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:

Web attackND

Michelle Conlin, BusinessWeek, 16 April 2007

Discontented stakeholders are using online media such as fake ads, employee sites, MySpace, blogs and comment rooms to ‘engage in a webified dialectic’. This phenomena has become such an issue for companies that some companies (including Lenovo Group, Southwest Airlines and Dell) have specialists dedicated to engaging their critics. For more information, see

MBA toolkit for CSR: corporate communicationsND

Bill Valentino, China CSR, 12 April 2007

William Valentinto, head of Bayer’s corporate communications function in China, discusses the role that corporate communications plays in a company’s activities – especially CSR-related activities. Aligning CSR and corporate communications in the MBA’s toolkit is about forming perceptions through a company’s CSR activities, and translating a company’s business into actions that have a beneficial impact to both society and business. For more information, see

Corporate responsibility a good business strategyND

Wayne Burns and Coral Kee, Business Times (Singapore), 5 April 2007

The Centre for Corporate Affairs offers international best practice learnings on corporate citizenship and establishing a corporate foundation in this article. The foundation should focus on two to three areas of community investment, have clear objectives and a transparent governance structure. The company’s stakeholders should be consulted before the foundation is established. For more information, see

Online communications – Corporate social responsibility 2.0ND

Solitaire Townsend, Ethical Corporation, 5 April 2007

Web 2.0’s potential for corporate social responsibility communications includes setting up a corporate responsibility blog and asking contacts to join in (Ford, Nike and HP all have blogs), building a viral game about corporate responsibility, getting involved in online debates and harnessing staff as advocates. The author suggests that CSR is the only corporate theme with the potential to fully exploit the peer-to-peer world because it has the power to be personal. For more information, see

UN Millennium Declaration – At half time, who’s scored the goals?ND

Kate Nicholas, Ethical Corporation, 5 April 2007

Kate Nicholas, associate director and head of communications at World Vision UK, argues that there remains much to be done to achieving targets of the Millennium Development Goals on health and education. July 2007 marks the ‘half-time’ point to 2015 – the target year for poverty to be halved – but the latest UN assessment shows that progress in the Sub-Saharan region is off-track. Goals such as educational inclusion and quality of schooling are issues for companies recruiting employees now and in the future. For more information, see

Rising to the challenge?ND

John Elkington, The Guardian, 28 March 2007

The influence environmentalists have had on political debates and business practices is explored in this article. The writer describes four ‘social pressure waves’ that occurred since the 1960s which has resulted in increased regulation and green political agendas. The emerging fourth wave is seen as involving innovative social and environmental entrepreneurship supported by venture capital. For more information, see

Pollution violators in China are cited by nonprofit groupND

Jane Spencer, Wall Street Journal, 21 March 2007

A not-for-profit organisation, the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), has launched an online campaign to encourage consumers globally to consider boycotting companies with poor environmental records in China. IPE compiled thousands of government environmental records into a publicly accessible online database as part of this campaign called ‘Green Choice’. Seventy multinationals and nearly 5,000 Chinese companies have been cited on the list. For more information, see

America’s most admired companiesND

Anne Fisher, Fortune, 19 March 2007

Fortune has published its annual survey of corporate reputations for 2007. General Electric (GE) topped the list for the seventh time in a decade while Starbucks and Toyota ranked second and third respectively. Fortune’s ranking criteria is based on eight areas of leadership: innovation, people management, financial soundness, quality management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, long-term investment and quality of products/services. For more information, see

How businesses are using Web 2.0: A McKinsey Global SurveyND

Jacques Bughin and James Manyika, The McKinsey Quarterly, March 2007

A recent McKinsey survey on internet technologies found that Web 2.0 technologies are increasing in popularity. Examples of Web 2.0 technologies are blogs, podcasts, wikis, peer-to-peer networking, social networking, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Web services. Companies use these technologies for knowledge management, to communicate with business partners and customers, and encourage collaboration within the company. For more information, see

Corporate social opportunitiesND

David Grayson and Adrian Hodges, Ethical Corporation, 11 March 2007

This article traces Marks & Spencer’s recent CSR strategies. Marks & Spencer (M&S) won its first Business in the Community (BITC) Company of the Year Award in 2004 — a time when the company was in caught in a hostile takeover bid and faring poorly financially — causing media commentators to question BITC’s decision. In mid-January 2007, M&S launched ‘Plan A’— its five-year, 100 point plan. The plan includes aims to become carbon neutral, achieve zero waste to landfill and introduce nutritionists in 5 stores. M&S won the BITC Company of the Year Award for the second time in 2006. For more information, see

