Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#106 - 3 Dec 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 introduce the Marketplace Responsibility Principles - launched this month by Business in the Community.

Welcome

It still irritates slightly to see articles that criticise this thing called corporate social responsibility that take a perversely flawed premise of what the concept means just in order to knock it down. The passing of globally influential economist Milton Friedman a few weeks ago seems to have been the prompt for a rash of such pieces.

Some of them are located on websites that service the belligerent and rhetorical views of rabidly anti-CSR commentators. These are too entertaining to be annoying, and have little likelihood of having an influence beyond a very narrow circle.

Others come from more respectable places and carry an agenda. For instance, the coalition of NGOs that are coming together as a reaction to the European Commission’s insistence on a voluntary approach to CSR. The critique of these groups is that voluntary CSR does not address the core business practices of companies – it makes it too easy for CSR to be a PR smokescreen covering up bad practice.

It does reiterate one important point. If CSR is to become something long-lasting and enduring, it needs to deal with the main issues of interest and controversy over how businesses do business.

Business in the Community has just made its first stab at addressing this need by producing the Marketplace Responsibility Principles – a framework that focuses on responsibility in how businesses make their money. These are covered in more depth in this issue’s article.

News

Korea: Workers would not report wrongdoings

Four out of five employees in Korea would not report colleagues wrongdoing to their manager or to company ethics departments, according to a new report by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

New Zealand: Fonterra facing investigation over Saddam Hussein bribes

Dairy company Fonterra is to face a police investigation over its relations with a Vietnamese company that has been accused of paying substantial bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

UK: Corporate killing law set to reach final stage

A new law to punish companies for negligence leading to the death of employees or customers is due to be introduced, having been including in the Queen's Speech which lays out Bills to be introduced before the British Parliament.

US: Rupert Murdoch squashes OJ Simpson murder book

Rupert Murdoch's media companies have backtracked on plans for a controversial book and TV interview with OJ Simpson following major public outrage.

UK: British Airways attacked by archbishop for dress code rules

British Airways has been criticised by the Archbishop of York for its policy that bans a member of staff from wearing a christian cross above her uniform. Dr John Sentamu called the company's position "nonsense".

Uruguay: Controversial mill receives IFC funding after environmental all clear

The Orion paper mill, which is owned by Finnish company Botnia, is to receive $170m in funding from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) after a review gave the project a clean bill of environmental health.

US: Tobacco case over low tar cigarettes thrown out by Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court has thrown out a damages claim of $10bn against Philip Morris for allegedly misleading people over descriptions of products as "light" cigarettes, confirming an earlier ruling by the Illinois court.

European Commission fines companies in rubber cartel

The European Commission has fined five oil and chemical companies for fixing the price of rubber used for tyres, including Italy's Eni which received the largest fine at 272m euros.

European chemicals legislation moves closer

The European Parliament and EU governments have reached a deal on legislation covering the use of chemicals by business. The new law will see a shifting of the onus of proof onto businesses to prove that chemicals they use are safe.

Article

The Marketplace Responsibility Principles - shifting the focus to how you make your money

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 3 Dec 2006

On December 1st, Business in the Community launched the Marketplace Responsibility Principles. This is the first framework that describes what leading businesses should aspire to in terms of responsibility in the ways that they make their money.

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