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Black History Month Means Business—and Democracy for All  

MaryAnne Howland, ASBC board member, chair of its Race & Equity Working Group, and founder/CEO of Ibis Communications, considers the work in progress that is black history in American society and the business world. 

Says Howland, “In a speech he gave in 1967, referring to the end of segregation in public schools and the voting rights act of 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. observed that the struggle now is not for mere decency, but for genuine equality. Forty years later, progress finally allowed the democratic election of Barack Obama, but 14 years after that, we have an insurrection against democracy itself. In 2021, decency itself is in short supply, never mind genuine equality. What we need is clearly not ‘progress’ that ebbs and flows, but profound, transformational change.  

At ASBC, we’re working for change big enough to deliver a capitalist economy that works for all. There are lots of moving parts to build and connect. We need to change how we do business and whom we do it with. We need to hold companies accountable for diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in their hiring, promoting, and practices that affect communities and their environments. But we need to go beyond that. We need to get serious about closing the severe, generations-long wealth gap, because the magic of compounding works in a negative way as well as a positive way. Lack of justice and opportunity compounds its impact through the generations, widening the gap more and more. One of the ways we need to reverse that momentum is by actively supporting black ownership. Ownership — of property and of business — is the gateway to building real assets, family wealth and a stable, prosperous community.  

“Black history in the U.S. holds some dramatic, against-all-odds stories of affluent black business communities, but more than once, they were destroyed by deliberate, racist assaults on property and people. We need to work even more deliberately to build an economy that works for all. Black history is American history, and everything from basic decency to resilient democracy depends on us acting on that knowledge.” 

Speaking of democracy, ASBC joined leaders from the RFK Human Rights Foundation and HeadCount February 12 for “Two Americas - Building a More Democratic Future.” Moderated by Jochebed Bogunjoko and Melynnie Rizvi, founding members of the Net Impact Black Professional Chapter, this virtual Town Hall on Facebook Live focused on how to build a more just democracy for all.  Use this Dropbox link to download the recording of the Net Impact Democracy Town Hall. (Allow time for this large file to download or instead, re-upload to your own Dropbox or Google drive to save space on your computer.) Watch the Net Impact Democracy Town Hall


What's New

Clean Power Plan Wins in Court 

Last month, ASBC, our powerhouse affiliate South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) and other responsible business organizations celebrated our long-awaited victory in court of the 2015 Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP). Offering a business defense of the CPP, our amicus brief was officially filed March 2016 with our oral arguments filed that April by Steve Harvey of Steve Harvey Law in Philadelphia. Our business defense of the CPP and the legal challenge was stayed later in 2016 and eventually, in 2019, the Trump Administration’s EPA replaced the CPP with the ACE rule. 

The ACE rule was presented as regulating emissions from coal-fired plants. But the Trump Administration estimated that its ACE rule would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 11 million tons by 2030 when compared to taking no action. In dramatic contrast, the Obama administration had estimated that its CPP would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 415 million tons by 2030 when compared to taking no action. Environmental groups challenged the ACE rule and the federal appeals court in DC has now agreed with them. 

Frank Knapp, founder, president & CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and a vital ASBC board member, explains, “Now the Biden Administration will be able to promulgate a new regulatory rule on coal plant emissions that will better protect our environment and speed up the transition to renewable energy. 

“I am confident that had we and others not stood up to defend the CPP when we did, the court might have ruled for the plaintiffs [Trump’s EPA],” Knapp concludes. “Thanks to Steve for all the good work he and his staff provided on our effort.  

“Today, blue skies are ahead, figuratively and literally!” 


Demand Full Restoration of EPA’s Safer Choice Program   

For years, ASBC has actively supported the EPA’s Safer Choice Program. It’s a crucial tool to help consumers make informed buying decisions about cleaning products and help responsible businesses attain safety recognition they have rigorously earned. This common-sense, voluntary federal program is in high demand, but over the past four years, substantial cuts have seriously weakened it. In 2020, an internal reorganization cut full-time staff at Safer Choice from 13 full-time staff down to only four. This short-sighted decision makes it harder for consumers to evaluate their product options. It also hampers companies’ ability to highlighting their distinctive safety qualities in the most credible way: by earning EPA recognition.   

To earn and carry the Safer Choice logo, products must be entirely made of ingredients that meet the EPA’s Safer Choice Standard. (Participating companies’ confidential business information is protected.) The logo lets every business in the supply chain show consumers that their products are safer for human and environmental health. 

