Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#48 - 26 Jan 2003

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 edition, with the World Economic Forum continuing in Davos, we review what CEOs are currently saying about corporate social responsibility.

Welcome

Another World Economic Forum - another round of protests. This time, however, the corporate responsibility issues pale in the public eye in the face of the global war brewing. Anti-Americanism seemed to be higher on the Davos agenda than anti-business.

That being said, none of the familiar complaints around globalisation have gone away. And with Nestle back in the news for all the wrong reasons, BP under fire in Alaska, and more rumblings on a range of rather familiar issues - it doesn't seem it's likely to go away any time soon.

Meanwhile, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has launched a new CSR reporting portal. Regular readers will know this is a subject close to our hearts, and we'll include a proper review of the new site in the next issue (when we've had a chance to review it on a broadband connection - first observation: it's a bit of a dog on a computer with a modem!).

This, by all accounts, should be of interest to you too given the results so far of the website poll. We asked you how many social and environmental reports by companies did you read in detail last year?

The majority of you owned up to less than five (57 percent). But even if that meant zero for everyone who voted for it, the 26 percent who have read between five and twenty and the 16 percent who said more than twenty remain a pretty impressive bunch. We'd like to test your definition of reading a report 'in detail' mind!

If you haven't yet voted, your contribution would be much appreciated, as always. 85 have cast their votes so far.

Meanwhile, we've been approached several times now by website owners keen to use either the full newsletter - or at least the news stories within it - on their own sites. From this week, we have now established a syndicated newsfeed for the site that should make this easier. To locate, follow the xml button on the front page.

News

Nestle settles claim with Ethiopian government

Nestle has come to an agreement with the Ethiopian government over its controversial claim for damages, marking the end of what many have described as a public relations disaster for the company.

Australia: New business standards promoted

Companies are being urged to develop a more active social conscience by a set of draft corporate governance guidelines released by Standards Australia for comment.

Canada: Tobacco companies challenge advertising ruling

Imperial Tobacco, JTI-Macdonald and Rothmans are fighting a decision of the Quebec Superior Court that dismissed their challenge to federal advertising restrictions.

Global Compact and WBCSD seek coherent CSR approach

The UN Global Compact and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have announced that they are to cooperate more closely for a coherent approach to corporate social responsibility

US: Top five CO2 emitting utilities face shareholder action

The five largest carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters amongst US electric power companies are simultaneously facing global warming-related shareholder resolutions in the coming annual meeting season.

Canada: CEOs rate RBC highest

Canada's leading business executives have voted RBC Financial Group (Royal Bank) as being the nation's most admired and respected corporation, according to a survey released by Ipsos-Reid.

PR News award winners for best CSR communications announced

PR News has announced the list of winners of its annual CSR awards, companies that have taken CSR to a higher level with innovative and thoughtful campaigns and ongoing programmes".

Davos: Unilever chief concerned at threat from public distrust

Niall Fitzgerald, the chairman of Unilever, has warned of the danger posed to business by the public perception of corporate governance during his speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos.

KPMG expects S.E.C. complaint over Xerox audits

KPMG, the global accounting firm, has stated that it expects the Securities and Exchange Commission to file a civil complaint against it for work carried out as auditor for Xerox Corporation.

McDonald's obesity lawsuit thrown out

A lawsuit brought against McDonald's blaming the fast food chain for causing obesity has been thrown out by a US judge in a landmark victory for the company.

BP official calls for dramatic safety changes in Alaska

Following the accidents that left one worker dead and another severely injured, the top BP official in Alaska has said that the company must make dramatic changes to ensure safety at its operations there.

Pharmacia to let generics copy AIDS drug for poor countries

Pharmacia Corp. announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos that it is to allow generic drug companies manufacture cheap copies of its AIDS drug to sell in poor countries. The move comes after years of controversy over how pharmaceutical companies protect patent rights for life-saving drugs.

Nestle, Danone accused on baby milk substitutes

A study in the British Medical Journal has alleged that manufacturers of powdered baby milk substitutes - including Nestle and Danone - are violating international codes on baby milk promotion in Africa.

Article

What do the CEOs know about CSR?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 26 Jan 2003

We usually report the headline results in brief of the various surveys that give snapshots of changing attitudes to corporate social responsibility. However, with some of the world's most powerful CEOs gathered together at Davos, now seemed like a good time to review the changing attitudes of this particular group.

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