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 make effort to create greener work environmentND

Prenatal Prachyakorn, Bangkok Post, 8 July 2009

Some companies are investing in green building projects as a practical means of demonstrating corporate responsibility, concern for the environment and support for new government policies. Renovated corporate offices will produce environmental benefits by decreasing energy consumption, business savings on running costs; and promote staff well being from improved workplace environment. For more information see

Innovation key to staying ahead in ESG gameND

Sophia Greene, Financial Times, 5 July 200

Global investment trends indicate that ESG may soon become a viable element of the investment process, and is an improvement to traditional CSR reporting, which does not sufficiently account for quantifiable results. Many investment banks are also developing standard frameworks to allow comparison between ESG values and performance across the board. A recent survey reveals that ESG innovation provides performance advantages, as stock prices tend to stabilise once they enter the mainstream. For more information see

Anthony Bolton: Rules of engagementND

Anthony Bolton, Financial Times, 3 July 2009

Bolton, the president of investment at Fidelity International, advocates that board composition and strategy are the main drives behind investor engagement. Companies that provide access and information on the chief executive roles, concentrated shareholder listings, and information on key strategies will be favoured by active investors seeking engagement to give their funds a competitive advantage over more passive investors. For more information see

Corporate Social Responsibility: much more talk than action ND

Eric Riddleberger and Jeff Hittner, Forbes, 1 July 2009

IBM’s survey of senior executives reveals that while corporates are recognising the value of CSR for long-term business sustainability, they are unable to attain their own sustainability. This is due to a failure to understand information needs, collect and analyse feedback on program performance, and understand stakeholder concerns. The article provides some key actions to address the information gaps required to incorporate CSR into business strategies. For more information see

Financial institutions fail to manage their ESG risks, global survey findsND

Greenwire News Agency, 30 June 2009

An Ethical Investment Research Service survey finds that only a quarter of companies are adequately managing their ESG risks, with Japanese companies showing the biggest improvement, and Australian and New Zealand counterparts improving during 2005-2008. The survey assessed over 2,200 companies, including FTSE listed companies, on their board responsibility, risk management systems and identification of ESG risks, liabilities and opportunities. The researchers stress that various global UN initiatives will apply increased pressure to push ESG issues on the investment agenda. For more information see

CR watch — more stakeholders need to get involvedND

Pornnalat Prachyakorn, Bangkok Post, 26 June 2009

Companies should invest in the CR issues that are most relevant to their core business and immediate local stakeholder groups in Asia to maximise impact and avoid unnecessary activities. For example, large brands such as BMW openly communicate both success and failures of CR through constant reporting, which the author regards as the best method for winning stakeholder trust through tough economic times. For more information see

Conquering the challenge of business-education collaboration ND

Tim Wilson, BCCC, 24 June 2009

A complex collaborative effort between Cisco, Microsoft and Intel to solve global educational problems is currently underway. While the partnership relies on three core universal characteristics that are common to all education systems, it is an ambitious project that will challenge international groups of academics, countries, and corporations to work together, identify and share skills for collaboration, innovation, and knowledge utilisation. For more information see

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

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