Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#130 - 22 Jun 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 review a new toolkit for marketers on CSR.

Welcome

You will note in the 'news' section of this issue that Ethisphere have released their list for the 2008 'World's Most Ethical Companies'. It's no worse than any of the other lists that are produced across the world - put together by a respectable panel of people, gathering information from companies to feed into a final list. But there's something about the label that invites trouble. It is quite a hard one to live up to, and there are companies that were included in previous lists that have disappeared as controversies have conspired to knock them off that very lofty perch.

The thing is that if a company is a top 'sustainable' company, you can see that it is related to what it has done on environmental impact, possibly augmented by social impact as well. As they say in another context, past performance is no guarantee of future performance.

But to be called a 'most ethical' company is different - it is to say that the personality of this company is such that even when no-one is looking, it will always aim to do the right thing. Regardless of changes of leadership, regardless of the fact that across a large company of thousands of people you are only as strong as your weakest link. It's a heck of a label. It's no surprise that the comments section of the 'World's Most Ethical Companies' has its fair share of dissenters questioning the right of some of the companies to have made the list.

Perhaps this is a discussion I will be having on a few public platforms in the next couple of weeks, with a presentation on supply chain issues at a Retail Week conference in the UK, followed by a mini-tour of day-long workshops on CSR across the South Caucasus - Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. With such a busy international itinery through the week before the next newsletter, it is just possible that next issue may be slightly delayed, although I will certainly aim not to let that happen.

News

UK: Primark cuts three suppliers following child labour claims

UK clothing retailer Primark has ended its contracts with three suppliers in India following allegations channelled through a BBC documentary that they used child labour to finish garments with embroidery and sequin work.

Business leaders lobby for carbon cuts

Business leaders from 99 companies, including British Airways, Deutsche Bank, EDF, Petrobas and Shell are lobbying heads of governments to set targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to help establish a global market for carbon.

India: Businesses warn about impact of AIDS

Business leaders have highlighted the potential impact of AIDS on competitive businesses in India as they saw large incidences of the disease amongst young people.

Chinese interests could be targeted in Sudan

China must live up to the "disproportionate responsibility" it has in Sudan or its own interests in the country will suffer rebel attacks, a former expert with the US National Security Council has said following a visit to the region.

Honda begins production of next-generation fuel cell car

Honda says that it has taken a step towards moving zero-emission cars into the mainstream with its announcement that it will deliver about 200 fuel cell vehicles on lease in the US and Japan in the first three years of production, and it will set up the first network of sales dealers in the US for the vehicles.

SRI investors support UN business and human rights report

A group of investors specialising in socially responsible investment (SRI) have written to the UN Human Rights Council supporting the recent report by the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights, John Ruggie, and calling for his mandate to work on the area to be extended.

Ethical behaviour tied to better financial returns

In the release of its most recent 'World's most ethical companies' list, Ethisphere has said that there is a clear premium of performance in the marketplace for those companies that have been acknowledged as having a superior track record on ethical management.

Hong Kong: Sustainable fashion initiative launched by top textile firms

A new 'Sustainable Fashion Business Consortium' has been launched by a number of firms based in Hong Kong with the aim of promoting environmental certification, labeling and carbon emissions businesses.

Article

Storming the marketing bastille

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 22 Jun 2008

Here's one thing that marketers and investors have in common. I heard tell today of one company whose CEO began to tell a group of mainstream investors, in the middle of their quarterly meeting, "and now I would like to tell you something about what we are doing in terms of our corporate social responsibility." The investors interrupted him with a curt "Not interested thank you".

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