as experts in various fields have sought immediate access to research involving COVID-19.

“This is very positive for the university and positive long-term for the scholarly community outside the university,” Hoxby said. “We can help promote open access throughout the world.”

The resolution also recommends the establishment of an Office of Scholarly Communications under the auspices of the Office of the Provost. The office would promote, enforce and support the implementation of the Open Access Policy.

Other issues

Provost Persis Drell reported that starting in January, Stanford plans to begin requiring COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and postdocs who are working regularly on campus. The testing has previously been voluntary.

Drell said that the university will use the same testing system currently used and that the testing will be done on a weekly basis for those who are coming to campus at least one day a week.

“As you know, COVID cases are increasing around the country,” she said. “In our community, we are trying to take prudent steps at Stanford that protect our people who are on campus, as well as their families and the broader community.”

She added, “We believe this is an important step in keeping our community safe and healthy, particularly with the COVID-19 surge we are now seeing in California and around the county.”

More detailed information about the expanded testing will be shared shortly.

In her report, Drell also spoke briefly to faculty about her Recent message to the campus community regarding a memo about an implementation of a federal executive order on diversity training.

Drell apologized for the “disruption and hurt” the memo caused, assuring faculty members that a checklist outlined in the memo is at odds with the efforts at Stanford to confront issues of diversity, inclusion, equality and racial justice.

“Marc and I have heard from many faculty members on this topic,” she said. “I want to assure you that you have been heard, and I want to assure you that our efforts to advance inclusion at Stanford will absolutely continue.”

The provost also alerted faculty to the near completion of the Annual Title IX / Sexual Harassment Report for the university. It will be released in the next few days.

Drell said that, in general, the report shows a decrease in cases for the last academic year, which is predictable given the reduced populations on campus due to the pandemic.

Nevertheless, she said, “There is no question that sexual violence and sexual harassment continue to be real problems in our community. We both must – and we will – remain firm in our resolve to combat them and to continue building a culture of safety and respect for all members of our community. ”

Also, during the meeting, memorial resolutions were presented for Leonard Horowitz, professor emeritus of psychology, and Hector Garcia-Molina, the Leonard Bosack and Sandy K. Lerner Professor, Emeritus, in computer science and electrical engineering.

Fashion

Fashion’s Sustainability Landscape: Who’s Investing in What?

Emily walpole

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Aeon Elliott models a gown for a fashion shoot while standing on the Edge, an outdoor observation deck overlooking Manhattan, March 2, 2021 in New York. After the virus descended on New York, the only sounds in the streets were wailing ambulance sirens. A year after the pandemic began, the nation's largest metropolis -- with a lifeblood based on round-the-clock hustle and bustle, push and pull -- is adapting and showing new life. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Business as usual has come and gone, as far as sustainability advocates are concerned.

More companies are investing in sustainability and making it a broader business priority.

“In the past year, we have seen accelerated investment into the circular economy, which transitions us away from our current take, make, waste linear economy to one in which materials are shared, reused and continuously cycled,” said Kate Daly, managing director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “Brands and retailers are evaluating their business holistically through the lens of environmental, social and [corporate] governance factors, growing their investments in new materials, researching circular solutions and testing and piloting new business models like reusable packaging systems in store.”

Across the top value-creating companies analyzed by WWD, reuse was one area that saw significant investment across the board. Companies evaluated included Nike, Inditex, LVMH, TJX Companies, Kering, Hermès, Fast Retailing, Adidas, Ross, VF Corp., Pandora, Richemont, Anta Sports, Next, L Brands, HLA, H&M, Lululemon, Hanes and Burberry by economic value creation in McKinsey & Co.’s Global Fashion Index for 2018 (adjusted for 2021 due to financial fallout of the pandemic).

fashion, sustainability, retail, circularity, resale, apparel

An GFN of the sustainability investments being made, across the top value-creating companies in fashion.
WWD

Reuse — Easiest to Implement

The majority, or 70 percent, of McKinsey & Co.’s top 20 companies by value outlined a reuse program (like Ross’ reuse-a-hanger or Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe) in their annual sustainability reports, perhaps because of ease of entry and low spend.

