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:

A matter of principlesND

Domini Stuart, Company Director, 8 November 2008

The executive director of the St James Ethic Centre agues against a ‘box ticking’ approach to the ASX Governance Guidelines. While a standard model assists honest companies to adopt ethical practices, it may not be appropriate for all business situations. An overly prescriptive approach may also allow companies to justify unethical behaviours by exploiting loopholes and exceptions. Instead, encouraging people to make active choices based on the ethical principles better equips companies for responding to rapidly changing business environments. For more information see

Preparing for success in carbon constrained economyND

Chris Park, The CRO, 5 November 2008

Businesses should respond to the challenges of the carbon-constrained economy by preparing to minimise their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Developing carbon conscious business systems should offset the potential risks from a tightening compliance and regulatory environment, while enhancing the potential benefits of reduced energy costs, added market share and new investment opportunities such as carbon trading. For more information see

We need sustainable capitalism ND

Al Gore and David Blood, The Wall Street Journal, 5 November 2008

The authors advocate for a ‘sustainable capitalism’ philosophy based on long-term investment and sustainability considerations in business decisions. Sustainability is predicted to become the primary driver of economic and industrial change over the next 25 years. Business sustainability is considered the key for overcoming the current concerns of economic recession, energy insecurity and climate change. For more information see

Doing good, and not so badlyND

Sam Mamudi, The Wall Street Journal, 2 November 2008

Socially responsible funds have invested in stocks that have out-performed the Dow Jones Average benchmark. Proponents articulate that socially responsible investing gauges factors such as corporate governance performance, requiring a tighter screening process and deeper analysis. Good social and moral values reflect good management practices and will ultimately generate positive investment returns. For more information see

Beyond CSRND

Christine Bader, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2008

It is argued that companies should look beyond CSR and consider the human rights implications of their global operations as well. The Universal Declaration provides a framework for international standards for human rights and should be used to develop company policies. Initiatives such as the U.N. Global Compact, the Business Leaders on Human Rights and the resources industries’ use of Environmental and Social Impact Assessments (ESIAs) attest to the increasing importance of human rights considerations for business. Human Rights Impacts Assessments (HRIA) are increasingly being used to evaluate the long-term effects of violations and build policies to minimise risks accordingly. For more information see

The green equationND

Kate Burgess, Business Review Weekly, 30 October 2008

Business’ sustainability reports must provide more selective, targeted and quantifiable information given carbon price and emissions trading concerns. Kate Burgess argues that non-financial data should be aligned with business objectives, acting as a supporting component of the business model rather than as a separate entity. For more information see

The state of CSR disclosure in Asia 2008 ND

CSR Asia Business Barometer, October 2008

The research report indicates that companies in Hong Kong are performing best in CSR disclosure, followed by their counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore in that order. Overall, companies scored best in disclosing business codes and policies and worst on indications on workplace and people. The results indicate that there is no correlation between business size and CSR rankings, speculating that it is strategy rather than size that effectively delivers sustainable business models. While a handful of companies are progressively improving transparency and business responsibility, the report calls for all companies within the region to vastly improve their existing CSR reporting practices. For more information see

Financial crisis: Social investment — Crunch time for ethical investing ND

Jon Entine, Ethical Corporation, 28 October 2008

The recent financial crisis has been attributed by some as a result of businesses failing to maintain transparent and accountable standards. The authors of this article argue that in the past, ethical investors have prioritised social and environmental issues and neglected key governance and business concerns. The SRI community must acknowledge and balance primary business concerns such as wealth management and job creation, along with social and environmental responsibilities. For more information see

Reviled firms lead responsibility listND

Juliette Jowit, The Guardian, 28 October 2008

Some of the most commonly criticised companies in Europe have also been identified as the leaders in CSR reporting. Controversial companies such as those in the tobacco and petrol industries are taking the CR 2.0 approach by addressing the most complex issues facing their businesses. However, scepticism remains over the measures used to judge CSR performance. For more information see

Helping ‘green’ products growND

Sheila Bonni & Jeremy Oppenheim, The McKinsey Quarterly, October 2008

Consumer’s concerns for the environment do not appear to influence their ultimate purchasing behaviours. A lack of awareness, distrust in the quality and ‘green’ integrity, the costs as well as the efforts involved, deter consumers from buying eco-friendly products. Businesses must educate, promote and improve the quality of their ‘green’ products in order to help consumers change their purchasing behaviour. For more information see

