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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:

Lobbying regulation: a global viewND

Matt Cartmell, PRWeek, 21 June 2012

The UK lobbying industry is awaiting plans forta statutory register. PRWeek’s analysis of lobbying regulation shows that the main benefit of the EU system is that registering and signing the code of conduct allows lobbyists to get a parliamentary pass. This system is generally well liked by UK consultants. The US system is widely viewed as the most rule-bound and complicated system in the world, while it is argued that the UK has tended to work best through peer pressure. Australia's Lobbying Code of Conduct operates a relatively light-touch statutory register for consultants alone, rather than in-house lobbyists. For more information see

No better time to get LinkedInND

Garry Browne, Business Spectator, 21 June 2012

There are a number of tips for using Linkedin that many business owners and executives may not be aware of. First, LinkedIn is highly optimised for search and a completed profile will rate as one of the highest results in an online search. This means that LinkedIn offers an opportunity for business owners to ensure those who do search for their company will see the information they want them to see first. Second, there’s a definite advantage in being one of the first in their sector or area to create a LinkedIn company page, as research conducted by LinkedIn has found that people generally don’t follow the LinkedIn pages of more than 2.5 companies per sector. Third, LinkedIn provides a unique recruitment opportunity with real ROI. Companies are able to segment their LinkedIn followers by a range of variables such as industry, seniority, job function, company size, non-company employees, and geography. For more information see

Sustainability-focused companies outperform their peersND

Mara Chiorean, CSR Asia, 13 June 2012

A recent Harvard Business School study shows that sustainability-focused companies outperform their peers. According to the data, investing $1 in the beginning of 1993 in a portfolio of High Sustainability firms would have grown to $22.6 by the end of 2010. In contrast, investing $1 in the beginning of 1993 in a portfolio of Low Sustainability firms would have only grown to $15.4 by the end of 2010. High Sustainability firms also perform better when considering return-on-equity (ROE) and return-on-assets (ROA). This performance differential may be explained by the fact that companies with a strong sustainability culture are able to attract the best talent, establish reliable supply chains, avoid risk related to boycotts and community conflicts, and use innovation as a way to gain competitive advantage. For more information see

Untapped talentND

The Economist, 7 June 2012

A recent McKinsey report has demonstrated that employment of women in upper management and company board positions in Asia is lagging far behind the West. One reason for this is because there are less women in the formal Asian workforce, which also reflects wider gender disparities in levels of education. Despite these statistics, reports indicate that Asian managers don’t tend to see gender disparity as a priority. This perhaps presents an opportunity for firms that are willing to recruit women in upper level positions – as it is makes it easier to recruit qualified women. A 2011 study has however indicated that one third of Asian executives are worried about their ability to recruit and retain qualified staff in the next two years – a concern that could possibly lead to greater employment of women in upper level positions. For more information see

Social Business: what are companies really doing?ND

David Kiron et. al., MIT Sloan Management Review, May 30 2012

MIT Sloan Management Review recently conducted the 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project. Some of the key findings are: managers surveyed believe that social software will become increasingly important to their organisations during the next few years; most respondents believe that successful social business activities require leadership but acknowledge that their organisations are not measuring social software use; by using social tools, small companies are demonstrating that they can appear larger than their actual size while large companies can appear less like corporate behemoths; and energy and utilities, manufacturing and the financial services sectors expect that social business will become five to six times more important to their organisations in three years. For more information see

Microsoft is going carbon neutralND

Matthew Guenther, CSR Asia, 23 May 2012

Microsoft announced plans to implement a carbon management plan that will reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the end of fiscal year 2013. Microsoft will introduce an internal price on carbon that is equal to current market rates. Two other companies with a carbon neutral commitment are HSBC and News Corporation. Both have achieved this through the purchase of carbon offsets. What makes Microsoft’s approach different is that it places the burden of responsibility to reduce carbon emissions on each of its business units. Through an extensive and detailed carbon management system, developed by CarbonSystems, Microsoft will hold each of its business units accountable for every metric tonne of carbon emitted. At the end of the fiscal year every business unit will be required to pay for the carbon it emits. The money will go towards a global pot that Microsoft will use to purchase carbon credits or renewable energy credits. For more information see

CEOs who delivered the most and least bang for the buckND

Joan S. Lublin and Dana Mattioli, Wall Street Journal, 21 May 2012

A Wall Street Journal analysis of compensation data for 300 top U.S. companies assembled by Hay Group found that while pay generally tracked performance last year, some CEOs delivered far more bang for the buck when it came to shareholder returns. One company that saw its shareholders realise much bigger gains than their CEO in 2011 was Oneok Inc, where shareholders saw a total return of 61 per cent for the year, while the CEO’s pay rose just 22 per cent. On the other hand, many companies saw total compensation for their CEOs in 2011 rise significantly more than the return on their shareholders' investment for the year. CEO pay gains that march too far ahead of shareholder returns have become an issue in now-mandatory "say on pay" votes that let investors express a non-binding opinion on a company's executive compensation policies. The Journal's analysis is a reminder that pay-for-performance, while gaining traction, remains patchy. For more information see

