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FleishmanHillard hosts election conversation with former Members of Congress  

November 8, 2022

On Thursday, the FleishmanHillard Public Affairs team hosted a discussion with former U.S. Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) for colleagues and clients about the midterm election, what to expect from Congress for the rest of this year and next, and the 2024 presidential race. The event was held in partnership with the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC). 

Both congressmen had little doubt that Republicans will gain control of the House, with the GOP only needing to net five seats to hold the majority. 

The lame-duck session of Congress that will run from mid-November until the end of the year is expected to be as busy as any in a decade given must-pass legislation. Lawmakers must pass a bill to fund the government and approve the annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. McAdams said Democrats will want to pass as much as they can while they still hold the majority in the House and the Senate, while Gerlach said the Republicans will want to delay decisions until the new Congress convenes in January. He anticipates the final weeks of the session to be friction-filled as the parties battle over what can and should be done while the Democrats control both chambers. 

Looking ahead to Congress’ work in 2023, the former members said tech policy issues and energy were two areas they expected the new Congress to address. Gerlach anticipates that if Republicans win back either the House or the Senate, they will use their oversight powers to probe the big tech platforms and investigate how the industry manages its relationship to the news media and the Biden administration. McAdams said he believed the two sides could come to an agreement on energy permitting to enable more domestic production. 

Over the next week or so, organizations should monitor election-related issues and outcomes in locations where they are major members of the community. Organizations should assess how changes in Congress will affect their issues and determine how best to educate new Members coming to Washington. The FleishmanHillard team will share an analysis in the coming weeks on the expected priorities for lawmakers in the 2023-2024 congressional session.  

Article

FleishmanHillard nabs five spots on the 2022 ICCO Global Awards Shortlist

November 4, 2022
By Darrin Lilly

November 4, 2022

ST. LOUIS, November 4, 2022 — FleishmanHillard was selected as a finalist in five categories, including Global Network of the Year, on this year’s 2022 ICCO Global Awards shortlist. The global agency was also recognized for its dedication to championing diversity, as well as for its work with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Google Chrome.

The global awards program is presented by the International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO) to celebrate public relations and communications agencies across the globe. The international judging panel consists of public relations and communications leaders who analyze the worldwide impact of the entrants.

•            FleishmanHillard (Global Network of the Year)

•            FleishmanHillard (Championing Diversity Award)

•            FleishmanHillard and The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, “Depression Looks Like Me Takes Aim at Mental Health Representation in the United States” (Best Healthcare Campaign)

•            FleishmanHillard and The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, “Depression Looks Like Me Takes Aim at Mental Health Representation in the United States” (Best Influencer Marketing Campaign)

•            Methods+Mastery X Google Chrome (Strategy and Evaluation in a Campaign)

Winners will be announced on December 1 at a ceremony in London. Find a complete list of finalists here.

Article

FH4Inclusion Joins National Minority Supplier Development Council in its 50-Year-Long Fight for Racial and Economic Equity

October 31, 2022
By Chavonne Jones

When the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) recognized its 50th anniversary could be an opportunity to revitalize and broaden awareness of its brand in 2022, it turned to FleishmanHillard, who took on the project as part of it’s FH4Inclusion pro bono work to make it happen.

FleishmanHillard  joined fellow Omnicom agencies to support NMSDC, which included Omnicom Media Group’s Diverse Creators Network (DCN) certification initiative and BBDO’s pro-bono, award-wining creative services. Our collective work with NMSDC is one of Omnicom’s largest diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts externally to date.

NMSDC is the longest-operating business growth engine for systemically excluded communities of color. It supports and certifies their businesses and corrects their unequal access to wealth-building opportunities. For a sense of its sheer scale and impact, the certified minority business enterprise (MBE) network generated over $261 billion in revenue last year alone, created ~$400 billion in economic output and supported 1.75 million jobs. NMSDC has an aspirational goal of achieving $1 trillion in certified MBE annual revenue generation.

And the organization doesn’t only work with mom-and-pop shops. It’s been able to grow small start-ups into multi-billion-dollar enterprises over time.

