Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#74 - 23 May 2004

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 return to the subject of small companies and social responsibility.

Welcome

We're back! After a month's break due to unusual pressure of work (next time you hear Mallen go on about 'work-life balance' at an event, you should just laugh in his face!) hopefully we will be back on track with these newsletters again. We have been encouraged - even shamed - into action by all those of you that have either emailed or spoken to one of us at events to ask about where the newsletter had gone! Thanks as always for your interest.

Since we last sent one of these out, Mallen has debated the role of legislation in CSR with Andrew Pendleton, author of the Christian Aid report 'Behind the Mask' - which was the subject of some controversy following our critical review of same. This took place at the Ethical Corporation conference in London - which had the distinction of actually being picketed by a couple of dozen protestors who believed that to promote any concept of an ethical corporation was to be derided.

Did the debate arrive at any conclusion? Not so you would notice. But there were several times when there seemed to be points of agreement within grasp - if only people's terms of reference weren't so far apart.

This issue, we return to the theme of small businesses. Mallen took part in the European Commission seminar on how large companies mentor SMEs on their social responsibility. The message of the occasion was that by and large, they don't! However, there are enough examples of those that have taken a lead to be able to see the business case for doing it, and to illustrate the mechanisms by which it may be done. The presentation may appear next week on the BITC website - if so we'll draw attention to it here.

Meanwhile, on the mallenbaker.net website, voting has been continuing on the current poll. You will remember that it asks the question: Why should businesses engage in corporate social responsibility?

The current state of play is as follows:

They should do only those things that are supported by a solid business case 72 (13 percent)
They should do a range of things relevant to their impact whether or not there is a business case 339 (60 percent)
They should only do things because it is the right thing to do - if there is a business case that's not CSR 150 (27 percent)

561 people have voted to date. Looking at the poll, we can appreciate how much this newsletter must occasionally irritate and annoy some of you - since we are pretty solid on there being a business case for CSR! When so provoked, do feel free to email in to comment! (try to put the words 'Business Respect' in the title of the email - 300 plus spam messages come to the editorial address every day, and inevitably some legitimate emails are probably missed as a result.

News

Israel: Securities Authority to introduce its own ethical code

The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) is to create its own ethical code of conduct following the introduction of its requirement of companies to announce whether they have such a code themselves.

US: S.E.C fines Lucent $25m for fraudulent reporting

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil lawsuit against Lucent Technologies plus nine of its former and current employees, for allegedly fraudulent reporting of revenue.

Procter & Gamble most consistent top corporate citizen

Procter & Gamble has been heralded as the most consistent performer in the 100 Best Corporate Citizens list produced by Business Ethics magazine due to its achievement in reaching the top five in each of the last five years. The company is ranked number 2 in the latest list.

Bank of America focuses on greenhouse gases

Bank of America is to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the projects it funds and to end financial support for unsustainable timber projects.

Japan: Nippon Keidanren to promote social responsibility

The Japan Business Federation Nippon Keidanren has announced that it is to revise its Charter of Corporate Behaviour to explicitly promote greater corporate responsibility by its member companies.

South Africa: JSE Corporate Responsibility Index launched

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) has launched its Social Responsibility Index, following the King 2 report's call for 'triple bottom line' approaches from companies.

UK: Minister to launch CSR Academy

The UK's minister for corporate social responsibility, Stephen Timms, is to launch a new CSR Academy, which will support the development of specific CSR skills within mainstream managers and business practitioners.

Martha Stewart may go for retrial

The odds of Martha Stewart being granted a retrial have improved as doubts have been raised over some of the key evidence that was presented during her initial court case.

Another Enron former executive pleads guilty

Paula Rieker, formerly the second in command of Enron's investor relations team, has pleaded guilty to charges of insider trading.

Abbott Laboratories under attack for AIDS repricing

A cross-party coalition of US senators has called for an investigation into the action by Abbott Laboratories to increase the price of its antiretroviral drug Norvir by 400%.

Russia: Reebok accused of paying 'grey' wages

Reebok Russia is being sued by a former employee for having sacked him after he complained that it paid wages off the books. Sergei Suchkov, a former store designer, had told his employment agency of the practice.

Companies start to act on climate change

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, more global companies are acknowledging their responsibility in relation to climate change, reporting their status and developing coherent strategies. The best are celebrated in a new 'Climate Leadership Index'.

Canada: Mining firms announce new code on sustainability

The Mining Association of Canada has announced that its 32 members have adopted a code of practice called 'Toward Sustainable Mining', covering corporate performance on environmental and social responsibility.

Article

Finding the formula for responsible small companies

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 23 May 2004

One of the common arguments arising from the Corporate Social Responsibility movement - particularly in the developed economies - is that CSR is just as important for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) as it is for the big boys. I wonder why.

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