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:

Carbon footprint labelsND


Martin Hickman, The Independent, 13 October 2010

In the UK it is estimated that by the end of 2010, a carbon footprint ethical label will become the second most commonly used standard for leading food brands. It shows that producers are working to reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming by the use of their products. In some cases the labels display the CO2 generated by each product and providing an insight into the level of pollution for each product. Consumers are increasingly becoming aware of carbon footprints for products and are trying to do something about it. For more information see www.independent.co.uk

Geolocation services: find a smartphone, find a customerND


Kermit Pattison, New York Times, 6 October 2010

Marketing executives have been adopting social media in greater numbers with impressive results. Geolocation services are being used by businesses that depend on customer traffic. Location-based services are used to broadcast rewards programs or reward client loyalty as well as gathering important information about customers. It is important with these services that you set clear goals, offer specials to entice customers. Once customers have used the services or purchased the product it is important to reward customers to make sure they will come back. Finally, Geolocation services offer analytical tools that can help track important aspects of demographics relating to customers. For more information see www.nytimes.com

Give more power to your peopleND


Ravi Mattu, Financial Times, 6 October 2010

Shared visions across companies promote better employee engagement. It is even better when these ideas do not come from management since this is a truly employee embedded idea. Many companies wait for major crises before changing their employee engagement. This is the case because the biggest problem for companies is breaking down trust between management and staff. This is important both as an empowering exercise but also because communication relies on telling a story that resonates with employees. For more information see www.ft.com

Workspace design: Will aesthetics give your business the edge?ND


Knowledge@ASB, 5 October 2010

Many employees work in spaces that are poorly suited to the tasks at hand. This can hamper productivity. Workers want a comfortable office, a sufficient amount of work surface area in the office, the option to put a computer in the most suitable location and the capability to keep work within arm's reach, to contain sounds within the office, to keep out distracting noises from outside the office and to have ‘visual privacy’. A more relaxed atmosphere for an office can involve something as simple as adopting casual dress codes. Many things can affect employee productivity, even lighting and artwork. For more information see www.knowledge.asb.unsw.edu.au

Schools ignore sustainability revolutionND


David Grayson, Financial Times, 3 October 2010

Many businesses agree that sustainability is a critical issue for future business success. Business schools that educate future managers remain surprisingly slow to adopt this thinking. Sustainability and corporate responsibility require cross-disciplinary work and greater interaction with businesses. Business should use its leverage over schools to promote these issues. Businesses should specify what mindset they require of graduates and place greater emphasis on demands for sustainability expertise. For more information see www.ft.com

Why companies are watching your every facebook, youtube, twitter moveND


Tim Weber, BBC News, 3 October 2010

Companies are tracking the social media scene for hints about their products and clients. Many cannot envision marketing or their communications without social media. This is because the reactions and impact of a message through social media is immediate. Also social media can act as a warning signal when things go wrong. Good use of social media can reduce complaints and costly calls to service centres. One of the key aspects of effective social media is identifying the most influential people online. These may not be necessarily the people with the most friends but the most impact. For more information see www.bbc.co.uk

Thinking straight about sustainabilityND


Marc Epstein, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2010

CSR has been used as a term to describe company operations yet it has not been an input into managing company operations. The term Sustainability has been increasing in usage and is an important modification because it acknowledges the long-term impact of business decisions. Many decisions that impact sustainability are made in business units closest to the action rather than at corporate office level. Yet measurement of performance does not acknowledge these features of local business unit roles. There could quite possibly be short costs but these are always paid off by long-term improvements. This makes it difficult to measure the impact of social and environmental performance. Things such as hazardous waste are easy to quantify, others such as employee satisfaction are harder to quantify. For more information see www.ssireview.org

A truer picture of China’s export machineND


John Horn, McKinsey Quarterly, September 2010

The question most businesses are asking is whether China is becoming more domestically orientated. Businesses entering China could find greater opportunities for profit if this is the case, and all signs point to this occurring. Many of China’s imports are used domestically by businesses and not all of the raw materials are used for export materials. The analysis undertaken suggests that exports have been an important driver of Chinese growth yet not the dominant one. Companies operating export businesses from China may need to ask the question of domestic distribution. It is suggested that a greater share of exports will consist of higher priced goods to compete with those in the developed markets. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Big business mattersND


Judith Samuelson, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 30 September 2010

While the general public is distrustful and cynical about business, the reality is that big business is the most capable agent for solving important problems. While social enterprises are usually lacking in capital, big business can be reorganised with social entrepreneurship’s best features. Firstly, business purpose and public good should be aligned with business strategy. Second, social Intrapreneurs need to be encouraged. These are change agents working in businesses to find opportunities in any task. Thirdly, business ethical values need to be placed at the core of business education. For more information see www.ssireview.org

Boosting the productivity of knowledge workersND


Eric Matson and Laurence Prusak, McKinsey Quarterly, September 2010

A major opportunity for companies comes from raising the productivity of workers whose jobs primarily consist of decisions based on knowledge. Knowledge work cannot be automated and streamlined and performance metrics are not easily available. This is why so many companies settle on scattershot investments in many differing areas in the hope of improving productivity. Yet since the majority of knowledge work is conducted through interactions a good effort should start with this in mind. Many barriers exist that limit interactions, such as social and cultural barriers. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

