Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#133 - 3 Aug 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 review the new framework that measures the impact of business on society.

Welcome

The Business Respect readers survey is now officially closed! Many thanks to the 400 or so people that took part - it is very much appreciated. We'll crunch some numbers and review the results, and give some feedback in September as to what you said, and what we'll do about it!

I'm expecting that half the readership is on holiday this week, and this edition will be swatted away by a horde of 'out of office' autoresponders. So probably not the time for big news. But hey, no time like the present.

After 13 years, I'm leaving Business in the Community in the middle of September. I decided that the time had come - even though I still think I had the best job in the place and it remains an organisation whose work I will promote and support.

For better or for worse, I've decided to expand Business Respect from being simply the name of an email newsletter into something that can provide real added value to the CSR community, at the same time as expanding the writing / speaking and occasional consultancy that I do. Expect to see changes, therefore, from mid-September onwards. Exciting times.

Working out what the impact of the new venture will be is tricky enough - but then working out the impact of any enterprise is harder than you think, and the larger the enterprise the harder the equation. The World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has released a new framework for measuring the real impact of a business - and that makes up the main feature for this issue.

Happy holidays all.

News

Rwanda: Rwacom justifies locking workers in factory overnight

According to the New Times, workers at Rwacom plastic industries have complained of poor pay and difficult working conditions where they are locked inside a warehouse for twelve hours at night. Management at the firm defended the practice saying that it was to prevent 'the theft of oil'.

India: Companies behind in action on climate change

India's top companies are well behind some of their peers in taking action on reducing climate change emissions according to a recent report by KPMG.

Bahrain: CSR standards for Islamic financial institutions being produced

The Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) has said that it is to develop a standard on corporate social responsibility that can be used by Islamic financial firms.

Germany: Siemens sues former chiefs over bribery scandal

Engineering giant Siemens AG is aiming to get damages from its former CEO Klaus Kleinfeld and Chairman Heinrich von Pierer along with nine others for damaging the company's reputation by failing to deal with a bribery scandal in 2006.

UK: Internet firms agree action to tackle piracy

Six of the major internet providers have agreed action with the music industry to address the widespread problem of online music piracy. The agreement, which was brokered by the government, involves letters going to large numbers of net users suspected of illegally downloading or sharing music.

Singapore: One in four companies hit by fraud

Nearly one in four companies in Singapore have been hit by at least one incident of fraud, according to a new survey of directors of the top 1000 organisations.

China: Wal-Mart reaches deal with unions

Wal-Mart, known for its tenacity in fending off unions in its home markets, has agreed collective bargaining arrangements with government-approved unions in two cities in China, Quanzhou and Shenyang.

South Korea: Plans for product carbon labeling unveiled

The South Korean government has announced that carbon labels will be introduced for certain an initial selection of ten products beginning January 2009.

UK: Supermarkets and food firms reducing packaging waste

The amount of waste packaging produced by UK supermarkets and food manufacturers has stopped growing, in spite of continued two percent growth in sales, suggesting that the sector is successfully meeting commitments to begin reducing levels from 2010.

Investors called on to avoid tar fields

Investors have been urged to avoid controversial projects to extract oil from tar fields after evidence that the process creates up to eight times more carbon emissions than standard oil production, as well as bringing higher environmental costs in other areas such as water use.

Peru: Government to make CSR focus of APEC summit

Peru's deputy foreign minister has said that corporate social responsibility will be tabled as a key element of globalisation when the country hosts the next Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima in November.

Vedanta Resources protests travel to London

Vedanta Resources endured an angry AGM as protesters questioned its commitment to sustainable development, and the concerns achieved greater profile as a campaign group lodged an application to demolish London landmark St Paul's Cathedral to draw a comparison with what it said the company was doing in India.

Article

So what's the real impact of your business?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 3 Aug 2008

If you pillage, you should make amends. Replace what you took out. People used to talk this way about corporate social responsibility - saying that the first reason you should do it was 'to put something back'. It begged the question - what is the real impact of a business on society? Was it a plus or a minus? It's a great question, with too few bothered to come up with answers.

Previous edition - No 132 | Following edition - No 134

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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.