Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#78 - 20 Oct 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 review The Corporation, the book and film that challenges some of the basic assumptions about what good business means

Welcome

The issues around business and corporate responsibility seem to be as high profile as ever, with some of the discussion breaking into film and radio in a higher profile way than ever before. Mallen will be taking part in a panel debate following the UK preview of the film The Corporation, so we thought we would mark the occasion this issue with a review of that film, and particularly the associated book. It is a serious critique that stands out from some of the more rhetorical anti-corporate stable, and deserves a read.

On the website, the current vote has been attracting strong interest. The position stands at:

The rising obesity problems in many countries will best be solved by:

New legislation to force food companies to reform their ways 114 (14%)

People taking personal responsibility for themselves and their families - we don't need people telling us how to live our lives 293 (35%)

All organisations, public and private sector, working together voluntarily to change behaviour 436 (52%)

843 people have voted, and there is still some time left to make your own views heard.

News

GlaxoSmithKline agrees disclosure on negative trials

GlaxoSmithKline has settled the lawsuit against it around accusations that it concealed studies showing that its drug Paxil had problems. The company has agreed to disclose information on all clinical studies of its drugs.

Australia: Westpac leads Corporate Responsibility Index

The results of the first year of the Corporate Responsibility Index in Australia have been announced, with Westpac heading the list, and other companies such as BP, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Toyota also doing well.

US: Sweatshop fears lead to MBNA to cut off T-shirt supplier

US bank MBNA America has stopped buying T-shirts from Canadian supplier Gildan Activewear following fears about working conditions in the company's supply chain.

UK: Report shows how Conrad Black 'looted' Hollinger

Former media magnate Conrad Black siphoned off more than $400m from his company Hollinger International according to a report put before a Chicago court - reducing the company to the role of 'piggy bank' and violating every rule of corporate responsibility.

Australia: Campaigners criticse Coca Cola support of food study

Research for the Australian Sports Commission, suggesting that the rise in childhood obesity is linked to declining physical activity rather than rising food intakes, has been attacked by critics because it was sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Papua New Guinea: Durban Deep attacked for lack of corporate responsibility

Oxfam has continued its ongoing attacks on Durban Roodepoort Deep for its alleged ongoing pollution at its Tolukuma gold mine. The organisation said that the company had become 'a law unto itself'.

Israel: Caterpillar under fire over demolitions

Caterpillar faces a shareholders' resolution focusing on the use of its bulldozers by the Israeli army to flatten the property of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Canada: Concern over Noranda takeover by China Minmetals

Furious reactions have been provoked by the proposal by Canada's largest mining company Noranda Inc. to sell out to China Minmetals Corp, a state-owned enterprise accused by some of having been complicit in human rights abuses in China.

United Arab Emirates: Business ethics campaign launched

The Dubai Ethics Resource Centre has launched a campaign to promote business ethics in a bid to safeguard flows of foreign investment into the country.

Ghana: Cocoa producers under notice on child labour

Cocoa producers have been given less than a year to provide proof that their crop has been produced without child labour if they want to retain access to the international markets.

SRI analysts urge use of Global Reporting Initiative

A group of 17 analysts from US SRI groups has launched a statement urging a higher standard of reporting on corporate governance, environmental, labour and other key issues. The statement calls upon companies to start reporting annually on their policies, practices and performance.

US: Ahold escapes SEC fine through 'extraordinary cooperation' on fraud charges

Dutch grocery company Royal Ahold NV has settled charges that its subsidiaries had fraudulently inflated earnings by nearly $830m. The company managed to escape paying fines due to what one SEC official described as 'extraordinary cooperation' with investigators.

Retailer Abercrombie and Fitch to boycott Australian wool

Leading fashion retailer Abercrombie and Fitch has said that it is to boycott Australian wool after being targeted by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and threatened with being the subject of graphic newspaper advertisements.

Article

Corporate Social Responsibility moves centre stage

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 20 Oct 2004

The question of the role of business in society has received a high profile in recent months with a couple of films that have sought to shine a critical spotlight on what many see has the dominant institution of our times.

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