ECOS, Naturpedic, and Sustainable Furnishings Council are major sponsors of the Restore Safer Choice campaign, and ASBC encourages all our members to take their lead: Tell the EPA to fully restore funding for the Safer Choice Program. We all have a stake in this campaign.  

Companies that make and sell safer cleaning products operate in a marketplace dominated by less responsible sellers of products with ingredients that are of concern or are known to be unsafe. EPA must restore the full operating capabilities of the Safer Choice program to meet the needs of America’s consumers, ensure state and local governments can fulfill their responsibility to the public, and defend our nation’s responsible, innovative manufacturers, wholesalers/distributors, retailers and investors in today’s marketplace.   

Please help restore the Safer Choice program: Sign this letter to join our growing group of businesses and investors in demanding the EPA restore the necessary capacity for the Safer Choice Program to meet today’s responsible business needs.


Pesticide Control Webinar

In recognition of National Cancer Prevention Month, ASBC and the Childhood Cancer Prevention Initiative cohosted a webinar on February 24, Pesticide, Cancer Prevention and Business Solutions. We discussed legislative strategies to prevent vulnerable communities from exposure to toxic pesticides, and how moving from hazardous substances in agriculture can lead to creating new, well-paying jobs. 

Experts providing input in this webinar on pesticide control included U.S. Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado; Adam Zipkin, Counsel for Senator Cory Booker; Kristin Schafer, Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network; Kari Block, Founder and CEO of Earthkind; and Jeannie Economos, Farmworkers Association of Florida. Colton Fagundes, ASBC Policy Manager and regenerative agriculture expert, moderated. 

Read the Childhood Cancer Prevention Initiative’s Newsletter for February.

Working Group Updates

ASBC’s Infrastructure Working Group will hold its first meeting on March 1. Led by ASBC Policy Associate Christian Sanchez, the new group reflects one of our highest priorities: to develop a solid policy agenda for infrastructure projects at all levels, from local to federal.  

Says Sanchez, “Nationwide, infrastructure has needed major work for a long time, but now, the combination of dangerous infrastructure failure and high unemployment is having an especially harmful effect on vulnerable communities. We’ll be advancing policies that redress infrastructure deterioration with more sustainable solutions, and in the process, create the new, well-paying jobs our society has also been lacking.”  

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs-Building Retrofits & Transportation will be held March 1 at 4 p.m. ET at Nexus. A special guest speaker, former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist Alphecca Muttardy, will explain ways to update our infrastructure while creating new, well-paying jobs. 

ASBC’s Climate & Energy Working Group met at the end of January to determine policy areas to prioritize in its anticipated work with the Biden-Harris Administration.  Recommendations from ASBC to the Administration’s Agency Review Teams have been well received to date, and we want to maximize the effectiveness of our input over the next few years. Given the paramount impact of climate and energy on virtually all of the nation’s other concerns, and the regressive policies of the prior four years, we have to restore and catch up as well as make progress. The ASBC Climate & Energy working group will embark on our priority-setting work by first developing a set of principles to guide activity moving forward. Thoughts, suggestions and new members are welcome. 

ASBC’s Regenerative Agriculture and Justice Working Group met in February to continue developing shared priorities and recommendations for the package of climate-related legislation the 118th Congress is planning for later this year. Emerging top priorities include increased funding for key USDA conservation, outreach, and local market development programs; and reforms to crop insurance. The group also voted to finalize its shared principles and will publish them shortly.  

ASBC’s Circular Economy Working Group successfully transitioned its name from the Sustainable Packaging Working Group; a change that reflects the group’s introduction of new principles with a wider, more ambitious scope. During the first call under the new focus, special guest presenter Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director at Clean and Healthy New York, and Bob Rossi from the New York Sustainable Business Council, explained the relevance and implications to our mission of two bills, S. 1185A  Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging and S. 543 Banning hotel mini-bottles of shampoo.

The group also heard a presentation by Celeste Meiffren-Swango from Environment Oregon on two state-level, circular economy bills, Oregon HB 2065 Modernizing Oregon's Recycling System and Oregon HB 2592 Extended Producer Responsibility

ASBC’s Race & Equity Working Group met in mid-February to discuss developments in the Biden-Harris administration’s initiatives as they relate to our group’s objectives. Among topics discussed was the high incidence of recent voting rights violations, whom they target  and how the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, is relevant to confronting this problem. We also discussed the need for financial transparency in political campaigns, especially in light of the January 6 insurrection, and how new policies such as For the People Act of 2021 and those that might require reintroduction such as Disclose Act of 2019 can help. As well, the group discussed our recent work with Senator Booker’s office on the issue of  regenerative agriculture and its role in stopping environmental dangers that disproportionately affect minority communities. We also discussed ASBC’s recent involvement in an advocacy campaign for the implementation of the Community Reinvestment Act; our efforts to support confirmation of Deb Haaland as the first Native American Secretary of the Interior, and much more.

