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:

Greening the supply chainND

Kate Burgess, Business Review Weekly, 13-19 September 2007

The information technology industry has been pushing for a more environmentally-friendly supply chain and is keen to emphasise this move as a cost saving strategy. However, it has faced difficulty convincing clients to spend more for greener hardware. This article includes success stories from EDS and Macquarie Telecom. For more information, see

The business of givingND

Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Business Review Weekly, 13 September 2007

Non-profit organisations require much of the skill set of private companies. Non-profits have managed to blend these characteristics with their own unique working environments and cultures, fuelled by the ‘desire to make a difference’. This article includes a brief profile on Mary Anne Stephens, the chief operating officer of Children’s Cancer Institute Australia and former chief financial officer of Lumley General Insurance. For more information, see

Values addedND

Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Business Review Weekly, 13-19 September 2007

Most companies engage in some method of community involvement. However, it is increasingly becoming a case of long-term investment in an extension of the corporate culture. The chief executive of UBS Investment Bank of Australia stated his and his colleagues’ reasoning as wanting to ‘operate in societies not economies.’ This article cites key statistics from a 2004 survey by Cavill & Co and Seek Group, which found that 48 per cent of its respondents would look for companies that are actively involved in the community. It also borrows statistics from the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs’ 2007 study, Corporate Community Investment in Australia. For more information, see

Tracking the gap between societal expectations of companies and perceived CSR performanceND

Femke de Man, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, September 2007

Following up on its 2005 CSR survey, GlobeScan conducted a similar report in 2007 on citizens’ expectations of companies’ CSR activities. The second survey found that, while people in developed and developing nations have high expectations of companies, those in developing nations are more likely to hold companies responsible. Overall expectations have plateaued at a very high level. For more information, see

CSR and stakeholders in Hong Kong and SingaporeND

Richard Welford, CSR Asia Weekly, 22 August 2007

Recent research into stakeholder expectations of business, indicated that the top priorities are environment, followed by health and safety and corporate governance. For more information, including the results and indicators of the Hong Kong and Singapore surveys, see

The weakest linksND

David James, Business Review Weekly, 16-22 August 2007

The global expansion of business and supply chain operations have emphasised concerns that many companies are exposing key areas of vulnerability. As the intersections of developed and emerging market economies continue to increase, infrastructure and development struggle to keep up. Issues highlighted in this article are that long-term cost of lengthening supply chains that may outweigh initial savings; transport infrastructure of developing countries may not have the capacity to keep up with demand; low cost structures limit the incentive to improve management; and tight supervision is paramount. For more information, see

Do good — or elseND

Wall Street Journal, 9 August 2007

Indonesia is expected to pass a bill that will make it mandatory for companies to spend money on corporate social responsibility programs. In doing so they will allow for regulators to take over defining and enforcing what CSR means — already a contested and vaguely defined term. Having been met with criticism from both the business sector and a few top cabinet ministers, the mandate known as Article 74 is the first instance worldwide whereby law will provision CSR. For more information, see

Green gameND

Kate Burgess, Business Review Weekly, 2-8 August 2007

In spite of the profusion of carbon-neutral announcements, corporate Australia’s claims of going’ carbon neutral’ are beginning to lose credibility. The emergence of this ‘carbon credibility crisis’ is essentially twofold — the lack of a single, nationally consistent method of measuring and reporting carbon emissions leading to significant disparities relating to the adoption of standards by companies, and the absence of a mandatory accreditation program for the creation of carbon offsets and distinct variations in offset prices. For more information see

How green is my supermarketND

Susan Owens, Australian Financial Review Boss, August 2007

The UK supermarket chain Waitrose is seeing CSR innovation translate into profits and valuable branding. Three key principles underline their approach: demonstrable legal compliance in every area, investment in environmental and ethical performance as far as financially viable, and corporate innovation and leadership on social responsibility. For more information, see

Giving till it hurtsND

Sally Beatty, Wall Street Journal, 6 July 2007

Nonprofits report an increase in ‘stretch’ gifts or donations that are seemingly out of proportion to giver’s resources. In contrast to people giving with very little effect on their lifestyles and resources, this type of giving reflects a fundamental shift whereby the funds donated represent a significant portion of the giver’s net wealth. For more information, see