Paying money to donate moneyND

Rachel Emma Silverman, Wall Street Journal, 9 March 2007

Donor consulting is a growing business in the US. Philanthropy advisors help donors identify causes, vet charities and measure impact of donations. The cost of such services varies from day rates to a percentage of charitable grants (typically 3 percent to 15 per cent). Some advisory firms are not-for-profits themselves, while others are financial services firms. For more information on this trend, see

How Fred Krupp’s singular style serves business, environment well ND

David Wessel, Wall Street Journal, 1 March 2007

Fred Krupp, head of the advocacy group Environmental Defense, takes a business-friendly to environmentalism. This has produced outcomes such as a deal with McDonald’s to reduce its waste, designing a fuel-efficient truck with FedEx and approving a US$32 billion takeover of Texas electric utility TXU in exchange for the new owners halting plans to build eight coal-fired power plants. For more information on this advocacy approach, see

Aid projects build better work teamsND

Andrew Baxter, Financial Times, 27 February 2007

Companies such as Reuters are seeing that employees want to be involved in providing their time and skills to a community organisation or cause, rather than the company providing only funding. For example, Communitychallenge, a partnership between Charity Challenge (an exhibition management company) and Habitat for Humanity, has been receiving inquiries from both CSR and HR departments about projects in tsunami-affected areas. These projects help to boost employee morale and develop team participation skills. For more information, see

CEOs receive nearly 60 per cent of the blame when company reputation is damagedND

Weber Shandwick, 27 February 2007

A reputation survey by public relations firm Weber Shandwick has found that executives attribute almost 60 per cent of blame to CEOs when companies suffer damages to their reputations after crises strike. This finding was similar across different geographical regions. The survey also found that executives tend to underestimate the severity of a number of significant reputation threats such as online activist groups. For more information, see

Business blogs onND

Kath Walters, Business Review Weekly, 22 February 2007

The value of corporate blogs is discussed in this article. Corporate blogs and other tools such as wikis have been found to foster communication between staff and leaders. They also act as vehicles for companies such as Dell and Telstra to debate and answer critics. Research companies have started to quantify the return on investment of corporate blogs using measures such as blog visibility (comparing page views a day to the cost of placing ads). For more information, see

Ethical consumption makes mark on brandingND

Carlos Grande, Financial Times, 20 February 2007

A study of consumers in France, Germany, UK, US and Spain found that many believe business ethics have deteriorated in the last five years. About a third of the 5,000 respondents indicated they would pay a 5-10 per cent price premium for many ethical products. The UK is said to be leading the ethical consumerism market, with its consumers the most critical but also the most aware. For more information, see

100 Best Corporate Citizens 2007ND

Abby Schultz, CRO magazine, 19 February 2007

The annual survey of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens, published in CRO magazine, sees Green Mountain Coffee Roasters taking the top spot. The listing represents the top 1,100 public US companies, and measures performance in eight categories: environmental practices, corporate governance and ethics, diversity policies, employee relations, human rights issues, product quality and safety, accountability to local communities and total return to shareholders over three years. The top ten companies include Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Advanced Micro Devices, Nike, Motorola, IBM, Agilent Technologies, Timberland, Starbucks, and General Mills. For more information, see

Only mushrooms grow in the darkND

Alan Mitchell, The Australian Financial Review, 19 February 2007

Issues management and decision-making by government Ministers can be improved by informing the public earlier about the choices and risks facing government. Governments should utilise more informal and streamlined ways of engaging and educating the public to gain their trust. For more information, see

Charity needs a better foundation ND

Michael Schrage, Financial Times, 15 February 2007

Companies listed on FTSE or Nasdaq are ‘perversely’ more transparent and accountable than the typical foundation or charity. Schrage argues for philanthropic reform and accountability for the trustees and directors of not-for-profits to be equal to their for-profit counterparts. Foundations also need to disclose their shortcomings and publicly debate programmatic failures to raise credibility and productivity. The measurement of corporate and not philanthropic results in the marketplace is seen as an invitation to mismanagement. For more information, see

Co-creating business’s new social compactND

Jeb Brugmann and C.K. Prahalad, Harvard Business Review, February 2007

Over the last five years, corporations have started to pay attention to customers at the bottom of the economic pyramid. NGOs have also started businesses to provide jobs to alleviate poverty. This article writes about the convergence between the corporate sector and civil society to create innovative business models or niche segments. A brief history that traces the path to convergence, examples and norms of convergence are outlined in this article. For more information, see

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