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:

2010 Edelman Trust Barometer ND

Edelman, 25 January 2010

Edelman’s 2010 survey has found that public trust in business has increased modestly this year. However this may be temporary as most respondents believe that current actions to improve ethics and transparently are only short-term responses to the financial crisis. Trust in governments and NGOs have also increased, with the latter being the most trusted globally. Traditional media is the only institution to lose credibility, and is indicative of media consumption trends over the last decade. For more information see www.

McDonald's frantic backpedaling: The pig toy fiasco ND

Larry Loh, CNNGO, 25 January 2010

McDonalds Singapore has apologised to angry Chinese consumers and reversed its decision to pull out the pig character from its Chinese Zodiac toy range. The pig was omitted in sensitivity to Muslim customers, however, it attracted angry criticisms online for being culturally insensitive to Chinese culture. Commentators say McDonalds’ blunder is typical of multinationals’ lack of cross-cultural understanding, local awareness by global CSR managers, and stakeholder engagement. Mainstream Muslim groups, in fact saw McDonalds approach as supporting extremism, reinforcing stereotypes and failure to understand their religion beyond face value. For more information see

Sixty corporations begin measuring emissions from products and supply chainsND

Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, 20 January 2010

60 global companies have begun testing the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Initiative, developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Initiative. This new measurement tool proposes to comprehensively measure companies’ total emissions via two new GHG Protocol Standards — the Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard and the Scope 3 (Corporate Value Chain) Accounting and Reporting Standard. The final standards are scheduled to be published in December 2010. For more information see

Effective partnerships for better labour standards ND

Sean Ansett, Ethical Corporation, 18 January 2010

Companies such as Gap, Wal-Mart and Timberland have made progress on improving labour standards in developing countries via private public partnerships such as the IMCAW project in South America. This is a multi-stakeholder alliance that provides training to promote a culture of compliance and improve local auditing capacities. Project leaders also consult with an extensive range of stakeholders and NGOs to develop a proposal for a public policy framework for local governments. For more information see

Down to business: new users tap into social mediaND

Peter Munro, Sunday Age, 17 January 2010

Many companies have experienced the negative effects of social media on their brand reputation; however blocking employees’ access is not the best means of control. Companies like Telstra, ABC and AMP are developing social media policies to regulate and guide employees’ use of online media. These include introducing pragmatic advice such as separating professional and personal use, rules limiting usage time, and monitoring feedback online. For more information see

Google versus China — a battle for information or reputation?ND

Brand Republic, 13 January 2010

Experts are divided on the wisdom of Google’s decision to threaten its operations in China based on pure ethical considerations. On one hand, the company will enhance its image in the west and affirm its ‘do no evil’ brand slogan, readdressing public criticisms, and thus turning its greatest reputational liability into an asset. On the other hand, it may also attract ire from shareholders and investors concerned with the commercial ramifications of retreating from the world’s largest market. For more information see

A little knowledge is deadly dangerous ND

Stefan Stern, Financial Times, 12 January 2010

Many corporations already possess the information they need to avoid a crisis. However, vital pieces of information are often not passed on and disappear within separate business units or teams. Businesses must ‘relentlessly’ follow up on information that is circulating in the organisation, establish reward systems and promote the importance of sharing information across different units in order to recognise the value and make use of existing knowledge. For more information see

Businesses demonstrate their sense of social responsibilityND

Bao Chang, China Daily, 11 January 2010

The Chinese state media has urged more innovation in CSR projects. Research has found a lack of collaboration between Chinese and multinational companies, and urges win-win corporation partnerships as the best way for nurturing innovation. Successful foreign companies such as Cisco have taken on this worldwide trend, and implement CSR policies with local partners to increase efficiency and reach the vulnerable groups they seek to serve. For more information see

Bank crisis hits public's trust in businessND

Brian Groom, Financial Times, 5 January 2010

New research confirms that the financial crisis continues to undermine consumer confidence — particularly with young people. The public remains sceptical, with the majority not seeing any improvements in corporate openness and honesty within the last year. Given that consumers tend to deepen their ties with brands they trust in tough times, companies would benefit by strengthening their CSR and ethics in the current climate. For more information see

Monitoring social media important for managing corporate reputation ND

Channel NewsAsia, 05 January 2010

Companies must develop social media strategies. This involves rigorously monitoring online conversations to avoid negative reputation fallout, and establishing formal policies and processes to guide engagement, such as forming special task groups, appointing online spokespersons and a role directly accountable for online media. Companies must also recognise cultural differences and target the appropriate channels and opinion leaders in their region—for example, while Facebook and Twitter are most prevalent globally, online forums are more influential in Asia. For more information see