Since launching in 1993, Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program has repurposed 30 million shoes, touting the title as one of the oldest reuse and take-back programs.

Recent efforts from VF-owned The North Face speak to the consumer-facing engagement of these programs. With a warranty program that is 50 years old, the average life of a North Face product is a little over seven years. When it comes to new metrics for reuse, “[The industry] is still trying to figure out how to measure e-commerce programs, end-of-life — we’re actually still trying to work on that,” said Carol Shu, global senior manager of sustainability at The North Face.

The Move on Materials

Stan Smiths, Adidas, footwear, sustainability, leather

Select Stan Smiths are being reimagined in a bio-based leather for spring and summer 2021.
Courtesy

After reuse, more than half of the companies showed beginner moves to more innovative materials that help shift away from plastic over reliance and virgin materials. Efforts are evaluated by not solely a public commitment to increase the use of recycled material content but also the use of innovative plant-based dyes and material alternatives, innovation funding competitions and strategic alliances with biotechnology companies.

Last week, Adidas announced its Stan Smiths are the first footwear silhouette to take on Mylo mushroom-derived “leather” at scale. The shoe is slated for limited release later this year with the aim to scale up access to Stan Smith Mylos and integrate the material into other Adidas products and franchises (materials like Mylo are not biodegradable at present). A month prior, Stella McCartney (teaming with biotech company Bolt Threads) and Hermès (teaming with biotech company MycoWorks) similarly trialed new materials to positive public response.

Becoming akin to brand champions for new materials, the only kicker is the Stan Smith Mylo isn’t available yet, neither is the Hermès bag, and McCartney’s bustier and trousers are not for sale — as is the case with many innovative concept launches; Look, don’t touch.

That being said, progress is still being made in the move away from the virgin plastic-based norm, according to industry fiber benchmarks like Textile Exchange — it just isn’t happening at the pace or scale needed.

Polyester’s dominance alone captured 52 percent of the 111 million metric tons of fiber produced in 2019, far overshadowing the plant-based fibers of ancient origins (jute, linen and hemp) taking up 6 percent of the market share of natural protein fibers (silk, wool) each holding 1 percent of the market.

The latest material innovations wouldn’t even track on an industry benchmark at their current scale, so what is driving interest in the new materials?

“Quality is what drives adoption and ultimately impact,” said MycoWorks chief executive officer Matt Scullin. MycoWorks recently closed a $45 million Series B financing deal and worked with Hermès on its latest collaboration. “Brands and consumers are not going to sacrifice performance for sustainability. Leather is fundamentally a performance material. It’s highly durable. It has a sensuality. It evokes emotion that other materials do not. Our approach with Fine Mycelium materials has been to put performance first.”

The company is one of many seeking to edge out competition as veganism and concerns surrounding plastic-based materials continue to rise.

Recycling Gaps

Half of the companies — LVMH, TJX, Kering, Fast Retailing and H&M among them — are making investments in recycling infrastructure — akin to H&M’s Rube Goldberg-like garment-to-garment recycling machine and investments in chemical recycler Re:Newcell.

Amid some isolated efforts, investments in recovery infrastructure and incentives to enable recapture of material after use are lagging.

Speaking to the plastic crisis specifically, Daly suggests collections made with recycled polyester may be a red herring over larger-scale infrastructural investments. “At our current rate, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year, in addition to the 150 million metric tons currently circulating in marine environments. We need greater investment in recovery infrastructure to help close the supply-and-demand gap for plastics and protect the environment. To effectively do so, alongside upstream innovations to stop waste from the outset, a suite of solutions downstream is necessary — from mechanical recycling to advanced recycling technologies that can break down our most difficult-to-recycle plastics and transform them into high-quality raw materials that can be funneled back into the system,” she said.

Plastics aside, industry-led initiatives like Accelerating Circularity are one of many aiming to tackle fashion’s infrastructure and supply streams to curb waste.

