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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:

Success factors in CSR integrationND

Claudia Woo, CSR Asia, 3 October 2012

The author identifies several factors as particularly important for full CSR integration. The first element for success is 'leadership and corporate tone'. The author suggests that management should explicitly set a clear CSR vision for the entire company. The importance of engaging line managers is also stressed, as they may enjoy higher levels of trust than senior management. It is also suggested that CSR is embedded into Human Resource Management, and that it is crucial to incorporate CSR into the code of conduct, employee recruitment policy, training, and remuneration and performance appraisal systems. In measuring CSR, it is suggested that companies need to analyse the list of material issues (as defined by stakeholders, including the company’s strongest critics,) categorise them, and select meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress. For more information see

Retailers fail to find a friend in FacebookND

Chris Zappone, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2012

Nearly half of Australia's retailers have shrugged off the need for a Facebook page. Roughly one third of retailers do have a Facebook page, though 47 per cent don't have one and don't plan to get one within the next year, according to data compiled by Experian. More than half, 54 per cent, don't use Twitter and don't plan to in the next year, either. Pinterest is of particularly little interest to retailers, with 72 per cent saying they have no interest in the site. Many retailers are unwilling to walk away from earlier investments geared towards a non-online environment, said Experian Marketing Services general manager Matt Glasner. “In our experience retailers are most hesitant to abandon their legacy infrastructure investments," he said. For more information see

The role of corporate citizenship in high performance organisationsND

Vimal L. Kumar, CSR Asia, 26 September 2012

Increasing stakeholder expectations, the tightening of laws and regulations as well as media scrutiny over the past decade can now make a major integrity lapse potentially devastating to an organisation. Combining high performance with high integrity can help address the pressures that are regularly felt by those within high performance cultures and therefore help manage risk exposure. But it’s not only about managing risk. Ensuring that the highest standards of integrity exist within high performance organisations fosters “corporate citizenship”. When properly managed this can create corporate benefits, both internal and external. Internally it empowers employees to speak up on performance and integrity issues while helping attract and retain high caliber talent. The organisation's reputation is then viewed positively by society at large, and can result in the potential for greater thought leadership in public policy debates. For more information see

Companies that invest in sustainability do better financiallyND

Gerrit Heyns, Harvard Business Review, 19 September 2012

According to the author, it is a common misconception that sustainable investments result in diminished investment returns. Data on corporate sustainability collected over the last decade shows that resource efficient companies — those that use less energy and water and create less waste in generating a unit of revenue — tend to produce higher investment returns than their less resource-efficient rivals. Resource-efficient companies also display high levels of innovation and entrepreneurship pushing core value metrics above the average large cap global business. An investment strategy based on resource efficiency not only produces returns in excess of global benchmarks, it also identifies management teams that are forward thinking, aware of the economic imperatives brought about by resource constraint. For more information see

Financial sector development: thinking outside the box to reach Myanmar’s unbankedND

Alyson Slater, CSR Asia, 9 September 2012

One piece of vital infrastructure that is missing in Myanmar is a stable and accessible financial system. Financial sector development is a priority for the Myanmar government, but the author suggests it will require a medium to long-term process of reform and implementation. A further challenge will be to educate people, especially those with low incomes in rural locations, about financial services and how to safely and responsibly participate in the formal financial sector. The author suggests some business models that have been proven successful in reaching poor, rural clients in other markets could be adaptable for implementation in Myanmar. These include: 'banking beyond branches' in rural areas, for example using local shops as surrogate branches; micro-insurance for small businesses, implementing new 'mobile money' technologies; and introducing simple savings accounts with no minimum balance requirements and reasonable transaction fees. For more information see

The digital you at work: what to considerND

Renee Boucher Ferguson, MIT Sloan Review, 9 September 2012

Employee interaction with their employers' social media is increasingly being analysed by employers, using data analytics tools to determine employees' value, influence or motivation within and outside an organisation. There is now software available which builds a digital character for each employee that is mapped against a model of the organisation’s normal behaviour, and any deviations from normality are detected. This can produce a variety of findings, from who the really skilled managers are to who is involved in risky behaviour. The author suggests that employees and candidates should actively and carefully build a 'digital persona'. In fact, survey data shows that online personas may be costing candidates job opportunities, as a third of the HR respondents surveyed said they have found information that has caused them not to hire a candidate. For more information see

Risky (social) businessND

Robert Berkman, MIT Sloan Management Review, 30 August 2012

The most commonly identified social media risk is that it may leave one's organisation vulnerable to posts, discussions and unauthorised information releases that could be potentially damaging. Findings of a new study into social media risk mitigation by Altimeter include: two thirds of companies surveyed say that social media is a significant or critical risk to their brand reputation; the biggest concerns revolve around brand reputation; and the major sources of risk that companies say they are most concerned about are the “big three”: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The research was based on interviews with professional in the functions such social media managers, compliance officers, lawyers and chief security officers. In general terms, the suggested risk mitigation process involves identifying, assessing, managing and then monitoring the risks. For more information see

