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:

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charity must not become the casualty of the recessionND

Richard Branson, Telegraph, 29 January 2009

Not-for-profit organisations are expecting a fall in corporate and individual funding, however Richard Branson argues the economic crisis ‘presents an opportunity for leaders and businesses to develop new partnerships, smarter giving techniques and a more effective use of resources.’ Branson provides the example of Virgin’s foundation which works with partners to address issues such as preventable diseases and climate change. He believes a move away from a donor relationship to a ‘true partnership’ will create ‘the right spirit of collaboration’ which will ensure ‘a more equitable and healthier world for a far lower price tag.’ For more information, see

How to talk your way through a downturnND

Paul Argenti, Financial Times, 29 January 2009

Professor Argenti’s article provides tips on communicating to stakeholders in a downturn. He argues that during a downturn, ‘a crisp and transparent communication strategy can set a company apart from the competition by fortifying employee relationships, showcasing superior client/customer focus, and strengthening a company’s reputation for transparency, reliability and integrity with members of the wider public’. Argenti’s core guidelines include: do not hide, gather relevant information and stick to your story, communicate early and often, centralise communications, get inside the media’s head, choose communication channels thoughtfully, communicate directly with affected constituencies, keep the business running, and keep values and character centre-stage. For more information, see

How to restore trust in businessND

Richard Edelman, Financial Times, 27 January 2009

Reflecting on research findings of a sharp drop in consumer trust of companies and their desire for tougher regulations on business, Edelman advises that businesses use public engagement to win back their stakeholders. Public engagement involves the four pillars of private-sector diplomacy, mutual social responsibility, shared sacrifice, and repeated, swift and accountable communications, and should always be underpinned by the key principle of transparency. For more information, see

Trying to integrate corporate citizenship? Consider competency modelsND

Sylvia Kinnicutt, Center for Corporate Citizenship, 23 January 2009

Kinnicutt advocates that corporate citizenship should incorporate itself into competency, which are increasingly used by business to guide planing and support strategy. Three observations drive this recommendation; competencies are increasingly used and developed by business, they are a proven tool for supporting organisational change, and that such existing learning structures and competency frameworks will facilitate easy adoption of corporate citizenship principles. For more information, see

US bid to help the ‘Made in China’ brandND

Benjamin Shobert, Asia Times, 21 January 2009

Shobert argues that the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) move to open offices in China will only serve to symbolically reassure US consumers and pressure Beijing to improve the quality of its products. Foreign powers’ limited capabilities to enforce regulation and inspect domestic facilities, in addition to the fact that quality problems are predominantly supply chain issues, mean that a fixation on China is not the solution. Shobert concludes that the only solution to product quality lies in robust self-policing efforts by Beijing. For more information see

Polls reveal mixed feelings about MNCsND

Liu Jie, China Business Weekly, 19 January 2009

An online poll finds that Chinese consumers are gaining more trust in multinationals. While 60 percent of respondents believed that CSR programs by foreign companies benefit Chinese society, 40 percent perceived CSR as mandatory policies taken in order to save face or evade taxes. The results demonstrate both a more reasonable assessment of multinationals by Chinese consumers as well as their sensitivity to issues on state politics and national sovereignty. For more information, see

Structure and strategies: Profile of the practice 2008ND

Peggy Connolly, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, 18 January 2009

This Center report reveals that while the management of a company’s social role is becoming a formal part of the business structure and strategy, there remains a lack of consensus regarding the identity, position and role of corporate citizenship within the firm. Companies with strong citizenship performances are those that internalise citizenship values, incorporating them into existing organisation structures and management mechanisms. For more information see

Microsoft launches a policy blogND

Aarti Shah, PRWeek US, 16 January 2009

Targeting public affairs and other related stakeholder groups within and related to the technology industry, Microsoft’s ‘On the Issues’ blog seeks to engage global public policy debates on technology issues. The company believes that the blog will provide a platform for voicing its perspectives on public issues. For more information, see

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