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:

‘Dramatic’ rise in number of companies measuring staff wellbeingND

Sian Harrington and David Woods, HR Magazine, 8 October 2008

Employers are increasingly publicising their commitment to employees’ health and wellbeing. Many current initiatives do not to reach all parts of the organisation, addressing only those employees who are already fit or interested in health and wellbeing issues. These problems may be addressed with simple performance indicators. For more information see

Opinion: Putting your money on thinking for the futureND

Bjorn Stigson, Financial Times, 8 October 2008

The current financial crisis can be attributed to prevailing unsustainable business models. In order to regain public trust, the finance industry must embrace the new business values of environmental sustainability and delivering social value. Global businesses have the capacity to deliver positive actions on the key concerns of the climate, resources and energy, and innovation. For more information see

Sustainability: Who leads? Who knows how to?ND

Tony Pearson and Isabel Rimanoczy, The CRO, 1 October 2008

Leadership training develops the new skills and mindsets necessary for managing an organisation’s cultural shift towards sustainable practices. CSR leadership development programs should emphasise organisation wide engagement, practical skills, spreading lessons learned and measuring results. For more information see

Chinese firms’ attitudes toward CSR changingND

Shanghai Daily, 29 September 2008

Following recent changes in the regulatory environment, foreign companies such as KPMG are leading in establishing sound CSR strategies in China. New CSR guidelines by the Ministry of Commerce and clauses in Chinese Company Law are aimed at international investors who may apply their global experience to shape domestic CSR standards. Engaging CSR activities help to develop good government relations. For more information see

Rivals Microsoft and Google take top honours in AsiaND

Chris Prystay, Wall Street Journal, 26 September 2008

Google and Microsoft are among the most admired multinationals, wining the top award for Innovation and Top Overall Company respectively in the 2008 Wall Street Journal Asia Reader Survey. These results reflect that consumers in the emerging Asian and Chinese markets highly value technological innovation. Future investments must be directed towards the emerging Internet market, innovation and product localisation. For more information see

Firms look at open source for CSR ideas: After changing the world of computers, ‘open source’ is helping…ND

Business Standard (India), 22 September 2008

Open Source’s online social innovation forums help companies and social entrepreneurs identify CSR ideas and working models to incorporate into their business. Companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola and Citibank are sponsoring the theme-based contests, seeking solutions to the social problems that concern their businesses. The program has already attracted over 3,500 solutions across over 125 countries. For more information see

Social responsibility: Do outside ratings affect companies?ND

Harvey Schachter, Toronto Globe & Mail, 22 September 2008

Ratings by outside groups on corporate social responsibility do have an impact on corporate behaviour. In particular, companies in highly regulated industries and those with low-cost capabilities to invest in improving environmental performance are more likely to respond to poor ratings. For more information see

Conducting government affairs in China: best practicesND

The US-China Business Council, 14 September 2008

The report finds that conducting successful government relations in China requires logistics and coordination within the company, professional training and hiring, as well as relationship building. Political advocacy is considered to be more difficult than in the past due to an opaque culture, the high volume of policy changes and resistance by senior officials to meet business. It is recommended that companies cultivate working relationships with the government by demonstrating their value and trustworthiness, understanding the nature of and differences between separate departments, and developing government affairs functions based on professional communication skills rather than personal relationships. For more information see

Unpaid work counts, so measure it ND

Melanie Oppenheimer, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 September 2008

The government must respond to the needs of the volunteering sector by engaging in policy regulatory reform and institutional restructure. The long-term growth of the third sector should be supported through increased funding for grassroots organisations, establishing structures to measure its economic contribution, as will as educating Australians about the value of volunteering. For more information see

Biz models need green revamp: Coke chief ND

Takashi Kitazume, Japan Times, 8 September 2008

CSR projects exist fundamentally to protect business interests. Doing social good is a corporate response to the expectations of their contemporary consumers and as such, sustainability programs should be adopted based on their value to the core business. This approach ensures long-term business sustainability irrespective of particular economic and social changes in the wider environment. Comments by Coca-Cola Chairman Neville Isdel. For more information see