Customer experience should be part of your businessND

Harley Manning, Harvard Business Review, 29 August 2012

The author identifies three main strategies for optimising 'customer experience'. The first is creating a specialised enterprise-level customer experience team, placed outside of any silo. Through a research process that focuses on understanding customer journeys, the team identifies opportunities for improvement. Then they plan improvement projects, and engage the relevant business owners in their efforts. Second, the author stresses the importance of uncovering and mapping customer journeys. The maps visually illustrate the series of events that make up a customer's interactions with a firm over time. They help companies find problems that occur in the "white space" as a customer passes from one channel to another. The third and final strategy is appointing a Chief Customer Officer (CCO), who drives change that needs to cut across channels and business units and leads management efforts aimed at improving customer experience. For more information see

Today's consumer cares about corporate reputationND

Richard Warnica and Tim Shufelt, Canadian Business, 28 August 2012

Consumers know more than ever about where products come from. As a result, their expectations of the provider have risen dramatically. Today, consumers want to know what a company stands for, what its values are and why. They care about what a company is doing, not just what it’s selling. The author argues that corporate scandals over the past decade, from the sub-prime mortgage crisis to the BP oil spill, have produced 'default skepticism' among consumers. However, there is a suggestion that the pendulum has swung too far in favour of reputational marketing, and that marketers have become consumed with corporate image. The issue is that when every company is trying to develop deeper bonds with the consumer, consumers’ attention is distracted and diluted. For more information see

Why remote workers are more (yes, more) engagedND

Scott Edinger, Harvard Business Reveiw, 24 August 2012

The author has observed that team members who work in a different location to their leaders were more engaged and committed, as well as rating the team leader higher, than team members sitting right nearby. The author suggests several reasons why this might be the case. The first is that proximity can breed complacency - that even within offices people are using technology like emails as their primary mode of communication. The second is that many leaders make an extra effort to stay connected to those they don't ordinarily run into. It is also suggested that leaders of virtual teams make a better use of tools. The final reason is that leaders of far-flung teams often filter out distractions and maximise the time their teams spend together. For more information see

Social media compliance isn't fun, but it's necessaryND

Ryan Holmes, Harvard Business Review, 23 August 2012

For highly regulated sectors like finance, government and pharmaceuticals, social media can be a legal minefield. Firms can be held liable for tweets from an employee's iPhone, outside the office, and after working hours. The good news is that implementing an effective social media compliance process isn't rocket science, but the combination of the right policy and the right technology is required. The first step is developing a social media policy in collaboration with front-line employees, and then providing training for employees - particularly those in sales and marketing divisions. Adopting technology that keeps pace with regulatory requirements is equally important, for example implementing pre-approval for Facebook and Twitter content. For more information see

Pinning your marketing hopes on social mediaND

Guardian Professional, The Guardian, 20 August 2012

Networking site Pinterest has nearly 12 million users, and reached the 10 million-user milestone quicker than any other site in internet history. The US-founded network uses imagery as the core of its network system, thus creating a clear point of difference from existing social media sites Facebook and Twitter, which are word-based. Many US businesses have begun to use the site to support their own marketing work. The visual nature of Pinterest lends itself to businesses whose goods and services can be presented well, and food companies in particular have been early advocates of the site. Businesses using Pinterest most effectively are those who understand the networks' 'product life cycle' and its demographics. In the US, Pinterest's core user profiles are 25-34 year-old women within the upper levels of income, while in the UK, the typical user profiles are males aged between 25-34. For more information see

Social media shift in businessND

Julian Lee, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 August 2012

As yet another large company feels the heat from social media, marketers are weighing up whether the benefits of being on Facebook outweigh the risks. Last week a landmark ruling threw the responsibility for monitoring the thousands of comments posted on corporate Facebook pages back to companies, which now have to ensure posts are not racist, sexist or inaccurate. Marketers must be forgiven for asking, why are we here in the first place? Gabriel McDowell of Res Publica, an adviser to corporations on social media strategy, said the wrong people running company Facebook pages had compounded recent missteps. Control should be taken from advertising and marketing agencies, who are used to pushing a message, and handed to public relations people, who are better equipped to deal with fallout. For more information see