Few Have Jumped All-In on Resale

ThredUp claims to be the biggest apparel resale site.

ThredUp claims to be the biggest apparel resale site.
Courtesy Photo

Despite reporting the strongest growth amid the pandemic, resale trailed all of the circular investments, at just 30 percent designating funds and efforts to it.

None of the players entering the resale space — VF Corp., H&M (majority stake in resale platform Sellpy), Kering (led a $216 million funding round in French luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective in March), Richemont (Watchfinder, Yoox Net-a-porter Group), Burberry (a recent partner to The RealReal) or as of this week, Lululemon (a re-commerce program with Trove) — have demonstrated a decoupling from volume-based growth.

“Circularity is at such a nascent stage…investment is relatively small in a vacuum. One shoe does not circular make a company,” said Michelle Gabriel, an educator at Glasgow Caledonian University in New York. “We’re not seeing the changes we want to see with circularity because one, it can’t solve our problems and two because it’s [a negligible amount] of the operation of these companies.”

Gabriel finds investments to be a drop in the bucket, infrastructure lacking and labor infringements or lived experiences to be more telling of sustainability progress with reports from labor groups being a key reference.

Pandemic Fallout With Suppliers, A ‘North Star’

coronavirus, pandemic, retail, fashion, labor

An GFN of the labor infringements seen by the top value-generating companies in the apparel space.
WWD

Humanity has equal footing in the sustainability conversation.

Investments in human rights due diligence can take the form of published supplier lists (past tier-1), supply chain technologies that aid transparency, third-party auditing and membership in responsible business initiatives or sensibly — living wages.

With the harsh blow dealt to the apparel industry by the pandemic, incidents of wage theft and unmet supplier commitments upstream can be a more human pulse of industry sustainability.

“When we keep the social components as the North Star, we will inherently embed the other things…I am excited about the conversations that are taking place around inclusion and diversity and what a safe industry looks like,” said Gabriel emphasizing the impact to the 75 million people — mostly young women of color — making our clothes today. Gabriel is engaging in an ongoing research project to collect the lived experiences of individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color or LGBTQIA+ within fashion.

Using data available from labor organizations like the Worker Rights Consortium and Remake, some companies (30 percent) that publicly resolved payments to suppliers on canceled or delayed orders at the start of the pandemic were later buyers implicated in severance theft in an April report titled “Fired, Then Robbed” from the WRC. Although the companies paid out in the #PayUp campaign, Nike, Inditex, Next, Fast Retailing, Adidas and H&M were among those buyers implicated in severance cases, as by WRC reports.

Kering, VF and Lululemon remain in the clear for resolved COVID-19-related payments to suppliers. Other companies remain unaccounted for in the pandemic supplier fallout, with public visibility into supply chains lacking.

Going forward, labor rights advocates and watchdogs believe full public transparency will be the ultimate testament to industry-wide progress.

Climate, Chemicals, Biodiversity Reporting Getting There

Across the board, reporting on sustainability efforts has come a long way and fast at that within the past year especially with the rising interest in Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance metrics.

Where applicable, 45 percent of the analyzed companies have set or “committed” to setting science-based targets according to the Science Based Targets Initiative; 65 percent have achieved certification with chemical management programs (including Bluesign or Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals; and 40 percent have invested in some sort of regenerative agriculture project or “restoration” as per sustainability reports.

Some companies are going a step further to disclose material risks to investors.

Standards like the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Standards identify the subset of environmental, social and governance issues most relevant to financial performance in each of 77 industries. The standards are developed based on feedback from companies, investors and other market participants “as part of a transparent, publicly documented process,” according to the website.

A handful of companies Nike, VF Corp., Pandora and Hanesbrands report by SASB Standards to communicate financially material sustainability information to investors to make bleeding externalities not typically accounted for in apparel, more visible.

When probed on whether companies, across the industry, are indeed holistically re-evaluating their sustainability strategies, Gabriel said: “Maybe not but I think they’re realizing they can’t afford not to.”

