Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#147 - 16 Feb 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 reflect on five features of great leadership in socially responsible business


Business Respect achieved a small landmark this fortnight - it passed the magic threshold of 10,000 subscribers! So I am delighted to welcome Sherie Winston who was the one who crossed the line at the magic number!

It's taken a while to reach this point because I'd been purging the sub list of any obvious old addresses or wrong addresses for some time recently. I didn't want to be saying I had 10,000 before I had cleared out the dead wood! But now we are well and truly there. And new subs are coming in faster than ever.

On a different subject, I remain surprised at how much we talk about the actions of corporations, and our belief that certain companies 'get it' and can be relied upon to go on as paragons of social responsibility, and others are unreconstructed, and will always stand in the way.

Of course, a company can't 'get it'. Only its people. And in particular, its leaders.

We know that leadership is important. So why don't we talk more about what companies do in terms of the human interactions, and the decisions, that have gone into that action? I wondered this yet again reading about GlaxoSmithKline's recent announcement about changing its whole approach over the pricing of drugs in developing countries.

There, we have a new CEO, Andrew Witty. He took over the reins. The style of the company is being changed. The policy has made a dramatic shift.

Has the logic of the arguments suddenly radically shifted? Has new information come to light which makes this new strategy the obvious one, supported by proven business case mathematics?

No, it's a question of values and judgement. It usually is. The business case - either for or against the CSR perspective - is usually post-event rationalising.

Anyway, all of this was interesting enough to try to draw some lessons from it, hence this issue's main feature - five features of great socially responsible leadership. No doubt, you will have views of your own as to whether these are the right ones!

And you will notice the importance in all this of judgement. Making the right decisions, not just having the right intentions, is key to success. And key to that is getting good insight and intelligence.

If you are doing business in Russia - a potentially rewarding but equally challenging business environment to say the least - you could do a lot worse than taking a look at the intelligence behind Ethical Corporation Institute's report on anti-corruption strategies there, drawing on the best practice of Philips, Dow Corning and others. See their ad below, or go directly for more info at:

Have a great week!


Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah calls for corporate social responsibility

King Abdullah has urged an ongoing partnership between public and private sectors to boost social responsibility in Saudi Arabia. The message from the King, delivered at the opening of a three day corporate social responsibility conference, said that the time had come to make social responsibility a reality "not just a rhetoric by the (business) elite".

US: Mitsui sued over alleged discrimination against non-Asian employees

Trading company Mitsui has been accused of denying non-Asian employees equal pay and promotion opportunities at its US unit.

US: Pfizer to disclose payments to doctors

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has said that it will be the first amongst its peers to make public information about what payments it has made to doctors including those that work on clinical studies.

China: Morgan Stanley says it fired senior executive for bribery

Morgan Stanley has disclosed that it fired a senior executive at a subsidiary in China following evidence that the individual concerned had been engaged with corrupt practices.

Airlines coalition calls for air emissions to be included in climate change treaty

Four leading airlines, plus the UK airport operator, have formed an industry coalition to campaign for aviation emissions to be included in an international deal on climate change.

GlaxoSmithKline makes major shift on drug prices in developing countries

The new CEO of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, has said that the company will slash prices on all medicines in the poorest countries, give back profits to be spent on health care, and shake up the patent protection covering potential drugs that could be developed.

US: Peanut manager complained about health risks but was ignored

A former manager at the Peanut Corp of America said that he had complained numerous times to the company's boss and the Texas Department of Health about unhealthy conditions at the plant, but had been ignored. The company, the source of a recent salmonella outbreak, has just gone bankrupt.


Five features of great socially responsible leadership

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 16 Feb 2009

The new CEO of GlaxoSmithKline Andrew Witty has startled commentators, campaigners, and probably a few shareholders, with his announcement that the company would slash the cost of many of its drugs to people that need them in developing countries. It was a perfect example of the difference that leadership can make. It raises the question - what counts as great leadership in socially responsible business?

Previous edition - No 146 | Following edition - No 148

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