The size and scale of Chinese social entrepreneurshipND

Andrea Krause, The Guardian, 15 August 2012

FYSE has conducted an annual 'Chinese Social Enterprise Survey' survey among social entrepreneurs in China for the past two years. 95% of respondents got involved in social entrepreneurship after 2006, with the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 being a major driving force for participation. The recent interest in social enterprise is reflected in the youthfulness of enterprises: 54% of them are under three years old and only 38% are more than five years old. However, many NGOs striving to become social enterprises struggle due to inadequate business and market expertise, institutional challenges, an unclear business model and inefficient income generating strategies. Therefore they often revert back to grants and donations to cover costs or are unable to expand. For more information see

Aussie challenge for Facebook advertisersND

April Dembosky, Financial Times, 12 August 2012

International advertisers are grappling with renewed concerns over the hidden costs of advertising on Facebook, after an Australian standards board ruled that companies are responsible for policing defamatory of misleading comments posted by ordinary users on Facebook pages. There could now be a chilling effect on advertisers' willingness to use social media sites, and the result could be damaging for Facebook, which is already struggling to prove the effectiveness of its advertising model. In the US, laws are more strictly formed around truth and accuracy, rather than decency. And advertisers are protected from liability for content posted to their website by third parties. However, pharmaceutical companies and the financial industry have still been particularly reluctant to adopt social media in the US. For more information see

Corporate ranks start to divide on bonusesND

Ian Verrender, The Age, 9 August 2012

BHP CEO Marius Kloppers has decided to directly link his pay to performance and to shareholder returns. This stands starkly at odds with the trend in corporate ranks during the past decade and a half where the opaque calculations of bonuses have become a source of frustration for shareholders and the broader community. In Australia, the two strikes and you're out rule - where a board is dumped if more than 25 per cent of shareholders vote against the executive remuneration package two years running - is now entering its second year. That has helped focus the minds of directors on their responsibilities, although a surprisingly large number of companies last year incurred the wrath of shareholders on the issue. What Kloppers and some other executive have done is kept it simple. If shareholders have suffered, then they get no bonus. For more information see

Human Rights and guiding principles – managing risks and impacts in AsiaND

Michelle Brown, CSR Asia, 8 August 2012

It has been over a year since ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework’ were endorsed by the United Nations which provide a framework for how companies can understand and manage their responsibilities in the complex area of Human Rights. Human Rights are universal, but assessing the corporate impact on human rights will be affected by different country contexts and the different operating environments that a company faces. For Asian companies operating in Europe and for European companies operating in Asia it will be important to consider their operations in light of the rolling out of the Guiding principles. Part of the challenge for companies is the lack of publicly available impact assessments and sharing of practices in the area of human rights. For more information see

Mitigate the risk in social media sellingND

Barbara Giamanco and Kent Gregoire, Harvard Business Review, 7 August 2012

Sales reps now have the ability to participate in global conversations about their products, their field, and their expertise. But some companies are so worried about potential mistakes or loss of control that they don't allow participation. That's a bad idea. Choosing not to be present in social networks puts your company and your salespeople at a competitive disadvantage. Instead, acknowledge the risks and mitigate them. Potential risks of social media usage include false representations, unguarded disclosures, and copyright violations that could bring legal exposure. These risks, however, can be managed with well-crafted guidelines. Policies at IBM, Nordstrom, and the U.S. Air Force, for example, highlight the importance of exercising good judgment, showing respect, refraining from disclosing confidential information, avoiding conflicts of interest, and representing opinions as purely one's own. For more information see

If the name gets in the way, change itND

Nicole LaPorte, The New York Times, 4 August 2012

There are various reasons to rename a business, such as: making the name easier to pronounce, a desire to rejuvenate a brand or to do away with negative associations. However, there are risks involved. Companies always face the challenge of telegraphing a new name in a way that doesn’t alienate loyal customers, and undermine 'positive brand equity' that the company has built over time. Nonetheless, many large companies have undergone name changes, including: Datsun to Nissan; the Computing- Tabulating-Recording Company to the International Business Machines Corporation, or I.B.M.; and BackRub, the precursor to Google. For more information see

Goldman creates first US ‘social’ bondND

Tracy Alloway, Financial Times, 2 August 2012

Goldman Sachs has teamed up with New York City to create the first significant “social impact bond” in the US, providing a test case for the experimental financing method aimed at helping cash-strapped local governments fund public projects. The investment bank will loan $9.6m for a programme designed to reduce the number of young men in New York who reoffend and end up back in prison. However, Goldman’s ultimate return will be linked to the success of the programme in preventing reincarceration – a key component of such social impact deals. Under the leadership of its new public relations chief, Jake Siewert, Goldman has been attempting to rehabilitate its own public image – including the launch of a Twitter account to help broadcast its charitable efforts and philanthropic investments. However, the bank remains controversial among some local governments. For more information see

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