Knowledge Centre:
News Digests

Stay abreast of what’s happening internationally with developments in corporate public affairs. Here is news that you may find useful and interesting:

Companies in Asia guard against avian fluND


Phelim Kyne and Cris Prystay, The Wall Street Journal, 23 September 2005

Companies across Asia are planning for a possible outbreak of avian flu in the region and revising business continuity plans that deal with business disruptions, such as impact on supply chains, staff levels and corporate healthcare costs. Many companies have detailed business continuity plans that were developed during the SARS outbreak. Deutsche Bank has established a working group to monitor the issue and has put in place the necessary infrastructure for staff to work from home and for trading operations to be relocated if necessary. For more information, see www.wsj.com

Green is goodND


Deborah Snow, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 2005

A recent CPA Australia report highlights a lack of consistency and common frameworks among companies adopting environmental and sustainability reporting. While there are at least three rating indices operating in Australia, CPA Australia says they are a long way off from being meaningful. Of the top 500 companies recently surveyed, only 24 had a separate sustainability report though many more are focusing on building alliances and programs. For more information, see www.smh.com.au

Giving a boost to the company imageND


Elizabeth Kazi, The Australian Financial Review, 12 September 2005 (and Michael Barbaro and Justin Gillis, The Washington Post)

Natural diasters such as Hurricane Katrina have brought the issue of corporate citizenship to the forefront, as many US businesses made substantial pledges and providing support to government relief efforts. In Australia, workplace-giving programs have increased in recent years as evidenced by Salvation Army reports of a strong increase from corporate donations and programs over the past year. Cause-related marketing has also increased as businesses see the link between corporate responsibility and its own business objectives, according to the Australian Marketing Institute. For more information, see www.afr.com.au

Why Asia must look beyond profits to ethicsND


Chandran Nair, The Financial Times (Asia edition), 5 September 2005

Asia business leaders are increasingly being asked about corporate responsibility and governance, even as their own governments often do not impose standards in these areas. Asian companies must learn to understand this new environment if they are to survive globally. Chandran Nair argues that ‘Asia needs to reach its own equilibrium between corporate growth, responsibility and ethical behaviour’. For more information, see news.ft.com/home/asia

True lies: how business is spinning out of controlND


Jennifer Hewett, The Australian Financial Review, 26 August 2005

Spin doctors are becoming much more ‘visible and vocal’ in the corporate world and in Jennifer Hewett’s article, she profiles the major public relations, communications strategy, media consulting firms in Australia. According to Ms Hewett, good spinners control the message and build relationships with media, while bad spinners act as a gatekeeper between senior management and the media and prevent access by journalists. For more information, see www.afr.com.au

Valuing values at the heart of the enterprise is how you create sustainable profitND


David Morgan, CEO of Westpac, The Age, 18 August 2005

CSR is central to sustainable profit creation, according to Westpac’s CEO, who says that corporate responsibility is at the heart of its strategy. By creating a good working environment, consulting with communities and working with suppliers, Westpac has embedded corporate responsibility into its business. For more information, see www.theage.com.au

The debate over doing goodND


Brian Grow, Businessweek, 15 August 2005

American companies are increasingly seeing corporate responsibility as a strategic imperative. Many companies such as Home Depot, SAP and Delta Air, who have established corporate volunteer programs, are seeing the goodwill benefits as well as finding it is improving their ability to hire younger workers. Meanwhile, debate continues about the role of business and its relationship with stakeholders (other than shareholders) such as suppliers, customers, employees and the community. For more information, see www.businessweek.com

Practice and perception of CSR in AsiaND


Chandran Nair (Global Institute for Tomorrow), Leading Perspectives (Quarterly publication by Business for Social Responsibility), Fall 2005

Asia's corporates have different priorities and tend to view corporate social responsibility as a Western value. They harbour misconceptions about CSR and see it as something that they cannot afford. Asia's business leaders also question the need for CSR as governments, consumers and their workers are not pushing for it. In this article, Chandran Nair says Asia's business leaders need to be more enlightened and take responsibility for shaping its future. For more information, see www.bsr.org/CSRResources/LeadingPerspectives/

In bad times, it pays to be goodND


Marguerite Rigoglioso, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2005

A recent study shows that share prices of many Fortune 500 companies declined following the 1999 Seattle WTO meeting. However those that had a good corporate reputation lost less market value than those that didn’t. Media coverage of the WTO meeting appears to have an impact on shareholders who now pay more attention to corporate responsibility. This article suggests that having a good CSR program is good risk management. For more information, see www.ssireview.com

The way of the merchant — corporate social responsibility in JapanND


Economist Intelligence Unit, July 2005

Findings from a recent report on CSR in Japan shows that while concepts such as community relations, environmental consideration and workplace safety are embedded in business practices in Japan, many other aspects of CSR are less likely to be adopted in Japan. The key findings indicate that CSR appears to be adopted as a means to regain public trust, CSR programs are focused on customer issues, there are clashes between CSR concepts and Japanese business culture, and many feel it is difficult to make a financial case for CSR. For more information, see www.eiu.com/CSR_Japan