Look for the latest information from ASBC Working Groups on our website and in upcoming issues of Policy Update

Always Open: Problem-Solving Resources  

You can count on ASBC sending you timely action tips on legislative issues affecting your business, but we also offer busy leaders a wealth of in-depth guidance you can access any time on our website. Want the details on how famous companies of all sizes provide a high-road workplace – and how it boosts their business? Need to make a big media impression (or lots of them) with your firm’s sustainability news? Want to persuade your market why safer, greener products matter? Need to make your responsible business case for better laws to your elected officials at local, state and national levels? ASBC’s online library of resources can help with these and more. Check out the Research & Data and Policy & Action sections on the ASBC website and contact us with your questions or suggestions.  


Conversations & Connections

  • ASBC Webinar with Gina McCarthy 

    The Washington Examiner took note when ASBC hosted our January 28 webinar featuring former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, appointed by President Biden as the first White House National Climate Advisor. McCarthy, the first-ever head of the new Domestic Climate Policy Office, provided a comprehensive overview of how the Biden administration plans to tackle the imminent threat of global warming, including what we can expect on sustainability and climate policies in Biden’s first 100 days.  

    McCarthy was joined in the discussion by some of ASBC’s prominent business-leading members. Panelists included ASBI Board Chair MaryAnne Howland, Founder & President, Ibis Communications Inc.; Hans Cole, Vice President of Activism, Patagonia; Mari McClure, President & CEO, Green Mountain Power; Wendy Neu, Chairman & CEO, Hugo Neu; and Joey Bergstein, CEO, Seventh Generation. They shared ideas on the roles and responsibilities of businesses in combating climate change, including possible public-private partnerships, 

    Underscoring the ASBC business community’s commitment to real climate solutions, this webinar attracted more than 1,100 registrants. Watch the recorded webinar

    Coverage of the ASBC webinar in The Washington Examiner, “BIDEN’S CLIMATE ORDER WON OVER THE INTENDED AUDIENCE,” noted McCarthy’s statement that “We did nothing to interject or interrupt people’s ability to keep their jobs today, but we did recognize that jobs have been shifting to clean energy,” she told a virtual event hosted by the American Sustainable Business Council. “That’s not a bad thing, but what will be bad is if we don’t support that transition, if we don’t invest in infrastructure that will put people to work.” Read more

  • ASBC’s Hollender Keynotes on Social Enterprise at Columbia 

    Jeffrey Hollender, Co-founder, board chair and CEO of American Sustainable Business Council; and Vikas Raj, managing director of Accion Venture Lab; headlined as keynote speakers at the Social Enterprise Conference: Scaling Social Ventures virtual assembly on February 8. Hosted by Columbia University, this was the 19th conference addressing social enterprise issues. Hollender and Raj discussed some of the numerous problems startups are juggling these days, their issues with balancing priorities and resources, and the extra challenges social ventures face, including the stigma related to profitability and the pressures of controlling mission drift. Along with these challenges, Hollender and Raj discussed possible solutions to bring social ventures to scale. Watch the webinar  

  • ASBC and SEE Share Podcast Spotlight 

    In a special one-hour video of the “Social Economy Talks” podcast, ASBC leaders David Levine, MaryAnne Howland and Jeffrey Hollender shared a panel discussion with members of Social Economy Europe (SEE), an organization ASBC formally allied with in December 2020 to further our objectives on the necessary global basis.  

    The podcast explored shared challenges and opportunities to build back better and fairer in the US and EU. Topics included the importance of inclusion, racial equality and “the rights of those typically far from the labor market” in creating a sustainable future; and what is being done in the U.S. and the European Union to prioritize these values in policy. Other topics explored the pivotal role of the next generation, and alternative business models (Social Economy, One Worker/One Vote) for a more just and sustainable future. Of particular interest to Americans, they also looked at how healthcare systems and Mutual healthcare organizations can ensure equality and help people cope, especially during a pandemic. As well, the group “opined on the COVID recovery strategies in our two territories, what it means and what we should do next.” 