NMSDC CEO and president, Ying McGuire has an awe-inspiring story of her own: Arriving to the United States from China with only a suitcase and $1,000 to her name, Ying did not have an easy path to the American Dream. She built a successful career as a tech executive, then found herself at a crossroads after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. Ying felt compelled to be a part of the growing social justice movement and, as fate would have it, she was approached to fill the top spot at NMSDC shortly thereafter. She quit her tech role and literally changed her entire life to serve MBEs and help close the racial and economic wealth gap in communities of color. Ying says it’s her calling, not simply a job.

FleishmanHillard’s mission was to tell NMSDC’s narrative to the world and introduce Ying as its first Asian American leader in its 50-year history. In addition, we were tasked with generating buzz around two key conferences – its inaugural Minority Business Economic Forum in May (kicking off its goal of generating $1 trillion in certified MBE annual revenue) and its 50th Anniversary Conference & Exchange taking place this month.

The agency quickly went to work and secured a Bloomberg Quicktake segment for Ying where she talked about NMSDC and its impact, a New York Times story that highlights the rise and success of one of NMSDC’s member companies, a Black Enterprise story that quoted Ying in a recap of NMSDC’s Economic Forum and a byline in Bizwomen spotlighting Ying and her work.

And with the help of our network, ABC Chicago attended NMSDC’s May Economic Forum.

We’re now supporting NMSDC’s conference this week and continuing executive visibility efforts on behalf of Ying. We will also be bringing together FleishmanHillard employees from across our offices to participate in an Hour of Service to support NMSDC.

A big shout out to the entire FH4Inclusion team and supporting partners for all of their amazing work on this project. We are all so honored to have the opportunity to work with NMSDC in their fight for racial and economic equity.

“FleishmanHilliard has been an invaluable partner as we celebrate NMSDC’s 50th anniversary and take the necessary steps to accelerate minority business enterprise (MBE) growth over the next 50 years towards the ultimate goal of ending the racial wealth gap once and for all,” said NMSDC CEO and President, Ying McGuire.

NMSDC is one of the many organizations helping FH4Inclusion reach its goal of providing $7.5 million worth of pro bono services by the end of 2022.

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FleishmanHillard UK wins at the PRWeek Awards 2022

October 14, 2022
By Jaiye Elias

Delighted to have won the award for ‘Best Marketing Communications: Culture, Media and Sport’ at the 2022 PRWeek Awards for our work to launch #Wethe15 for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) alongside adam&eveDDB, Portland and Porter Novelli.

The post FleishmanHillard UK wins at the PRWeek Awards 2022 appeared first on United Kingdom.

Article

Introducing the Culture Gap – New FleishmanHillard Report Uncovers Generation Divided and Explores How to Bridge Society’s Divisions

October 4, 2022
  • This Global research report, backed by renowned brand expert and Columbia University lecturer Kai D. Wright, points to new cultural dividers in society causing brands need to rebuild and readjust.
  • With global respondents split on brands needing to be bold and brave (52%) versus sensible and conservative (54%), the time for brands to pay attention and act is now. 

ST. LOUIS, October 4, 2022 – Brands are finding themselves paralyzed in a landscape driven apart by culture wars, but new research released today by FleishmanHillard shows businesses must be braver in bridging these issues to stay culturally relevant without losing authenticity to consumers.

The latest study from FleishmanHillard, Authentic Insights: The Culture Gap, Introducing Gen D made in partnership with Columbia University’s Kai D. Wright, puts cultural issues at the heart of the research report to further understand how brands can move out of paralysis on today’s most pertinent topics and find a path forward in closing the current cultural divides in society.

