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:

The organisational challenges of global trendsND

Colin Price, David Turnbull, The McKinsey Quarterly, January 2008

A McKinsey Quarterly study reports that increasing competition for talent, increased technological connectivity as well as shifting centres of economic activity pose critical challenges to companies. However, most respondents are not confident about the right organisational response to manage such emerging global trends. For more information, see

The responsibility paradoxND

Gerald F. Davis, Marina V. N. Whitman and Mayer N. Zald, Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 2008

The authors recommend firms to update CSR practices to resolve the paradox of lessened corporate understanding about stakeholder needs but increased stakeholder demands for corporate accountability. They propose the notion of ‘global corporate responsibility’ to reflect responsibilities beyond national boundaries that include the actions of suppliers, distributors, alliance partners and sovereign nations. For more information, see

Preserving corporate reputationND

Nic Paton, Management Issues, 12 December 2007

A study by The Conference Board argues that boards need to discuss and understand the nature of reputation risk within the context of wider risk, its response to reputation risks and create a culture of risk awareness. Accordingly, boards can implement robust programs and initiatives to protect reputation and manage any material event that may affect stakeholder relations. For more information, see

Sustainability report seeks the factsND

Deborah Brewster, Financial Times, 9 December 2007

The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability project focuses on embedding sustainability considerations into corporate thinking, measuring and reporting sustainability efforts. Investors and other stakeholders face the challenge of comparing sustainability performance because different companies use different measurements. Extractive industries tend to be more advanced in their measurement and reporting due to a long history of public pressure on their environmental impacts. For more information, see

Reputation on the lineND

Gerry McCusker, Business Review Weekly, 6 December 2007

Companies are increasingly utilising new media tools such as blogs, podcasting and social media websites, and need to manage their online reputation. With media using blogs as a research source, NGOs launching worldwide online campaigns, and other key influencers using online sources, it has become critical for companies to manage their online reputation. For more information, see

Responsibility paysND

Matthew Kirdahy, Forbes, 13 November 2007

Companies such as Starbucks see budgeting for programs and resources to grow the business also budgeting for CSR in effect. This trend towards a strategic business and investment approach to CSR reflects the search for business opportunity. The majority of CSR spend in US companies appears to be on research and development, and the least spend on philanthropy and marketing. For more information, see

Care to the commentND

Murray Armstrong, The Guardian, 5 November 2007

Consumers’ perceptions about the need for companies to tackle environmental concerns have evolved considerably since 2001. Ipsos Mori’s 2007 survey shows that 45 per cent of respondents think CSR should now be the ‘highest priority for business’. Eight out of ten respondents affirm that a company’s environmental reputation would affect their purchasing decisions. For more information, see

Good company ND

Liza Ramrayka, The Guardian, 5 November 2007

Grayson, director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management, has authored a recent ‘dialogue paper’ mapping developments in responsible business and Business in the Community’s role over the last 25 years. According to Grayson, companies will be forced to balance global and local thinking to address issues such an ageing population in the UK and climate change. For more information, see

Doing good, do it rightND

Mark Vernon and Craig Mackenzie, Management Today, 29 October 2007

Twenty tips covering management, organisation, communications, reporting and strategy to help companies implement effective CSR policies are presented in this article. Among these are keeping CSR relevant to the company’s products and activities, involving the board, and being aware that CSR is more than just charity or a marketing tool. Tips include the establishment of special board committees of non-executives by companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Shell, ‘to keep the executives on the ball’. For more information, see

Asia study: CEOs trustworthy, bloggers lack credibilityND, 27 October 2007

Harris Interactive conducts an annual Asia Pacific Stakeholder Study on the most trusted institutions and the most credible spokespeople. While government is still the most trusted institution in Asia Pacific, non-governmental organisations have lost footing since the previous study. CEOs have the highest credibility rating (51 per cent) while bloggers have only 12 per cent. For more information, see

How values embraced by a company may enhance that company’s valueND

Herb Greenberg, The Wall Street Journal, 27 October 2007

In their study entitled ‘Is Doing Good Good for You?’ Baruch Lev and Christine Petrovits of the New York University Stern School of Business and Suresh Radhakrishnan conclude that companies in ‘consumer sectors’ that make charitable contributions also see a notable increase in revenue. For more information, see

Environmental, human rights recognition can improve investmentsND

Peter Hannam, The Age, 22 October 2007

In a recent study, HSBC has found investments that take environmental and human rights issues into account can yield above-average returns. Results were released at a meeting of the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative. For more information, see

Companies increased giving by 4.8% in 2006ND

Nicole Lewis, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 18 October 2007

According to the Giving in Number 2007 report, the median corporate donation in the US — including funding and in-kind — was $33 million. Health and social services (31 per cent of donations), education (25 per cent) and community and economic development (14 per cent) organisations received the bulk of donations. For more information, see

Boards turn greenND

Business Review Weekly, 11 October 2007

BRW reports on a recent poll of Australian company directors that found 94% agree that climate change strategy needs to be part of Boards’ agendas. The poll also found that 89% expect more pressure to be place on Boards to disclose climate change policies, and 51% expect the risk of class action against directors on climate change issues to increase. For more information, see

Lessons from the Mattel crisisND

Richard Levick, Corporate Responsibility, 10 October 2007

The recent recall by Mattel of potentially harmful toys sparked a consumer backlash with many now seeking recourse in the US courts. However, faith can be restored with more open and honest dialogue with audiences, including consumers, parents, retailers, and regulatory bodies. For more information, see

CSR: Just do itND

Catherine Fox, Financial Review Boss, October 2007

Nike’s initiatives to improve its corporate image through CSR programs can be a lesson to other companies looking to improve their reputations. Nike’s strategy has gone from being reactive to proactive by integrating CSR into the company strategy and culture. They have constructed a CSR team, which reports to the CSR committee of the board of directors, and the head of the CSR team reports directly to the CEO. For more information, see

Corporate strategies need to be redefinedND

Prue Moodie, The Australian Financial Review, 26 September 2007

Corporations may look at their own reporting criteria to make headway in environmental reporting. Terence Jeyaretnam, managing director of Net Balance Foundation, in conjunction with the UK Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, produced a study that argues that companies with good reports addressed less than 75 per cent of their assessment criteria. Sustainability reports tend to be better if the company has been producing such reports for a longer period of time and cater the reports to a wider audience, beyond shareholders. For more information, see

Directors take issues on board in enlightened self-interestND

Ann-Maree Moodie, The Australian Financial Review, 26 September 2007

Companies such as Westpac and BHP have integrated their sustainability approach with company policy by creating sustainability committees in their board structures. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Finance Services has investigated such sustainability approaches and determined three ways of interpreting directors’ duties. The ‘self interest interpretation,’ which allows companies to take shareholder views into account and views investments in sustainability as part of a company’s long term sustainability strategy, seems to most suit sustainability approaches. For more information, see

Corporate emissions reporting can be just a bit of greenwashND

Prue Moodie, The Australian Financial Review, 19 September 2007

Many Australian companies are engaging in greenhouse emissions reporting. However, reporting standards differ from company to company. The Australian Greenhouse Office provides national emissions standard guidelines for businesses interested in reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. For more information, see

Decisive management the key to greener futureND

Alexandra Cain, The Australian Financial Review, 19 September 2007

The New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change is encouraging businesses that want to go green to start with their senior management. The Department suggests companies place someone in charge who is committed to assist the company in reaching its goals, as it sees that taking action to green the workplace also translates into financial rewards. For example, using more efficient technology can save money on energy bills. For more information, see

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