Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#125 - 13 Apr 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 look at how the top food companies are responding to the challenge of obesity.

Welcome

Nothing is quite so personal as something that you put into your body. So it is no great surprise that public debates on what goes into our food excite considerable interest, with strong views on all sides.

At the sharp end of this debate are the food companies, who have discovered that simply following what the customer wants without due care to the consequences can lead to a big problem. A new report from Insight Investment and JP Morgan looks at how ten of the biggest food firms are now responding to the growing problem of obesity - and we review the report this issue.

If you are a reader of Business Respect and you live in, or near to, Kiev in Ukraine, you might be interested to know that I will be speaking on Friday 18th April at the conference "Civilized economy and civilized society through social responsibility" - focusing on some trends in global CSR as well as a few observations on the UK's government's engagement with the CSR agenda as an example of how governments can play a constructive part.

See http://csr-conference.org.ua for details. It would be great to see you there.

On a separate note: For all college students - I am looking to initiate a conversation with a small group of students interested in the issues around corporate social responsibility who might have some energetic, interesting ideas and perspectives on what sort of resources would really help to make more young people engaged on these kinds of issues.

This will be a short, collaborative conversation at first, but if some real energy emerges from it, we might go further in creating some sort of concrete collaborative project. If you would be interested in being considered to join such a discussion, send me a one pager about yourself (not a resume - tell me what makes you motivated about this area, and what skills, insights, quirks and creative urges would make you a valuable collaborator.) Send me a note by April 25th at mallen@mallenbaker.net.

Finally, I've added a new vote to the website. We all know that tougher times are coming - the thing that no-one seems to quite agree about is how much of an impact it will have on how companies approach corporate social responsibility. So I thought it would be interesting to get your views. The vote reads as follows:

In the face of an economic recession, companies will:
* keep CSR as a priority
* cut budgets, but still focus on key issues
* drop CSR as an unaffordable luxury

Over to you.

News

UN business school initiative reaches 100 schools signed up

The United Nations has announced that its initiative to promote social responsibility through educational programmes has now been endorsed by over 100 business schools around the world.

UK: Asda-Walmart opposes extension of new code of conduct to overseas suppliers

Asda has said that it wants overseas suppliers excluded from a code of conduct being considered by the Competition Commission designed to ensure that suppliers enjoy fair trading terms.

US: Oil firms asked to justify record profits

Senior executives from five of the largest oil companies have been called upon to explain why they should continue to receive tax advantages when profits soared to unprecedented heights during the last year.

US: Ford details 30 percent greenhouse gas cuts by 2020

Ford has produced detailed plans for how its new vehicles emissions will be cut by 30 percent over the next 12 years - the first of the Detroit companies to do so.

BP named in Kazakhstan bribery lawsuit

Oil giant BP has been named in a major lawsuit over allegations of bribery involving government officials in Kazakhstan. Former CEO Lord Browne and current CEO Tony Hayward are also named in the suit.

South Korea: Samsung Chairman summoned for second time over corruption probe

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee has been summoned for the second time in a week to be questioned as part of a probe into alleged corruption at the country's largest company.

Hong Kong: Work-life balance changes a big feature of the last four years

Companies in Hong Kong are showing a significant change in work-life balance for workers over the last four years, according to a review carried out by CSR Asia.

Ryanair faces probe over advertising breaches

Ryanair has been referred to the UK's Office of Fair Trading following a series of complaints about its adverts which have been found to be in breach of rules seven times for exaggerated claims and misleading prices.

Hewlett-Packard releases list of suppliers

Hewlett-Packard has released a list of its top suppliers, representing 95 percent of the company's supplier spend, in a ramping up of transparency in the IT sector.

Article

Cutting out the fat

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 13 Apr 2008

We live in a fat society - and food companies are beginning to accept that although they do not bear sole responsibility for the fact, they have to respond to the issue. Now a new study has compared the responses by ten of the biggest food producers to sort out the leaders from the laggards.

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