Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#83 - 16 Jun 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 consider ISO's proposed new ISO 26000 social responsibility standard, and ask how valuable such a standard may be to businesses aiming to improve their performance.

Welcome

Well, our request for any stories of unsung heroes within the business - individual change agents who had helped to promote business change for responsible business practice - didn't quite get the sort of responses we had been hoping for. We did get several consultancies putting themselves forward as organisational change agents. Thanks for the responses, but not what we were looking for on this occasion!

This time around, we are focusing on CSR management standards. ISO has announced that it is hard at work on the proposed ISO 26000 social responsibility standard - a good time to reflect on the value of such tools to the business community.

Mallen is currently being kept busy with different aspects of the 'marketplace' work at Business in the Community, including the annual conference on 5-6 July which focuses much more this year on the responsibilities of companies in relation to their core products and services. It's an impressive line-up of senior businesses - see http://www.bitc.org.uk/events/events_calendar/annconf05.html for details.

We have now changed the vote on the website. The final tally for the previous vote is as follows:

When a world disaster strikes, business should consider whether to give support and conclude:
* Extraordinary events call for extraordinary generosity 673 (66%)
* Whether they should divert part of their existing community budget 174 (17%)
* That it is shareholders' money and not theirs to give 177 (17%)

Many thanks to the 1024 people who voted.

The new vote, in keeping with the focus of this issue is:

Management standards for CSR are generally:

* A useful tool for my business
* Something to refer to but not follow in full
* Not relevant to our needs

We do know that any of these questions can be laden with 'ifs' and 'buts'. Obviously, if someone were to invent the perfect management system that wholly encapsulated every aspect of running an excellent, socially responsible business, you would vote for the first option! You will just need to go on the basis of existing standards, such as SA8000, AA1000 et al.

News

Australia: Rio Tinto condemned by aboriginal people over business dealings

Rio Tinto's Pilbara Iron has been attacked following a meeting of more than 750 aborigines in Western Australia's Pilbara region for failing to meet its own social responsibility standards in dealing with traditional owners.

Oil companies see the writing on the wall for their industry

In two separate initiatives, the major oil companies have begun to show that they are taking stock of the challenge of sustainable energy. In the UK, BP and Shell joined a group of 12 major business leaders in writing to the Prime Minister arguing that climate change is a huge challenge that needs serious investment by business. In a separate move, Exxon Mobil - long regarded as the industry's most optimistic business-as-usual operator - has produced a report that predicts an impending plateau in non-OPEC oil production.

Russia: Khodorkovsky meets expected fate whilst business wonders what next

Former Yukos boss Mikhail Khordokovsky has been jailed for nine years for offences including tax evasion and fraud. As the verdict was finally announced, Russian prosecutors said that they may soon bring fresh charges, and Khordokovsky said he would appeal against the verdict. Meanwhile, the business community and the outside world is trying to assess the implications.

Andersen conviction on Enron overturned

Three years after the company was destroyed through its association with the Enron scandal, the US Supreme Court has overturned Arthur Andersen's criminal conviction for obstruction of justice.

Controversy over corporate citizenship award for Lukoil CEO

An award for Corporate Citizenship for Vagit Alekprov, CEO of Lukoil, by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Kennan Institute has created controvery, with allegations that the company has been seriously tainted in its business operations.

New group to promote corporate responsibility for jewelry industry

A new business group, 'The Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices', has been set up with a founding membership including almost 20 industry organisations, including Jewellers of America.

Wal-Mart urged by investors to improve its reputation

Some of the largest shareholders in Wal-Mart have written to the company urging action over the company's corporate reputation following a series of fines and class actions on workplace issues.

Australia: HIH former deputy chairman cleared of dishonesty

Charles Abbott, the former deputy chairman of HIH Insurance, has been cleared of charges of dishonesty in the lead up to the company's collapse.

US: Tobacco lawsuit requested penalty slashed

US Justice Department lawyers made a dramatic change of heart in a major civil racketeering case against tobacco companies by slashing the requested penalty from $130bn to $10bn.

Citigroup agrees $2bn settlement over Enron

Citigroup has settled a case that alleged the bank gave assistance to Enron to disguise its burgeoning debt brought by investors.

BP accused of 'showing two faces' on climage change

BP has been attacked by environmental groups for allegedly privately lobbying in Washington to block legislation to introduce a mandatory curb on greenhouse gases in the US.

Japan: Mandom Corp pulls TV advertising slammed as racist

Cosmetics company Mandom Corp has said it is to stop showing a television commercial that was criticised for comparing black people and monkeys.

Kofi Annan calls on business to play bigger role in tackling poverty in Africa

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said multinational corporations should play a more central role in tackling poverty in Africa during a corporate responsibility seminar.

Article

Standards of Corporate Responsibiity

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 15 Jun 2005

The International Standards Organisation has just completed a summit meeting in Korea on the future development of the proposed Corporate Social Responsibility standard ISO 26000. At the same time China has announced a new responsibility standard for the textiles and garments industry. Surely such standards represent progress. I wonder.

Previous edition - No 82 | Following edition - No 84

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