Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#72 - 14 Mar 2004

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 results of the second Corporate Responsibility Index from Business in the Community.

Welcome

This week sees the launch in the UK of Business in the Community's Corporate Responsibility Index. The results were included in today's Sunday Times supplement, and more detailed feedback on the trends and results will be given at the organisation's conference on the subject on Wednesday.

Last year's index saw a good deal of debate and this year's will probably be no different. Some of the key issues are explored in this issue's article.

Last issue, we said that the article on why the Christian Aid report 'Behind the Mask: the Real Face of CSR' was plain wrong was on the website - whoops! Well, it is now. Apologies to those that searched, but did not find!

On the website, we are bringing the current vote to a close. The final tally stands at:

Companies that seek to move jobs from the US / Europe to developing countries with lower costs
Can in no way be called socially responsible 160 (23%)
Are right to stay profitable, but should pay attention to how they make the change 482 (70%)
Should aim for maximum profitability, and not be hampered by unwarranted sentimentality 44 (7%)

686 people voted in total.

The results from recent votes suggests that most of the website visitors are largely business-friendly, but keen for business to respond fully and robustly. We thought it was time to test this with a vote that goes to the heart of what you think is the motivator of CSR activity. The new vote goes like this.

Why should businesses engage in corporate social responsibility?

They should do only those things that are supported by a solid business case
They should do a range of things arising from their impact whether or not there is a business case
They should only do things because it is the right thing to do - if there is a business case that's not CSR

As always, we welcome your views.

News

Nicaragua: Companies found liable for pesticide-related illness

Shell Chemical, Dole Food and Standard Fruit have been ordered to pay over $80m to farmers whose health has been affected by the use of the pesticide nemagon over 30 years ago.

The Pope: 'Pursuit of profit is not the sole end'

Pope John Paul has argued for better ethical practices in the financial and commercial sectors during an address to the conference on 'The Business Executive: Social Responsibility and Globalisation'.

Red Carnation Hotels CEO charged with tax evasion

Beatrice Tollman, the chief executive of the international chain Red Carnation Hotels, has been charged with evading tax by channeling over $35m through secret offshore bank accounts.

Tetra Pak dropped from environment group over 'misleading' ads

Food carton company Tetra Pak has been ejected from a group of businesses set up by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) to protect endangered forests because it ran 'misleading' adverts promoting its environmental credentials.

US: Ford to use Toyota hybrid technology

Toyota is to grant US car giant Ford a licence to use the company's patented technology for environmentally friendlier cars, enabling Ford to move forward on the production of vehicles that use both petrol and electricity for fuel.

US: Insurers will hold companies accountable for unethical behaviour

Insurance companies will increasingly hold companies accountable for unethical behaviour and environmental pollution, according to one of the leading US shareholder activist groups.

UK: Coors criticised for advertising health claims

Coors, the brewing company behind brands such as Carling and Grolsch, has been criticised by the watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority for making what it said were medicinal claims for its products.

Sportswear firms reviewing Olympic sweatshop claims

Major sportswear companies have said they are reviewing a report by Oxfam that said that, in the approach to the next Olympic gains, the companies were still benefiting from labour from workers that are being denied basic rights.

US: Congress passes bill to disallow obesity lawsuits

The US Congress has passed a bill that will prevent people from suing fast-food restaurants and other food outlets if they become obese. The promoters of the bill said it was needed to deter frivolous lawsuits that could potentially bring down a legitimate industry.

Ghana: Alcohol companies attacked for 'unwholesome' products

Ghana's Food and Drugs Board (FDB) has said that a number of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on the market are unwholesome, and warned customers to give them a wide berth.

Kenya: NGOs say workers face harsh conditions in export zones

According to a recent report by Kenyan NGOs, around 36,000 workers work under harsh conditions in the country's Export Processing Zones (EPZs) including long hours, sexual harrassment and an absence of benefits such as maternity or sick leave.

Article

The Corporate Responsibility Index - valuing the companies that count

Author: , dated 14 Mar 2004

Business in the Community launched the second year's results of its Corporate Responsibility Index today, with a supplement in the UK's The Sunday Times. 139 companies completed a detailed questionnaire giving information about company policy and practice across a broad range of social responsibility areas.

Previous edition - No 71 | Following edition - No 73

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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.