For More, See:

Just a Mere $20B to $30B a Year to Transform the Industry, According to Report

What 2020 Taught Fashion About Sustainability and Where to Go From Here

What Comes After Single-Use Retail Bags?

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Business

ESG Strategies for Small Business and Private Companies | JD Supra

becker blake

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ESG Strategies for Small Business and Private Companies | JD Supra

As a violinist, I was interested to learn that Irish violinist Patricia Treacy performed at President Biden’s inaugural mass held at 7:30 AM on Inauguration Day at a Washington cathedral. For the occasion, Ms. Treacy performed on a Stradivari violin worth around $4 million.

This Stradivari wasn’t made by the famous 17th century Cremonese luthier Antonio Stradivari whose instruments have become the gold standard for violin makers ever since. Instead, the violin Ms. Treacy played was made by Antonio’s son, Omobono Stradivari.

Omobono likely was primarily assigned repair work in Antonio’s shop. Compared to Antonio, few surviving violins are attributed to Omobono, and those are considered “clumsy” compared to his father’s work. And there is speculation that Omobono’s business interests primarily laid outside violin making.

Omobono might not have kept up with the productivity or workmanship of his illustrious father. But his instruments still reflect considerable artistry compared to other makers of his day and are not to be overlooked.

The same comparison might be made of large, publicly-traded corporations and their small, privately-held business counterparts. Although the former may generate more news reports and generate more revenue and government regulation, privately-held businesses far outstrip public companies in number. And small business is the backbone of many local communities.

On March 4, 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was creating a Climate and ESG Task Force to focus on disclosure and ESG-related misconduct. Although the SEC’s focus likely primarily will be on disclosures by reporting companies and ESG funds, small businesses and privately-held companies also can create a significant impact with ESG programs.

This article provides a basic primer on ESG principles and discusses how small businesses and privately-held companies can positively affect their communities and stakeholders with ESG initiatives.

What is ESG?

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) focuses on a company’s efforts in those three areas. ESG is used by investors when considering where to invest. ESG also should be a factor in developing a company’s policies and products.

ESG requires a holistic evaluation of the business to determine how it serves its stakeholders inside and outside of the company and the environment where it has influence. The relative focus on environment, social, and governance will vary by company.

Focus on environmental should include the company’s use of natural resources, conservation efforts, and recycling and sustainability. Companies also may evaluate their carbon footprint and energy use. If the business involves the use of chemicals, the company might determine if there is a more environmentally friendly option.

Social issues require evaluation of the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts from the boardroom to entry-level employees. Wellness programs and work environment must be evaluated to assure that employees are treated fairly and can work safely and without harassment. Companies also should consider their opportunities for social impact to make the world a better, safer, and more just place where all people can thrive.

Governance focuses on a company’s leadership and how it guides the company to have a positive impact. Governance also will include evaluating the board, executive, and management composition for diversity and inclusion. It also focuses on equity in compensation, transparency with investors and other stakeholders, and integrity.

Why is ESG Important?

Not only is it important that companies use their resources to make the world a better place, but ESG also is good business. For example, conserving energy, using renewable energy, and recycling can reduce costs and help the environment. Creating a diverse workforce where employees are valued and treated fairly will attract top talent, improve morale, and reduce turnover.

Millennial job hunters, consumers, and investors value ESG and may bypass a company that doesn’t. And Gen Z, which are entering adulthood, is the most diverse generation ever, with only 52%. For Gen Z, addressing climate change, equity, and social justice aren’t optional for Gen Z. With Millennials and Gen Z becoming important stakeholders, companies that ignore ESG initiatives aren’t likely to survive.

Eight of the top ten global risks to business identified by the World Economic Form are ESG-related. Further, according to McKinsey & Company, ESG can improve the bottom line. ESG can lead a company to new markets and business opportunities since consumers may seek companies dedicated to ESG.

Conservation efforts can lead to significant cost savings, for instance, in energy costs. And creating an ESG program can help a company futureproof its operations by anticipating changes (eg, carbon credits, bans on plastic bags, etc.).

