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:

Companies and NGOs have a lot to learn from each otherND


Gib Bulloch, Times Online, 27 February 2009

Bulloch argues that the need for NGOs to engage in multi-sector partnerships has become more pertinent as worsening global economic conditions is predicted to seriously impact developing countries. Collaboration with the public and private business sectors is the most effective way to use and maximise the diverse skill and resources available. For more information see www.businesstimesonline.co.uk

Valuing corporate social responsibility: McKinsey Global Survey ResultsND


The McKinsey Quarterly, February 2009

Survey results reveal that while business leaders acknowledge the value of ESG (social, environmental and governance) programs, opinions differ on the amount and nature of the stakeholder value created. The report argues that the indirect nature and lack of data on ESG program contributions hinder the use of formal evaluation metrics and frameworks. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Not just for profitND


Marjorie Kelly, strategy+business, 26 February 2009

Kelly advocates for alternative business models, such as stakeholder-owned, mission controlled, cooperatives and public private hybrids, as alternatives to current short-term, profit-driven approaches. Public-private hybrid designs, either as ‘for-profit philanthropy’ or ‘for-benefit’ businesses, including the exemplary Grameen Danone model, seek to pursue profit while being guided by higher social causes. For more information, see www.strategy-business.com

Sweet to tweetND


Richard Waters, Christ Nuttall and David Gelles, The Financial Times, 26 February 2009

Twitter, the current online social media phenomenon, is speculated to be more than just a passing fad. As a micro-blogging service, Twitter is able to capture the mood of the virtual world in real time. Additionally, new technologies such as the development of organisational tools drawing on data from Twitter may pose new potential opportunities for business. For more information see www.ft.com

Business demands CSR flexibility to stay competitiveND


The Jakarta Post, 25 February 2009

A debate has ensued between the Indonesian government and business groups on a new law that imposes mandatory CSR contributions for businesses in the natural resources sector. A number of companies have filed for a judicial review, arguing that mandatory requirements disadvantage them against foreign companies, while the government holds that by forwarding an exact profit percentage, business can safeguard themselves from criticism as well as uphold their CSR responsibilities. For more information, see www.thejakartapost.com

Goodbye Gucci. It’s the age of co-op capitalismND


Noreena Hertz, The Times, 25 February 2009

Hertz advocates ‘co-op capitalism’ based on the principles of collaboration, cooperation and collective interest. The public anger at big business, an increased mandate for government intervention, the establishment of new global financial regulatory systems, the emergence of new geopolitical forces, and recent views in behaviour economics on human beings as fundamentally caring individuals, marks this new ideological shift. For more information see www.timesonline.co.uk

Socially responsible profitsND


William Baldwin, Forbes, 25 February 2009

The theory of blended values is not based on socially conscious investments, but rather on the convergence of selling an ethical idea — such as environmentalism, or Goggle’s ‘do no evil’. Wall Street has taken up the blended values approach. A new hedge fund based on the promise of social responsibility to attract investors may generate a re-assessment of traditional business perceptions on value of philanthropy. For more information see www.forbes.com

Five features of great socially responsible leadership ND


Mallen Baker, Ethical Corporation, 24 February 2009

This article looks at what it takes to be a great leader in a socially responsible business: ‘(1) Being prepared to challenge the logic of your industry (2) Doing something because it is the right thing to do, and then working out how to make it pay (3) Understanding that leaders set incentives and sometimes the bottom line is the wrong incentive (4) Understanding when to follow the rules, and when to use common sense in the face of unintended outcomes (5) Knowing that just because people around you see you as a leader, it doesn't mean you're a good one.’ For more information, see www.ethicalcorp.com

Toolkit for a tough economy — New tool for membersND


Colleen Olphert, BCCC, 23 February 2009

In response to the two most salient issues voiced by its members, the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship will produce two toolkits to guide practitioners to overcome budget cutting concerns and help identify new opportunities within the current economic context. Other anticipated topics include issues of revenue, internal collaboration, volunteerism, communication, employee engagement, as well as partnership and transparency issues. For more information see www.bccc.net.

