Cracker Barrel on Regulating Responsibility

Business and the Environment

Sitting down with JoLeen Ong, Social Accountability International

JoLeen Ong, Communications Officer at Social Accountability International (SAI), sat down with me recently to share her thoughts on the launch of SAI’s first Annual Report and her thoughts on social media.

First we warmed up with some word association.

What comes to your mind when you hear these words?

Sustainability  – Fair Trade

Environment  –  Rainforest Alliance

Social Standards  – SA8000

Regulating Responsibility  –  John Ruggie

Clearly, she’s already got social standards on the brain!

Q: So, JoLeen, tell me.  First annual report, labor of love?

A: Total labor of love. What a great and relevant expression, as we’re all part of this labor movement. But to be serious- it was essential to release an Annual Report to convey the powerful stories of 2009 of the human impact of our work.  My favorite story was of Farm Coquimba’s in Nicaragua, it was really inspiring to learn about Eduardo Ubilla’s [the farm owner] journey to improve relations between farm management, workers, and trade unions.

Q: Social media and SAI, what’s your strategy?

A: We’re getting our feet wet at the moment.  The most important thing for us was to think of a strategy of how we can utilize these tools before diving in. The first set of social media tools we are looking to use will be for the purpose of promoting our e-newsletter- so using informational tools such as Facebook, RSS feeds, blogs, etc. Ultimately, our goal is to raise visibility and increase engagement.

Q: Who reads the newsletters and annual report?

A: From analyzing the newsletter metrics and looking at survey results- businesses and certification bodies are our top readers.

Annual report- we’ll see! It’ll be released tomorrow!  (Make that today.)

Q: Who’s your sustainability idol?  Social media idol?

A: Sustainability idol? What a tough choice, but I’d have to go in-house to answer that. I am continually inspired by our team at SAI, as well as all of the dedicated members on our Advisory Board.

Social media idol- Farra Trumpeter from Big Duck- a Brooklyn-based  communications firm for nonprofits. Aside from having a wealth of resources  on their website (!), I have to credit her expert guidance  in helping to envision a strategy for SAI’s communications, Web 2.0. and all  of its implications.


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