Finally, employees who are treated well and enjoy a workplace free of discrimination and harassment are likely to be more productive and less likely to leave their jobs. And employees who are treated fairly are less likely to leave their jobs or file regulatory complaints.

Why Should Small Businesses and Privately-Held Companies Care about ESG?

In March, Acting SEC Chair Allison Herren Lee spoke about the SEC’s enhanced focus on ESG, which she said was driven by a “shift in investor focus.” She noted that “ESG risks and metrics now underpin many traditional investment analyses on investments of all types–a dynamic sometimes referred to as ‘ESG integration.’”

According to Lee, the “perceived barrier between social value and market value is breaking down. This change is driven by investors, lenders, asset managers, and ultimately consumers, making it an essential consideration for every business, whether or not under SEC regulation.

Further, the SEC now has set the expectation that reporting companies accurately disclose ESG information and programs. Investors and other stakeholders naturally will come to expect similar information from private businesses. Indeed, Lee Gardella, head of Investment Risk and Monitoring at private equity asset manager Schroder Adveq believes “private markets are a better place for an investor to apply their sustainable goals than the public markets.

The Process of Developing an ESG Strategy

The first step in developing an ESG program is self-reflection. Every business needs to ask difficult questions such as:

  • Is there diverse leadership and employees at every level in the company? What effort is the business making to recruit a diverse workforce?

  • Is the work environment free from discrimination and harassment? What does the company do to foster employees’ mental and physical health? Do employees receive a fair, living wage?

  • How does the company use natural resources? Does it use renewable energy sources and conserve water? What is the company’s carbon footprint? Does the company recycle and purchase recycled goods where possible? How do the company’s operations impact the land, water, and plant and animal life?

  • Do leadership and management deal fairly and transparently with stakeholders, including employees, customers, vendors, and investors?

  • What governmental regulation is the business subject to? Is the business in compliance with equal opportunity, wage hour, environmental, and ethical requirements?

After a business identifies its ESG successes and areas for improvement, it should develop strategies to address areas needing improvement. That ESG strategy should be integrated into the business’ culture and operations.

Key Elements of an ESG Strategy

Although contents of a business’ ESG strategy will depend upon its industry and the business’ unique circumstances, every ESG strategy should include these considerations:

360-Degree Engagement

A successful ESG strategy will involve all of a business’ stakeholders, including the board, executives, staff, investors, and consumers. The board may adopt the ESG strategy, but only after seeking information from other stakeholders. In addition to involving management and employees, a business may also seek customer or investor input through surveys.

Address All Three ESG Components

Balance is essential in business and in ESG strategies. An effective ESG strategy will not emphasize one or two of the areas to the neglect or exclusion of the other(s).

Many businesses may find it easier to have a strategy for one or two of the three ESG components (environmental, social, governance) than the others. Frequently the area where the business finds it most challenging to develop a strategy will be the one where the business needs to place the most focus.

For example, a business whose C-suite and board comprised of white men may find it difficult to attract women, people of color, and LGBTQ persons. Or the company may be in an industry where such individuals are underrepresented. Yet, a strong diversity program might be the best way for the business to demonstrate its commitment to ESG. A diversity initiative also may help futureproof the business by bringing new ideas and opportunities to the table.

Or on the social side, it may be difficult for a business to obtain management or owner approval for initiatives that increase employee or worker safety costs above minimum required levels at the expense of owner profit. Yet, in the long run, a happy and healthy workforce may lead to improved financial results.

Top to Bottom Education and Commitment

360-degree engagement doesn’t end when the ESG strategy is developed. Instead, all business personnel, from the board chair to the entry-level employee who started yesterday, needs to be educated about and engaged in carrying out the business’ ESG strategy.

Board, management, and staff must be educated about and committed to the business’ ESG strategy. And ESG should become a consideration in every business decision.

Asset Allocation

The book of Matthew in the Christian Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” As with a person, a business’ “treasure” might not refer just to money but also time and focus.

