Toyota’s Double-Sided Mistake

Question: Which companies need to focus more on corporate \r\nresponsibility?
\r\nJeffrey Hollender: There are, of course, the examples that you \r\nopen up and see in the newspaper every day, like British Petroleum, and \r\nGoldman Sachs, and Toyota.  Those companies are a warning flag to every \r\nother business that’s not doing the right thing.  You now, those \r\nbusinesses happen to have gotten caught in the mess that they’ve \r\ncreated.  They are not alone in doing some terrible things.  But they’re\r\n unique in that they’ve gotten caught. 
\r\nIf you go back in time and you think about a company like Toyota, \r\nseveral years ago, while they were running all these ads about the \r\nPrius, and how sustainable the Prius is and how much the cared about the\r\n planet and the environment—at the same time, secretly they were \r\nlobbying in the California against increased gas mileage standards.  So,\r\n you know, on the one hand they wanted to appear as this sustainable \r\ncompany while, you know, with the other hand, they’re actually fighting \r\nthe changes that are required to make the world more sustainable for \r\neveryone else.   That is the kind of duality that I see at too many \r\ncompanies.  Too many companies who want to talk about... I mean, I \r\nremember four years ago, General Motors put up billboards all around New\r\n York and the country advertising the Volt car.  Now, the Volt car was \r\nnot being made.  They had no idea if it was going to be made, they had \r\nno idea when it was going to be made, but that didn't stop them from \r\nadvertising a car that didn't exist as a way to bolster their image as a\r\n responsible business. 
\r\nThings like that are destructive to your reputation.  And many companies\r\n don’t understand that this new world that we live in, the transparency \r\nthat is created by the Internet raises the stakes for companies getting \r\naway with stuff that they used to be able to get away with.  \r\nTransparency will be forced upon you if you choose not to be transparent\r\n yourself, and you will get caught doing the wrong thing—whether you get\r\n caught by your own employees, whether you get caught by a blogger, \r\nwhether you get caught by an NGO, or the government—you’ll get caught. \r\nAnd businesses need to be proactive in, a) disclosing the problems that \r\nthey have, which they’re scared to do, and committing to the path that \r\nthey’re going to take to make change.

Recorded on June 11, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

The car company was running ads about the Prius and their commitment to the environment while secretly lobbying in California against increased gas mileage standards.

An ancient structure visible from space isn’t man-made

Long hidden under trees, it's utterly massive

(Roy Funch)
Surprising Science
  • This 4,000-year-old structure can be seen from space and wasn't built by humans
  • It's made up of 200 million mounds of earth
  • It's still under construction today
Keep reading Show less

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to good health and well-being

Antimicrobial resistance is growing worldwide, rendering many "work horse" medicines ineffective. Without intervention, drug-resistant pathogens could lead to millions of deaths by 2050. Thankfully, companies like Pfizer are taking action.

Image courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are one of the largest threats to global health today.
  • As we get older, our immune systems age, increasing our risk of life threatening infections. Without reliable antibiotics, life expectancy could decline for the first time in modern history.
  • If antibiotics become ineffective, common infections could result in hospitalization or even death. Life-saving interventions like cancer treatments and organ transplantation would become more difficult, more often resulting in death. Routine procedures would become hard to perform.
  • Without intervention, resistant pathogens could result in 10 million annual deaths by 2050.
  • By taking a multi-faceted approach—inclusive of adherence to good stewardship, surveillance and responsible manufacturing practices, as well as an emphasis on prevention and treatment—companies like Pfizer are fighting to help curb the spread.
Keep reading Show less

How Christians co-opted the winter solstice

Christmas has many pagan and secular traditions that early Christians incorporated into this new holiday.

Saturnalia by Antoine Callet
Culture & Religion
  • Christmas was heavily influenced by the Roman festival of Saturnalia.
  • The historical Jesus was not born on December 25th as many contemporary Christians believe.
  • Many staple Christmas traditions predated the festival and were tied into ancient pagan worship of the sun and related directly to the winter solstice.
Keep reading Show less