This year marks the 20th anniversary of the annual SRI in the Rockies conference – the leading annual gathering of socially responsible investors and research firms. The conference itself was born in the Rockies with a small group of SRI groups, but has since grown to +500 participants and now has expanded to lower altitude locations. The conference kicked off Sunday in Tucson, AZ.It’s actually my seventh time at this conference – and this year is a little bittersweet for me (and I’m sure for many of the other long-time participants). The last time they held the conference in Tucson was September 11th, 2001. I lived in Washington, DC at the time, and ended up on a 54-hour bus ride back with about 30 other east-coast participants. Living less than a mile from the Pentagon at the time and with many family and friends in NY, being stranded so far away only added to the anxiety and sadness – and let’s just say I felt at the time that if I never set foot in Arizona again, well – that would be just fine. Well, fast forwarding eight years, I keep finding myself thinking about how much has changed – in my own life (I now call Arizona home), in the world, and in the fields of socially responsible investing and corporate responsibility. On this last point, we have more companies than ever publicly reporting on the environmental, social and governance data, more companies are discussing climate change risk in their 10-K filings, and we’re even talking about how to use social media in CSR communications and stakeholder engagement. In 2001, social media wasn’t even a term. But this return of SRIITR to Tucson, also serves as a reminder of how much still hasn’t changed. On the “hasn’t” front, I’m generally an optimistic, glass half full kind of person. But we still have significant challenges in more deeply integrating CSR into corporate strategy and culture, into financial evaluations of companies, and more effectively building public-private partnerships to address societal challenges. Intel’s come a long way since 2001 – but we continue to look for areas where we can improve and for opportunities to engage to address key issues – from climate change – to water conservation – to bridging the digital divide. So, for the next two days, I’ll be meeting with some of the best thinkers in this space about how to continue to gather their input and feedback and what innovative things they’d like to see Intel do in the coming year. You can also help provide input to our CSR strategy and next year’s CSR report – check out our new contest module on Justmeans.com – submit your recommendation and as thanks for your time and input, we’ll enter you for a chance to win a Flip Mino HD camera.
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