    This podcast was hosted by Nicholas Clark of Social Economy Talks and included Social Economy Europe member-panelists Sibylle Reichert of AIM Healthcare Mutuals, SEE Vice President Patrizia Bussi of ENSIE Network and Victor Meseguer, Director of SEE.  Listen to/watch the podcast

  • Seattle Mayoral Candidate Lorena González Details Plan to Help Restaurants and Their Workers - An article in Eater Seattle about Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez, a former child migrant worker, and her mayoral candidacy plans, says that, “González wants to incentivize restaurants who are so-called ‘high road employers.’ As detailed by the American Sustainable Business Council, that is a term referring to employers who, among other qualities, pay a livable and fair wage, provide family-friendly benefits, prioritize health and safety, and invest in employee growth and development.”  

    ASBC is proud to be working with leaders like Seattle City Council President Gonzales on policy solutions incentivizing High Road workplaces. Click here to learn more about how you can sign your business or organization onto our High Road Principles. 

  • Conservative media dismiss benefits of raising minimum wage and fearmonger about potential job loss: An article in Media Matters for America cites an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report on the predominantly positive effects of raising the minimum wage and its support by U.S. companies. The article says that, “According to the EPI, organizations representing ‘thousands’ of small businesses, including Business for a Fair Minimum Wage and the American Sustainable Business Council, have endorsed a $15 an hour minimum wage.” 

  • Following the January 20 Inauguration, ASBC released a statement on the Biden-Harris review of the National Monuments that lauds the new administration’s “swift decision” to assess the Trump Administration’s revised boundaries of the Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Northeast Canyon and Seamounts Marine National Monuments. At issue are the concerns of the native population and environmental standards.

  • ASBC also released a statement praising President Biden’s Day One revocation of the permit to continue Keystone XL Pipeline construction. ASBC praised this bold, decisive measure that will protect the environment, safeguard vulnerable communities, and encourage good new jobs created by cleaner energy projects. 

Welcome New Members

Please note: For details about membership levels, benefits and more, visit https://www.asbcouncil.org/membership

Affinity Capital Group (Business Community Member) 

The slogan of Affinity, “Accessing Capital and Strengthening Communities,” encompasses their successful work. The firm has established relationships and strategic alliances with private investors, hedge funds, and institutions, which enables Affinity to provide capital to revitalize and strengthen communities and ignite job growth. 

Autocase (Business Community Member)

The mission of Autocase is to empower clients to create a more sustainable, resilient and cost-effective built environment, by unleashing the power of economic insights at scale.  

McMac Cx (Business Community Member)

McMac Cx is a community-facing Social Enterprise that creates just and prosperous futures via better-built communities, achieved with transparent and accountable pathways. For community creators, McMac Cx ensures that projects maximize the health, safety, efficiency, and prosperity of the places people live, learn, work, and play.  For community Influencers, McMac Cx provides substantiation needed to enforce adopted minimum codes and advocacy justification for better Standards of Care. Inhabitants rely on McMac Cx to ensure the places they occupy envelop them in an environment that maximizes their business and personal potentials.  

Perfect Supplements (Business Community Member)

Perfect Supplements is led and operated by perfectly passionate nutrition geeks, searching the planet for all-natural, nutrient-dense, ethically sourced superfood ingredients to feed their families and customers’ families, too.  

East Bay Community Foundation (Association) 

East Bay Community Foundation partners with donors, social movements, and the community to eliminate structural barriers, advance racial equity, and transform political, social, and economic outcomes for all who call the East Bay home. 

Member & Staff News

  • Patagonia

Patagonia, longtime leader in corporate activism, has announced that Eric Hollister Williams will take a newly created role to lead the apparel company’s communications and outreach related to advancing justice, equity, inclusion and supply chain transparency. Previously, Williams was a managing principal at Precision Strategies; before Precision, he was a Fenton VP and special projects director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Patagonia Taps Eric Hollister Williams To Lead Brand, Equity & Justice Comms.

  • PharmacyChecker  

    America’s small businesses, like voters across the political spectrum, want serious legislative and regulatory reforms to address the crisis of high prescription drug prices. One policy supported by almost 80% of small businesses is importation of safe, lower-cost prescription drugs. The pharmaceutical industry disagrees, as brand-name drug prices are on average 3.5 times higher in the U.S. than in other affluent countries and importation would cut into their profits.

