Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#119 - 20 Jan 2008

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 consider the role of innovation in corporate sustainability.

Welcome

When so many people in different parts of the world still think that the corporate social responsibility agenda is about philanthropy, it is important to be able to highlight the areas where it goes successfully to the heart of the business strategy.

A new paper does just this by focusing on the role of innovation in achieving corporate sustainability, and the review of this paper forms the article for this issue.

Incidentally, one of those academics, David Grayson, recently took over as the head of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield. David has recently released a number of other documents looking at areas such as the business case for CSR, and the role for smaller businesses. You can see some of these papers at the Doughty Centre website at: http://www.mallenbaker.net/jump.php?Link=5.

Last time's piece on predictions for the next five years certainly caught the attention of some of you. One reader wrote: "Looking at your 2013 list, I am intrigued by your predication that a 'big player' will be exposed. That may give credence to those who dismiss CR as PR and green wash however I think that there are weaknesses in reporting. We don't get the bad news and challenges but simply the good news and successes."

The same person, however, expressed dismay over the prediction that CSR would remain the term of choice over the next five years! I never said that the predictions represented my preferences, just a view of what would actually come to pass!

At the recent event where I spoke about CSR and private equity, my hosts there said that they had been intrigued by the prediction that one or two private equity firms would emerge as CSR leaders within five years. They said that they couldn't at this stage understand who that might be. Well, if it had been obvious, I guess it would have been a much less interesting prediction!

Still, I thought it would be interesting to make a related question the topic for one of the site votes - just to test the temperature amongst the readership. So the vote now has been changed to:

Private equity companies are, by their nature, less socially responsible than plcs.
* Yes, they are less responsible
* No, they are more responsible
* There is no difference between plcs and PE firms

The previous vote therefore has now ended. The final tally was as follows:

Which of these groups has done the most so far to respond to the challenge of climate change?
Governments 236 (22%)
Business 330 (31%)
Citizens 514 (47%)

Thanks to the 1,080 people that voted.

News

US: Shell sued for refinery pollution in Texas

Shell is facing a federal lawsuit over pollution at its refining and chemical plant along the Houston Ship Channel. The suit, brought by the Sierra Club, seeks a fine of up to $32,500 for each of around 1,000 separate incidents.

Norway: Government pension fund drops companies with links to munitions

The Norwegian government global pension fund has excluded Serco Group, GenCorp and Hanwha Corp from its fund on ethical grounds because the companies are involved either in producing nuclear weapons or cluster munitions, according to the finance minister Kristin Halvorsen.

Canada: Consumers using corporate social responsibility in buying decisions

Researchers have said that consumers in Canada are using corporate social responsibility in evaluating their willingness to pay for a product.

EU: Microsoft faces new antitrust probe

After years of battling with the European Commission over previous charges of monopolistic behaviour, Microsoft faces a fresh probe into whether it has abused its dominant market position.

South Korea: Samsung raided over bribery claims

Police have raided the headquarters of Samsung Group as part of ongoing investigations into alleged bribery and corruption. The firm has been accused of having run a "slush fund" to the value of around $215m.

UK: Bullying at work "endemic"

Bullying in the workplace is widespread in the UK, affecting a staggering 80 percent of employees, with a third of employees so unhappy they had considered leaving their job, according to the charity the Samaritans.

France: Total found guilty over France's worst oil disaster

Total has been fined a maximum penalty of 375k euros and ordered to contribute towards nearly 200m euros damages for its role in France's worst oil disaster when the tanker Erika sank in 1999.

US: Companies put eco-patents into the public domain

IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes and Sony have announced that they have put 31 patented environmental technologies into the public domain for the benefit of society.

Global Compact: Investors focus on failing companies

Investor groups, led by Morley Fund Management, have warned 78 companies that they are failing their pledges under the Global Compact by not producing progress reports.

UK: Tesco avoids child labour cotton from Uzbekistan

Tesco has announced that it is to avoid buying cotton from Uzbekistan because of the country's continued use of forced child labour.

India: Court dismisses claims over Tata Nano factory

The High Court in Calcutta has rejected arguments by campaigners that land for Tata's factory constructing its new cheaply priced Nano car was illegally acquired.

Article

Innovation for sustainability - can we meet the challenge?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 20 Jan 2008

The business environment is changing dramatically. Climate change and poverty have become market shapers that will not disappear with economic hard times. Adaption and innovation is the successful business response to such changes, so how far can corporate sustainability become a feature of innovation within business?

Previous edition - No 118 | Following edition - No 120