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 measure of a great employer ND


Alison Maitland, Financial Times, 27 October 2005

Only four companies have managed to be ranked among the top 100 best places to work in the US for the past 21 years. Longevity helps make them better than the rest, as three out of those four are more than a century old, resulting in strong sets of values and excellent benefits. Many of the companies in the top 100 list are privately owned, or small businesses, and have created a community feel to the working environment that employees value. Bigger businesses are beginning to resent being judged against the smaller entrants, feeling that the odds are stacked against them. Being a large, publicly owned employer, and being consistently great, is hardest of all. For more information see www.ft.com

Business rejects social scorecardsND


Fiona Buffini, The Australian Financial Review, 10 October 2005

In submissions to the Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Corporate Responsibility, businesses have rejected calls for mandatory reporting. In other submissions, various community and conservation groups are pressing for more mandatory disclosures, broadening of directors liabilities and increasing corporate liability. The Inquiry is due to conduct hearings later this year and report on the issues in 2006. For more information, see www.afr.com.au

Demand not yet sustainableND


Laura Kelly, The Australian Financial Review, 10 October 2005

A recent report from the Australian Research Institute in Education on Sustainability says business schools have a responsibility to teach sustainability in their courses. However, academics point to a lack of demand from industry for sustainability courses. Also many companies do not assess sustainability training as a factor in their recruitment process, even though more Australian corporates are adopting voluntary standards for sustainability reporting. For more information, see www.afr.com.au

A little more conversation, a little less informationND


Richard Donkin, Financial Times, 29 September 2005

A survey of 14,000 UK companies found that less than half of its employees thought the company communicated well. This article raises the questions: ‘Are companies going over the top in their attempts to communicate? Are they telling people the right things?’ While companies have increased the frequency of internal communications, at issue is the quality of the information and the way it is delivered. For more information, see www.ft.com

Call to develop ‘genuine’ social responsibilityND


Fiona Buffini, The Australian Financial Review, 29 September 2005

The Australian Stock Exchange’s Corporate Governance Council has agreed to consider Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell’s proposal to develop a standard for sustainability reporting. While Senator Campbell supports voluntary reporting, his proposed format would help ensure comparability between companies and avoid claims that some corporate reports are ‘greenwash’. For more information, see www.afr.com.au

It’s what’s inside that matters on the outsideND


Catherine Fox, The Australian Financial Review, 27 September 2005

Rob Cooke, associate professor of management at the University of Illinois and director of Human Synergistics’ Centre says there is a strong link between a healthy corporate culture and corporate citizenship. By focusing on a constructive corporate culture, companies are better able to relate to society and its needs, which is increasingly important to a company’s survival. For more information, see www.afr.com.au

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

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