China's start-ups hold global change potentialND

Benjamin A Shobert, Asia Times, 19 May 2012

Multinationals from developed economies are coming to recognize that China’s innovative capacity, while admittedly very niche-specific and not without its own limitations, is growing. Throughout China, companies such as Tsing Capital and Chrysalix Venture Capital are building successful venture capital funds built around Chinese entrepreneurs who have ideas of their own, whose initial commercial success is likely to be wholly within China, but whose concepts represent a potential next wave of innovative technologies that could impact the world at large. Many of these ideas challenge the conventional wisdom that China is forever caught in the "copy" paradigm. If China's heavy-handed and centrally planned approach to fostering a more innovative business community actually works, it will be yet another situation where Beijing has proven it can successfully bridge the gap between accepted practices in the West and its own legacy issues. Conversely, should China be unable to develop a meaningful innovative capacity, it may well be one of the early signs that China's economic growth has gone as far as it can until deeper cultural and political issues are resolved. For more information see

The greening of the Chinese banking sectorND

Chris Ye, CSR Asia, 16 May 2012

Banking may not be the most polluting industry in the world but it does have an impact on the environment through its investment and loan decisions. It is interesting therefore that eight Chinese NGOs have jointly published the report on the Environment Record of the Chinese Banking Sector (2011), which records, evaluates and keeps track of the environmental performance of 16 Chinese commercial banks. The report finds that the Chinese banks are improving significantly when it comes to information disclosure and loans management. Perhaps most importantly, the report finds that Chinese banks are gradually reducing loans for companies with high energy-consumption and/or significant pollution. Many of them are now actively seeking out environmentally responsible investments and are expanding the scope for “green loans”. Whilst there is still a lot to do Chinese banks are increasingly aware of the environmental challenges that we face and are beginning to see the environment as an important part of their risk management. For more information see

How to engage your customers and employeesND

R Wang, Harvard Business Review, 9 May 2012

Most customers now ignore targeted marketing campaigns. Instead, potential customers interact with each other, bypassing corporate messages devoid of meaning or value. As a result, organizations around the world are rushing to engage with their customers and employees. Successful engagement requires nine key components, in three broad categories: people-centric values, delivery and communication styles and the right time drivers. The 'values' category includes: a culture of digital readiness and an inclination to participate, a community that focuses on stakeholders, and credibility that is earned through trust. Effective 'delivery and communication style' is achieved through better understanding of the means of delivery, the type of content delivered (e.g. user-generated, paid, analytic) and the frequency of engagement. The 'right time drivers' include: the context of delivery, catalysts that inspire people to action and currencies that influence people through an exchange of value. For more information see

Art of successND

Stephen Shore, Capital magazine, April 2012

Deutsche Bank is the education partner of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The bank reckons that modern art captures its values of creativity and thinking differently. The MCA board chair, Simon Mordant, says professional services firms support the MCA because of its atmosphere and location. Beyond the Quay, the Art Gallery of NSW has also proved a popular networking sport over the summer. Banks and law firms booked out private tours of the blockbuster Picasso exhibition five nights a week over the past four months. JPMorgan and Ernst & Young were major sponsors of the Picasso exhibition, and Mallesons celebrated its merger with Chinese firm King & Wood there. For more information, see

Integrity through integrationND

Sally Rowse, Capital Magazine, April 2012

Finance chiefs and their teams dedicate much of their working lives to producing reports. It used to be that this burden was limited to monthly, quarterly and yearly financial statements. However, in recent years this has grown to include environmental, social and governance (ESG), or sustainability, reporting. Now, integrated reporting aims to replace the proliferation of non-statutory reporting with one holistic snapshot that makes it easier for different stakeholders to jump straight to the information most important to them. The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is leading the development of a global framework. In companies in which there has been a successful implementation of integrated reporting, it has been suggested that this reflects a corporate strategy that recognises genuine relationships between corporate citizenship and financial performance over the medium to long term. For more information, see

CIPR calls for debate on lobbying definitionND

Matt Cartmell, PRWeek, 26 April 2012

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has urged the Government to consider a further phase of its consultation into public affairs that focuses on how lobbying should be defined. The deadline for submissions to the Cabinet Office's consultation on 'Introducing a Statutory Register of Lobbyists' was completed last Friday, and now minister for political and constitutional reform Mark Harper is considering the submissions in order to develop a white paper. However, on 18 April, CIPR CEO Jane Wilson wrote to Harper to suggest that 'having a workable definition will not only set the scope of the register, it will ultimately determine whether or not it succeeds in delivering the Government's own objective of improving transparency in the lobbying process. To support this call, the CIPR has commissioned law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner to draft a five-page definition, which starts with the point that it should include all activities that are designed 'to influence government or other official policy'. For more information see

