Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#181 - 17 Jan 2012

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 look at why 'health and safety' became a dirty word, and ponder where the balance lies.

Welcome

How does a company that has hundreds of thousands of employees get people behaving consistently across the company? It doesn't matter whether it's anti-bribery, good environmental practice, health and safety - or even just a commitment to good customer service - it doesn't happen by accident.

You can have all the statements you like about how much the company cares, and how good a citizen it is. But unless you have a significant programme to get consistent behaviours in the areas that count across that huge body of people (and actually it doesn't have to be that huge before it gets hard to achieve) then you're not serious.

But when you create big systems to cover the practice of large numbers of people - there are perverse incentives and unintended consequences. It's why more companies fail to achieve consistency than succeed. And those that do often only do so at the expense of corporate cultures that discourage good things, like learning from mistakes, or innovation.

One of the areas where this is a focus for heated debate - particularly at the moment - is health and safety. That is the focus for the main feature for this issue.

I seem to have had a rash of event speaking requests that my diary has forced me to turn down - apologies if you are one of these.

One trip I will be taking soon is to Buenos Aires - indeed I will be there for a week in early February. Any readers who want to connect while I'm there, let me know.

News

UK: Warning that lean business models present huge national risk

'Just-in-time' business models that lead companies to expect supplies to arrive just when needed, eliminating all reserves, have grown to the point where they represent a major national risk, according to a report by Chatham House.

Netherlands: Walmart blacklisted by major pension fund

The country's biggest pension fund, Algemeen Burgerlijk Pensioenfonds, has stated that it is to blacklist Walmart for a range of factors concerning its social and environmental practices.

Indonesia: Nike supplier to pay $1m unpaid overtime to workers

PT Nikomas has reached a settlement to pay workers $1m in unpaid overtime to around 4,500 workers. The company, which makes shoes for Nike at its factory in Banten province, had failed to pay for nearly 600,000 hours of overtime in two years.

Article

Health and Safety - reframed as a term of abuse

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 17 Jan 2012

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to "kill off Britain's health and safety culture for good." Anyone looking from the outside might think this a remarkable statement - akin to promising to clamp down on nice things in order to spread nasty ones. But of course it is a statement that acknowledges how much the term 'health and safety' has come in the popular consciousness to represent something completely different.

Previous edition - No 180 | Following edition - No 182

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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.