Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#104 - 8 Oct 2006

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at http://www.businessrespect.net and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we look at issues of trust, and whether companies now face greater challenges with the rise of new social networks.

Welcome

I've had a busier couple of weeks than usual this last period, with presentations and company meetings in Manila, Philippines, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China. In particular, I would like to thank all of those that approached me during that week to comment on the newsletter - it was great to get some really useful and positive feedback.

I found myself co-emceeing the Asian Forum on CSR Awards, which was a fascinating experience. First of all, there were some really great examples of CSR in action across a range of issues. I would like to congratulate 3M and Unilever Philippines, who headed up the environment category for which I chaired the judging panel. There was a mix of home grown businesses and international firms, but these two showed very effectively that their commitment to sustainability was something that ran throughout their operations, not just something for the folks at head office.

Thanks to the British Consulate General and the British Council for supporting the extension of my visit so that I could do the meetings in Hong Kong and China. I think they were useful, and certainly there seemed to be some good feedback.

In addition to the globe trotting, I've been becoming more and more interested recently in how issues of trust for companies are being transformed by the growing importance of individual voices in the online social networks and the so-called blogosphere. The issues are explored in this issue's article.

This last week also saw the launch of the revised Global Reporting Initiative framework. The large number of people attending the event is certainly testament to the importance the GRI has now achieved within the CSR movement overall. We would welcome any thoughts from those of you that attended as to what your takeaway was, and how the revised GRI is being greeted in your organisation.

News

ExxonMobil caught in climate change row

ExxonMobil has found itself caught in a war of words with the UK's premier scientific academy, the Royal Society, which has written to the company and challenged it to stop funding misrepresentations of the science of climate change made up of outright denials of the evidence.

US: California suing car manufacturers over climate change

The state of California is suing six car manufacturers over the costs associated with the impact from their cars in contributing to climate change.

Profits from Virgin travel companies to go towards climate change

Sir Richard Branson has pledged $3bn to fight global warming, including all profits from his travel firms including airline Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains over the next 10 years.

China: Controversy over SK-II continues

Procter & Gamble has begun a recall of some of its SK-II products that have been accused of containing excessive traces of heavy metals, but only if customers agree to sign a statement recognising that the products are safe.

India: Kerala ban against Coke and Pepsi overturned

Coca-Cola and Pepsi have won their attempt to get the ban on their products in Kerala overturned.

UN study casts doubt on future of CSR reporting

An internal UN study suggests that company CSR reports will remain a minority practice, losing momentum and influence, according to the Financial Times.

China and India companies 'most likely to bribe'

The latest update of Transparency International's Bribe Payers' Index, covering 30 exporting countries, has identified firms from China and India as being the most likely to pay bribes when abroad.

Wal-Mart pestered over marketing to children

Wal-Mart has provoked a new storm over a new web-based marketing programme aimed at children promoting toys in the run-up to Christmas.

UK: Greenpeace gives rare praise to supermarkets on fish

Greenpeace has produced its updated league table for UK retailers on sustainable sourcing of seafood and has acknowledged that the supermarkets are leading a considerable movement of change.

US: Companies sign up for healthier snacks at school

Five companies have agreed to replace current offerings in school vending machines with healthier products under an agreement brokered by former president Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association.

Coca-Cola Colombian bottling plant lawsuit dismissed

A US federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia that alleged that the company was complicit in the murder by paramilitary groups of labour union organisers.

Article

Holding your company in trust

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 8 Oct 2006

In an ideal world, you would be able to show that the growing interest in the social and environmental performance of business had resulted in a direct sales benefit for good behaviour. In spite of the growing number of successful ethical niche products, this is not something that can currently be done - but there is one important correlation and it comes down to trust.

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