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:

CEOs as chief communication officersND

PR Week, 7 November 2005

New research from the US-based PR Week and public relations firm Burson Marstellar (131 CEOs surveyed) in late 2005 reveals that CEOs are finding they are being required to do more communication than ever, almost taking on the role of company chief communications officer. The research finds: About 25 per cent say that between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of their time should be spent in face-to-face communication with their employees; 55 per cent they are spending more time communicating with customers than in 2003; about half say they are very satisfied or satisfied with the return on investment of their corporate public affairs function; and 59 per cent rate blogs as excellent to good internal communication vehicles.

New names for old companiesND

Thomas Mucha, Business 2.0, November 2005

Renaming a company can be a complex and costly exercise. This article provides examples of companies that have undertaken a name change, with some positive and negative results. A name change can often be an attempt by a company to improve its image and distance itself from corporate scandals. The growth in mergers and acquisitions has also presented challenges around naming. For more information, see

Watch what you say ND

Edward Prewitt, CIO, 1 November 2005

According to Hay Group, communication by company executives is a leading factor in employee motivation and moral. In its latest survey of 1.2 million employees in the US, Hay reported that most employees rate internal communication poorly. According to the report, the lack of communication on where companies are headed promotes turnover. A separate survey also highlights that companies communicate badly on issues around compensation. For more information, see

Australians give $11 billion in 2004ND

October 2005, Report commissioned by the Department of Family and Community Service

One of the most far-reaching reports on and analysis of philanthropy in Australia indicates that Australian's citizens and businesses are donating and volunteering their time more than ever. Business and citizens contributed more than $11 billion in 2004. For more information,see Pro Bono Australia's newsletter article on the report at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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