Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#95 - 21 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, we review the progress and dilemmas for supermarket giants Wal-Mart and Tesco.

Welcome

For a long time, I had been very resistant to the notion of following the blogging trend. This newsletter, with its opportunity to reach an interested audience with opinion and analysis seemed to be a more satisfying way of creating content that might be genuinely of interest and value.

Still, all things change. The power of blogs is their role in allowing the passing reflection, the response to events, the ability to better represent the full range of interests and concerns of the individual. And there are some fairly inspiring examples out there of people that make this work well.

So I have come to the conclusion that some experimentation is called for. This has led to the creation of my own blog at http://www.mallenbaker.net/blog. Since I generally do my own geeky coding, these pages don't yet have a comment or trackback facility. The former will be added soon, the latter if it seems that the experiment has some value! However, the entries on the blog will remain separate from the content in these newsletters.

Those of you that use newsreaders, you can get an rss feed both for the CSR news stories and articles that make it into this newsletter and now, also, the blog. These are at:
http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/xml/csrnews.rss
http://www.mallenbaker.net/blog/xml/mallenblog.rdf

The vote on the website has attracted some initial activity. The current situation is as follows:

Companies that trade on their ethics such as the Body Shop should:
Stay independent at all costs to preserve their brand 32 (27%)
Accept offers from responsible buyers that may help the company to move forward 73 (61%)
Operate purely by the logic of the market, it's a brand not a religion 15 (12%)

120 people have so far voted. Still time to make your views known.

One reader wrote in with the following thought: "I haven't voted in your survey, because 'Accept offers from responsible buyers that may help the company to move forward' does not take into account the history. And in the case of the Body Shop, that is important.

"L'Oreal test on animals. In the interview I saw with Anita Roddick, she talked about her hope that they could use L'Oreal's research and development (ie knowledge gained from animal testing) to move Body Shop products forward. But to use this knowledge is to go against everything that the brand stands for. L'Oreal can't unlearn or undo its testing."

Of course, this comes down to the tricky area of perceptions and definition. If you feel that L'Oreal, because of its history, does not constitute a 'responsible buyer' then that doesn't stop you from voting for the difference between accepting offers from responsible buyers (which in your view in this case wouldn't include L'Oreal) or operating purely according to the logic of the market.

These votes can only be a broad indicator of view in any case. There are always grey areas that cannot be covered by three choices. But the results do give some interesting insights.

News

Business contribution to Millennium Development Goals celebrated

Ten companies have been celebrated for their contribution to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Glamis Gold and Anglo American targeted by new gold campaign

Canadian multinational Glamis Gold and AngloGold Ashanti, a subsidiary of Anglo American, have been urged to give local communities a greater say over how gold is mined by a new report released by CAFOD.

DHL pulls out of Myanmar

According to the Burma Campaign, DHL is to end its five year joint venture with government-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications operating in Myanmar at the end of the year.

Gilead Sciences pursues generic deals on AIDS drugs

Gilead Science has announced that it is to pursue non-exclusive voluntary licensing of its AIDS drug Viread with generic manufacturers in India, a move which potentially makes the drug available on a much more affordable basis.

US: Top 100 polluters named

A new list has been produced naming the companies which emit the most pollution in the US.

ISO under fire over CSR summit

Consumers International, a world collection of consumer organisations, has attacked the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) for what it described as blocking press access to the debates at its social responsibility summit in Lisbon.

IBM partners on Global Pandemic Initiative

IBM is to work in partnership with twenty public health institutions, including the World Health Organisation, on an initiative aimed at tackling infectious diseases such as the feared bird flu pandemic.

Australia: AWB admitted kickbacks to Saddam Hussein

A letter of apology drafted by former AWB managing director Andrew Lindberg has been released showing that the company had admitted that it had paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime.

Calyon criticised over support for Botnia papermill in Uruguay

Calyon, part of Credit Agricole of France, has been attacked for allegedly violating its commitment to the Equator Principles in its support of Finnish papermill Botnia.

Drummond faces charge of having Colombian union leaders killed

The head of the Colombian operations for Drummond made a payment to pay for the assassination of two union leaders, according to a statement made by a former intelligence officer.

ABN Amro shines on sustainable banking shortlist

The FT Sustainable Banking Awards have announced its shortlisted candidates, and revealed that ABN Amro has been shortlisted for every category.

Article

The big supermarkets - now competing on price, quality ... and trust

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 21 May 2006

One of the latest cinematic blasts at business has just been released - Wal-Mart, the high cost of low prices - soon after the company unveiled its new focus on social responsibility. At the same time, the UK's dominant player Tesco has been attacked by the leader of the opposition in the UK Parliament in the same week as announcing a ten point 'Tesco in the Community' programme covering a range of significant CSR issues.

Previous edition - No 94 | Following edition - No 96