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:

Morals vs profits, a tug of war for business in ChinaND

Alan Wheatley, Reuters, 22 June 2009

Wheatley criticises recent comments by Micheal Santoro — a professor of business ethics at the Rutgers Business School of New Jersey — that firms have a moral duty to advance democracy and human rights in China. However, while it is not realistic for corporations to intrude in local politics, CSR is making a difference in China through practical measures such as improving workplace standards, skills and eco-friendly policies. Wheatley stresses that sustainable global business emphasises mutual obligations between local and foreign partners, rather than one adapting to the other’s methods and standards. For more information see

Sustainable successND

Liz Kaufmann, Felix Reimann, Matthias Ehrgott and John Rauer, Wall Street Journal, 22 June 2009

Companies in developing countries need to be aware that reputation damage reverberates worldwide, and that a continued commitment to sustainability will be rewarded with increased profits. Sustainable management is likely to deliver key competitive advantages for improved corporate reputation, employee quality, efficient production, government relations, as well as operational coordination and cooperation. For more information see

Managers embrace sustainable principlesND

Sophia Grene, Financial Times, 21 June 2009

The financial crisis appears to be boosting interest in sustainability, evident in the number of signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment this year. Investors and analysts have begun to recognise the value of ‘softer’ sustainability factors for assessing risk to return, and are altering their forecasts accordingly. The growing number of projects seeking disclosure and their corporate uptake all indicate that the tide is turning towards transparent and responsible business values. For more information see

Vodafone — Sustainability calling ND

Ethical Corporation, 20 June 2009

Chris Burgess, corporate responsibility director of Vodafone, advises how companies should be smarter in utilising the fewer resources available during the current economic downturn, rather than cut back on programs. Vodafone’s climate change strategy highlights that innovative, non-profit focused projects may boost reputation and lead the field in responsible business models. While consumers have relatively low expectations of the mobile phone sector on climate change issues, a proactive strategy will better position the company when the expectation does eventuate in the near future. For more information see

Less to spare, but carrying onND

Business Times Singapore, 16 June 2009

The financial crisis has negatively affected business partnerships and initiatives with NGO and other charitable foundations. However, partnering with organisations with local offices, know-how and expertise may ensure that any resources contributed will deliver the maximum results and effectiveness. Some exemplary organisations continue to uphold their philanthropic commitments by allocating a set percent of profits to CSR programs. For more information see

Boards should wake up to their responsibilities over riskND

David Wilson, The Times, 9 June

Recent events in the banking sector reinforce the need for boards to pay more immediate attention to emerging risks rather than pass them onto committee boards, as is current practice from anecdotal evidence. Wilson advocates for risk analysts to be embedded within business objectives and strategies, and that the board should play a more active role in implementing and setting policies, rather than simply reviewing risk taking activities. For more information see

Meet generation V: the VolunteersND

Andre Horin, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 June 2009

Volunteering in the current economic downturn provides many newly laid-off staff and university graduates with a sense of purpose and a way to exercise their professional skills during the economic downturn. However, while many well branded charities report an influx in volunteer numbers, some of the less ‘glamorous’ organisations remain desparate for new recruits. For more information see

Age of scarcity: Resource shortages yield investment opportunitiesND

Mike Scott, Financial Times, 4 June 2009

The environmental challenges for global business, particularly those engaged with emerging markets, may provide investment opportunities and competitive advantage. Businesses willing to invest in solutions such as energy efficiency, renewable resources and new technologies may achieve sustainable growth. Strategic investment may mitigate as well as benefit businesses from the two-fold problem of rising global demand and resource scarcity predicted to arise under climate change. For more information see

The future of Corporate Social ResponsibilityND

CSR Asia, 03 June 2009

This report examines the top CSR issues emerging in Asia in the next decade; including climate change and the environment, corporate governance, HR, stakeholder partnerships, and regulation. Government is at the top of the list, while social media debuts this year as one of the most influential sources to CSR’s agenda. The report calls for businesses to develop new business models, mindsets and capacities, as well as strategic stakeholder engagement and HR management. For more information see

Going green nowND

Kate O'Sullivan, CFO, 1 June 2009

The article identifies five environmentally responsible initiatives that will generate immediate returns — improving facilities to save on costs and improve productivity, increasing the efficiency of IT systems, training transport and distribution workers to maximise fuel efficiency, adopting telecommuting to replace nonessential travel, and seeking alternative waste disposal methods. For more information see

