Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#127 - 11 May 2008

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 the plight of the Olympic Games sponsors.

Welcome

For companies, working out just how they should respond to the changing expectations on them can be a bewildering affair. On the one hand, there are times when they need to hear the mood music in the distance and move quickly to shift their business model to meet a challenging new environment. Sometimes it can be as simple as listening to what key stakeholders are saying, learning and absorbing.

Often, it is not so simple.

Some campaigning issues have equally passionate stakeholder advocates on both sides of the argument. And sometimes the stakeholders concerned simply have no interest in the situation the company is in, and its interest on behalf of its employees, its customers, its shareholders (including all those pension funds) in finding its way through the morass - they just want the company to act as a vehicle for their campaign objectives.

Arguably, that is the position that the Olympic sponsors find themselves in. It's a high temperature, controversial area at the moment, but one well worth exploring with this issue's main feature. Let your views be known if you disagree!

In the mean time, I am delighted to welcome Business Respect's second corporate sponsor, who joins us from this edition onwards. Good Corporation was founded in 2000 in order to help companies to measure their impacts in a credible way. Good Corporation is not a consultancy, and therefore doesn't gain anything by identifying weaknesses in its clients' business practices. But it has set one of the de facto standards in CSR business practice, and carries out assessments for companies across the world.

They also hold topical debates on key emerging issues - I carried an article recently on the discussion at the UK's House of Lords focusing on the fairness or otherwise by the banking sector. I hope to cover more of these over the year. Give them a look.

Other sponsor news - the Change for Good network, our first sponsor - has changed its name to the Social Marketing Network. Starting from next issue, we will be making individual insights from the network available to readers of Business Respect. Having attended several of the London network meetings so far, I can recommend them, and the network in general, as a gathering point for individuals committed to making a difference.

The support of sponsors enables us to continue to produce Business Respect as a free resource to the CSR community, so we encourage you to support them.

News

Exxon Mobil, Lukoil, CNOOC at the bottom for transparency

According to a new report by Transparency International, Exxon Mobil, Lukoil and CNOOC are all in the bottom group for transparency amongst the oil and gas majors. The result came from a survey carried out of 42 such firms.

UK: Shell pulls from huge wind farm project

Shell has provoked criticism from environmental groups when it announced that it would pull out of a project to build the world's largest wind farm, the London Array scheme. The company said that it wanted to focus on wind power in the US where government incentives offered more competitive returns.

Singapore: Drug companies urged to market responsibly

The Health Sciences Authority in Singapore has urged drug companies there to practice responsible marketing in how drugs are promoted to the public.

France: Alstom denies bribery investigations

Engineering giant Alstom has seen its staff approached by Swiss regulators as part of an investigation into bribery, but the company has denied reports that suggested it was the target of the investigations.

Unilever commits to traceable palm oil by 2015

Unilever, one of the biggest consumers of palm oil, has announced that it would back a moratorium on further palm oil related deforestation in Indonesia, and it commits to using only fully traceable palm oil by 2015.

New Zealand: Major companies criticise climate change bill

Fonterra, Solid Energy and Todd Energy joined together to criticise the government's Climate Change (Emissions Trade and Renewable Preference) Bill on the grounds that it would disadvantage New Zealand business without achieving its environmental goals.

Germany: Adidas boss criticises Olympics protestors

Herbet Hainer, the CEO of Adidas, has said that he does not regret sponsoring the Olympic Games, and criticised pro-Tibet protestors that tried to disrupt the progress of the Olympic torch.

EU: Airlines breaching consumer rules on websites

The European Commission has said that it intends to take action against airlines that continue to mislead customers with their websites as to the real cost of flights.

China: Sino Gold attacked via TV programme

Mining company Sino Gold has found itself the target of official criticism via the China Central Television (CCTV) which accused the company of poisoning water, running roughshod over the concerns of local people and enjoying tax-free profits as a result.

Article

Playing games with the Olympic sponsors

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 11 May 2008

Unpopular though it may be, I feel compelled to pitch a defence on behalf of the corporate sponsors of the 2008 Olympics. The battering they have taken has been very little to do with corporate social responsibility, and it's time the debate moved on.

Previous edition - No 126 | Following edition - No 128

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Special Feature

photo of cash

Social responsibility and finance - on the precipice

In a recent article, the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston highlighted the fact that in 2012 the chances are that the economy - punch drunk as it is from the various flavours of debt crisis it has been pummelled with over the course of the year - will be hit by the collapse of a major bank and / or government.