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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:

Sea Change: How Sustainability Drives PerformanceND

A GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey, September 2014

The value that corporate transparency brings to companies can be underestimated. This insightful survey, composed by ‘SustainAbility’ and involving the input of 491 sustainability experts from around the world, provides the reader with an insight into the value that corporate transparency brings to an organisation. An overwhelming majority off participants of the survey indicated that corporate transparency has a positive impact on a company’s sustainability performance. The study acknowledges barriers to transparency within organisations and makes for very interesting reading. For more information see:

Are Companies Ready to Finally Kill Email? ND

Terri L. Griffith, MIT Sloan Management Review, 8 September 2014

A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that comprehensive implementation of internal social media tools such as Yammer, Jive and Chatter can raise productivity by as much as 25 percent. Yammer claims that it’s “loved by 85% of the Fortune 500,” yet the question that should be asked is how many of these companies have successfully implemented the tool. Companies should not assume that because people use social media in their personal lives they will know how to get the most out of internal social media tools. A common problem is the failure to fully implement the tools into the fabric of their communication and collaboration. For more information see:

Why Social Media Will Fundamentally Change Business ND

Gerald C. Kane, MIT Sloan Management Review, 8 September 2014

The role of information technology in transforming business and society is evident and has been for decades. The introduction of ATMs in the 1960s and 1970s, and the introduction of high-speed trading algorithms in the 1980s are two examples of technology revolutionizing business and society. The magnitude of the impact social media will have on business is still largely unknown. The growth of the collaboration economy is one example where social media has contributed to the transformation of an industry. Companies like Uber and Airbnb bypass traditional means to provide their services. Distinct trends are also occurring in traditional companies. This article provides an interesting overview of social media in business and offers advice for executives grappling with the challenges it has created. For more information see:

Who’s Being Left Out on Your Team? ND

Carolyn O'Hara, Harvard Business Review, 27 August 2014

When one feels ostracised in the work place wellbeing can be severely impacted. The creation of a workplace that fosters inclusion and acceptance is directly linked to worker retention, growth and employee satisfaction. People feel included when they concurrently feel that they both belong and that they are unique. This article offers advice on how to counter negativity within the workplace and how best to foster an inclusive environment. For more information see:

Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence’ ND

Keith Hampton, Lee Rainie, Weixu Lu, Maria Dwyer, Inyoung Shin, Kristin Purcell, Pew Research, 26 August 2014

The tendency of individuals to withhold opinions regarding policy issues when their own point of view is not widely shared is termed the ‘spiral of silence’. This inclination was addressed by human behaviour studies prior to the transformational effects thrust upon society by the social media revolution. The societal transformation inflicted by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, it was hoped by many, would transform this behaviour by facilitating unconstrained dialogue. A recent study conducted by Pew Research set out to determine the actual effects social media has had on the ‘spiral of silence’. For more information see:

Business, society, and the future of capitalismND

Paul Polman, McKinsey & Company, May 2014

In this article the CEO of Unilever, Paul Polman, discusses the relationship between business, society, and the future of capitalism. He deliberates the pitfalls of the current capitalist model and questions the viability of the system into the future. The massive discrepancies in wealth and opportunity and the dire state of the world’s poorest are highlighted as issues destructive enough to render the current system obsolete. Polman highlights the critical role business must take in redirecting the current system and reflects on his journey as CEO of Unilever. He endorses the adoption of a long-term strategy, the embrace of the new Millennium Development Goals and adherence to the responsible-investment principles that the UN Global Compact is advocating. He shows support for philanthropy and CSR yet indicates that if corporations wish to exist in the future they must achieve more. For more information see:

Seizing China’s new digital opportunityND

Dominic Barton, McKinsey and Company, March 2013

The transformational effect the digitization of the global economy has had on society is obvious. The ability of companies to keep up with rapid technological advancements is cited as one of the greatest challenges facing corporations today. Dominic Barton, Managing Director of McKinsey and Company, explores the challenges facing corporations and directs his focus on China, the most active social media population globally. While the population is at the fore of technological usage, he indicates that most big Chinese enterprises are still playing catch-up when it comes to technology. For more information see:

The changing face of marketingND

John D. Louth, McKinsey and Company, September 1966

This article was published in the McKinsey Quarterly in 1966. It is derived from a presentation made by John D. Louth, a principal in McKinsey’s San Francisco office who specialised in problems of organisation, marketing, and sales management. His presentation was made to a West Coast marketing-executives group in 1964. The article investigates six major changes of the era that promised to transform the marketing industry at that point in time. The article makes for very interesting reading as the reader quantifies the accuracy of the assumptions and relates the issues afflicting the practitioner then to the issues encountered by today’s practitioners. For more information see:

China tightens censorship on mobile messaging apps ND

Charles Clover and Song Jung, Financial Times, 7 August 2014

The Chinese government this week intensified its suppression of China’s blogosphere and popular social media Apps. The new requirements announced by the State Council Information Office forbids the publishing of political views without prior consent. It was revealed also this week that a number of foreign chat services have been blocked, with Beijing citing the use of such services to incite terrorism. For more see:

The digital tipping point ND

Josh Gottlieb and Paul Willmott, McKinsey and Company, August 2014

The digital revolution has instigated massive transformations of the organisational structure. CEO’s are increasingly acclimatising by devising policies and injecting funds to facilitate adaptation to this transition. A recent study by McKinsey and Company indicates that what organisations are doing may be insufficient to reap the transformative benefits that digitisation offers them. The study analysed how companies spend on digital, their goals and the challenges they face such as a scarcity of adequate talent. For more information see:

Creating partnerships for sustainability ND

Marco Albani and Kimberly Henderson, McKinsey and Company, July 2014

The role business plays in addressing social and environmental issues is evolving. Societal expectations increasingly anticipate business will play an active and engaging role in addressing societal challenges. How corporations go about confronting these challenges can create difficulties. The terrain which organisations can find themselves is often foreign thus presenting an inability to effectively achieve desired goals. The role of partnerships—with governments, investors, local communities, NGO’s among other organisations—can often present the best option. Collaboration in a socially desirable project should be entered into with genuine interest, not solely for the appeasement of an expectant society. This article offers seven methods to achieve a successful collaboration. For more information see:

Sustainability’s strategic worth: McKinsey Global Survey results ND

Sheila Bonini and Anne-Titia Bové, McKinsey & Company, 31 July 2014

This article by McKinsey and Company analyses a 2014 global survey of company leaders and their insights to sustainability. The survey results suggest that a number of challenges raised by senior practitioners and heads of function at Centre for Corporate Public Affairs roundtables over the past year are common across many corporations: while sustainability is core to business strategy, there remains a gap between how the company is managing decisions and resources to generate value, and what most senior management may see as value. The survey results confirm that corporate reputation remains a key driver of sustainability: and that despite at least a decade of corporate responsibility evolving from being a collection of 'programs' to how companies make decisions and engage with their stakeholders to generate mutual benefit and corporate longevity, there remains a perception among senior leaders in organisations that sustainability remains a 'program driven' management approach. For more information see:

Social value: a sustainability buzzword without a meaning?ND

Adrian Henriques, Guardian Professional, 23 July 2014

Determining the contribution to society that social investments make is ever more sought after and can now be accurately achieved. The appeal in measuring this value is that economic valuation techniques can be used thus providing added certainty to results. Measuring the added value from a particular investment does however present challenges, such as measuring the marginal difference a project makes, and what value it adds. For more information see:

Social media in government: Five key considerationsND

Hootsuite Enterprise White Paper, July 1 2014

Governments are increasingly looking to leverage social media to better engage their stakeholders, improve public services, and achieve greater efficiency. Until recently governments have relied on traditional means of stakeholder engagement. However, the exponential rise of social media has made it critical for government agencies to develop sound social media policies. This article offers five key considerations for government agencies using social media. For more information see:

Charities and social enterprises: invest responsibly or lose public trustND

Asheem Singh, The Guardian, 29 May 2014

Charities can find themselves in an ethical dilemma when investing. Choosing a solid financial investment and ensuring alignment with an organisation’s core mission can be tricky. The ethical and responsible investment marketplace is complicated, large and developing. There is $12 trillion world-wide in ‘ethical’ stocks, and $34 trillion subscribing to the UN Principle of Responsible Investment. These stocks may not however be aligned with the mission of a particular charity. For more information see

Does race or gender matter more to your paycheck? ND

Deborah Ashton, Harvard Business Review, 28 May 2014

Income disparity between genders is extensively reported and commonly acknowledged. American women earned 82 cents to every dollar made by a white male, up from 79 cents and 77 cents respectively, in 2012. What is less universally understood is whether race or gender is a greater determinant of income dissimilarity. This study offers an interesting insight into income disparities and the correlation between gender, race and educational attainment. For more information see

The terrible math of employee engagementND

Nigel Miller, Edelman, 1 May 2014

Organisations struggle to actively engage their employees. Deloitte’s recent Human Capital Trends study indicated that 80 percent of companies fail to satisfactorily engage their workforce. This inability can have a detrimental effect on every aspect of an organisation. Only 13 percent of employees globally are actively engaged at work and double that number are so disengaged that they are likely to spread their discontent to others. This article delves into this pervasive issue. For more information see:

Why a Quarter of Americans Don’t Trust Their Employers ND

Gretchen Gavett, Harvard Business Review, 28 April 2014

This article provides an interesting insight into the psychological state of the American workforce. It analyses general satisfaction in the workplace, feeling valued at work, trust and lack of, stress, and the profound interrelation between them. Dr. David Ballard, the head of American Psychological Association’s Centre for Organisational Excellence, helps unravel the intricacies associated with employee satisfaction and accentuates the importance of attaining effectual employee engagement. For more information see

Japanese messaging App Line gains traction abroad ND

Eric Pfanner, Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2014

The success of Japanese mobile phone application Line continues to impress. Line is achieving striking growth outside of Japan, making inroads into markets such as Spain, where users are attracted to minimising the costs associated with staying connected. Line has begun to penetrate the Latin American market, demonstrating success in Brazil and in Mexico. Recently, a foray into the US market has been made, initially targeting its Spanish speaking population. Line boasts 175 million users globally. For more information see:

Weibo’s US debut underwhelms ND

Charles Clover, Financial Times, 18 April 2014

China's Twitter-like micro blogging platform Sina Weibo went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Thursday. The stock did initially raise less than expected however rallied in late trading, closing at $21.24. Weibo did enter a turbulent technological market; however this is not believed to be the sole challenge to its launch. An increase in government censorship has seen Weibo's user rate decline. Tens of thousands of Weibo user accounts have been deleted, with dozens of high-profile users jailed for "rumourmongering". For more information see:

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