Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#60 - 27 Jul 2003

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 'Redefining CSR' by Mark Goyder of the Centre for Tomorrow's Company.

Welcome

Following last issue's renewed appeal re. translations we had further very kind offers to provide translations for French, German and Hebrew. That just leaves Spanish, Chinese and Japanese as our outstanding ambitions! Thanks to Carlo Martellini, Kobi Nathen, Petra Roesler and Sonja Hansen for coming forward with offers.

We carried a news story last time about the UK airport operator over environmental charging for aircraft. Caroline Corfield from BAA contacted us with a correction. "I would like to correct a title you gave to a piece on your Business Respect Newsletter 'UK. airport operator urges government to tax air fuel'. We have never called for a tax on aviation fuel. What we have said is that the industry should mitigate and where necessary pay, for its external costs, for example through a form of emissions trading. However the issue of fuel tax is very sensitive and we have taken great pains to reject any proposals regarding a tax on aviation fuel. Such a tax would seriously disadvantage UK aviation on the global market. It is an idea we absolutely reject."

We're happy to make the correction. Since air fuel is one of the significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, it does seem strange that it remains the one across the world that is untaxed. Any process of pricing in environmental impact must surely lead to more expensive air fuel eventually. How does one go about getting global agreement to this so that unilateral action doesn't hit a single country's competitiveness?

The voting on our question re. the involvement of companies in public policy continues. As you may recall, the question goes: When it comes to lobbying on matters of public policy, companies should:

Lobby away and / or pay donations - legislators are grown-ups
17 (9%)
Lobby and / or pay donations - but they must disclose what they do
118 (60%)
Do nothing - corporate lobbying should be banned
61 (31%)

So far, 196 people have made their views known. Still time for you to add yours, of course!

News

US: Lawsuit against gun industry dismissed

A lawsuit alleging that the gun industry had not done enough to curb the availability of illegal weapons has been thrown out by a US federal judge, although the manufacturers were criticised for 'careless marketing practices'.

Canada: Conference board announces national CSR report

The Conference Board of Canada has launched the development of a new annual publication, the National Corporate Social Responsibility Report, promising that it will be "a single comprehensive source of information on the state of corporate social responsibility in Canada".

Firestone / Bridgestone settles class actions over faulty tyres

Bridgestone / Firestone has announced that it has settled numerous class action lawsuits over the tyre recalls that hit the company in 2000.

CalPERS sues AOL for $250m for misleading investors

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is suing AOL Time Warner alleging that investors lost money from accounting irregularities at the company - both before and after the AOL merger with Time Warner.

Australia: Government to intervene in British American Tobacco case

The government is to seek leave in the High Court to intervene in the case of Rolah McCabe vs British American Tobacco.

India: Coca-Cola attacked for 'toxic' fertiliser gifts to farmers

According to a BBC report broadcast on its Radio 4 'Face the Facts' programme, the Coca-Cola plant in Kerala has been providing commercial waste to local farmers as fertiliser which has proved to be contaminated with toxic substances.

General Motors settles car fire lawsuit

General Motors has announced that it has settled a lawsuit arising from a car fire in 1993. The case, which resulted initially in the largest product liability damages being awarded against the company, focused on the company's decision to place the fuel tank at the rear of the car.

GlaxoSmithKline loses first round on challenge to AIDS drug patent

A district court in California has allowed a legal challenge by the Aids Healthcare Foundation aiming to remove GlaxoSmithKline's patent on AZT, the AIDS drug.

Good ethics pay off for oil companies

Oil companies, which carry an inherently high risk due to the nature of the industry, have benefited in recent years from the serious investment in processes to manage their social responsibilities.

Japan: Fair Trade Commission seeks greater anti-monopoly powers

The Fair Trade Commission wants to revise the anti-monopoly law in Japan and to obtain the power to launch investigations into suspected offenders, according to the Japan Times.

South Africa: Listed companies must comply with King II and GRI

Companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange (JSE) will be required from September 1st to comply with the King II corporate governance codes - including compliance with the Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines.

Article

Redefining CSR as a process that starts at the heart of the company

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 27 Jul 2003

Mark Goyder has laid down a challenge to the movement for corporate social responsibility in "Redefining CSR", produced by the UK's Centre for Tomorrow's Company. Widely reported on publication as an attack on the "box-ticking" approach of some advocates, it is in fact a much more valuable review of the difference between companies who take the message into the heart of the company and those who simply comply with today's expectations whilst leaving the core untouched.

Previous edition - No 59 | Following edition - No 61

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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.