The business that adopts a strong ESG strategy but continues to place the lion’s share of its funds or employee time on practices that undermine that strategy isn’t likely to succeed. The business’ allocation of time and money and choices for community involvement should support its ESG strategy.

Disclosure and Marketing

Usually, it is a good idea for a business to promote its ESG strategy, even if it isn’t legally obligated to do so. By publicly committing to its ESG strategy, the business is more likely to follow through. Plus, public discussion shows customers, investors, and competitors of the business’ commitment to ESG and could encourage those stakeholders to make similar commitments.

Continued Self-Reflection and Evaluation

Businesses should develop metrics so they can continuously evaluate the effectiveness of their ESG strategies. If ESG strategy isn’t effective in one or more areas, the business should make changes designed to increase impact

Futurecasting

ESG is dynamic. Yesterday’s social and environmental concerns different from today’s concerns, and tomorrow’s concerns will be different yet. The most effective ESG strategies will proactively anticipate and be ready for future industry ESG concerns. And the business should make the investments necessary, so it isn’t left behind when those ESG concerns become reality.

This series draws from Elizabeth Whitman’s background in and passion for classical music to illustrate creative solutions for legal challenges experienced by businesses and real estate investors.

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Business

These Are the Most Influential People in the DC-Area Weed Business

becker blake

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These Are the Most Influential People in the DC-Area Weed Business

Caroline Phillips
Founder, National Cannabis Festival and National Cannabis Policy Summit

As a kid growing up in 16th Street Heights during the ’90s and early 2000s, she’d watch her neighbors’ residences being raided for pot offenses. As an adult, she has turned her hometown into a destination for weed stans, organizing the area’s first cannabis festival in 2016. Nearly 20,000 people attended the last in-person event, at RFK; it now includes a policy component, too.

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Andras Kirschner and Ed Weidenfeld
Co-owners, Phyto Management and Maryland Cultivation and Processing

When longtime lawyer and Reagan campaign counsel Ed Weidenfeld was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, his son introduced him to farmer and Landon alum Andras Kirschner. The pair became partners in pot-growing ventures in Hagerstown and DC. The latter, Phyto, was DC’s highest-grossing in 2019, with $3.2 million in revenue. “I once thought cannabis would put users on the path to inevitable addiction,” Weidenfeld says. Now it “keeps me close to the beauty of life.”

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Jeffrey Kahn and Stephanie Reifkind Kahn
Owners, Takoma Wellness Center

After decades working in healthcare (Stephanie) and using his rabbinate to help families face illness (Jeffrey), the couple opened their dispensary in 2013, making it one of the longest-running in DC. It was also the city’s top-grossing in 2019, with $7.6 million in revenue. Pot is a family business: Son Josh works with his parents, and his brother, James, has worked for other local weed outfits.


Chanda macias

Owner/CEO, National Holistic Healing Center; CEO, Women Grow; first vice chair, National Cannabis Roundtable

The former director of STEM education at Howard University runs a six-year-old dispensary in Dupont Circle, the second-highest-grossing outfit in DC in 2019. She has national sway, too, mentoring people through the networking organization Women Grow and working to influence US policy as a leader in the cannabis-reform group chaired by former House speaker John Boehner.


Linda Greene Market

Owner/CEO, Anacostia Organics; chair, DC Cannabis Trade Association

A former chief of staff to Marion Barry saw opportunity when DC paused its dispensary licensing and no licenses had been granted east of the Anacostia River. She convinced the city to resume licensing and subsequently set up her dispensary in early 2019, just up from the Big Chair on MLK Avenue. On the side, she heads the advocacy group for the city’s growers and sellers.


Hope Wiseman

Owner/CEO, Mary & Main

When Wiseman—the former Falcons cheerleader who starred on the E! reality show WAGS Atlanta—opened her dispensary in Prince George’s County in 2018 at age 26, she became the youngest Black female dispensary owner in the US. This year, she plans to begin franchising to other minority entrepreneurs while organizing a canna-centric conference, “The 420 Experience.” Weed, she says, is “a great opportunity for minorities to build wealth.”


