Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#144 - 5 Jan 2009

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 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 what we learned last year that could help us in 2009


Welcome to the brave new world of 2009!

Usually, I use the last issue before Christmas to review the previous year, and the first of the new year to look ahead. There has been, for obvious reasons, a lot of that and all saying much the same thing. So I thought instead I would consider what have been the main things we learned from what happened last year. That makes the central feature this time.

We go into 2009 with more evidence of how this will affect those we care about. A plea has gone out from the very excellent Business and Human Rights Resource Centre which was supported by one of the foundations which was tricked into putting funds with Bernard Madoff. It needs support if it is going to be able to carry on its work whilst sorting through the short term fallout of this. You can make a donation at:

There are few resources out there I would miss so much as this one. If you've not been there yet, go to the website and find out why.

Those of you paying attention will note that the blog was a lot busier in the last couple of months. The aim is for at least one entry per day - and a lot of commentary on emerging issues, oddities other things CSR-related is now making its way there. Scan the list of headlines in this newsletter, or point your newsreader to:

I hope your return to work isn't too brutal after the holiday break!


China: Head of dairy pleads guilty over tainted milk

The former chairman of Sanlu, Tian Wenhua, has pleaded guilty to selling tainted baby formula. She said that the company had known for months that there was a problem before telling local officials.

UK: Carbon positive cement developed

A British company has produced a new type of cement which, rather than being the huge carbon emitter that is traditional cement, actually absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere than it produces - making it a potentially powerful breakthrough in the fight against climate change.

US: Voluntary ban on pharma gifts to doctors begins

From January 1st, the US pharmaceutical industry is observing a voluntary end to the distribution of branded office items to doctors. The items, ranging from mugs and pens through to items such as computer flash drives and laser pointers, were criticised as representing the industry's attempt to influence which drugs get prescribed.

France: Sarkozy / Blair summit to look at ethics in business

A summit of political leaders and economists, led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former UK prime minister Tony Blair, will focus on how the world can strengthen the ethical basis of the capitalist system.

India: Hundreds of child labour cases taken forward

Nearly 600 employers are being taken to court for breaking child labour laws in the state of Bihar, after nearly 1,500 incidences of child labour were uncovered during 2008.

Italy: Investment banks may face lawsuits over unfair bonds

Italian authorities are looking at possible legal action against banks such as Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase and UPS over contracts taken out to manage public debt which are felt to have been unfairly weighted in the banks favour.


So what did we learn in 2008 that we can use in 2009?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 5 Jan 2009

I don't know about you, but I have had my fill of articles and blog entries which aim to review the year 2008, or make predictions for the year 2009. All the reviews start the same - what a year it was, and whoever would have thought it - and all the predictions are statements of the obvious - it's going to be a tough old year to come.

Previous edition - No 143 | Following edition - No 145

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