by Megann Head, Steelcase, November 2016
After months of working together over conference calls and emails, the members of the Product Social Round Table convened once again at Park Groen Café in Hoofddorp. Round Table members participating in-person included representatives from AkzoNobel, BASF, DSM, Phillips, Steelcase, and Vebego. The Round Table was also pleased to welcome new members Nestle and Solvay, as well as Covestro who was unable to attend.
The day began with an inspiring video of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu discussing that “we are fundamentally good.” Once inspired, we got down to business with a recap of the July in-person meeting (summary here), followed by introductions of two new members. Solvay introduced their business and sustainability strategy, which includes 5 targets to meet by 2025. They joined the Product Social Metrics Round Table to share and gain expertise on social metrics. Nestle also introduced their business and focused on an internal ecodesign tool called EcodEX. Nestlé hopes to work together with other Roundtable members to develop a publicly recognized methodology for smallholder farmers.
In July we formulated the task forces that have been meeting regularly to advance the work of the Round Table. The November in-person meeting was meant to serve as the end of Block I of the latest phase of the Round Table. During this Phase, the group has been focused on Accelerating Acceptance, Methodology Updates, and Data & Case Studies.
The Accelerating Acceptance Task Force has been working on refining the mission of the Round Table, as well as understanding key stakeholders with whom to collaborate. After meeting in-person, we have aligned on a mission statement and have determined which stakeholders to approach first.
The Methodology Task Force has a new project focused on refining the handbook to better reflect social impacts in agricultural supply chain. This project is part of a master thesis, scheduled to begin in February, hosted through Pré. The Data & Case Studies Task Force has been engaging with various data platforms and compiling anticipated case studies from member companies to carry out in the first half of 2017.
Several updates and presentations were given on other initiatives and country level progress. Mark Goedkoop gave an update of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, as he is now a member of the Advisory Group. Mark also updated the group on what is happening in India after a recent visit and conference to the region. The members of the Roundtable were also presented with a research proposal on social impact assessments in China and how social topics are understood and developed in China. The work will be presented at the end of March.
The day was another productive meeting of the Product Social Metrics Roundtable in an invigorating setting. Even though much progress can be made through phone calls and web meetings, the in-person experience really produces much richer engagement and movement of the work of the Roundtable. We are already looking forward to our time together again in March, and to the continuation of the Task Force meetings in the meantime!