CSR News Stories
A few years ago, I made a prediction that some time in the following five years, a CSR champion – probably a sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index – would "suffer a scandal serious enough to add weight to the CSR sceptics". Arguably, that has now happened with the revelation that people at Volkswagen deliberately cheated emissions tests so their vehicles could pollute more heavily than legally permitted and thereby damage people's health.
McDonald's has said that it will source the 2 billion eggs it uses annually in the US and Canada from cage-free hens over the next decade. Less than one percent of its eggs are currently cage-free.
Chipotle, which caused something of a stir when it previously announced it was aiming to purge its menu of genetically modified ingredients, is being sued by a Californian woman for false advertising.
Jeff Bezos has responded to a report published by the New York Times that described "a bruising workplace" in which people work long hours and employees could routinely be seen weeping at their desk. Bezos said that he had read the article and didn't recognise it as a description of the Amazon he knew.
Netflix has introduced an unlimited leave policy for new parents that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after the birth, or adoption, of a child.
IKEA has said that it is to be the first national retailer in the UK to pay all of its 9,000 workers significantly above the 'living wage' rate recently announced by the government as the new mandatory minimum.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said that innovation will be the key to solving climate change, and has pledged to invest $2bn in developing renewable energy technologies over the coming five years. He said that he is already investing in companies working on battery storage, next-generation nuclear, solar and wind power, and carbon capture.
Four of Australia's biggest business lobby groups have joined an alliance with unions, investors and campaigning NGOs to call for more robust policies to take the country towards reducing the impact of climate change.
Cargill and Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) have said that they will review allegations that a supplier, a subsidiary of Eagle High Plantations Tbk, had continued a programme of deforestation in Papua New Guinea in contravention of sustainability commitments.
The Indian government has filed for damages against Nestlé after fears of lead in the Maggi Noodles brand led to a ban on the product by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. According to Reuters, the action is the first time the Indian government has sought damages from a multinational.
British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International and Japan Tobacco International have been hit by a ruling on two class action lawsuits on behalf of a million Canadian smokers who claimed they weren't aware of the health risks. The companies were ordered to pay CAD$15.6 billion. All three companies have said that they will appeal the damages award.
The authorities in Bangladesh have said that they are to press murder charges against the owners of the Rana Plaza factory where over 1,100 people died in 2013. In total 41 people are to be charged who are held to have shared "collective responsibility" for the factory's collapse which became the worst industrial accident in Bangladesh's history and the third worst worldwide. The number includes more than a dozen government officials.
Greenpeace has said that it will once again work with Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) after it suspended dealings with the company following the death of an Indonesian farmer.
Walmart has announced a new animal welfare policy for its entire supply chain which has won plaudits from campaign groups for its drive to be proactive in eliminating animal abuse. The policy covers the responsible use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, and aims overall to end many of the practices that have been most controversial, such as different forms of intensive livestock rearing.
An alliance of news organisations, including the Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, El Pais, Le Monde, India Today and China Daily have said that they will share climate change content in the run-up to the forthcoming UN summit. The agreement is designed to help raise the profile of the issues.
Paul Polman has called on world leaders to set clear targets on greenhouse gas emissions to force the pace of innovation. Talking ahead of the Paris climate summit, he said that business leaders could help create 'political licence' for governments to promote clean energy.
Apple, which currently meets a reported 87% of its direct energy use via renewable sources, has raised the bar out of sight with its statement that it aims to do the same for the energy emissions it doesn't directly own or control - those in its supply chain.
Bank of America has said that it will reduce its financial exposure to coal companies based on an assessment of the risk to such investments from future regulation and competition from lower carbon natural gas. The announcement is the latest development in the continuing progress of the fossil fuel divestment campaign that has seen a growing focus on the possibility that current oil and coal reserves might come to be 'stranded assets' of no financial value.
Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, has said that the company's brands which have the strongest commitment to sustainability as part of their overall brand identity have shown stronger sales growth than the rest. "These brands accounted for half the company's growth in 2014 and grew at twice the rate of the rest of the business," he said, showing that consumers are increasingly demanding socially responsible products.
HSBC has warned of fossil fuel reserves becoming 'stranded assets' according to a private report reported by Newsweek. It says that fossil fuel companies may become 'economically unviable' as moves are taken away from carbon-based energy sources with the potential that this will mean some reserves of fossil fuels never have their financial value realised.
The Business Respect email newsletter has been produced since 2001 to give news and commentary on CSR worldwide
See the archive of past issues