Pots of gold: As a French multinational and Bangladeshi villagers join forces to help people work their way out of povertyND


Liam Black, The Guardian, 18 February 2009

Progressive social business initiatives in Bangladesh are regarded as a reminder to the western world of the CSR ideal. The cited example of Danone Communities applies a cross-subsidy business model based on partnerships with social entrepreneurs, based on trust and nurturing genuine growth rather than quick returns. Social ventures usually take a longer investment time frame, but help businesses to build the quality of their brands and products more effectively than through private start ups. For more information see www. www.guardian.co.uk

Credit crunch heralds a new moral economy ND


George Pitcher, The Telegraph, 16 February 2009

It is hoped that the structural changes brought about by the new economic environment will promote more accountable corporate behaviour. While in the past, managers and companies seeking to promote ethical business practices have been oppressed by the bottom line asset-driven mentality, company executives are shifting their focus from generating prosperity to the survival, as such stakeholder concerns are critical for the sustainability of their business and industry. For more information, see www.telegraph.co.uk

Responsibility is still good for businessND


Christopher Flavelle, The Washington Post, 15 February 2009

Considering that CSR continues to be promoted by businesses, even by those whose profitability is not specifically hinged upon on changing consumer opinions, CSR is predicted to survive the current economic pressures. For more information see www.washingtonpost.com

Will corporate giving suffer in the crunch?ND


Mary Braid, The Times, 15 February 2009

Charities are uncertain of how the economic crisis will impact on the amount of corporate donations they will receive. While many expressed faith that CSR has already become embedded in major companies, the fear is that the major donors — being predominantly from the banking sector — will have significantly lowered capacity for philanthropy. The current situation may prompt businesses to engage in some soul-searching on the direction of their CSR departments, as well as for other industries to step up their CSR commitments. For more information, see www.business.timesonline.co.uk

CEOs speak out about economic crisisND


Peggy Connolly, BCCC, 12 February 2009

Connolly supports the view that the financial crisis is an opportunity to reshape the current economy and change the mindset among business leaders. A new corporate culture is required to support future growth. Emphasis should be placed on de-leveraging the economy, restoring confidence and growth through innovation and productivity. Recent speeches by Paul Otellini and Steve Ballmer are recommended for reading. For more information see www.bccc.net

Engaging a worried workforceND


Stefan Stern, Financial Times, 09 February 2009

Reassessing current approaches to employee engagement, Stern advocates that it is the fundamental principles of honest and open communications — not expensive corporate outings or novel high-tech programs, that will be the most effective in generating employee goodwill and settling anxieties over job insecurity during tough economic times. For more information, see www.ft.com

Sure ways to tackle uncertainty in tough timesND


Neal Hartman, Financial Times, 5 February 2009

Hartman, who lectures in behavioural and policy sciences at Sloan School of Management, MIT says that in uncertain business environments, it is even more important to communicate ‘clearly, consistently and honestly’. Managers need to share information and communicate that uncertainty brings new possibilities. Managers also need to display their values and beliefs, and ‘display behaviour that brings about a sense of trust and credibility’. This article also focuses on the value of planning, including looking outside the company, undertaking scenario analysis and addressing stakeholder issues. For more information, see www.ft.com

Time for capitalism to adapt or departND


Bradley Googins, Center for Corporate Citizenship, 5 February 2009

Googins suggests that the darker unforeseen consequences from the current economic crisis - growing inequality, poverty, environmental degradation, loose regulation and corruption - requires us to re-examine the fundamental principles of capitalism. A new model with increased external governance mechanisms by the state, and shifting internal perspectives towards transparency, accountability and stakeholder relationships over the single metric of profit, are envisioned for future business. For more information, see www.bccc.net

Challenges of Chinese philanthropyND


Else Chen, CSR Asia, 4 February 2009

Currently, Chinese businesses perceive CSR as simply philanthropic activities conducted under a moral responsibility to do so, in contrast to the western understanding of corporate citizenship, which entwines business and social values for strategic community investment. While local businesses apply a short-term, overly simplistic and self-interested perspective, MNEs are prevented from engaging in meaningful investment due to a plethora of accountability and transparency challenges, an insufficient talent pool, fickle laws and selective tax concession issues. For more information, see www.csr-asia.com

Supplier payment ethics – the cost of squeezing suppliersND


Rajesh Chhabara, Ethical Corporation, 3 February 2009

In a downturn, some large companies look to cut supply costs and extend supplier terms of payment, with many smaller suppliers feeling the pressure. UK companies Tesco and Alliance Boots are just two companies that have extended payment terms for their suppliers. This article argues that the downturn ‘is an opportunity for responsible companies to test their principles of ethical behaviour’ and an opportunity to improve their reputation and strengthen their supply chain. They should be open and fair with suppliers. Many companies have signed up to responsible business practices, including from the UK’s Better Payment Practice Campaign and Prompt Payment Code. For more information on responsible payment practices, see www.ethicalcorporation.com

Lobbying for goodND


Kyle Peterson & Marc Pfizer, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Feb 2009

Corporations should apply their special political skills and resources to lobby for non-profit socially good causes. It is argued that the most effective CSR lobbying initiatives, benefiting both business and society, are ones that reflect a company’s core business. Corporate advocacy may target both domestic and international laws, and help to reduce negative value chain impacts, create more favourable operating environments, improve local workforce issues as well as build better relationships with government. For more information see www.ssireview.org

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