The study unpacks a new generation, Generation Divided (Gen D), at a time when people aren’t just feeling divided within communities; they are feeling a divide within themselves. The context of a polarized world has been well established in recent times, with clear societal divisions increasingly influencing both business and personal lives. The state of divide around us has a clear impact on our internal state of flux and on what’s right and what’s not. Sixty percent of consumers today feel that people are compromising their true self by being too politically correct, and almost half (47%) believe it’s becoming more difficult to get along with people who hold contrasting views. Generation Divided was uncovered by FleishmanHillard’s unique research screening process that moved away from the standard demographic splits based on age and gender. Instead, it examined a range of factors including socioeconomic indicators, gender identity and religious and political beliefs to ensure that all aspects of humanity are reflected within the research.

“In this woke, people power era, action and words are the minimum expectations for ongoing connections to your business and brand,” said Candace Peterson, global head of Brand at FleishmanHillard. “We find many brands in a state of arrested development, unsure of how to move forward amid so much cultural division and so much reputation at stake. The latest study from our Culture Unit at FleishmanHillard explores this tension. It spotlights not just how companies should view culture, but how these cultural divides can be used as a springboard to strengthen their brand reputation and remain, or even become, culturally relevant.”

Key survey findings include:

  • While 67% of respondents wanted brands to be empathetic, 78% felt being authentic was even more important.
  • More than half (55%) think brands should release fewer upgrades/new products over the next year.
  • Although 61% of consumers would choose an employer based on its willingness to take a stand on societal issues, almost as many also agree that employers often fake their interest in DE&I and other societal issues (55%).

“Ultimately, brand and business leaders must prepare to be uncomfortable — ready to shift the practices, processes and policies of producing, releasing and evaluating efficacy of work,” said Columbia University lecturer Kai D. Wright. “No one leader knows the best path for each community, and no business team belongs to every global culture. Continual learning is inherent in leadership to be culturally relevant. Through this report and study, we explore the drivers fueling a growing cultural divide between communities; understand how to anticipate, thrive in and accelerate through the ever-constant of ‘change’; and dive into the role that brands and businesses play in bridging the cultural gap to solve societal issues.”

The Authentic Insights: The Culture Gap, Introducing Gen D reportwas developed by FleishmanHillard’s Culture Unit, a global team of macro culture strategists that enable brands to be brave and take action whilst being thoughtful of the cause they are communicating. The report comes in the wake of the Unit’s industry-first partnerships with the inclusive talent agency Zebedee, and the United Nations’ Unstereotype Alliance. Ongoing partnerships such as these create authentic behavioral change that enable FleishmanHillard to help shape a better world.

The research was conducted by FleishmanHillard TRUE Global Intelligence, the agency’s in-house research practice, together with an accredited third-party vendor, which surveyed 5,000 adults – 18 years old and older – across the U.S., UK, China, Germany and Brazil (1,000 per country). The research survey was designed to move away from standard demographic splits based on age and gender, and instead looked at communities through commonalities on a range of factors, including socioeconomic indicators, gender identity, religious beliefs and political leanings to ensure all conditions of humanity are reflected within the research. The survey consisted of two separate 25-question surveys, which were answered online by respondents September 15-20.

The report is available to read and download at fh.pr/AuthenticInsights2022.

About FleishmanHillard  
FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named 2021 PRovoke Global Agency of the Year, 2021 ICCO Network of the Year, 2021 Campaign Global PR Agency of the Year, 2022 PRWeek U.S. Agency of the Year and Outstanding Extra-Large Agency of the Year; 2021 PRovoke APAC Consultancy of the Year; 2021 PRWeek UK Large Consultancy of the Year; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality 2018-2021; and to Seramount’s (formerly Working Mother Media) “Top Companies for Executive Women” list 2010-2021. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group and has nearly 80 offices in more than 30 countries, plus affiliates in 45 countries.  

About Omnicom Public Relations Group   
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, language strategy, global health strategy and change management. As the largest group of communications professionals in the world, our employees provide expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and nonprofits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the Communications Consultancy Network, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC).    

About Omnicom Group Inc.  
Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations, and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 70 countries. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news.  

