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:

Volunteering abroad to climb at IBMND


Claudia Deutsch, The New York Times, 26 March 2008

IBM is sending its employees abroad, on volunteering programs, to share their skills with businesses in developing countries. The company views this initiative as a management development exercise that will give its employees an opportunity to work with strangers and projects in unfamiliar territories. Employee interest has so far been very high. For more information see www.nytimes.com

Addressing consumer concerns about climate changeND


The McKinsey Quarterly, March 2008

Two recent global surveys indicate that business executives and consumers identify the environment and climate change as the most important issues over the next five years. The surveys verify a connection between consumer trust, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and consumer choice. These results suggest that businesses should consider how environmental issues and climate change fit within their strategies. For more information see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

Business case debate: best defence (no offence) is a good poetND


John Davies, The CRO, 19 March 2008

The debate on corporate social responsibility might just be a matter of definition and language. Too much attention is given in defining the term, rather than concentrating on its practice and results. Businesses need to consider how CSR can connect to their bottom line, instead of worrying about how to describe it. For more information see www.thecro.com

Business case debate: looking beyond share price, salesND


Neil Smith, The CRO, 19 March 2008

Supporting a universal business case for corporate social responsibility can be difficult. CSR does not offer immediate results, the same way acquisitions or laying off personnel can do, nor can it be the sole determinant of a rising stock price. But CSR is connected to reputation and proactive corporate culture; essential to a company’s success. For more information see www.thecro.com

Offsetting your carbon is ‘confusing’ND


Sophie Borland, The Telegraph, 19 March 2008

According to a consumer watchdog, carbon-offsetting websites are confusing and inconsistent. The websites fail to give information on the projects they support or their administration fees. They also differ in their estimations and charges. The Government is already pressing for a voluntary code of practice. For more information see www.telegraph.co.uk

Carbon reduction starts at the topND


Andrew Cave, The Telegraph, 17 March 2008

Top-level engagement many times defines the extent of climate change initiatives in a company. Philip Green, chief executive of United Utilities, views climate change as a chance for executives to display leadership. Mr. Green believes that climate change initiatives make moral and business sense, and at the same time invigorate and engage staff in the business. For more information see www.telegraph.co.uk

Green fund to lure innovative car makersND


Tracy Sutherland and Mark Skulley, The Australian Financial Review, 10 March 2008

The Australian government will contribute one third of private investment into environmentally friendly vehicles. The $500 million green car fund will start in 2011. Operation details for the fund are not final, but it will feature co-investment arrangements. For more information see www.arf.com

Reporting – Communications – How to measure what mattersND


Kathee Rebernak, Ethical Corporation, 10 March 2008

CSR reports often lack in materiality — reporting on what matters most to stakeholders. Materiality analysis can help companies concentrate on the right sustainability strategy and report accordingly. It also helps facilitate the assurance process, and provides benchmarks for evaluation. For more information see www.ethicalcorp.com

What is the meaning of ‘green’? ND


Clare Davidson, BBC News, 08 March 2008

There is still no clear understanding of the term ‘green’, especially in the way its is used in corporate communication and advertising. Firms are making ‘green’ claims but most of them lack any consistency or scientific validity. While claiming to be ‘green’ might be easy, being so is not. For more information see www.newsvote.bbc.co.uk

Food crisis will take hold before climate change, warns chief scientistND


James Randerson, The Guardian, 7 March 2008

UK’s Chief scientific adviser, John Beddington, argues that food security and rising food prices will create a crisis more imminent than climate change. Beddington also criticises the biofuel industry’s lack of sustainable practices. For more information see www.guardian.co.uk

No excuse for absence from lessons in right and wrongND


Alison Maitland, Financial Times, 7 March 2008

A survey by the UK Institute of Business Ethics shows that more companies are training employees in how to apply ethical codes. 70 per cent of large UK companies are conducting training, compared to less than 50 per cent around four years ago. However, the Institute points to a gap in training at board and senior level. For more information, see www.ft.com

Tax reward for ‘green’ driversND


Jim Pickard, John Reed and George Parker, Financial Times, 7 March 2008

The British government is expected to ‘punish’ drivers of high carbon-emitting vehicles by increasing their vehicle excise duty, while at the same time lowering it for green vehicles. The government will also announce support for the development of green engine and fuel technologies. For more information see www.ft.com

Recession ethics: CSR in a downturnND


Rikki Stancich, Ethical Corporation, 5 March 2008

The anticipated economic slowdown might challenge CSR activities and premium prices for ethical goods. Some believe that ethical consumers care more about price and will be committed to their choices. In fact, a recession may drive ethical business into the mainstream as a provider of efficient and cost saving products. For more information see www.ethicalcorp.com

British miners get tough with ChinaND


Helen Power, The Telegraph, 3 March 2008

Rio Tinto and Anglo American have refused to sign up to joint ventures with Chinese companies unless they follow their own environmental and human rights standards. For more information see www.telegraph.co.uk

The wind of changeND


Andrew Cave, Telegraph, 2 March 2008

The British government hopes to reduce business carbon emissions through a three-prong approach — regulation, support, and information. Energy-intensive businesses can receive discounts on National Insurance contributions if they enter Climate Change Agreements. Non-intensive businesses follow the new Carbon Reduction Commitment initiative, a mandatory emissions trading scheme. For more information see www.telegraph.co.uk

New report on Global Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability CommunicationsND


Center for Corporate Citizenship, February 2008

The report ‘Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Communications: Who’s Listening? Who’s Leading? What Matters Most?’ addresses the importance of transparency as a key indicator of a responsible businesses, the growing expectation for companies to lead on issues instead of just managing risks, and the importance of current and prospective employees and socially responsive investors on impacting a company’s bottom line. For more information see www.bcccc.net/_uploads/documents/live/EdelmanCSR08.pdf

Telling a compelling storyND


Center for Corporate Citizenship, February 2008

Stories, rather than abstractions make messages memorable according to Chip Heath, author of ‘Made to stick: Why Some ideas Survive and Others Die’. Heath also advices that companies should set goals instead of resolutions by adding publicity and accountability, changing their mental environment and keeping an eye on their social environment. For more information see www.bcccc.net

Why China will define the future corporate citizenshipND


Christopher C. Pinney, Center for Corporate Citizenship, February 2008

China’s success or failure in corporate citizenship will have enormous implications for the global economy and environment. The national and regional governments are already encouraging corporate citizenship initiatives under the concept of ‘harmonious society’. The introduction of a national company law and a new labour contract law, along with a broad variety of regional business initiatives show that China is determined to make corporate citizenship part of its future. For more information see www.bcccc.net

Good governance pays better than badND


Kate Burgess, Financial Times, 27 February 2008

Research from the Association of British Insurers shows that well-governed companies achieve better operating performance and share price returns than poorly-governed companies. The study compared returns over a four year period and showed that well-governed companies had share price returns that were 18 per cent higher than poorly-governed companies. For more information, see www.ft.com

Investors still don’t get accountabilityND


Alyson Warhurst, Businessweek, 26 February 2008

A recent survey shows that most fund managers do not factor ESG initiatives into their investment decision. They do though factor proficiency in risk management. The author argues that these are two sides of the same coin, and that investors can have a good idea of a company’s risk management proficiency by looking at sustainability indices like the DJSI and FTSE4Good. A suggestion is also made that companies should explain their ESG initiatives using risk management language. For more information, see www.ft.com

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