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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:

Thanks to Donald Trump, Corporate Social Responsibility Just Became Mainstream. ND

Triple Pundit, February 2017

President Donald Trump is a highly unlikely catalyst for the broad scale adoption of corporate social responsibility, but his attempted travel ban has forced businesses to protect their most vital assets, their employees. This move has forced companies to protect both their bottom line and their perception in greater society. This could be seen through Lyft and Google's immediate disapproval of the policy due to the cultural and religious implications, but also because it will profoundly impact the companies’ ability to operate. Active criticism of policies like the travel ban is going to become a requirement to ensure engagement and loyalty of employees and their wellbeing inside the business with ‘conscious capitalism’, embodied through Starbucks commitment to hire 10,000 refugees, becoming crucial to both perceptions from within and out of the company. With the attempted passing of the ban, Donald Trump may have helped those who he wished to ostracise immensely. A poorly planned policy has made CSR an essential part of corporate strategy, and made opposition to poor policy an integral part of everyday business practice. For More Information see

Taking it to the top: Engaging corporate leadership in public policy. ND

Foundation for Public Affairs, 2016

Public policy engagement is becoming a crucial part of a CEO or C-Suite executives skill set with policy creation rapidly becoming far more of a dialogue. Ultimately, if you are the CEO or in a position of responsibility stakeholders, shareholders and governments are not only interested but to an annually greater extent, require it. Using clear case studies the Foundation for Public Affairs creates a clear case for the positioning of the C-Suite, and when involvement is truly required. When ‘failing to engage can put approximately 30% of the value in any company at risk’ (McKinsey in Foundation for Public Affairs), knowledge surrounding public policy engagement is a necessity. Training C-Suite executives to actually interact, and handle the situation which requires public policy engagement is a complicated affair. The Centre for Corporate Public Affairs can assist in professional development to help in the incorporation of political, stakeholder and shareholder relationship thinking into everyday decision making.

Trump presidency begins with defense of false 'alternative facts'ND

Jon Swaine, Guardian, January 2017

Trumps presidency has undeniably had a rocky start with his inauguration met with ‘the nation’s biggest political demonstrations since the Vietnam War’. Yet, the first enemy of Trump is apparently false reporting and the ‘press’ with the ‘largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period’ (Spicer, 2016) supporting Trump. While this claim has been passed off as ‘alternative facts’ by Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House aide, shows a trend of misinformation and media mistrust. The confidence to argue and dispute the size of a crowd as it is, accurately, reported in the press potentially shows a trend wherein negative reporting around anything to do with the new POTUS will be passed off as a lie, with an ‘alternative truth’ quickly provided. This could prove to be a difficult period for a corporate affairs practitioner. For more information see:

How to write emails with military precisionND

Kabir Seghal, Harvard Business Review, December 2016

Efficiency in emails has become a major issue in recent years with recent legislation in France showing the requirement to make communication more efficient, and less frequent. Seghal recommends using a keyword in the subject line, such as ACTION to show that action has to be taken immediately or SIGN showing a signature is required. This subject line categorising is combined with ‘BLUF’, bottom line up front which is a short sentence describing exactly who, what, where, when and why the email has been written. Military efficiency and being economical with words Seghal argues is essential to proper email practice. For more information see:

Thanks to Public Relations, Trump, CalExit and anything is possible. ND

Robert Wynne, Forbes, December 2016

Wynne highlights that 2016 has been the year of the impossible, and the year of public relations, ‘the business of persuasion’. DiCaprio won an Oscar (for the Revenant, questionable at best), Trump won the election and Britain will leave the EU. The New York Times reported that Trump received $2 billion in free advertising through media coverage to bolster his campaign with the old rules of PR, such as not insulting almost everyone, becoming antiquated. While this creates an unpredictable time, after multiple events which were assumed to be completely unthinkable, it also arguably creates unprecedented positive or negative opportunities. The combination of Brexit and Trump will undoubtedly create a new trade, political and cultural environment for the Public Affairs professional to operate within. For more information see:

American regulators accuse Fiat Chrysler of emissions cheatingND

The Economist, January 13th

Fiat Chrysler appears to be joining Volkswagen on the list of car manufacturers caught cheating emissions regulations. 104,000 vehicles have reportedly been fitted with engines that use illegal software to cheat the system, in almost exactly the same way as Volkswagen. VW is being fined (on criminal charges) for $4.3bn with the final bill for cheating the emissions standard regulation being predicted to be around $20bn. The discovery of the cheating software at Chrysler-Fiat caused an immediate 17% slump in share prices and with the recent arrest of VW exec Oliver Schmidt the US Environmental Protection Agency have sent a clear message that there will be accountability for breaking emission standards. For more information see:

Skills and Strategies: Fake News vs. Real News: Determining the Reliability of Sources ND

Katherine Schulten, The New York Times, October 2015

News literacy is a new field, rapidly becoming increasingly relevant in today’s media environment. The digitisation of news has facilitated an absolute flood of information which is not only accessible but forced onto people through Facebook, Twitter and other sources. If you doubt the danger of this relatively new development simply google ‘Pizzagate’ and learn of a 28-year-old firing an assault rifle in a Washington DC pizzeria due to a fake new story. While fake news has played a prominent role in the political sphere so far, it is only a matter of time before it becomes an influence on corporate reputation. Legitimate journalism has become in-effect polluted with misdirection and ‘trolling’ to the extent that even the 2016 US elections were arguably disrupted due to constant fake news stories. While misinformation and statistical manipulation is nothing new (The Children Overboard affair or the recent Boris Johnson NHS Brexit bus), it has never occurred on this scale. Katherine Schulten provides a quick litmus test, made available by The New Literacy Project, to determine the legitimacy of sources. She suggests if in doubt use, and for Australia ABC Fact Check to determine legitimacy. For more information see:

Nokia’s Next Chapter ND

McKinsey Quarterly, December 2016

The only way a company survives according to Lou Gerstner, former IBM CEO, is by changing 4.5 or even 25 times over 100 years. Nokia embodies this survival spirit starting as a lumber mill in Southern Finland and transforming into one of the major producers of mobile phones in the 20th and early 21st century. Described as a ‘phoenix’ rising from the flames of the iPhone and cheaper handsets, Nokia’s survival is attributed to new CEO Risto Siilasmaa commitment to developing trust among the board and treating all employees with fairness and transparency. Nokia now aims to expand within China through licensing its name to established HMD for 10 years. The full interview with CEO Risto Siilasmaa is available at

Why the French email law won’t restore work-life balance ND

Michael Mankins, Harvard Business Review, January 2017

The right to disconnect law was enacted on January the 1st in France, the law prevents companies (with more than 50 employees) from contacting staff after hours. When the average senior executive receives 200 or more emails per day and the average supervisor devotes 8 hours every week to email communication, a full business day. HBR estimate that 25% of the time is used to respond to emails they shouldn’t have to. Mankins argues that while the law is commendable, it fails to take into account that preventing emails at the weekend will simply force employees to work during the weekend due to the requirement to devote additional time to emails at work. The clear solution to this is to eliminate the 25% of emails which are irrelevant and prevent it from becoming a more disruptive issue through the removal of the ‘reply all’ function. Ultimately greater amounts of knowledge and leadership are required to enhance worker productivity and free time. For more information see:

What so many strategists get wrong about digital disruption. ND

Frank Vermeulen, Harvard Business Review, January 2017

Vermeulen outlines the four top disruptors to industries through the insertion of the ‘digital world’. Firstly the issue with the concept that winner takes all, and that significant market presence equates to success. Seen through apps like Uber which have focused on having a strong presence, yet consistently have suffered losses as App loyalty doesn’t exist. Just because a taxi driver drives for Uber, doesn’t mean he doesn’t drive for Lyft. Markets are now vast and able to sustain multiple players. The second misconception is that the digital disruption will render old technology obsolete. New technology will act as a complement to existing technologies with strategy needing to be based around the idea that new developments will not rapidly, drastically change the way tasks are undertaken. The third wrong assumption is that enhanced digitisation will act to remove geographic distances, which it arguably has not done to as great an extent as expected. Human interaction, particularly for HR and consultancy, requires face-to-face meetings, it is unlikely technology can ever replace this. The fourth wrong move is the over-estimation of the speed in which change will occur. We are constantly told the world is rapidly changing and technology is constantly evolving, but is it, is it? The rate of change is arguably not increasing at all and organisations basing strategy on future opportunities, like INGs investment in the Second Life fad. Create a strategy based on the context you are in, don’t assume uniformity or overnight technology gold-rush opportunities. For more information see:

New French Law Bars Work Email After HoursND

David Morris, 2nd January, Fortune.