Barely a bloggerND

Jessica Gardner, BRW, 25 April 2012

Business bloggers have a problem. BRW has tried to find the best chief executive blogs but from a survey of more than 20 social media consultants, marketing executives and digital gurus, praise for CEO blogs was tellingly absent. Only five respondents identified as a must-read an Australian individual blogging as the face of a business. Indications are that blogging doesn't rate highly on CEOs' radars. Social media experts suggest that they are missing out on an opportunity to establish thought leadership. Social media consultant Lauran Papworth says that to take the leap in to blogging, CEOs need a vision for their industry, and they need to be brave passionate - qualities which she suggests are lacking amongst Australian CEOs. For more information see

China slows down, and grows upND

Ruchir Sharma, The New York Times, 25 April 2012

More than half of Americans think China is already the world’s leading economy — an astonishing misperception, given that China’s gross domestic product is still less than half of America’s. Now, however, there are signs that China’s growth is slowing. It is well known that developing nations hit a “middle-income trap,” and stop catching up to rich nations, when per-capita income reaches about $5,000 to $15,000 (in current dollars). What is less known is that even those rare economies that broke through the middle-class trap started to decelerate after reaching a per capita income of around $5,000 (in current dollars). This process is under way in China, and it signals a basic power shift in the global economy. A collapse in China to zero percent growth would be disastrous for the world economy, but it is unlikely, in large part because Chinese leaders understand that the current slowdown is inevitable. For more information see

Nestlé revamps PR support as protest loomsND

Sara Luker, PRWeek, 25 April 2012

Food giant Nestlé is on the hunt for corporate and public affairs support as the company faces fresh scrutiny from pressure groups. PRWeek has learned that the Switzerland-based multinational has held chemistry meetings with several agencies, with a view to asking a maximum of four to pitch. Nestlé currently uses Fishburn Hedges, which took on the account from Weber Shandwick in 2009. At the time, the brief was understood to be worth around £500,000 a year. The chosen agency will handle Nestlé’s public affairs, corporate affairs, corporate responsibility and social media activities. According to a survey by GMI Poll, Nestlé is one of the most boycotted companies in the UK. Previous protests against the company include Greenpeace activists dressed as orangutans invading Nestlé’s Croydon offices over claims that its KitKat range led to the deaths of the animal because Nestlé was using palm oil as a key ingredient. For more information see

Citigroup’s Chief rebuffed on pay by shareholdersND

Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times, 17 April 2012

Citigroup shareholders rebuffed the bank’s $15 million pay package for its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit. The shareholder vote, which comes amid a rising national debate over income inequality, suggests that anger over pay for chief executives has spread from Occupy Wall Street to wealthy institutional investors like pension fund and mutual fund managers. About 55 percent of the shareholders voting were against the plan. The votes are part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that mandates that public companies include “say on pay” votes for shareholders to express opinions about compensation. Citigroup has had the worst stock price performance among large banks over the last decade but ranked among the highest in terms of compensation for top executives. Disapprovals of pay packages are rare. Last year, shareholders at 42 companies — out of more than 3,000 firms — voted against pay plans. For more information see

Understanding social media in ChinaND

Cindy Chiu, Chris Ip, and Ari Silverman, McKinsey Quarterly, April 2012

In addition to having the world’s biggest Internet user base— 513 million people, more than double the 245 million users in the United States—China also has the world’s most active environment for social media. More than 300 million people use it. The Chinese market characteristics often create challenging wrinkles for marketers to contend with. The sheer number of social-media users in China creates unique challenges for effective consumer engagement. For example, people expect responses to each and every post, for example. Another problem is the difficulty of developing and tracking reliable metrics to gauge a social-media strategy’s performance, given the size of the user base and a lack of analytical tools. However, these challenges should not deter companies. The similarity between the ingredients of success in China and in other markets makes it easier—and well worth the trouble—to cope with the country’s many peculiarities. For more information, see

Demystifying social mediaND

Roxane Divol, David Edelman, Hugo Sarrazin, McKinsey Quarterly, April 2012

The vast majority of executives have no idea how to harness social media’s power. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in predictable ways. First, brand monitoring—simply knowing what’s said online about your products and services —should be a default social-media function, taking place constantly. Second, responding on a personal level can be important, for example in in order to counter negative comments and reinforce positive ones. Third, “amplification” involves designing your marketing activities to have an inherently social motivator that spurs broader engagement and sharing. This means having ongoing programs that share new content with customers and provide opportunities for sharing back. Fourth, Social media can be used most proactively to lead consumers toward long-term behavioral changes. In the early stages of the consumer decision journey, this may involve boosting brand awareness by driving Web traffic to content about existing products and services. For more information, see

Get ready: mandated integrated reporting Is the future of corporate reportingND

David Kiron, MIT Sloan Management Review, 13 March 2012

Trying to create reporting standards that integrate environmental, social and governance performance along with financial information is "fraught with conflict" and an "almost political adjudication process," says Robert Eccles, Harvard Business School professor and co-author of One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy. For most companies, the question of whether to pursue integrated reporting is optional, and one that they have not yet chosen to pursue. Eccles wants to change that. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review, Eccles explains why it’s critical that integrated reporting be mandatory, standardised and backed by clear enforcement - and why the current hodgepodge of overseers makes the field too chaotic. For more information see

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