Wal-Mart plans a crackdown on Chinese suppliers ND

Dexter Robers, Business Week, 24 October 2008

Following the recent product quality scandals in China, Wal-Mart will require its suppliers to certify compliance with environmental and labour laws in efforts to improve product standards. Auditing procedures in China are notoriously corrupt and lack transparency. Wal-Mart will expand its self-auditing measures and consolidate the number of its global suppliers in order to ensure compliance. For more information see

Microsoft sets the tone for topics and tracks at the 7th Asian Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility to be held in SingaporeND

ACN Newswire, 21 October 2008

Microsoft’s global CSR mission is to deliver technological benefits to the economically disadvantaged. By aligning technology, business and CSR work, Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program has delivered results in education, innovations and employment. The company will be discussing this at the upcoming Asia Forum on CSR. For more information see

New media — Online reporting’s virtues and pitfalls ND

Kathee Rebernak, Ethical Corporation, 17 October 2008

Online sustainability reports are environmentally friendlier and have a broader reach than their printed versions. Publishing information online can also allow for more interactive data, increased readership engagement and feedback. Challenges arise in appropriately organising, presenting and prioritising information, however the trend for online reporting is set to continue. For more information see

Sustainability and the stock market ND

Jeff Zelkowitz, The CRO, 17 October 2008

Incorporating sustainable environmental, social and governance (ESC) values into mainstream corporate strategy allows businesses to secure buy-in from shareholders, achieve maximum valuation and overcome long-term liabilities. Sustainable values can be quantified by developing systems and metrics for reporting non-financial factors, and should be factored into the investment equation. For more information see

CSR doesn’t pay ND

David Vogel, Forbes, 16 October 2008

The author argues that CSR does not necessarily deliver financial advantage, as consumer decisions remain focused on product and price, and shareholders on financial performance. Business records on CSR are rarely consistent, making it hard to identify truly responsible. While some global firms have genuinely internalised CSR strategies, Vogel suggests this is not pervasive in the wider business environment and should not be generalised. For more information see

Regaining trust will ensure sustainable green managementND

Maeil Business Newspaper, 16 October 2008

Companies’ response to the recent financial crisis should rest on the basics of innovations, relationship management, and prioritising projects. Business decisions should incorporate socio-political considerations in order to regain public trust. This follows consumer calls for ‘green growth’ and an increase in legal and regulatory obligations for managing corporate social contracts. For more information see

Day of the minnowND

Patrick Butler, The Guardian, 15 October 2008

Triodos, Europe’s largest social bank, demonstrates that investment in CSR may minimise the effects of the current financial crisis on the banking industry. Banks should realign corporate values with public expectations and incorporate environmentally and socially sustainable policies into organisational practices. For more information see

Global financial woes may impact corporate social responsibility in ChinaND

China CSR, 14 October 2008

The recent financial crisis may see businesses in China reduce parts of their CSR budgets. However budgets for supply chain and manufacturing type initiatives are expected to remain as companies are expected to maintain ethical operational standards. The authors of this article also expec that CSR initiatives will be seen by domestic Chinese businesses as a means to resonate and strategically communicate their mission to the West, and will continue to be adopted despite the economic downturn. For more information see

Unethical companies suffer in the long runND

Sophia Grene, Financial Times, 12 October 2008

A company’s share price is negatively affected by bad publicity on environmental and social issues. Companies require more information on the relevant sustainability issues in order to decrease reputational risk. One example is HSBC Global Markets’ climate change research facilitation program, which allows managers to research climate change issues. For more information see

Corporate citizenship meets financial meltdown: threat or opportunity?ND

Brad Googins, Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship, 8 October 2008

Brad Googins, director of the Boston College Centre for Corporate Citizenship, discusses the new form of capitalism that is to emerge from the global financial crisis. Future markets must seek to eliminate current laissez faire attitudes without stifling innovation. Active leadership is required to deliver corporate responsibility values in business and recognise their potential contribution to social sustainability. For more information see

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