Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#152 - 4 May 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 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 focus on three important trends in how businesses are responding to climate change.

Welcome

One thing I've noticed in the last few months - it's a lot harder to get information about CSR news than it used to be. For all that there are plenty of sources of news that pull together corporate press releases about CSR programmes - there's actually less out there from mainstream sources about issues. The relationship between business and society has never been so challenged, so quickly changing and so complex - and yet you'd never know it.

Why is that? Largely because there are now so many stories about which companies are going bust, which have paid their CEOs large amounts, and who's getting bailed out by whom. Such commentary has temporarily drowned out most other things.

The one issue that cuts through the noise is climate change. I spoke at one of the series of UK events with business leaders that happened on May 1st on the subject convened by Business in the Community. And as mood music to the discussion, we have seen business leaders coming out to lobby against airport expansion in the UK, and Todd Stern laying it out for businesses in the US.

People realise that this issue isn't going to go away, or even to hold fire, whilst the recession sorts itself out. And it is going to set new records in terms of what is demanded from the business community in terms of a response.

The age of business as usual is coming to an end. So it seemed that this must be the time to feature the issue again for the lead article for this edition.

Next week, I will be speaking at the Conference Board conference on CSR in Calgary, Canada. If you're attending that event, make sure you come up to me at some point and say 'hi'. I remember the last time I spoke at an event in Calgary, courtesy of the lovely folks at CBSR, I was told by someone (not CBSR) that the room would be full of oil companies and it might perhaps be politic not to mention climate change. Obviously, there's no fun to be had in taking that sort of advice.

I guess the world has moved on a long way in the last few years. And there's still some way to go as we wonder just how far the change will go over the coming years. I look forward to a no-holds-barred discussion in Canada!

Have a great week.

News

US: Shell settles air pollution case

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has settled a claim over air pollution in Houston for $5.8m and a promise to reduce emissions by 80 percent over three years.

UK: Air stewardess sacked for refusing to wear abaya in Saudi Arabia

Airline BMI sacked an air stewardess who refused demands that, when out in public in Saudi Arabia, she should wear the long black abaya robe and walk behind male colleagues. The company said that this was to conform with the social expectations of the country.

Nigeria: Chamber of Commerce speaks out on 'CSR tax'

The Lagos State Chamber of Commerce and Industry has criticised a proposed bill that would require companies to set aside 3.5 percent of gross profit for what are described as 'corporate social responsibility' expenses.

India: Bangalore Metro caught in child labour controversy

The Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation has acknowledged that child labour 'may' have been used on one of its sites, but blamed contractors and said that they, not BMRCL, should be held responsible.

UK: Businesses break ranks to lobby against new Heathrow runway

A group of senior business leaders have broken the business consensus in favour of airport expansion to oppose the government's plans for a third runway at Heathrow on environmental grounds.

China: Warren Buffett criticised for investing in 'stealer of trade secrets'

Terry Gou, head of Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industry has criticised Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway for investing in BYD Company which, he said, had stolen commercial secrets from its affiliate Foxconn.

Article

Three key trends for companies responding to climate change

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 4 May 2009

Many companies are now setting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They run from the faintly pathetic (say 10 percent) to the hugely ambitious (at least one firm is due to announce 90 percent). These announcements are good. They should be encouraged. But they are not where the really interesting story lies.

Previous edition - No 151 | Following edition - No 153

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