Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#94 - 7 May 2006

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, following the purchase of the Body Shop by L'Oreal we look at the dilemmas presented by the niche ethical brands.

Welcome

Last time, I announced that I had set up a CSR-specific 'swicki' search engine on the website. This hasn't proven to be an outstanding success. First of all, the numbering of results seems to be a little strange, with results 1-15 being followed by results 30-45 for example. Secondly, a lot of the same pages seem to get duplicated.

Having looked at some of the more popular swickis, these problems don't seem to occur, so I have sent a note off to the good people that run it and hope to see if there's a solveable problem here. The principle of a search engine that the community continually improves is such an attractive one that I am reluctant to give up on it at the first hurdle. However, I'm not sure it proves as helpful as it should in its current incarnation.

Promising much, but not always delivering - it could almost be a lead-in for this issue's main article on the ethical niche brands. There are some pretty small companies here whose iconic importance has become huge - this article discusses some of the pros and the cons following the sale of the Body Shop to L'Oreal.

The subject is now the focus on the website vote. It goes as follows:

Companies that trade on their ethics such as the Body Shop should:

* Stay independent to preserve their brand
* Accept offers from responsible buyers that may help the company move forward
* Operate purely by the logic of the market, it's a brand not a religion

Let us have your views!

That therefore means the close of the previous vote. The final picture was:

Internet companies faced with demands of censorship by China
Should do whatever they are required to do by the Chinese government 53 (9%)
Should obey laws but do whatever they can to uphold their home values 323 (55%)
Should refuse to compromise even if this means not doing business in China 214 (36%)

Many thanks to the 590 people who voted.

News

Indonesia: Freeport faces official audit

Indonesia's Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) is to audit Freeport Indonesia to establish whether the company's reports provide an accurate reflection of how its profits are distributed.

Chevron CEO confronted by rainforest activists

Two rainforest leaders called upon Chevron CEO David O'Reilly at the company's AGM to face its responsibilities for pollution in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Chad: World Bank and government reach interim deal over oil

The World Bank has announced that it has reached an interim agreement with the government of Chad to unfreeze some of the blocked oil profits and to resume lending following the recent dispute over how money was to be used.

Philip Morris apologises for Maori 'mistake'

Louis Camilleri, the chief executive of Altria, parent group of Philip Morris, has apologised for launching a brand of cigarettes in Israel called 'Maori Mix' that used imagery from the Maori people and a map of New Zealand.

UN Principles for Responsible Investment launched by Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan has signalled the launch of the new Principles for Responsible Investment by sounding the opening bell and the New York stock exchange, flanked by pension funds worth more than $2,000bn.

South Korea: Hyundai chairman charged with embezzlement

Chung Mong-Koo, the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, has been arrested on embezzlement charges. The move follows accusations that he and the company paid politicians and officials for business advantage.

Ford invites customers to offset carbon emissions

Ford Motor Company has announced a 'Greener Miles' programme that invites Ford owners to purhase carbon offsets to cover their vehicle usage.

EU: Chemicals cartel fined 388m euros

Seven chemicals companies have been fined 388m euros for running a cartel that exchanged commercially important information and fixed prices of hydrogen peroxide and perborate.

US: Fizzy drinks companies to pull out of schools

Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes have said that they are to pull most fizzy drinks from US schools, selling only water, juice and low calorie drinks. The deal was brokered by former President Bill Clinton and the American Heart Association.

Child labour figures fall for the first time

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the number of children working has gone down by 11 percent to 218 million. This is the first time the figures have declined, and the ILO hailed the news by suggesting that many types of child labour could be eradicated in a decade.

Intel invests $1bn in low cost PCs for developing countries

Intel, the world's largest manufacturer of computer chips, has launched a new personal computer designed to provide low cost but good quality machines for developing countries.

Article

Scratching a niche

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 28 Apr 2006

There has been a furious reaction to the shock news that HSBC is to take over the UK's Co-operative Bank in its attempt to reach a new ethical market segment.

Previous edition - No 93 | Following edition - No 95

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