About Kai D. Wright

Kai D. Wright is a strategic advisor to C-suite executives, founders, and celebrities. He advises on subjects including brand building, digital, and DEI/culture. He has been recognized as a global leader by Thinkers50, Business Insider, Bloomberg, Black Enterprise, Forbes, and the Advertising Research Foundation. A frequent speaker at major conferences and Fortune 500 companies, Wright is an author and lecturer at Columbia University. Kai graduated with a masters in strategic communication from Columbia University and a bachelors in economics from The University of Chicago. An avid traveler, he lived in Germany during his childhood, and has visited over 20 countries.

Cover of report featuring four individuals, two with bull horns
Article

TickTockTech: Addressing the talent gap crisis in cybersecurity

September 21, 2022
By Miranda Sanders

From Bletchley to Biden

In 2021, the Biden administration slipped a digital Easter Egg into the software code for the newly updated White House website. Buried within the site’s HTML was a message encouraging tech workers to apply for jobs within the U.S. Digital Service, an executive branch division whose staff builds and improves digital tools used by people interacting with the federal government online. The hidden message stated, “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better.”  

The effort was part of President Biden’s $1.9T COVID-19 relief plan, which included $200M in funding for hiring support employees. It was also part of the administration’s commitment to do more in response to the SolarWinds hack that made private organizations and many government agencies victim to Russian nation-state security threats . And the cyber threats haven’t stopped coming – more recently, the U.S. Justice Department indicted Iranian hackers for attacks on our country’s critical infrastructure. Two weeks ago, the U.S. government warned that ransomware attacks on schools are likely to increase. Conservative estimates on the cost of cyberattacks on government agencies alone sits at around $13.7B per year. The costs – both financially and economically – will skyrocket if the talent gap remains unaddressed.

A screenshot from Reuters obtained in January of 2021 showing HTML code on the White House’s website containing an invitation to join the U.S. Digital Service, the White House’s tech team.

This may have been the first time in modern history that the U.S. federal government laid an Easter Egg for recruiting purposes, but the recruitment tactic wasn’t the first of its kind. During WWII, British intelligence agencies circulated crosswords and other puzzles in newspapers to recruit code breakers, hiring those candidates to work in top-secret locations such as Bletchley Park in the UK. Today, companies like Microsoft regularly drop Easter Eggs into their products to attract the best talent and encourage recreational enthusiasts to engage with its products. Soon after the White House’s revamped website went live, the U.S. Digital Service reported that it received a “large number of applications.”

Fast Forward to 2022…

But…did it work? Did the large number of applications from the Easter Egg stunt of 2021 result in meaningful hires to help address the cybersecurity talent gap? And what are some of the other tactics the U.S. government (and companies partnering with it) is using to address this challenge?

The answer to those questions is not crystal clear, but it’s apparent that the talent gap is a serious concern and has the Biden administration’s attention. As of August, there were over 714,000 cybersecurity jobs open in the U.S. and the president has characterized the talent gap as the country’s “core national security challenge.” 

In July, National Cyber Director Chris Inglis hosted the National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit at the White House, which included participation from top White House officials and executives from the private sector and the academic community. Attendees discussed solutions to several specific topics within the cybersecurity talent gap, including the need to create new skills-based pathways to cybersecurity jobs in schools and training programs; improve Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in the cyber field and use the talent shortage as an opportunity to build pipeline for historically untapped talent; bring together entities both public and private who employ, train and educate cyber professionals; and examine how to improve practices in cyber adjacent fields that are not focused solely on cyber but are still impacted by it, are related to it or benefit from it.

Most importantly, the White House shared significant programming coming out of the summit to close the talent gap, such as developing a National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy, creating a 120-day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint and an effort to strengthen the K-12 system to prepare students more effectively for cybersecurity job opportunities. Additionally, 16 organizations made substantial announcements, commitments or pledges in connection with the summit, including Accenture, Cisco, The Cyber Readiness Institute (CRI), Girls Who Code, IBM and The Linux Foundation, among others.

