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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How China’s workforce woes become a matter of life or deathND

Knowledge@ASB, 24 August 2010

The darker side of China’s rise as an economic power is about low wages and poor working conditions. Many issues arise in firms that adopt Taylorist management perspectives, with high monitoring of work and strict discipline. There needs to be a focus on improving labour relations and better human resource departments for dealing with employee demands. For more information see

Time to work on the jobs of the futureND

Luke Johnson, Financial Times, 24 August 2010

Many jobs are being outsourced to lower cost economies, less labour is required in manufacturing processes and wages in industrialised nations are increasing due to regulation. This environment requires serious thinking by corporate businesses about potential growth areas for employment. New positions, at least in the private sector, are only created by optimism and potential growth industries. Government regulation and tax breaks to induce job creation are important, as well as banking laws which promote lending to small businesses. It is important for industrialised nations to combine intellectual resources and direct their collective energy towards new positions that reflect their competitive advantage. For more information see

Employee engagement: are more firms listening to their staff, or are they just paying lip service?ND

Ruth Sunderland, Guardian, 22 August 2010

Employee engagement has medium to long term impacts on company performance. Many firms are making efforts to engage, yet there seems to be a widening gap between policy and practice. The most popular way to communicate with staff remains through a company newsletter or intranet. Different sectors also report and engage with their employees on different matters. For example, it is common for mining companies to report health and safety data. But having procedures for engagement is not the same as a genuine culture of engagement within the organisation. For more information see

In case of emergency: what not to doND

Peter Goodman, The New York Times, 21 August 2010

Very recently major organisations previously known for their reputations have come under fire for incidents that have become high profile failures. Many companies have exacerbated their positions by either failing to admit wrongdoing or deflecting the blame onto other parties. Companies that handle crises well are rarely heard of until published in a case study, while companies that fail at crisis management get published in media outlets. Many incidents end in squandered goodwill and it generally takes a long time to rebuild the goodwill. For more information see

China’s in-store warsND

Max Magni and Yuval Atsom, Harvard Business Review, 20 August 2010

Recent surveys have revealed that 45 per cent of Chinese consumers make purchase decisions inside stores, as compared to 24 per cent in the US. Companies are hence devising ways of drawing in consumers at the point of sale. Four main techniques are highlighted; prioritising retail outlets, offering incentives for shelf space, offering consistent retail experiences and using large numbers of in-store promoters. For more information see

Coca-Cola on the Yangtze: a corporate campaign for clean water in ChinaND

Knowledge @ Wharton, 18 August 2010

Coca-Cola has began working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to improve the water quality in China’s Yangtze river, which has been noted by WWF to be at the top of the list of the 10 most threatened rivers in the world. The partnership involves projects such as working with rural farmers to turn animal waste into biogas, instead of allowing it to enter the river, as well as community education projects on environmental issues for rural farmers. While the partnership between Coca-Cola and WWF has been criticised by some, ultimately WWF recognises the value of the partnership in promoting community awareness as well as providing tangible support. The partnership also assists Coca-Cola to build its image and credibility in China, which will be beneficial in allowing Coca-Cola to expand its operations. For more information see

Lessons from the Big SpillND

Harold Sirkin, Bloomberg Businessweek, 13 August 2010

There are several lessons that we can learn from the BP oil spill. Firstly, the disaster has demonstrated the need for smarter regulation, and more vigourous enforcement of regulations. In light of America’s dependency on fossil-fuels, the spill has also demonstrated that America needs to begin weaning themselves off oil, and that the government needs to invest in and subsidise other energy sources such as nuclear, wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power. The spill has also reflected the factƒ that there are consequences for companies that cut corners, both in monetary terms and in terms of reputation, and hence should act as a deterrent against reckless corporate behaviour as well as promoting accountability. For more information see

Migrant workers and human traffickingND

Richard Welford, CSR Asia, 11 August 2010

Throughout Asia the illegal movement of workers is widespread. Many workers tend to find they are working in factories and forced to endure low wages. Businesses can help eliminate this issue by reducing the demand side of migrant workers and human trafficking. Multinational firms can have a major impact by forcing its subcontractors to follow suit, to make sure that trafficked and forced labour is not being used anywhere in the supply chain. But there is also a moral obligation on business to make sure that workers are not exploited and are not victims of such crimes against humanity. For more information see

Creative partnerships: The future for CSR?ND

Knowledge@ASB, 10 August 2010

Collaborative organisations are arising between big multinationals and poverty alleviation agencies. The partnerships seek to develop products that are a benefit to poorer populations. Some stakeholders might consider these partnerships as a ‘greenwashing’ exercise, but it is up to the multinational companies to communicate the good intentions. The most important consideration for these partnerships is to convince CEOs that they are self sustaining. This will allow them to make a profit that can be reinvested back to expand the partnership in the future. For more information see

Beyond petroleum: Why the CSR community collaborated in creating the BP oil disasterND

Natalya Sverjensky, Ethical Corporation, 2 August 2010

The BP oil spill has revealed an inconsistency between companies’ reputations and their actual practice. Despite having shifted away from renewable energy in recent times, before the spill BP had established itself as an environmentally-aware company and had won various CSR awards. This inconsistency between CSR benchmarks and actual corporate practice calls for important changes in evaluating corporate reputation; including the need to rethink the meaning of ‘CSR’, to develop more transparent and comprehensive awards criteria and to subject energy companies’ communications campaigns to greater scrutiny and regulation. For more information see

The rising power of the Chinese workerND

The Economist, 31 July 2010

Cheap labour in China has characterised economic growth in the past, however recent labour protests and reforms in labour laws demonstrate a change in the domestic situation and have resulted in increased wages for Chinese workers. Higher wages in China will not only benefit workers, but may potentially benefit the international labour market through boosting America’s exports and hence creating more jobs. China does however need to increase its supply of skilled workers, which will require the government to undertake a relaxation of regulations. For more information see

Making fun of businessND

Lia Timson, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 June 2010

Companies and government agencies are discovering a new way of attracting customers as well as employees; developing engaging and fun game programs for recruitment, marketing and training purposes. These games provide a good way for companies to differentiate themselves, as well as to engage and attract Generation Y. While these programs may be fun, it is important to ensure that the games are relevant to the brand and that they achieve their ultimate purpose. For more information see

How not to engageND

Gabriel Chong,CSR Asia, 28 July 2010

NGO organisations are a necessary partner of businesses and understanding their position is important for fruitful relationships. Understanding that NGOs are not only used for organising events and that partnerships are more valued than donations given at arms length is important. NGOs have their own objectives and they need to be paid fairly in order to conduct their activities, these activities are not always identical to what businesses want. It is important to not impose ideas on NGOs and understand that not all opportunities can involve media coverage. For more information see

Why your customers don’t want to talk to youND

Matt Dixon and Lara Ponomareff, Harvard Business Review, 28 July 2010

Research has demonstrated a changing trend in customer preferences towards self-service as opposed to dealing with employees. Companies tend to greatly overestimate the extent to which customers actually want to talk to them, with research demonstrating that the preference of self-service holds regardless of age, demographic, issue or urgency. Subsequently, companies might potentially be over-investing in practices that actually dissuade customer loyalty. For more information see

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