Big Pharma’s new Africa planND

Katherine Griffiths, The Telegraph, 3 July 2007

Pharmaceutical companies are beginning to realise the potential of constructively engaging with the world’s poorest countries. Many believe that despite years of criticism and controversy surrounding the industry’s practices in relation to developing countries, a proactive approach incorporating the value of social responsibility is the key to reaping future financial benefits in the context of emerging markets. For more information, see

Gauging who is a ‘good’ corporate citizenND

Phred Dvprak, Wall Street Journal, 2 July 2007

General consensus suggests that good corporate governance equates with stock market success. However, conformity over the definition of what ‘good governance’ is and how it should subsequently be measured remains elusive. Various companies monitor and rate the good governance performance of numerous corporations but each governance-tracker focuses on different aspects and variables. Inevitably, there is little uniformity in results, ensuing confusion and debate about the actual significance of such ratings. For more information, see

A record highND

Holly Hall, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 28 June 2007

According to Giving USA, the yearbook of American philanthropy, Americans gave more than in any previous year in 2006. The reported rise in philanthropic contributions was characterised by various contradictions. One the one hand, donations by many of America’s wealthiest people to some of the world’s largest institutions was unprecedented. This statistic contrasts bleakly with the struggle for funds by smaller organisations. For more information, see

Making sense of sustainability ND

Andrew Cave, The Telegraph, 28 June 2007

Sustainability is a fluid and all-embracing term — one that has become a catchphrase in business circles. There is much debate amongst many leading business figures, all of which suggests sustainability is a concept that embraces many (and varying) social, environmental and economic facets. A theme throughout much of this dialogue is consensus on the importance of working towards business longevity and renewal. For more information, see

Looking to the future of non-financial reportingND

Guy Morgan, Voice of Corporate Citizenship, June 2007

A few years ago, much talk proliferated regarding the obsolescence of stand-alone non-financial reporting, and the pragmatic move towards integrated reporting on a company’s financial, social and environmental performance — a move emphasising the strategic importance of corporate citizenship in overall business structure. However, many companies face practical and strategic challenges and continue to produce two separate reports. For more information, see

Sustainability builderND

David James, Business Review Weekly, 14-20 June 2007

The newly appointed managing director at Fonterra Australasia, John Douman, believes there are universally applicable rules for leading and gaining a competitive advantage in global companies. Douman suggests a hierarchy of priorities in organisational structure: the first responsibility is to product users, second to employees, third to the community and fourth to shareholders. For more information see

Climate change ‘not a priority’ND

John Willman and Kate Burgess, The Financial Times, 5 June 2007

KPMG’s recent survey of 73 large companies in the UK shows that just 14 per cent have a clear strategy for addressing climate change. Issues such as brand awareness, marketing strategy and corporate social responsibility were viewed with more urgency. Businesses surveyed would like more clarity from government on climate change and a stable legal framework (e.g. emission targets) to better assess risks and opportunities. For more information, see

Cleaning up: a special report on business and climate changeND

The Economist, 2 June 2007

Moral pressure and economic pressure exerted by governments, and the potential of new markets and technological opportunities have helped to drive the conversion towards green energy. The Economist’s report delves into how climate change is affecting business, and in turn, how business can affect climate change. For more information, see

Green leaders: a guide to the world’s greenest companiesND

Karen Attwood, The Independent, 1 June 2007

The Ethical Investment Research Services provides a ranking of the top ten greenest companies based on management systems, waste production, water use, improvements related to climate change, renewable energy use, incidents of environmental damage. It researched almost 3,000 companies to choose the top ten leaders. The top ten global leaders are Vestas Wind Systems, Svenska Cellulosa, ABN-Amro, MTR, Ericsson, Westpac, Kingfisher, Phillips, BT Group, Matsushita (share 10th position), Sanyo (share 10th position), ABB (share 10th position). For more information, see www.

The impact of technology on the ethics of business (special report)ND

Ethical Corporation, June 2007

Ethical Corporation has released a report on how technology is changing corporate responsibility — including its impact on reporting, supply chain monitoring, consumer interaction and employee engagement. The report also covers how companies are using blogs, online games and e-learning to achieve their CSR objectives. For more information, see

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