Oh, behave! Companies mastering ethics and compliance risksND

John Cummings, Business Finance, 8 September 2008

Companies are increasingly conducting ethics and compliance assessments and integrating them into their enterprise risk management programs (ERM). The assessments encompass a wide range of business functions and emphasise a shift from purely financial risk concerns. Global companies however are less able to offer protection from ethical and compliance risks due to localised cultural and linguistic constraints. For more information see

Seeking the sweet spot, where financial and social returns convergeND

Judith Maxwell, The Globe and Mail, 8 September 2008

Companies in Canada are recognising that CSR issues present both risk and reward opportunities for their medium to long-term prospects. Corporate leaders are beginning to strategically assess their environmental, social and government risks based on accurate information systems. Additionally, the capacity of intermediaries that work to converge corporate and community goals should be further developed. For more information see

Perfect pitchND

Tony Blackie, BRW, 21 August 2008

Small to medium businesses may influence political decision-making by adhering to a few basic rules. Lobbyists should develop relationships with local MPs, understand the workings of government, and how their issues relate to wider public policy goals. Having a clear message, realistic expectations and viable solutions increase message persuasiveness. Joining industry groups may overcome resource and experience limitations. For more information see

Big companies can make it harder for employees to help for greenND

Greenbiz, 19 August 2008

Companies in the US and UK need to do more to support eco-friendly business practices internally. In the UK, employees in small to medium sized firms are more likely to adopt environmentally conscious behaviour such as energy conservation and recycling than in large firms, where similar efforts are felt to be hampered by excessive bureaucracy. US employees often consider that environmental responsibility efforts by their companies are aimed at external publicity rather than a genuine desire to change internally. For more information see

The big fix ND

BRW, 17 August 2008

Experts at the annual Big Issues roundtable discuss the top ten issues facing the Australian economy. Water sustainability, the future of climate change and energy technologies, and education and skills reform were the top three concerns. Other topics on the agenda included labour skills, the environment, transport, productivity, governance, emerging industries and health. For more information see

Carbon loadingND

BRW, 14 August 2008

The Australian Federal Government's National Carbon Reduction Scheme will add to the existing accountability and reporting requirements Australian businesses face. New standards will require businesses to monitor and report their carbon emissions by 31 October each year. Those companies with emissions greater than 125 000 tonnes will be required to have their carbon accounts independently verified. Companies will need to strategise for these new requirements in order to avoid excessive disruption and cost. For more information see

Global moaningND

BRW, 14 August 2008

Companies are increasingly concerned over the negative effects of online user-generated content on their brand reputation. Fearing that negative blogs are influencing consumers’ purchasing behaviours, companies are beginning to monitor their online reputation, which can be done using free online tools, manual searches, or professional monitoring services for large scale projects. For more information see

Suite charityND

BRW, 14 August 2008

A growing trend in corporate philanthropy in Australia is the prescribed private fund (PPF). PPFs allow businesses, families, and individuals to make tax-deductible donations for making grants to tax-exempt charities. Driven by employee demand, new wealth and capacity building, businesses are taking a more strategic hands-on approach to philanthropy rather than simply donating money. For more information see

In control of spinND

BRW, 31 July 2008

Good media relations require an understanding of how the media and PR industries work. Companies embarking on media campaigns should first clarify their objectives, form realistic expectations and establish the terms and costs with their PR advisers. The use of targeted media releases, an informative website and setting a point of contact for journalists are all good media relations practices. For more information see

Building the web 2.0 enterpriseND

McKinsey Quarterly, July 2008

A 2008 McKinsey survey found that companies are increasingly adopting web 2.0 technologies into broader business practice. The new technologies are transforming how companies organise and manage themselves internally, as well as their methods of interaction with external customers, suppliers and experts. Conversely, unresponsive corporate cultures, resistant business leaders and the failure to see the potential financial returns are the main obstacles in realising web 2.0’s benefits. For more information see

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