Why it matters + what to do about it

This is an excellent start to addressing our country’s critical cybersecurity talent shortage, but it’s important to note one key — and missing — link: the value of communications in the effort to close the cybersecurity talent gap. Here’s how organizations can help:

  • Leadership within organizations must not only identify the size of their cybersecurity talent gap, but also clearly communicate to internal and external stakeholders about how they will address it. This should be a clear missive with specific steps and performance metrics.
  • Regularly report on progress toward those goals and cultivate an employer brand that attracts the top talent. This means not only reporting hard numbers, but clearly communicating about specific challenges the organization is seeing and what they are doing to adjust the strategy for recruiting talent as a result.
  • Identify employee champions who can speak to cross-functional roles. For example, communications plays a key role for most cybersecurity actions a company may take. In many cases, these employees are already baked into the organizational structure around threat intelligence research, employee trainings, incident response and much, much more. So why aren’t we also putting these individuals to work to try and help close the security talent gap? This will not only establish a new skills-based pathway to cybersecurity jobs in training programs but could also improve practices in cyber adjacent fields – hitting not one but two key suggestions for leaders coming out of the White House Summit.

With the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month just over a week away, this looming talent gap remains top of mind and will certainly be a central conversation topic. There is still much work to be done but finding creative ways to inspire interest in the field is the first, most critical step.

Article

As the summer break ends, are we entering the most significant period for European Healthcare since the formation of the Union?

September 9, 2022
By sanfrutr

After a restful, and restorative summer break, the Brussels Bubble is buzzing again. And the buzz is palpable. There is a lot deserving attention, from the looming recession to the lingering pandemic and the critical energy crisis, and amongst it all, there is a packed healthcare agenda. It could be argued that this is the […]

The post As the summer break ends, are we entering the most significant period for European Healthcare since the formation of the Union? appeared first on European Union.

Article

FleishmanHillard Report Shows Fast-Emerging Metaverse Ecosystem Opens Up New Influencer Opportunities for Brands, Creators and Consumers 

September 6, 2022

FleishmanHillard in India and Eleve Media Release Web 3.0 Influencer & Intelligence Report 2022, Highlighting How the Next Evolution of the Internet Demands New Actions by Brands 

MUMBAI, India – FleishmanHillard and its research practice, TRUE Global Intelligence, in partnership with Eleve Media, today released the Web 3.0 Influencer & Intelligence Report 2022, showcasing the ways that conversation and influence are quickly changing in India around the rising evolution of the ‘metasphere’. 

Both the creator economy and the topics driving discussion of Web 3.0 on social media have sharply increased over the past 12 months. The report research included a survey of over 500 influencers, content creators and select Web 3.0 players from March through April 2022, in addition to the analysis of more than 12 months of social conversations. The research confirms the massive excitement around Web 3.0, as well as specific areas of interest, including education, regulation and the need for re-imagined communities. 

“Our report confirms the rapidly growing appetite for news and views about the metaverse and Web 3.0-related trends. These advancements are already setting a precedent for brands and content creators who can design highly engaging and differentiated campaigns that leverage this advantage. We hope this report will increase our understanding of the subject and contribute toward the adoption of Web 3.0 in a meaningful way for brands and creators,” said Munavar Attari, managing director and partner, FleishmanHillard in India. 

The Web 3.0 Influencer & Intelligence Report 2022 also provides a detailed conversation analysis and overview of the Web 3.0 landscape in India.  

“Our research inspected the developments in the Web 3.0 space over the past year and highlights just how dynamic the topic is, and how much open territory still exists for brand communications that satisfy this hunger,” added Michael Rinaman, managing director of TRUE Global Intelligence in APAC and global head of analytics for FleishmanHillard. “As brands adopt new technologies in Web 3.0, understanding the velocity and direction of the current conversation can be valuable to start from a place of intelligence and understanding in India.”  

Major themes and findings are discussed in detail in the Web 3.0 Influencer & Intelligence Report 2022, including how:  

  1. The popularity of Web 3.0 content reveals a dire need for better understanding about the new generation of web technologies.  
  1. The evolving landscape requires close attention to shifting conversations to understand emergent trends, nuances and new risks. 
  1. Most influencers want to create for community (Web 3.0) over algorithms (Web 2.0) in the metaverse. 
  1. Influencers are on the lookout for next-gen tools to strengthen the creator economy. 
  1. Creators and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have paved the way for the metaverse to become an accelerated reality. 
  1. Creators vote for Discord, virtual influencers and social interactions as key Web 3.0 tools. 

