Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#82 - 16 May 2005

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 state of corporate social responsibility in Kazakhstan.

Welcome

We're back! After a pause of some months - unprecedented in the four years or so the newsletter has been running - the Business Respect newsletter should hopefully reappear as a regular addition to your inbox. Many thanks to all those who sent queries in, wondering just why they hadn't seen one for a while. It's been a combination of circumstance, work pressure and just the need, after four years solid, for some sort of pause and re-evaluation.

A couple of weeks ago, Mallen spoke at a CSR conference in Kazakhstan - certainly a first for us. This issue, we share some reflections from that event.

Also, Mallen was interviewed for an internet radio programme called "Ethics - From Living Room to Board Room". It was a while ago now, but there is an archive of the interview at http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=3410 for any that might be interested.

But most of all, we're interested to hear about change agents. The website has featured since it was first set up the conviction that managers and workers throughout businesses can act as positive forces to help their company be profitable in a positive and responsible way. And yet, although there are many case studies about how companies have adopted policies, engaged stakeholders, and done great things as a result, there are precious few about the individuals who made a real change in their companies. The managers whose personal conviction helped to move a company further than it would otherwise have gone. Individuals who helped their company to achieve profitable change - perhaps against a wall of initial scepticism. They may have had the job title of CSR manager. But many will not.

Do you know of someone like this? We would be fascinated to hear from you, and to hear the stories of what has been achieved. Ultimately, of course, it would be good to get some stories that could be shared, although needless to say that won't happen until everyone has been consulted. Let us know.

The current vote on the website is now coming to the end of its time. Many of you will know it says:

When a world disaster strikes, business should consider whether to give support and conclude:

Extraordinary events call for extraordinary generosity 528 (65%)
Whether they should divert part of their existing community budget 134 (16%)
That it is shareholders' money and not theirs to give 152 (19%)

814 people voted in total - thanks to all of those that made their views known. The new vote will be on the website before the next newsletter.

News

Business showing leadership on climate change

General Electric and Morgan Stanley have joined the list of companies pledging serious action to tackle the growing phenomenon of climate change.

GM and Toyota explore hydrogen collaboration

According to the Financial Times, General Motors and Toyota are in advanced discussions to explore a joint initiative to speed the development of hydrogen-powered cars.

Fortune 100 companies fail to achieve boardroom diversity

A survey of Fortune 100 board membership has found that women and ethnic minorities remain heavily under-represented. Under 17 percent of board seats are held by women and less than 15 percent by an individual from an ethnic minority.

12 million people victims of forced labour says ILO

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a new report suggesting that over 12m people are working in coercive, slave conditions and calling for a global alliance to tackle the problem.

General Re executive under fraud investigation

The US Justice Department has notified John Houldsworth, a senior executive of the General Re Corporation, that he is the target of a criminal fraud investigation, according to the New York Times.

US business leaders told more tsunami cash needed

Government ministers from countries that suffered the effects of the tsunami have said that more cash is needed to repair the damaged infrastructure and economy.

Japan: Banks called upon to take more responsibility for card theft and fraud

A recent report on compensation for bank card-related fraud has been attacked by fraud victims for an inadequate response to the problems. The banks, they say, need to respond more effectively.

Dow bullish in face of onslaught on environmental performance

Dow's President and CEO Andrew Liveris told a packed annual meeting that the company's success would continue, and shrugged off criticisms from campaign groups on environmental performance.

Wal-Mart asked to disclose information on pay

51 members of the US Congress have signed a letter calling on Wal-Mart to address gender discrimination and to disclose its wage data for Congressional review.

Iran: Iran Khodro car company accused of supporting brutality

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has protested at violence at the Iran Khodro automotive construction company, including the detention and disappearance of a worker, Mr. Parviz Salarvand.

Australia: Virgin Blue fights sex and age discrimination claim

A flight attendant told a tribunal that Australian budget airline Virgin Blue's job interviews were little more than a 'cattle yard' for young blonde women.

China: Don't shield polluting companies, local officials told

China's State Environmental Protection Agency has warned local authorities not to interfere in a string of serious pollution cases involving dozens of companies.

Unilever targeted over 'crisis in tea industry'

Action Aid have produced a report, 'Tea Break', targeted at Hindustan Lever, one of the Unilever companies, which it describes as profiting from worsening conditions for workers on plantations.

Article

Corporate Social Responsibility in Kazakhstan - a reflection

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 16 May 2005

How far as the movement for CSR penetrated into the consciousness and activity of companies based in Kazakhstan? A conference for business practitioners focusing primarily on community involvement that took place in Almaty reviewed some of the evidence.

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