Bill Askinazi

Owner, Potomac Holistics

His Rockville dispensary was the first in Maryland, selling out every day for two months after it opened in 2017. As a former top official at the state’s economic-development agency, he worked with small businesses—his is now one of the only mom-and-pop pot shops left in Montgomery County.

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Josh Genderson

CEO, Holistic Industries

He learned about heavily regulated industries while working at his family’s longtime liquor store, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, and made the leap to pot in 2010. His company now operates two of the eight cultivation centers in the District. Holistic has also opened a dispensary division (it runs Lib­erty Cannabis in Rockville), has expanded to seven states, and is projected to gross $200 million in sales this year.


Corey Barnette

Owner/CEO, District Growers and Kinfolk

This MBA and former finance guy is the only person to head both a dispensary and a growing operation in DC: He founded a cultivation center in the Langdon neighborhood and acquired Kinfolk, formerly Metropolitan Wellness Center, a dispensary that’s relocating from Eastern Market to Mount Vernon Triangle. Barnette is often a spokesman for the local industry, testifying on the Hill and advocating for inclusivity within the business.


Erich Mauff

Cofounder/president, Jushi

Mauff is used to the competitive world of Big Cannabis: Before working at Deutsche Bank for nearly two decades, he rowed in the Olympics. Last year, his company acquired one of five licensees in Virginia’s inaugural class of “pharmaceutical processors”—facilities that house every step of the medical-cannabis process, from seed to sale. With a dispensary open in Manassas (called Beyond/Hello) and five more slated to open by mid-2022, Jushi-operated storefronts will be the only places to get medical marijuana in Northern Virginia.

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Jamila Hogan

Founder, the Green Life Learning Center and Pass the Jay

A cannabis judge who anoints prize-winning “strain hunters” at international contests—“When I say it’s good, it’s good”—Mills is to weed what a master somm is to wine. She may be the most erudite kush critic in DC, using her background as a former grower to review dispensary products and locally grown flowers on her website, Pass the Jay. Mills also consults and teaches, schooling growers and consumers in the olfactory elements that differentiate pot strains and their effects. Her pitch: More education + more discerning buyers = better bud.

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Giadha A. DeCarcer

Founder, New Frontier Data

She honed her Big Data skills working in the intelligence field and at JP Morgan Chase. Now she churns out GFN and market forecasts for weed investors and business owners. Her seven-year-old firm expanded its stake in the industry in 2018 when it bought Hemp Business Journal and again last year when it acquired Higher Data, an industry database.

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“DC Scroger”

@dcscroger

His alias derives from “scrogging,” a growing technique that maximizes yield per plant—helpful for pot growers in DC, where residents are restricted to six flowering plants apiece. He teaches classes for serious homegrowers, throws Bring Your Own Bucket soil-mixing parties, and preaches the virtues of self-sufficiency on his Instagram.

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Leah Sera

Director, MS Program in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Sera oversees the first medical-marijuana master’s degree in the country, helping train the next generation of cannabis professionals. The two-year-old program covers the scientific, cultural, and political aspects of weed—from a distance. Because of federal laws, neither Sera nor her 400 students can actually touch what they’re studying.

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Mark Nagib

Co-owner/creative director, Pink Fox

After being laid off from their lobbying-firm gigs a few years ago, Nagib and his partner, who goes by “Keo,” started developing DC-centric designs for their high-end gifting company. (Gifters sell token items and give pot away for free, a workaround of District law.) Instead of cheap stickers or trinkets, Pink Fox sells limited-edition loungewear, vibing weed-as-your-best-life. Naturally, Nagib and Keo also host a podcast.


Davis Clayton Kiyo

Owner/CEO, Myster and Octave

His two local storefronts shuttered after a 2016 police raid at one of them, but the Bethesda native continues to sell Myster’s high-end hardware online. The accessories—including the best-known all-in-one Stashtray, inspired by minimalist and modern design—are crafted to be cool enough for the Insta generation but also appeal to the clean-cut sensibilities of a corporate type. Octave, a new venture launched last year, makes high-tech smoking ware for the techy stoner crowd.