How business interacts with governmentND

Andrea Dua, Kerrin Heil and Jon Wilkins, McKinsey Quarterly, January 2010

Government actions have significant effect on businesses, with 34 per cent of surveyed companies stating that ten per cent or more of their operating income is dependent on government policy and legislation. However, most businesses don’t have robust relations with government due to underdeveloped relationships and engagement with officials. Government engagement though, seems contingent on region with low levels in the United States and Europe along with Australia but high levels in China and India. Attitudes would need to change for the benefit of both actors. For more information see

India Inc and public affairs ND

R Gopalakrishnan, The Economic Times, 01 January 2010

Research shows that Indian citizens are most concerned with the issues that are deeply related to public policy. This poses an opportunity for business to contribute to the broader national agenda in the next decade. However, business needs to participate not only in traditional corporate subjects—such as infrastructure, economy and financial polices, but also to advance the social issues of justice and entrepreneurial freedom in order to contribute to the wider nation building agenda. For more information see

Measuring good-cause effects ND

Raymond Fisman, Forbes, 28 December 2009

Companies should reassess the benefits that corporate philanthropy actually brings to their business. A study on Ebay’s charitable giving program finds that while consumers prefer sellers who contribute to charity, the increase in profits generated is lower than the amount given away. However, sellers with lesser known brands and reputations benefit most, as a link with charity increases trust and credibility. For more information see

Charity begins at workND

Steve Mollman, The Wall Street Journal, 26 November 2009

Employees, both career veterans and new MBA graduates, are taking sabbaticals from work for volunteer positions. This trend is driven by CSR’s rising importance in business as well as the need to understand emerging markets. However, potential volunteers should ensure that the programs’ needs match their skills, as well as prepare their financial and legal matters before leaving. Companies, while being supportive, must keep in mind that it will be hard to reintegrate volunteer employees who have returned after a long time overseas. For more information see

Shareholders matter, but employees matter moreND

Wong Wei Kong, Business Times Singapore, 17 November 2009

Companies should ‘wrap up the downturn’ in a socially responsible way and resist the temptation to place shareholders before their stakeholders in tough economic times. Recent studies indicate that companies who follow stakeholder theory have more motivated employees, which in turn has a positive correlation with stock performance. This is a warning against companies paying generous dividends to shareholders while cutting employee wages. For more information see

Corporate affairs calls in the big gunsND

Geoff Allen, The Australian, 13 November 2009

Australian companies increasingly recognise that managing social and political influences will enhance their reputation and competitive advantage — giving rise to corporate affairs being a high-level strategic function. Companies are applying the best practice of integrating lower level sub-functions to provide a holistic understanding of their government, media, community and internal stakeholders. Professionals with high profile political experience are best equipped to help businesses navigate the complex political terrain. For more information see

Social media require companies to embrace Community Relations 2.0 era ND

Susan Thomas, BCCC, 9 November 2009

Social media dramatically increases the impact, reach, and speed at which disgruntled communities are formed. Companies need to devote strategic resources to understand their 2.0 communities in a proactive manner. This will help businesses identify important resources for marketing. Customer service and product development, as well as other valuable partners need to advance their organisational mission. For more information see

Tough times, new tactics ND

Shelly Banjo, The Wall Street Journal, 9 November 2009

Top executives give advice on how to balance philanthropy and business objectives in tough economic times. These include taking a long term approach to investment, such as supporting the green industry or funding sustainable (rather than ad hoc) disaster relief solutions; advocating wider social problems to existing ethically conscious customers; or integrating philanthropy into the business — particularly through employee volunteer incentives. For more information see

Companies use blogs to tell storiesND

Kristina Peterson, Wall Street Journal, October 2009

Corporations are increasingly offering access to employee blogs to media and public groups seeking engagement. This helps with meeting journalists’ deadlines and overcoming difficulties in arranging immediate access to spokespeople or executives. However, companies must ensure that employee blogs provide quotable information that is both relevant and appropriate. For more information see

The Asian sustainability rating ND

Asian CSR Rating, October 2009

CSR Asia’s new Asian Sustainability Rating benchmarks the top 200 companies across ten Asian markets. A majority of the top ten entries are Australian companies — ANZ, BHP, Westpac, Telstra, NAB, Rio Tinto, Woolworths, Wesfarmers and Origin — along with India’s Tata and ITC and HSBC of Hong Kong. The results were based on 51 sustainability indicators and compared with the companies’ GRI and GC results. For more information see

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