China’s rich split on philanthropyND


Laurie Burkitt, Wall Street Journal, 28 September 2010

Recent visits by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to China have opened up a debate regarding Chinese philanthropy. Many wealthy Chinese have questioned the logic of creating large foundations in a country already burdened by so much red tape. Until very recently philanthropy was not discussed openly since the delivery of social services is a government responsibility. Some business tycoons are wary of setting foundations for fear of flouting their fortunes. In China, one-off donations are increasingly common, but sustainable philanthropic efforts have suffered due to the lack of a regulatory framework and public awareness. For more information see www.wsj.com

Vietnam economy: Reform roll-back?ND


Economist Intelligence Unit, 21 September 2010

New government measures in Vietnam will allow governments to force pricing rules on domestic and foreign businesses alike. Even with possibility of legal action by the World Trade Organisation, the government is pushing ahead. Intervention will be used in cases where the price movements are determined to be ‘abnormal’. These new measures have been justified on the basis of rising inflation in the Vietnamese economy, and could require companies to hand over details of pricing structures and costs of component details. For more information see www.eiu.com

Big names see which way the wind is blowingND


Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 15 September 2010

It is expected that sustainability will increase in importance in the future. Many companies who decide to ‘go green’ find that innovations in business practice increase after such decisions. In many cases businesses are responding to external pressures. There is an increase of government regulation, pressure from civil groups and even investors demanding higher green standards. While many companies are still facing consequences of the financial crisis, they seem to have decreased the promotion of their initiatives. Yet this does not indicate that these initiatives have been reduced. This evidence of growing involvement from big companies in green innovation defies those who predicted that the recession would put an end to environmental initiatives. For more information see www.ft.com

Not every blog has its day ND


Lia Timson, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 September 2010

Despite an increase in the use of social media tools in the workplace, companies are discovering that simply introducing social software is not enough to keep their employees engaged. Companies that have enjoyed success from social software do so through actively managing it, including training, monitoring user activity behaviour and making constant adjustments. It is suggested that for collaboration tools to be effective, they must be ‘intuitive, work in short bursts and have a robust databank that is easy to search’. For more information see www.smh.com.au

Speaking up for your business on Microblog in ChinaND


Jonna Chou,CSR Asia, 8 September 2010

Businesses operating in Asia are flocking to the newest sensation, Microblogs, to promote themselves. Microblog offers greater communication and better transparency, with ‘followers’ able to comment and spread a company image. Microblogs can be a powerful communication tool for business to create a responsible image when employed well. However, it is a double-edged sword that can also create enormous damage to the corporate image if the risks are not managed well. As with any other social media site, companies must follow the most popular methods but be aware of the limitations of the software/sites. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

China and the secret code: Foreign companies face new rulesND


Knowledge@ASB, 7 September 2010

New Chinese regulations now require all software and equipment sold to government agencies to be certified by government linked labs. The testing involves handing over encryption codes and intellectual property. The risks of complying with Beijing's new rules would be considerable since for many companies the only advantage they have is their intellectual property. On the other hand, China is too big a market to leave behind and companies could be forced to comply for the sake of gaining market share. Critics have concluded that these measures have created a hostile environment for foreign companies operating in these sectors. For more information see www.knowledge.asb.unsw.edu.au

Crowd sourcing: Is your next big idea just a mouse click away?ND


Knowledge@ASB, 07 September 2010

The corporate sector is moving towards crowds of public individuals with the expectation that one person alone will not solve a problem but more people will generate more ideas. At the most basic level, companies are leveraging their mainstream social media presences on sites such as Twitter. Many businesses have too much to do and not enough people to do the work. Organisations that are using this technique vary from government organisations (such as Tourism Australia) to banks firms (such as NAB). In addition, the problems that the crowds are tackling are getting broader in scope but help comes from a broad network including small and medium enterprises, single inventors as well as university groups and suppliers. For more information see www.knowledge.asb.unsw.edu.au

Singapore’s stock exchange announces sustainability reporting policy and guidelinesND


Erin Lyon, CSR Asia, 1 September 2010

Companies listed on the Singapore stock exchange (SGX) could face newly introduced regulation on sustainability reporting. The sustainability report could be used to supplement financial reports presented by the companies. This has been developed because companies in Singapore are ranked low on sustainability disclosure as compared to other Asian countries. Since sustainability is considered a key issue for investors, then the exchange sees that it is necessary to disclose such information to the market. Guidelines and information booklets are being prepared to assist companies with disclosure. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

Help countsND


Jeanne-Vida Douglas, BRW, 26 August 2010

Many employees of large organisations are volunteering their time for community projects. These programs vary from educational to charity. Organisations are now realising that financial and non-financial contributions can be made an ongoing part of business activities. On the other hand, charitable organisations value the non-monetary contributions of skilled staff. Employees gain a sense of achievement and contribute in a positive way towards advancing a more sustainable society. For more information see www.brw.com.au

Energy efficiency—The case for Malysian BusinessesND


Sharmel Ali,CSR Asia, 25 August 2010

In Malaysia, the rapid economic growth has caused some challenges for businesses to deal with; most notable is energy usage and its associated environmental costs. As well as government regulation specifying efficient energy usage, businesses should be proactive and innovative to improve their environmental credentials. Additionally, businesses can improve their bottom line by saving energy costs and maintenance costs. An organisation-wide awareness of energy efficiency will improve the company’s reputation among employees and customers as well. For more information see www.csr-asia.com

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