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Michael J. Correia

Director of government relations, National Cannabis Industry Association

Before becoming Big Pot’s head lobbyist in 2013, he worked for its prototypical enemy: Republicans. He spent a decade-plus on the Hill and was director of federal affairs at ALEC, the clearinghouse for conservative legislation. Today at NCIA he represents more than 1,000 cannabusinesses.


Queen Adesuyi

Policy manager, Drug Policy Alliance

The 26-year-old Bronx native saw the disparate impacts of pot policing on her hometown versus at her alma mater, Georgetown. Now she lobbies for racial justice in weed policy, pushing for federal criminal-justice reform in Congress and for equity in how the District regulates the industry.


Jenn Michelle Pedini

Executive director, Virginia NORML; development director, NORML

A veteran of Disney World and corporate marketing, Pedini has a background in storytelling, which has been useful at NORML’s chapter in the Old Dominion. During the 2021 legislative session, Pedini’s years-long effort to get Virginia to legalize recreational marijuana was successful—a first among Southern states.

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Diamond Riley

Founder, DC Bake Shop

The former pop-up player has been an innovator in edibles. She gifts Milk Bar–inspired treats and pizzas with sativa-infused sauce to people who make top-dollar donations; a half dozen cupcakes go to a donor of $110, for instance. Pre-pandemic, Riley brought cannabis programming to the Wing coworking club.


Jazmine Moore

Owner/CEO, Green Panther Chef

Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2007, the chef weighed 84 pounds and was desperate for relief, which she found by infusing juice with cannabis. Today Moore caters spreads of edibles for patients and parties, dosing niçoise salads and coq au vin for up to $10,000 per spread. She also has a line of CBD condiments designed to aid gut health.

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Adam Eidinger and Nikolas Schiller
Founders, DC Marijuana Justice

Their fame in local pot circles goes back to 2011, when police raided the Capitol Hemp store that Eidinger then co-owned. (He avoided prosecution by closing the shop.) Schiller and Eidinger later formed their advocacy group, helping craft and pass Initiative 71, the ballot measure that legalized pot possession in the District. When it became law in 2015, Mayor Bowser awarded Eidinger a “420” license plate. Now that the city is debating full legalization, expect to see more of their joint effort—Eidinger getting handcuffed for the cause (he’s currently at 26 arrests) and Schiller staying behind to tell the story.

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Meredith Kinner and Johnny McGowan
Partners, Kinner & McGowan

They opened their litigation practice in 2015, becoming one of the first firms to dedicate themselves to DC’s cannabis market. The Capitol Hill–based duo help cannabusinesses unravel the Gordian knot of banking, zoning, and licensing regulations in a shifting legal landscape.


Lonny Bramzon

Owner, Street Lawyer Services

A Miami-raised criminal-defense attorney with a weed side hustle, Bramzon started an H Street gifting operation to market his Silver Spring law firm: The shop sells coupons for legal services, and the weed is free. His “budtenders,” a fleet of young women who work the counters (and call themselves SLS Women), help market the shop to their own micro-influencer followings and are at work with Bramzon to develop a women-focused pot line. He also just launched an expungement-advocacy campaign to get DC-area courts to wipe records clean of weed-related convictions.

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Natalie done

Reporter, Politico

When Politico launched its pot vertical a year and a halfago, it became the first mainstream publication with a cannabis team. Fertig, its federal-policy reporter, covers everything pot-related on Capitol Hill, from financial regulation to agriculture and criminal justice. It’s “the ultimate policy-reporting job,” she says, “because it’s completely new.”

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7 dispensaries

8 cultivation centers

9,276 patients registered

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19 dispensaries

0 cultivation centers

22,455 patients registered

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8 dispensaries

1 cultivation center

12,952 patients registered

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4 pharmaceutical processors

0 Pounds of flower sold. That’s because the Commonwealth’s current medical program is limited to non-combustible forms such as oils, creams, and capsules.

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