France has always placed workers rights and wellbeing as a crucial part of the economy, with trade unions being a major political actor. The recent ‘right to disconnect’ law may appear to be a major win for workers throughout the nation yet, it's passing in May was also accompanied with measures to expedite the sacking of employees with the ultimate intention being to liberalise the French economy further. The law is designed to prevent burnout which is mutually beneficial for both the employee and the employer with Stanford University estimating the cost of stress costs the healthcare system between $125 and $195 billion a year in the US with $48 billion being directly attributed to stress. The large healthcare costs are usually passed directly onto employers with the removal of an important source of stress out of office hours being an effective way to prevent raising healthcare costs. For more information see:

Deliveroo orders in lobbying helpND

David Singleton, 7th December 2016, Public Affairs News

Delivery giant Deliveroo (mopeds with the kangaroo) has fully utilised the growing ‘gig economy’ to create high levels of market presence in the UK and Australia. Currently, a case is being prepared by members of the British Parliament to investigate working conditions and pay in the growing informal economy. Deliveroo has stood out due to its decision to inform workers that they could not be recognised as staff members of the firm while a pay row is ongoing with its couriers. This court case will prove to be a crucial litmus test for both the UK and Australia who have similar sized informal economies and policies in place to protect workers. Investigations are occurring into working conditions at Asos and Sports Direct, and the treatment of couriers at Uber and Hermes. The inquiry will undoubtedly have knock-on effects that will influence a number of industries current staffing practices. For More information see:

How to confront a dark corporate pastND

The Economist, 29th October 2016.

Confronting historical crimes, misdeeds or unethical practices is a necessary undertaking for businesses to determine how to implement overriding guiding ethics. Citing the Dutch clothing retailer C&A acknowledging its actions during the Second World War and its exploitation of Eastern European labourers. The COFRA Holding, who own C&A personally funded a history of the firm to published while fully understanding what would be uncovered. The five-year process was funded to turn the dark history into a 'platform' for advancement. Confronting an ugly past is not undertaken regularly with multiple mainstream, every day, companies refusing to appropriately acknowledge the historical events which have assisted their business position. Corporate historian Lutz Burdass assessed 100 firms that had thrived during the Second World War and determined that 30 had correctly assessed their wartime activity and the potential requirement for reparations for being 'heavily involved in Nazi crimes.' For more information see:

A tale of three AsiasND

Jay Datesh, Miklos Dietz and Attila Kincses, Mckinsey, September 2015

Asia is predicted to produce 45% of all growth in banking revenues by 2020. Acknowledging the potential GDP increase in tier two countries is necessary, particularly in Chinas 150 tier-two cities which will represent a significant proportion of the 95% growth of all banking forecast to occur in urban areas. In developed Asian nations, 70% of growth will come from the retail-banking sector while personal banking for the emerging middle class will prove to be a 'bright spot'. The increasing level of accessibility to financial services for consumers in urban and rural Asia will create rapid expansion in wealth management and also make personal and corporate lending far more accessible. For more information see:

Why Ireland doesn't want Apple to pay back 11 billion pounds in taxes. ND

Zlata Rodionova, The Independent, 20 December 2016

Ireland is currently in the process of protesting the collection of billions in taxes which will put an end to it's 'sweetheart deal' with Apple. The European Commission has found that the Irish government were accepting a tax rate of 0.005% in 2014, breaching EU competition policy. The Irish economy is highly dependent upon multinationals with around 1,000 firms have created headquarters in Ireland to take advantage of the low corporate income tax. Losing the appeal would send a clear message to other companies in Ireland about the power in Brussels and jeopardise the foreign direct investment representing 165% of the GDP. The Commission is become a greater player in EU economics, forcing Dutch authorities to recover 30 million euros from Starbucks and a similar amount in Luxembourg from Fiat Chrysler. Further probes into corporate tax policy within further EU nations is expected. For more information see:

