Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#139 - 26 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 answer the claim that recession will be the death of corporate social responsibility.

Welcome

Having moved the mailing date for Business Respect to the Monday, this issue is emailed on the Sunday again, purely because tomorrow I will be en route to speak at the Business and Poverty CSR conference in Vienna organised by ICEP and corporAID. I dream of the day when sending the newsletter means simply hitting the button online from wherever I am in the world and having it go directly out. And before you say, yes, I know that there are third party emailers that do this, but none of them fit what I want to do just at the moment.

It is inevitable that the critics of CSR will use the deepening recession as the excuse to trot out some of the arguments against. Toby Webb, the founding editor of Ethical Corporation, drew my attention to a couple of examples this week. I thought that it might be a good time to revisit the 'arguments against' in the light of where that particular debate has gotten to.

Of course, there will also be more serious consequences of the crisis.

I have begun to hear tales of budget cuts in CSR departments as various companies batten down the hatches for the coming recession.

One area that doesn't seem to be affected, at the moment, is the area of reporting. As one head of CSR said - that's the one thing we still have to do. And apparently, that is reflected in the current bookings for Ethical Corporation's coming conference on reporting in London. If you go to the conference you'll see all sorts of presentations from leading companies - alongside a head-to-head debate between me and Ernst Ligteringen from the Global Reporting Initiative on the future of reporting. The great news is that Ethical Corporation are offering a 200 discount off the price for Business Respect readers. See their ad below for details.

And if you do go, make sure to come up to me and say 'hi'.

News

Norway: Telenor bans ZTE from supply list for code of conduct breach

Telecoms company Telenor has removed Chinese supplier ZTE from its invitations to tender for six months following an undisclosed breach of its code of conduct for suppliers.

US: States ask companies to remove BPA from baby bottles

Three US states have sent letters to companies that make baby bottles asking them to no longer use the controversial chemical bisphenol A in manufacture because of fears that it could be harmful to infants.

Drug companies promise investment in AIDS research

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that some of the top pharmaceutical firms have promised to make greater investments in research for treatments for AIDS with particular focus for poorer regions.

UK: Mars sees ad ban against misleading chocolate ads

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that Mars misled consumers when they ran adverts implying that its Maltesers product was a low-calorie snack.

EU: Banana importers fined for price fixing

The European Commission has fined some of the world's largest banana importers for 60m euros for colluding over prices of fruit in eight countries.

Italy: Eni and Enel to create first carbon capture project

Power firm Enel and oil company Eni have struck an agreement with the Italian government to create the country's first carbon sequestration project, aimed at reducing carbon emissions from coal-fired power generation.

Philippines: Labour group attacks Dole Philippines over award shortlist place

Labour group Kilusang Mayo Uno have criticised the inclusion of Dole Philippines on a shortlist for the United States Award for Corporate Excellence for its 'advancing good corporate citizenship'. According to the group, the company has shown a disregard for the human rights of its workers.

Mexico: Central Bank attacks irresponsible derivatives sales

Guillermo Ortiz, governor of Mexico's central bank, has said that investment banks had behaved irresponsibly and unethically in selling a range of derivatives to companies which have led to billions of dollars of losses.

China: Wal-Mart introduces new supplier standards

Wal-Mart has told a meeting of its Chinese suppliers that social and environmental standards will need to be raised to help the company meet its goals and to move forward in the wake of the milk poisoning scandal that has left many Chinese children still in hospital.

EU: Air industry pollution limits provoke furious response

Airlines have criticised a move by the European Union to limit carbon emissions to 97 percent of 2005 levels, arguing that the measure will make the current fight for survival even tougher.

Article

Arguments against corporate social responsibility - redoubled

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 26 Oct 2008

It shouldn't be a great surprise that the financial crisis should prompt a bunch of the standard anti-CSR arguments to be rolled out with renewed vigour and determination. We are told that this will be the event that proves that CSR is 'just a fad'. But the arguments are flawed.

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