Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#62 - 7 Sep 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 review the range of corporate social responsibility issues arising from how companies operate in the marketplace.

Welcome

Happily the latter messages are not the case - we know because the virus in question infects Windows machines and we use a Macintosh to put Business Respect together. It does, however, spoof the sender of email addresses in order to trap the unwary into opening it. We hope that none of our readers have been caught out because of a Business Respect header. If you have been - our sympathies - but it really didn't come from us!

As a result of the hundreds of messages, it may be more likely that we will have accidentally deleted genuine messages in trying to clear the mailbox of junk. If you've been expecting an answer from us and haven't heard anything, do try again - use a header that says something like 'Business Respect query - ' that should help it to stand out!

The vote on the website on public policy continues. The issue around public policy has been picked up by Trillium Asset Management, that said on its website that it "will be exploring ways to promote greater transparency in lobbying among our holdings." There have been one or two other stirrings on the issue emerging in other places too.

The vote currently looks like this:

When it comes to lobbying on matters of public policy, companies should:
Lobby away and / or pay donations - legislators are grown-ups
22 (7%)
Lobby and / or pay donations - but they must disclose what they do
206 (62%)
Do nothing - corporate lobbying should be banned
105 (31%)

333 people have voted to date. We will be changing this poll soon, so the next few days are the last chance to make your views known.

By the next issue, we will have attended and taken part at the Asian Forum on CSR - so expect a lot on that next time. Once again, do let us know if you'll be around at either that conference or the following Ethical Corporation do in Singapore - we're always keen to meet Business Respect readers!

News

Australia: Business Council breaks ranks over Kyoto

Divisions amongst Australia's leading businesses on climate change have become apparent with the announcement of a shift by the Business Council of Australia from a position of hostility to the Kyoto Protocol to one of neutrality.

Australia: Fintrack Financial Services criticised over advertising

Mortgage broker Fintrack has been criticised by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for the accuracy of its advertising - particularly the claim that the company was free of conflicts of interest caused by commission-based selling.

US: Boise Cascade announces zero old-growth wood policy

The paper and building materials company Boise Cascade has announced that from 2004 it will no longer use timber from old-growth forests or from endangered forests.

McDonald's latest obesity suit thrown out

The second major attempt to hit McDonald's with a class action lawsuit over its contribution to obesity suffered by its customers has been thrown out by a federal judge.

Unocal under pressure over Myanmar

Chief financial officers from New York and California have called upon Unocal to withdraw from Myanmar or clearly state that the company operates in line with human rights guarantees.

East European companies growing on CSR disclosure

According to a new survey by the Partners for Financial Stability programme, 48 percent of major Eastern European companies disclose community involvement information on their websites - with a further 22 percent of the companies surveyed giving information on environmental performance.

Dow Jones Sustainability Index - Winners and Losers

AMP, Anglo American, BAE Systems, Gap, and Toyota Motor Corp are amongst the companies that have been added to the Dow Jones Group Sustainability Index with the latest revision announced on September 4th.

WorldCom CEO pleads not guilty

The former WorldCom chief executive Bernie Ebbers has pleaded innocent to charges that he broke securities laws. The event marks the final opening of court proceedings against executives responsible for the company's $11bn accounting scandal.

Petro-Canada blames environmental legislation for refinery closure

Petro-Canada has announced it is to close its oil refinery in Oakville, USA, cutting 350 jobs in the process, as a result of environmental legislation requiring lower sulphur emissions.

Indonesia: Asia Pulp & Paper signs deal with WWF

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the WorldWide Fund for Nature (WWF) over the management of its forests in Sumatra. The deal also includes the company's fibre suppliers, the Sinar Mas Group forestry companies (SMG).

Lesotho: Bribery charges extend to Spie Batagnolles

French construction company Spie Batagnolles is to become the third company prosecuted for alleged bribery in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Key mining and oil companies pledge to keep hands off protected sites

Royal Dutch/Shell and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) have stated that they will not lead land explorations in any of the 172 protected areas listed by the World Heritage.

Article

In the market for business responsibility

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 7 Sep 2003

How companies show social responsibility in the marketplace is the key challenge that will come to define the success or failure of CSR over the coming years. When journalists note in passing, as some have certainly done recently, the 'triviality' of much of what passes as CSR, they are usually reflecting the relative novelty with which the movement is getting to grips with issues around core products and services.

Previous edition - No 61 | Following edition - No 63