Construction industry becoming increasingly gender-segregated, report findsND

Fiona Smith, The Guardian, 12th December 2016

Currently, women make up 12 per cent of the construction sector, down from 17 per cent in 2006. The roles undertaken are also traditionally more junior with the turnover rate at 39 per cent faster rate for women. Further to this, both genders suffer due to a culture of glorifying excessive working hours and a culture of 'shaming.' individuals who don't comply. Combined with this is commonplace sexism, a lack of transparency in the recruitment and promotion processes. Ultimately a lot of power lies with the company or investor who employs the construction firm with reforms to the sector being entirely necessary for both men and women. The expected 12-16 daily hours 6 days a week is unsustainable causing unnecessary personal and social damage. For more information see:

How Unilever Reaches Rural Consumers in Emerging MarketsND

Vijay Mahajan, Harvard Business Review 14th December 2016

The rural consumer is an emerging demographic with a technology-enhanced middle-class rapidly expanding. Globally there are 3.4 billion potential rural consumer customers with 3 billion living in developing nations in Asia and Africa. Currently, Unilever possesses a dominant market position in the challenging marketplace with issues like logistics, market development and product design requiring innovative and adaptive solutions. Solutions like Hindustan Unilever Limites use of the Shakti initiative, a program employing and empowering local women as sales agents and doing the majority of administration through a smartphone app. The adoption of a rural mindset with empathy and the incorporation of local knowledge proves to be the best way to access the rural consumer. With a saturated and heavily competitive urban market, the rural consumer proves to be an attractive market combined with increasing internet and cellular penetration giving the rural consumer greater awareness of products available. Unilever's inclusive approach to their plan for growth is both empowering to the local community and providing up to 3 billion consumers greater access to goods and services. For more information see:

Employing more older workers could deliver $78bn in economic gainsND

Fiona Smith, Guardian Sustainable Business, 1 December 2016.

The Australian Human Rights Commission estimates that twenty seven per cent of people over the age of fifty experience age discrimination at work. This bias has a serious and widespread economic impact. PwC’s Golden Age Index estimates that embracing older workers can reap Australia economic gains of up to $78bn. While encouraging women in leadership and fighting racial and cultural discrimination is widely lauded, advocating for mature-age workers is not. “In the social debate, this is not a sexy thing to be seen to be doing,” says the managing partner of PwC’s People Business, Jon Williams”. Some companies are heeding this advice. Westpac has set a target to increase the number of employees aged fifty and over to more than 20.5% by 2017. By early 2015 Westpac had reached 20.9%. Westpac was also the first corporate to introduce grandparental leave. Commonwealth Bank and Bus Queensland are also leaders in this area. For more information see:

Samsung halts production of Note 7 phone ND

Al Jazeera, 11 October 2016

Samsung Electronics has provisionally halted production of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after reports of fires in replacement devices. The announcement saw Samsung's share price dive by 4 percent. "If the Note 7 is allowed to continue it could lead to the single greatest act of brand self-destruction in the history of modern technology," Eric Schiffer, brand strategy expert and chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Reuters news agency. "Samsung should arrest the sale of Note 7's and protect the safety of their clients before profits and ultimately as a by-product protect Samsung. Samsung needs to take a giant write-down and cast the Note 7 to the engineering hall of shame next to the Ford Pinto." Telstra has stated that Samsung had paused supply of new Note 7s to the company. "Analysts are saying the recall could cost between $2bn and $5bn, and that was before this latest development," said Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, adding that some 2.5 million phones worldwide would need to be replaced. Singapore Airlines said on Monday that charging of phone is prohibited on all its flights. For more information see:

The Forecasting Sweet Spot Between Micro and MacroND

Eddie Yoon, Jeremy Bartlow and Tim Joyce. Harvard Business Review 26 August 2016

Forecasting plays a major role in all modern business strategy, yet statistically businesses are fairly poor at it. In a survey with 500 senior executives, 1 per cent of their companies hit there 3 year financial forecast, only 5 were with 5 per cent of the original goal. The average rate of over/underestimating results was 13 per cent off, causing the fluctuation of share prices by an average 6 per cent. This occurs as the focus of forecasting is almost always on macro data such as GDP and fails to incorporate trends or the fluidity of consumption habits. When forecasting the HBR argues expanding the focus to ‘middle data’ such as wine consumption to determine disposable income, development, and the potential for higher demand, will create a more holistic and reliable forecast. For more information see:

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