Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#155 - 15 Jun 2009

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 ask whether it really matters how many consumers are willing to pay a bit extra for green products

Welcome

I had great fun at the Ethical Corporation reporting conference last week in Brussels - a good robust debate with Teresa Fogelberg on whether GRI is the future or not. We had one of those 'wow' moments, when the audience - two-thirds of whom said that they produced CSR reports aimed at all their key stakeholders - were asked whether they thought that those stakeholders read the reports.

No hands went up. Not one.

Nevertheless, a minority continued to argue quite vigorously that this was not the sign of a system that was broken. Indeed, they said I shouldn't even criticise like this, because others might notice and then cancel all their CSR reports.

Notwithstanding that I'm pretty certain my words don't quite manage such power and resonance with the assembled community of world business leaders, any process that depends on people not pointing out the obvious in order to survive - that's a process that needs to hear the hard truths and use its head start to improve the process with some urgency.

Is that wrong? Let me know what you think.

By the way, speaking of Ethical Corporation, the good folks at the Ethical Corporation Institute have produced a cracking new business intelligence report on industry CSR initiatives. If you want to benefit from some serious and robust analysis of some of the different initiatives out there, see the ad below.

Meanwhile I have to get going. Things are silly-busy at the moment - many apologies if you've found me slower to respond to emails. I will get back to you, I promise! Have a great week.

News

US: Mattel fined $2.3m for lead on toys

Toy manufacturer Mattel has agreed to pay $2.3m in settlement of its problems with lead levels on toys it had imported from China. The company denied that the breach had been deliberate.

Nigeria: Shell pays $15.5m to settle Saro-Wiwa suit

Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay $15.5m to conclude lawsuits over political executions in Nigeria, including the killing of the environmental protester Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Nigerian government. The plaintiffs had argued that the company was implicated in the killings.

Indonesia: New eco investment index launched

The Indonesian stock exchange has launched a new investment index based on the social and environmental performance of companies.

Saudi Arabia: Tobacco companies face compensation suit from smoker

A lawsuit has been brought against two unnamed tobacco companies seeking $10m in damages for damage to health the plaintiff said he suffered from smoking. The case, reminiscent of a number brought in the US in recent years, is the first of its kind to arise in Saudi Arabla.

UK: Alliance Boots leaves Ethical Trading Initiative

Pharmacy and consumer goods retailer Alliance Boots has left the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), prompting criticism from campaign groups and unions which are reminiscent of former exits from the voluntary scheme.

Article

Can the green consumer single-handedly save the planet?

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 15 Jun 2009

A number of recent surveys have confirmed what others had previously stated - that a significant number of green-minded consumers have said that they are willing to pay more for greener products. It sounds like good news. But it's a red herring.

Previous edition - No 154 | Following edition - No 156

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Special Feature

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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.