Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#57 - 1 Jun 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 issue, we consider a socially responsible company has any business lobbying and campaigning to shape public policy.

Welcome

The most fundamental expression of citizenship is surely to take part in the political discourse of your country - to play an active part in influencing the decisions that govern how things get done. So it is on an individual level, and so it is on a corporate level.

Few areas create such unease as the role of the corporates in influencing public policy. Companies are nervous about being open about it. The public feels nervous that undue influence is being exercised. The NGOs are outraged about it. So we thought it was time we reflected on whether and how a socially responsible company responds to the public agenda.

And so interesting we find it that the new vote on the website now asks you for your views on the subject. It goes something like this:

When it comes to lobbying on matters of public policy, companies should:

1. Lobby away - legislators are grown ups
2. Lobby and / or pay donations - but they must disclose what they do
3. Do nothing - corporate lobbying should be banned

Over to you ...

News

GlaxoSmithKline loses historic shareholder vote on pay

GlaxoSmithKline made UK corporate history as the first company to lose a motion on a simple majority on the company's remuneration report. 50.72 percent of shareholders voted against the report.

Nigeria: Econet Wireless commended for crisis centre

Econet Wireless Nigeria has been labelled 'one of the best things to happen to Nigerians in the crucial aspect of corporate social responsibility' following its Crisis Centre's rapid response to save the lives of two telecomms workers.

UK: Corporate killing law targets companies not directors

The UK government has announced that new legislation on corporate killing will target companies, but will not personally prosecute individual directors under any lower burden of proof than currently exists.

Australia: Mayne sues Pan Pharmaceuticals over product recall

Mayne Group, the major Australian hospital operator, has announced it is to sue Pan Pharmaceuticals to recover at least A$25m in costs following the product recall of Pan's medicines.

Japan: Snow Brand employees get suspended jail sentences

Two employees of Snow Brand Milk Products have been given suspended jail sentences for their part in the major food-poisoning scandal that has dogged the reputation of the group since 2000.

US Government backs suit against Warner-Lambert illegal payments

The US government has filed a statement arguing against the dismissal of a case against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The company's subsidiary, Parke-Davis, is alleged to have offered illegal payments to doctors in support of its drug marketing and to have promoted drugs for non-approved uses.

Halliburton settles accounting suits for $6m

Halliburton, the company formerly led by US Vice-President Dick Cheney, has agreed to pay $6m to settle a series of class-action lawsuits over allegations of improper accounting practices.

Singapore: Suddenly two business ethics centres appear

The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) has managed to spawn not one, but two similar centres to promote corporate social responsibility within two weeks of each other.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers blamed for text message sackings

2500 people have been laid off from the UK's largest personal injury claims company, Accident Group, many of them being informed that they would not be paid by text message.

Microsoft settles competition suit for $750m

Microsoft has agreed to pay $750m to settle a lawsuit with AOL over anti-competitive behaviour relating to its website brower and AOL'S Netscape Communications.

India: WHO calls on film industry to stop promoting smoking

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised the film industry, and in particular 'Bollywood' movies, for glamourising smoking through a constant use of characters who give a positive view of the habit.

Article

Bringing corporate lobbying into the light

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 1 Jun 2003

The phrase 'the business of business is business' - familiar to the point of mundanity as it is - is believed both by sceptics of corporate social responsibility and some of those CSR champions whose principal focus remains the business case. Nowhere is it held to have more relevance than when it comes to a question of the role of companies in the formation of public policy.

Previous edition - No 56 | Following edition - No 58

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