Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#188 - 9 Jan 2014

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 whether companies' attempts to get us to consume more sustainably are doomed to failure.


A happy new year!

Having just gone through the first phase of the most consumption-focused festival of the cycle, rapidly followed by January sales, it may be an appropriate time to look at those companies for whom CSR includes asking the fundamental question - how can we be sustainable companies in a world that wants to buy and consume more and more stuff?

Some companies are experimenting with approaches to address this - experiments that so far are mostly failing. The most recent is Kingfisher, whose CEO talks about a move towards "collaborative consumption". That is the focus for this issue's main feature.

So I've been thinking long and hard about how to get Business Respect back on track. Some of you have noticed that it has been falling short of its advertised publication date.

There are changes to be introduced in the next few weeks. The aim is still that Business Respect will provide discussion and reflections on the evolving world of corporate social responsibility. But it's time for a bit of an update in how this is done.

Throughout the first part of its life, Business Respect was the only email newsletter on CSR - and the news round-up was quite useful in that it pulled out mainstream news items related to the relationship between business and society (as opposed to carrying company press releases on their community programmes). But ultimately it was the analysis and opinion that people most often commented on.

So since the world now has rather more email newsletter flooding the inboxes, and you can get daily news round-ups from a number of sources which are better at keeping you up to date, I am likely to change how news items are handled in future to introduce an edge of analysis, rather than simply echoing the facts that are already out there. Just short nuggets. The few items that are selected for each issue will be items that have a particular area of interest.

I will also be moving the newsletter to a different design, and using a third party system to distribute it. Some of the people that get Business Respect signed up many years ago - and although I try to weed out obvious bounces it's likely that some of those people will have moved on - and particularly since it's been so sporadic in the last year some may even have forgotten they ever signed up.

So when the move is made, I will transfer the addresses of those that signed up in recent years into the new system, and if you're a longstanding subscriber you'll get an email inviting you to click on a link to affirm you'd like to continue getting the newsletter.

I have always been totally committed to the fact that this mailing list is 100% opt-in. Nobody gets added to get this newsletter if they haven't added themselves. So I'm keen to make sure that, going forward, everyone knows what's happening.

Have a great fortnight!


US: Businesses call for political action on climate change

Hundreds of businesses, including Microsoft, Diageo, General Motors, Unilever and Levi Strauss, are calling on federal policymakers to properly address climate change.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and ABF criticised for 'land grab'

Campaigning NGO Oxfam has highlighted Coca-Cola and PepsiCo as being amongst the companies it claims are benefiting from land taken from indigenous communities across the world.

UK: Top retailers suspend angora sales after cruelty video

Companies such as Topshop, H&M, Next, Calvin Klein, Boden and Primark have ended orders for angora products following the release of a video showing cruelty endured by rabbits in Chinese farms. The video has provoked outcry with its scenes of rabbits having the fur torn from their bodies whilst still alive.

EU: MEPs back reporting requirements for large companies

MEPs on the Legal Affairs Committee at the European Parliament have voted in favour of a draft measure that would oblige companies to disclose information on their environmental and social impacts. The vote also called upon the European Commission to consider requiring country-by-country reports on profits, taxes and subsidies.

UK: Drug companies' lack of full disclosure on clinical trials condemned

According to the Parliamentary public accounts committee, only around half of clinical trials are being published, making it impossible to make the right decisions with regard to patient care. Manufacturers published the results that were most favourable, it was claimed.

Cambodia: Labour rights groups point to violence against garment workers

Global clothing brands have been called upon to use their influence to achieve an end to what campaign groups describe as repression against workers involved in wage protests.


Will we really share our stuff in the name of sustainability?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 9 Jan 2014

In a recent interview, the green-minded CEO of Kingfisher (parent group of the B&Q do-it-yourself home improvement chain) Ian Cheshire, said that an area that the company wanted to focus more on in future is 'collaborative consumption'. The example he gave was getting customers sharing tools with clusters of friends. "It's a more sustainable model than simply using tools and then disposing of them", he said.

Previous edition - No 187 | Following edition - No 189

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