Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#140 - 10 Nov 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 what makes good social marketing.

Welcome

So this week, I will be talking to an international meeting of national lottery providers about socially responsible gaming. It's one of those fascinating areas, because it is all about how companies not only sell their products, but ensure that the products are used or consumed responsibly - which can be hard to do when not all the incentives of the marketplace give the right signals.

And that is very much the theme of this issue. In the UK, we are seeing the finalisation of a set of standards for social marketing - the art of influencing citizen behaviour not just consumer buying preferences, and this is the focus for the lead article this time.

Some have been very quick off the mark to welcome and build on these new standards. Business Respect sponsor Corporate Culture, for instance, has shown blistering speed in getting its Social Marketing Academy ready to begin training marketers against the new framework. See the sponsorship message in this edition for more details.

In the mean time, my article last week that commented on David Vogel's piece on forbes.com provoked a thoughtful response from the man himself. An extract of the key points:

"While it is true that no CSR advocate has ever explicitly claimed that all a company has to do to be profitable is to be responsible, the business case for CSR, which is repeatedly endlessly and widely believed, is that a firm must be responsible in order to prosper - and that irresponsible firms face a dim financial future. It is that (naive) claim that my article challenged ...

"To clarify: my challenge is not to the claim that CSR is both necessary and sufficient for business success - which I agree no one argues - but rather to the claim that CSR is necessary for corporate success - a position which virtually every CSR advocate believes."

The truth is that David and I agree on a lot of this - long time readers will be familiar with my own line that a commitment to CSR does not abolish the laws of gravity - ie. you still have to get your business fundamentals right. But you can make that argument from a pro-CSR platform, or you can make it from an anti. Readers of forbes.com can be excused for thinking that an article headed 'CSR doesn't pay' is anti.

Thanks to David for the clarification, and for provoking thoughtful debate on the subject.

Thanks also to another correspondent - this one from an international law firm, who gave the following response.

"Just wanted to comment that I really appreciate the clarity of the argument against the argument against CR. The traditional argument against - ie. that it's fluffy philanthropy - is totally at variance with the many people I have met in the sector who are interested in anything but and are very serious in what they are trying to achieve for the business and all its stakeholders (employees, clients, shareholders/owners, wider community). The job is to recognise the shifting expectations of society and to articulate the full role of the business community, to identify the highest standards and work towards them in the recognition that the task is never fully complete because the standards are raised ever higher."

Thanks to all. One last note - this issue I am trialling a new emailer service to send the newsletter out. If you have any problems you don't normally have, let me know.

News

United Arab Emirates: ABB wins first CSR award

ABB UAE has won the award for large companies at the inaugural Arabia Corporate Social Responsibility Awards for having "institutionalised CSR for the past 14 years". Other winners were fuel producer Oman LNG in the medium-sized class, and MBS Firefighting Coatings and Environmental Centre for Arab Towns in the small firms category.

Nigeria: Pfizer drug case adjourned

A court case against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has been adjourned until next year, a week after the company said it would be seeking an out-of-court settlement to the action. A further civil case against the firm is to be brought alleging that its 1996 trial of an antibiotic led to the death of 11 children.

US: Major food companies support common nutrition standards

Responding to ongoing concerns about rising levels of obesity, a number of major food companies have adopted a common nutritional standard, with a simple recognisable label for the 'Smart Choices Program'.

Thailand: Anti-alcohol protesters may influence ThaiBev listing decision

Anti-alcohol demonstrations outside the Thai stock exchange have sparked debate over whether or not Thailand's largest liquor manufacturer, ThaiBev, should be allowed to be listed. Representatives of the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) have said that they will take the anti views into account when making a decision.

US: Number of companies reporting sustainability doubled

Twice as many companies in the US are reporting sustainability data than in 2005, according to a new survey by KPMG. Of the top companies, 74 percent published corporate responsibility information in 2008, making such reporting now the norm rather than the exception.

China: Baidu joins UN Global Compact

Baidu, the main competitor to Google's search engine in China, has announced its commitment to join the UN Global Compact with the intention of sharpening its focus on corporate social responsibility.

Indonesia: Mars attacks destruction of 'safe products'

The Singapore subsidiary of confectionary company Mars has said that its products are safe to eat despite the destruction of some of its chocolate by the Indonesian food and drug agency BPOM as part of its action against Chinese imports following cases of melamine in dairy products.

UK: BT fined for targets scam

UK telecoms company BT, seen by many as a leader in corporate social responsibility, has been required to pay the government's Ministry of Defence 1.3m UK pounds in compensation after it was found to have fixed figures relating to performance targets.

EU: Businesses told to avoid blacklisted chemicals

The European Chemicals Agency has released its first draft blacklist of chemicals that may soon be covered by new legislation that terms them as of Very High Concern, and is urging businesses to plan now for the point when the list is confirmed.

Netherlands: Shell faces lawsuit over Nigerian oil spills

Oil major Shell is to face a suit in its home base based on accusations that its operations have led to environmental damage in Nigeria. The suit, which is to be brought by four Nigerian fishermen and farmers along with Friends of the Earth, will focus on activities in the Niger Delta region.

US: Nine out of ten business leaders think CSR will thrive under Obama

Nearly nine out of ten business leaders polled by Business for Social Responsibility have said they believe that US President-Elect Barack Obama will have a positive impact on the promotion of the corporate social responsibility agenda.

Pakistan: KKI directors arrested over alleged illegal money transfers

The directors of Khanani and Kalia International, one of Pakistan's largest foreign exchange companies, have been arrested in connection with illegal transfers of foreign currency out of the country.

Article

How do you sell respect to roadhogs?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 10 Nov 2008

Since the beginning of the age of film and TV, governments have tried to use this powerful medium to tell people how they should behave. One of the most famous attempts is the British advert that ran in cinemas in 1948 to tell us to cover our sneezes.

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