“Web 3.0 promises a more direct relationship between brands and consumers. And we would want brands to be equipped to experiment and explore Web 3.0 platforms and opportunities. The Web 3.0 Influencer & Intelligence Report 2022 is a joint effort with FleishmanHillard in India to help brands strategically leverage this societal shift,” said Prince Khanna, CEO and co-founder of Eleve Media.  

From the Web 3.0 Influencer & Intelligence Report 2022, the research from FleishmanHillard in India and Eleve demonstrates a sense of urgency that brands need to start to develop Web 3.0 strategies now while there is still room for differentiation and partnership. As audiences become more familiar with Web 3.0 topics such as NFTs, cryptocurrencies, blockchains and tokens, there will be less opportunity to differentiate. 

Web 3.0 is set to change the influencer ecosystem and continue to drive conversation. In the report, brands can learn more about immediate opportunities to act – from embracing the key trio with creators (creation, consumption and compensation) to crafting the right strategies and messaging to be considered relevant. 

About FleishmanHillard   
FleishmanHillard specializes in public relations, reputation management, public affairs, brand marketing, digital strategy, social engagement and content strategy. FleishmanHillard was named 2021 PRovoke Global Agency of the Year, 2021 ICCO Network of the Year, 2021 Campaign Global PR Agency of the Year, 2022 PRWeek U.S. Agency of the Year and Outstanding Extra-Large Agency of the Year; 2021 PRovoke APAC Consultancy of the Year; 2021 PRWeek UK Large Consultancy of the Year; Human Rights Campaign Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality 2018-2021; and to Seramount’s (formerly Working Mother Media) “Top Companies for Executive Women” list 2010-2021. FleishmanHillard is part of Omnicom Public Relations Group and has nearly 80 offices in more than 30 countries, plus affiliates in 45 countries.   

About Omnicom Public Relations Group    
Omnicom Public Relations Group is a global collective of three of the top global public relations agencies worldwide and specialist agencies in areas including public affairs, language strategy, global health strategy and change management. As the largest group of communications professionals in the world, our employees provide expertise to companies, government agencies, NGOs and non-profits across a wide range of industries. Omnicom Public Relations Group delivers for clients through a relentless focus on talent, continuous pursuit of innovation and a culture steeped in collaboration. Omnicom Public Relations Group is part of the Communications Consultancy Network, a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC).     
 
About Omnicom Group Inc.   
Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations, and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 70 countries. Follow us on Twitter for the latest news.   

About Eleve Media 
Eleve Media is one of India’s largest brand advocacy companies operating in the digital space for the past 8 years. Eleve’s powerful solutions & services enable brands & agencies to leverage the power of word of mouth through Influencers on social media platforms and streamline their Influencer marketing initiatives.

Article

Navigating China’s new cross-border data transfer rules and responding to cyber and data incidents

By Cannan Wong

Recently introduced personal information protection and cross border transfer laws and measures in China are creating uncertainties and new challenges for international and China based corporates who need to process China related data or handle cross border data transfers. Businesses need to continue to look for ways to navigate the new legal, compliance and infrastructure […]

The post Navigating China’s new cross-border data transfer rules and responding to cyber and data incidents appeared first on Hong Kong.

Article

Tick Tock Tech: A Crash Course on Blockchain and Sustainability 

August 10, 2022
By Megan McKeough and Ryan Sit

Whether it’s the roller coaster of crypto values, celebrity NFTs or Web3 musings, blockchain has become a constant in business and tech headlines. Yet, no matter how many articles it commands, blockchain remains a mystery to many. We’ll help answer your questions about the sustainability impacts of Blockchain, and what brands need to consider when utilizing it.

Blockchain basics

A blockchain is a digitally distributed public ledger, or record of transaction. These digital ledgers are decentralized, stored on multiple computers called nodes that are linked by a network, which means they provide a transparent and verifiable transaction record that cannot be altered.

