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on 22-Apr-10 01:09.
For some people, corporate social responsibility is about programmes. Stuff that you do where you can describe what you're trying to achieve, what approach you've taken to achieve it, and whether it worked. But it needs to include the other aspect - how you and your staff behave on a day to day basis. You could label this element straight business ethics - my version is that it's about what you do when you think that nobody's looking.
The UK's Institute of Business Ethics reviews accusations that appear against companies in the news headlines - around 300 stories for last year. Of these the largest number involved issues affecting customers. For instance, product safety issues, misleading advertising or overcharging. The next largest group covered market abuses, such as anti-competitive behaviour or bribery. Third then came a wider group of environmental and human rights issues.
It's a lot of stories about malpractice. No wonder public trust in businesses remains at a low 26 percent.
on 22-Apr-10 01:08.
Killing people is wrong. That's one of the earliest principles established by any civilised society. So how can a company be considered socially responsible if its products - used as instructed - result in loss of human life?
There are some obvious contenders in this category. Immediately the armaments and tobacco companies spring to mind. There are other industries where there are some tricky grey areas around the potential for lethal consequences if products are abused (alcohol, for instance). But let's not go into those grey areas, let's just stay in the land of black and white for just a moment.
Five years ago, there wasn't much discussion on such points. Corporate social responsibility was largely defined as what companies do to "put something back" and companies that killed tended not to be visible in that broader movement.
Since then, there is a growing agreement that corporate responsibility is rather more to do with how the company creates wealth rather than simply how it spends it. At the same time, tobacco and armaments companies have joined the fray, producing social and environmental reports and even winning awards for them.
on 22-Apr-10 01:07.
The importance of how companies manage social responsibility across the whole of their production process - including that part owned by their suppliers - has been stressed for some years now. Nevertheless, it remains the area where current practice remains pretty poor.
Benchmarks such as the UK's Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index show that the management of impacts in the supply chain remain amongst one of the least developed areas.
So it should be of interest that the World Bank, with Business for Social Responsibility, should produce a report seeking to identify some of the barriers to progress in responsible supply chain management.
The World Bank began with three challenges, which it sought through this research to prove or dismiss. The first was that "The plethora of individual buyer CSR codes is now generating inefficiencies and confusion."
The second was that "An increasing number of buyers are recognising that traditional top-down CSR strategies are not achieving improved CSR implementation."
on 22-Apr-10 01:01.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) celebrated the launch of the 'Walking the Talk' book giving an up to date exposition of the business case for corporate social responsibility with a debate - an event bringing together the most eloquent sceptics to face two of the book's authors for a no-holds barred contest.
Phil Watts, chairman of Shell, kicked the session off. He reflected that the Johannesburg summit had seen business to be part of the solution on the agenda of sustainable development, in complete contrast to Rio ten years earlier when it had been seen purely as part of the problem.
Watts said that these issues were difficult to face - they are about how you do business, not about peripheral matters, such as philanthropy. From Shell's point of view, the business case benefits of corporate social responsibility included the attraction and retention of key talent, the cost reductions available through eco-efficiency, risk reduction, the attraction of customers and enhanced reputation.
Business, he said, is not separate from society and cannot stand apart from it.
on 22-Apr-10 00:58.
By Mallen Baker
I am about to be mean to an organisation whose work I generally respect. But Christian Aid's Behind the Mask: The Real Face of CSR- has got my goat.
It attacks the growing corporate responsibility (CR) movement on the basis that it is a front for companies that simply want to avoid regulation. It uses three case study examples to support its claims. And it concludes by calling for legislation identical to the CORE bill, arguing for mandatory reporting and a UK equivalent to the US Alien Torts Claims Act.
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