    ASBC member PharmacyChecker.com is on the front lines of helping Americans afford prescription drugs and advocating on this issue. The company verifies and monitors international online pharmacies for safety and compares their drug prices. In response, Big Pharma has funded efforts that are alleged to censor PharmacyChecker’s online pharmacy safety and savings information, to the detriment of consumers struggling to afford prescription drugs. ASBC has taken a stand on this issue.  

    Last summer, ASBC signed on to a petition to the CEO of Microsoft, demanding removal of a pop-up warning placed on Bing search results for PharmacyChecker.com. The pop-up warning exists because a program launched with funding by drug companies has placed PharmacyChecker on a “not recommended list.” The petition’s cover letter explains that, “PharmacyChecker.com fills a critical need for a growing number of Americans turning to the Internet to find affordable prescription medications, including from pharmacies outside the U.S...” and states that, “There is nothing dangerous about information from PharmacyChecker – unless one is a drug company wishing to maintain the status quo of Americans paying the highest drug prices in the world." 

    PharmacyChecker has a pending antitrust lawsuit against various companies and organizations allied with and funded by big drug companies. Americans and businesses need relief from the yoke of skyrocketing drug prices not a Big Pharma-Big Tech alliance to maintain those high prices.  Email gabriel.levitt@pharmacychecker.com for more information. 

  • CapstoneCare 

    While businesses and families across the U.S. continue to await an equitable national healthcare system, ASBC has teamed with CapstoneCare Enhanced Telemedicine to offer the affordable, stop-gap "Healthcare Safety Net;” an interim solution to the high out-of-pocket healthcare costs and hassles faced by both insured and non-insured individuals and families. The Healthcare Safety Net program delivers immediate access to unlimited consultations with MDs and Mental Health Counselors, 24 hours a day.  One all-inclusive, monthly fee of $17.95 for a family, including all dependent children to age 26, covers unlimited treatment for 80% of routine medical and mental health conditions. A “Message an MD” service and prescription drug discounts are other benefits. No copays, deductibles or additional per-session fees are required, so out-of-pocket costs are eliminated. Businesses and individuals can learn more at www.capcaretelehealth.com/asbc. Other organizations interested in bringing this interim low-cost safety net to diverse communities may learn more at www.capcaretelehealth.com/safety-net or by contacting Paul Tarnoff at paul@capcaretelehealth.com or (641) 472-0900.  

  • National Stewardship Action Council    

    California’s Statewide Commission on Recycling Markets and Curbside Recycling released their first report and 19 policy proposals, which include recommendations to “first, stop the fires” in the waste stream caused by batteries and 1-lb. propane gas cylinders, keep the stream clean from contaminants, drive markets by government purchasing, ensure truth in labeling, design for recyclability, and more. The 17-member Commission, chaired by National stewardship Action Council Executive Director Heidi Sanborn, came to full consensus on the proposals and the state’s lawmakers have already begun introducing legislation based on their findings. The Council states that “NSAC is happy to help businesses and other local and state governments implement these necessary policies as they apply nationally.” 

  • ASBC Welcomes Nicholas Suter

    Nicholas Suter has joined the ASBC team as an intern starting this month.  He has previous experience consulting for social impact startups in the New York City area in fields including regenerative agriculture, therapy accessibility, urban agriculture, and social design. He is especially interested in urban environmentalism and transitioning cities to a more sustainable future. A student at NYU Stern School of Business, Suter is co-concentrating in Sustainable Business and Statistics with a minor in Urban Design and Architecture.  

ASBC Members, Let Us Help You Share Your News! 

Your ASBC membership is a valuable networking opportunity to share your news with other mission-driven companies and supporters nationwide. Please send us your product and service introductions, personnel and facility changes, awards, charitable events and other news in your press releases, blogs, captioned photos and videos. We’ll include them in ASBC’s monthly Policy Update newsletter and social media outlets. 

AND....Show your customers, prospects and vendors your values right upfront:  display the “Proud Member of ASBC” logo on your website and marketing materials.  

ASBC appreciates your support for our work and we’re proud to support you all the way! 

Upcoming Events

Next Economy Webinars 
Webinar | Watch when you want
ASBC and SVC co-sponsor this line-up of thought-provoking discussions and case histories from businesses around the globe on today’s challenging problems, important missions and innovative solutions: building resilience, community investment, finance and social justice, BOPOC access to capital, customer engagement, mentoring, demographics in a digital world, and much more.


American Sustainable Business Council
712 H Street, NE, PMB 42, | Washington, District of Columbia 20002
202-660-1455 | replies@asbcouncil.org

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