The importance of practical CSR ND

Barry Elliot, Bangkok Post, 20 May 2009

Elliot reports on the progress being made by large multinationals to prove their sincerity and deliver on their CSR promises. Companies such as HP, Gap Inc and Starbucks are emphasising ‘shared responsibility’ in order to ensure ethical standards across their global supply chains. This includes working with NGOs and international codes of conduct, promoting and educating local suppliers on ethical practices conducting, and supplier audits to effect corrective action and capability building. For more information see

How to build diversity on boardsND

Financial Times, 18 May 2009

Reflecting on data showing gender inequality in current company boardrooms, the author believes that more radical steps, such as all-female shortlists and nurturing talent from the lower ranks should be taken. The introduction of stricter guidelines and targets, and a need to rebuild public trust following the financial crisis, should motivate companies to hire more women directors. For more information see

Beyond TwitterND

Joanna Maxwell, Australian Financial Review, May 2009

Maxwell reports that Australian companies are more ambivalent and slower to take up social networking media than smaller or overseas companies. Given that online social media is set to redistribute power to active consumers, corporations could suffer serious reputational damage for ‘getting it wrong’. Yet businesses are urged to overcome their fears by developing comprehensive social media strategies and guidelines, and understanding that online social media is not about their loss of control, but rather about customer empowerment. For more information see

Consumers trust that’s good for the soleND

John Russell, Ethical Corporation, May 2009

Jeff Swartz, CEO of Timberland, believes that the financial crisis will encourage businesses to build their CSR profiles to protect their brand reputation. While proactive initiatives may create risks, Swartz believes that they are necessary as consumers begin to regard business as social institutions. Social capital may be accumulated through green projects, transparency measures, establishing ethical supply chains, and increased consumer engagement using web 2.0 technologies. For more information see

How to maximise employee wellbeingND

Emily Ford, The Times, 13 May 2009

Employee wellbeing programs are reported to be on the rise as companies realise their benefits for increasing productivity and decreasing absentee rates. Businesses can take responsibility for employees’ absence by responding to their needs, monitoring mental and physical wellbeing, and active communication, as well as offer a range of lifestyle choices and tailored offerings that could help combat inertia. For more information see

Campaigns 2.0ND

Oliver Balch, Ethical Corporation, May 2009

The activist community is increasingly applying online social media, embracing its ability to reach and mobilise people as well as gain mass exposure cheaply and quickly. This has created a dilemma for the business sector traditionally lacking online ‘street-cred’. Companies are encouraged to recognise the unique advantages of e-communication — reaching niche markets, initiating open dialogue and direct engagement through innovated initiatives with consumers in real time. For more information see

Creating passion in the workplaceND

Pornnalat Prachyakorn, Bangkok Post, 12 May 2009

Internal CSR activities recognise that employees are the most valuable assets for supporting a company’s growth. KPMG’s ‘People Passion’ program provides various staff development programs and open communication channels in order to promote a supportive working environment. The author believes that this also benefits the company, as employees are encouraged to contribute value to their company by making compromises and changing work habits as required in tough economic times. For information see

Ethics in a recessionND

Ethical Corporation, May 2009

The editor believes that companies who invest in building the socially reputable brands will be rewarded, as consumer criticism of the financial sector moves into all other areas of business. While it is impossible to address all online concerns given the immediacy and multiplicity of web 2.0 channels, companies are advised to ‘lighten up’ and embrace the spontaneity of social media if they are to effectively communicate with stakeholders online. For more information see

How to…build a partnership with charityND

Carly Chynoweth, The Times, 6 May 2009

Ten recommendations are provided for businesses seeking to partner with nonprofits. Partnerships are built on mutually beneficial goals rather than on philanthropic or donor recipient relationships. As such, businesses should be honest and transparent with their nonprofits partners on their motivations and needs, consider the ‘mission fit’, and apply business management practises to ensure that goals are delivered. For more information see

Internet Time: who dares, wins — Facebook ND

Oon Yeoh, The Edge Singapore, 4 May 2009

Yeoh describes how a small Malaysian company used Facebook — getting employees to post teasers on their online statuses — for a promotional competition. While simultaneous newspaper ads generated almost double the amount of responses, the Facebook initiative was a clear success given its zero cost and highly unorthodox nature. The initiative also increased employee participation and pride in their organisation. For more information see

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