Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#138 - 13 Oct 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 ask whether quality of leadership questions in the financial crisis can go beyond blame.

Welcome

This was a good week to be on holiday, enjoying sunshine in Dubrovnik and every now and then just checking to see, yep, world-wide financial meltdown still under way.

I could easily have just reproduced the same main article as two weeks ago. It certainly remains just as relevant. But instead, I thought since there has been a growing theme in coverage of anger directed towards the 'greedy and stupid' individuals who got us into this mess, I thought there was more to be said here.

However, since this editorial is being typed in the lounge of the hotel, and the waitress has been gently telling me off for working on holiday, it is a short editorial this time. All those who prefer short editorials only have to sponsor me to have a fortnightly holiday in the sun to achieve their dream!

Here's hoping for some better news over the next couple of weeks as the world tries to work its way through the chaos.

News

Wal-Mart to boycott cotton from Uzbekistan

Wal-Mart has said that it is asking its suppliers not to use cotton from Uzbekistan due to concerns over the use of child labour in its production.

US: Former British Airways executive to be jailed for price fixing

The former commercial general manager of BA World Cargo is to serve eight months in jail after pleading guilty to fixing prices of air cargo shipments.

Nicaragua: Government claims zero corruption

Nicaragua's Comptroller General has said that no public officials have been punished for corruption during the first 18 months of President Ortega's term, and this showed an improvement in the conduct of government employees in contrast to previous governments.

US: Yum Brands to give calorie info in restaurants

Yum Brands, the owner of companies such as KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, has said that it will introduce calorie information at its restaurants across the US as part of the response to growing concerns about obesity.

US: Google and Levi's join companies opposing ban on gay marriage

Google has broken with its stance of non-involvement with social issues to formally urge voters in California to vote against Proposition 8, an initiative that would ban gay marriage in the state. In doing so, it joins a number of other companies, including Levi Strauss.

Guyana: Omai Gold accused of unfair exploitation

Canadian company Omai Gold Mines has been accused in Parliament of having exploited the natural wealth of Guyana prior to handing over the mine at the end of its tenure.

China: Skype accuses joint venture partner over censorship

Skype, the internet communications subsidiary of Ebay, has accused its Chinese joint venture company Tom Online of failing to tell it about a censorship programme run on behalf of the government which picked out politically sensitive terms.

India: Tata calls it a day and pulls Nano project from West Bengal

Tata Group has followed through on its threats to pull its planned production of the new Tata Nano car from West Bengal in the light on ongoing violent protests in the state.

Bosnia: Women entrepreneurs increasing in face of challenges

A new report shows that the number of women entrepreneurs in Bosnia and Herzegovina is growing, in spite of significant challenges that they have to overcome and calls for a new dialogue between the government and women in business to address 'pervasive discrimination'.

Congo: Questions raised over UN deal on drugs

Police in the City of London, UK, are carrying out an investigation over alleged corruption in a United Nations programme to supply essential drugs to Congo.

Starbucks accused of water waste

Starbucks coffee company has been accused by environmental groups of massive water wastage through the practice of leaving taps running in its 10,000 world-wide stores all day.

US: AIG attacked for expensive retreat just days after bail-out

Martin Sullivan, the former CEO of AIG, came under fire as he testified to Congress as the chairman of the committee flashed images of the luxury hotel that had hosted an executive retreat for the company at a cost of nearly $400,000 just days after the firm's saving from collapse.

Israel: Dairy fined over silicone addition to milk

Israel's major dairy firm Tnuva Food Industries has been fined nearly $16m for incidences of adding silicone to milk over 13 years ago.

Kazakhstan: Ministry threatens to block companies over environmental performance

Kazakhstan's Environmental Protection Ministry has said that it will take drastic action if oil and mining companies continue to fall short on meeting environmental regulations.

Ivory Coast: Lawyers walk out of pollution trial

The trial around the dumping of 500 tons of chemical waste by a company acting on behalf of Dutch firm Trafigura has been halted when defence lawyers walked out in protest at the company's absence from court.

Venezuela: McDonald's closed down for 48 hours

The Venezuelan government has shut down all branches of the fast food chain McDonald's for 48 hours, claiming tax irregularities, although following a tit-for-tat battle with the US over diplomatic expulsions.

China: Dairy companies say sorry for toxic scandal

Three dairy companies have apologised for their part in the major toxic milk scandal that has left four children dead, up to 50,000 others sickened, and has seen dairy products from China pulled from sale across the world.

Article

All senior bankers are stupid and greedy - discuss

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 12 Oct 2008

Standing up for the heads of major financial institutions is something akin to campaigning for the rights of mass murderers at the moment. But tempting though it is to write off the last couple of weeks as the consequences of greed and stupidity, explanations that rely upon a belief in the shortcomings of a group of people are pretty unsatisfactory.

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