While blockchain technology is most often associated with cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Web3, it has many functions outside of this space such as supply chain management, carbon accounting and government record management. 

Blockchain is no longer just for the “crypto bros” and the decentralized finance (DeFi) ideologues. As cryptocurrency and other blockchain-powered technology have become more commonplace, its audience has broadened in kind. Many brokers now offer crypto funds and as of 2020, over 2,300 U.S. businesses accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. Increasingly, organizations like the World Economic Forum and IBM are also looking at how blockchain can be applied to climate and sustainability initiatives.

Blockchain and sustainability

There are two main conversations around sustainability when it comes to blockchain: the environmental impact of blockchain technology and sustainability use cases for blockchain. 

Blockchain’s environmental impact 

Blockchain technology consumes an enormous amount of energy. At the time of this writing, mining bitcoin alone consumes about as much energy annually as Belgium, according to the University of Cambridge, which tracks the cryptocurrency’s network real-time power demand. 

How? Validating transactions (like a sale) on the blockchain takes compute power. Multiply that by all of the miners worldwide (there’s an estimated 1 million Bitcoin miners at any given moment) and you get energy consumption that rivals some nations. 

However, not all blockchains are as power-hungry. The two leading consensus techniques for managing blockchains are known as Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS). In PoW systems, like Bitcoin and Etherium, miners race against each other to verify transactions. In PoS systems, individuals, known as “validators,” are randomly selected to validate transactions – making it 99.99% more efficient than its PoW counterpart. Solana, Terra and Cardano are among the biggest cryptocurrencies that use proof of stake and Etherium is in the process of converting to this consensus technique. 

Additionally, less costly and energy intensive verification methods are also emerging in protocols, including “proof of authority” (PoA), “proof of importance” (PoI) and “proof of history” (PoH).

What about the sustainability use cases? 

Putting compute power and energy needs aside, blockchain technology is increasingly being tapped to support sustainability efforts.

At its core, blockchain technology is about transparency. There are dozens of potentially “game-changing” sustainability applications for blockchain, from transforming carbon markets and energy management to tracking emissions and tree planting initiatives.

The transparent and immutable nature of the public ledger makes it particularly apt for tracking supply chain emissions. Supply chain emissions, also known as Scope 3 emissions, are notoriously difficult to track, though they account for the vast majority of most companies’ emissions – as much as 90%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Blockchain technology presents a perfect fit for publicly tracking and synchronizing supply chain records, including supply chain-related emissions data, as well as transparent Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting. 

What Brands Need to Consider about Blockchain and Sustainability

Here are a few pointers on what brands need to consider about the blockchain sustainability conversation.

  • Understand your consensus protocols: However a brand is using blockchain technology, it’s critical to understand the environmental impact. While Proof of Work is the most commonly used mechanism, it’s also by far the most energy intensive. With sustainability top of mind for business, technology and increasingly crypto reporters, it’s important to note what consensus technique is being used and why.  
  • Understand your stakeholders: Many companies have faced backlash from eco-conscious stakeholders over their use of cryptocurrency, leading some to backtrack and announce they would pause accepting crypto payments or donations. Organizations that fail to understand both internal and external sentiments towards crypto and blockchain technology risk committing resources to a product or initiative launch only to follow it up with a public mea culpa.
  • Be transparent: Any business deploying blockchain-powered technology – especially those prioritizing sustainability or looking to position itself as a leader in the space – should address its environmental impact head on.
  • Identify the larger sustainability story: Whether you’re using blockchain to track shipments or energy use, it’s important to identify how this effort ladders up to the company’s sustainability plan. Identify why blockchain will help advance the company’s sustainability goals to fit it into the company’s larger sustainability narrative.

As blockchain’s prominence grows, many companies will weigh whether and how the technology can support their goals. Simultaneously, sustainability is becoming increasingly core to business operations as everyone from customers and employees to partners and regulators demand climate action. Businesses must approach blockchain technology from both a technology and sustainability perspective.