Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#99 - 16 Jul 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 consider what PepsiCo and Microsoft have to tell us about the value of a corporate personality, and we hear from the FSC on Uruguay.

Welcome

Just one away from the landmark 100th issue of this newsletter! The occasional messages of support have been a great boost in getting this far and getting these churned out time after time. Any words you may like to send to mark the occasion will be doubly appreciated!

A couple of issues ago, I reviewed the World Rainforest Movement's critical report on the certification of some timber companies in Uruguay to the Forest Stewardship Council standard. In short, the report argues that some of these companies should never have been granted certification, and that in any case FSC certification should not be granted to monoculture plantations which, in their view, are socially and environmentally damaging.

The Forest Stewardship Council have now sent me their formal response to the report. It's too long to include in full here, but I have put the document in the resource section of the website.

The companies that carried out the certification (SGS and Smartwood) have investigated the claims in the WRM report and have largely confirmed their original findings. "Reading the certification body’s reports it is apparent that some information in the WRM report was based on misunderstandings or in some cases presented out of context" , said Heiko Liedeker, Director of FSC International.

The FSC statement continues: "As part of the certification bodies’ assessment of forest management FSC requires extensive consultation with local stakeholders to ensure that the needs of local people are respected and met. Along with many other stakeholders in Uruguay WRM was contacted during these processes to raise their concerns. Smartwood’s public summary documents this well. The FSC accredited certification bodies will continue to involve social, environmental and economic stakeholders at every annual monitoring visit to each of their certified operations."

The SmartWood report itself complains that the WRM and indeed the author of the WRM report had refused meetings or interviews relating to the assessments, that some of the information in the WRM report (including 'before' and 'after' photographs) was not a fair representation of the actual facts on the ground.

To see the FSC statement (which includes the link to the Smartwood document) go to http://www.mallenbaker.net/csr/CSRfiles/Resources.html.

The vote on the website continues. You will recall it goes:

Companies that trade on their ethics such as the Body Shop should:
Stay independent at all costs to preserve their brand 127 (27%)

Accept offers from responsible buyers that may help the company to move forward 277 (59%)

Operate purely by the logic of the market, it's a brand not a religion 68 (14%)

Many thanks to the 472 people that have voted so far. We'll have a different vote next time, so only a few days left for this one.

News

Revised Equator Principles launched

A revised version of the Equator Principles has been launched to cover social and environmental risks for financial institutions in project financing.

EU criticises internet companies in China

The European Parliament has passed a resolution criticising the internet companies that have, in its view, cooperated with repressive regimes that seek to inhibit freedom of information.

Australia: AWB faces $1bn US lawsuit

Wheat farmers in the US are bringing a $1bn lawsuit against wheat exporter AWB following claims that the company had used corruption to win business. The suit alleges that AWB used bribery and other corrupt practices to sell grain to Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan and Indonesia - sales that would otherwise have gone to US or Canadian farmers.

PepsiCo gains credit for refusing trade secrets sale

PepsiCo has been praised for refusing to buy rival Coca-Cola's trade secrets that were stolen by three Coke employees and offered to it for sale.

Microsoft fined over $350m by European Commission

As expected, the European Commission has hit Microsoft with a fine for failing to comply with an antitrust order requiring it to share technical information about its Windows operating system with rivals.

UK: Companies attacked for supporting Israel occupation

A new report by the UK charity War on Want has accused a number of companies of complicity in what it describes as Israel's war crimes against the Palestinians.

China: Half of chemical plants pose major risks

According to China's State Environmental Protection Administration, around half of the country's chemical plants pose major risks of environmental incidents and pollution.

Chemtura to be sued by tyre companies for price fixing

Three tyre companies, including Bridgestone, are to sue Chemtura seeking damages from goods that were purchased during a period when the company was found to be involved in price fixing.

NatWest bankers bailed in Enron fraud case

Three bankers that have been extradited from the UK to the US under a controversial anti-terrorism provision have been granted initial bail in the first round of their trial over fraud allegations.

Article

Corporate personality - does it help companies to play fair?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 16 Jul 2006

Microsoft has had a tough couple of weeks in Europe, being fined by the European Commission for not playing fair with its competitors. At the same time, PepsiCo has been bathing in the warm glow of approval after it spurned the offer to benefit from industrial espionage at Coca-Cola. So what does it really mean, to operate within a culture of fair competition?

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