Are you a good corporate citizen? ND


Ben Heineman, senior vice president for law and public affairs at GE, The Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2005

The importance of corporate citizenship continues, particularly as scandals dominate the business news. There are three interrelated dimensions of corporate citizenship: sustained economic performance; compliance with accounting and legal requirements; and ethical actions promoting the long-term health and reputation of the enterprise. Sustained economic performance provides a multitude of benefits for international stakeholders. Corporate citizenship requires systems and processes to prevent and detect problems, investigation, disciplinary actions and remedying failures. In terms of ethics, simply taking or not taking actions can benefit or harm reputation, which can affect economic success. For more information see www.wsj.com

Companies that go beyond reporting create business value, new report saysND


World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), co-authored by Alcan, Caterpillar, ERM and PricewaterhouseCoopers, June 2005

A recent report from WBCSD, Beyond Reporting, explores how companies can obtain value and restore trust by understanding the relationship between accountability and sustainability and their core business strategy. Regulatory compliance and increased corporate governance efforts can be turned into opportunities for companies. For more information or to download the report, see www.pwc.com or www.wbcsd.org.

The new Chinese philanthropyND


Michael Mackey, Asia Times, 14 May 2005

Euromoney China released a list of the 2005 China Philanthropy 50, the second year it has compiled a list of philanthropists and the areas they supported. While the scale of philanthropy is still small, there is an emerging culture of corporate giving in China and much more discussion around corporate responsibility. Education and healthcare were the two main areas that China’s businesses supported, while environmental projects appear to attract little attention. For more information, see www.atimes.com

Corporate social responsibility in ChinaND


China Daily, 13 May 2005

China is seeing the benefits of multinational companies (MNCs) investing in CSR activities. This article provides examples of CSR activities of MNCs well as corporate consortiums established to undertake social and environmental programs. Many companies are investing in education and training in areas such as computer skills, health safety, labour rights and on issues such as HIV/AIDS. Microsoft and Bayer both have employee engagement programs that encourage participation in community projects. Michael Furst, from the American Chamber of Commerce in China, also advocates corporate involvement in the policy dialogue and points to the need for effective cross-cultural communication. For more information, see www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/home/index.html

The path to corporate responsibilityND


Simon Zadek, Harvard Business Review, December 2004 (Vol 82, No 12)

Simon Zadek, CEO of AccountAbilty, analyses Nike’s path to corporate responsibility, from its initial defensive position to its current focus on engagement. The article covers five stages of organisational learning in developing a sense of corporate responsibility from defensive (it’s not our job to fix that) to compliance (we’ll only do what we have to) to managerial (it’s our business) to strategic (it gives us a competitive edge) to civil (we need to make sure everyone does it). For more information, see www.hbr.org

Issues Management: Theory and PracticeND


Gestion-Revue Internationale de Gestion, V.15, no.5.

A discussion on issues management, the establishment of an issues monitoring system and the role of issues management within a company. This title is missing from the shelf.

By invitation: ethical sourcing ND


Ethical Corporation, 21 November 2008

Supply chain management and organisational development are regarded as resource intensive and difficult to implement, however poor workplace conditions risk long-term business viability and should not be ignored. Ethical sourcing challenges may be overcome by improving communication channels, facilitating dialogue across all levels of the supply chain and relocating resources to minimise redundant and overlapping audits. For more information see www.ethicalcorp.com

China’s white-collar workers and job dissatisfactionND


Mabel Seah, CSR Asia, 13 October 2010

Many businesses do not consider the stress among white-collar workers when discussing manifestations of workplace relations. There are four identifying factors of a disengaged employee; powerlessness, meaninglessness, isolation and self-estrangement. This trend can be seen among workers who are part of the one-child policy in China. Since they have been relatively pampered at home, they cannot reconcile this with workplace conditions. This suggests that there are problems associated with stress and that white-collar workers are not immune to the effect. For more information see www.CSR-asia.com

Corporate responsibility: Going beyond the business caseND


Chad Tragakis, Center for Corporate Citizenship, March 2008

Whether corporate responsibility should stem from a business or an ethical imperative is still a matter of theoretical and empirical debate. The author suggests that the two imperatives should better be viewed as two parallel tracks, ‘distinct but inextricably linked’. For more information see www.bcccc.net

Counting carbonND


Murray Armstrong, The Guardian, 5 November 2007

Although companies want to address environmental concerns, standards and tools to measure emissions are lacking. Agreement on the measurement of emissions and avoidance of double-counting will be discussed at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, January 2008. For more information, see www.guardian.co.uk

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