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:

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

Doing good for doing wellND


Thanh Trung, Saigon Times Weekly, 23 Feb 2008

Foreign companies are adopting more strategic, defined and focused approaches to their CSR programs in overseas countries such as Vietnam. Unilever Vietnam’s Doing Good for Doing Well fund has been helping women through specific projects in health and hygiene since 2004. Likewise, The General Electric Foundation seeks to bridge the gap between company and community through defined scholarship and donation drives. Mascot International Vietnam seeks to improve workplace safety for employees by setting a target of 200 0000 working hours without injury, while Telecoms promises to reach a target of 20 percent energy consumption reduction by 2010. For more information see www.mondotimes.com

The side-effects of doing goodND


The Economist, 23 February 2008

Leading players in the field of global health are concerned that big humanitarian organisations, like the Gates Foundation, are distorting research priorities and keep the best scientists occupied exclusively with their cause. This may also lead to cases of near-monopoly that discourage smaller rivals and competition. For more information see www.economist.com

Guide to health and well-beingND


Sarah Jane North, People Management, 21 February 2008

Employee health and well-being has a direct impact on a business’ productivity, growth, retention and employer brand. Businesses can benefit from proactively monitoring and tackling sickness absence by promoting staff well-being and providing support for employees with health problems. These actions can help reduce the costs associated with working days lost to ill health. For more information, see www.telegraph.co.uk

The reputation questionND


Jennifer Pellet, Chief Executive, Jan/Feb 2008

Research increasingly supports reputation as a valuable component of a company’s financial prospects. However, companies have mixed results in translating their responsibility efforts into strong reputation. Programs that fit a company’s brand, culture and people are the most effective, if followed with relevant communication to interested stakeholders. For more information, see www.chiefexecutive.net

It’s not easy being greenND


CJ Prince, Chief Executive, Jan/Feb 2008

The popularity of the green movement has CEOs wondering what their approach should be — and whether this approach will contradict financial prosperity. But environmental and financial sustainability can go hand in hand. First, it’s important to separate hype from reality, and then find the appropriate strategy. For more information, see www.chiefexecutive.net

Top executives slow to adopt climate change strategyND


John Willman, Financial Times, 19 February 2008

A UK survey found top executives think climate change is a significant issue, but very few of them have a strategy to deal with it. Responses were mixed on the level of understanding of the issue, with much criticism on the government’s climate change education efforts. The top measures already adopted by companies were recycling and the use of recycled products. For more information, see www.ft.com

The age of cyberspace offers aids for givingND


Sarah Murray, Financial Times, 12 February 2008

The web is changing philanthropy by providing a channel of shared information and problem-solving ideas to not-for-profit organisations, as well as providing a new source for fundraising and awareness activities. It also makes it easy for donors to find their desired charity, and track the progress of their contribution. For more information, see www.ft.com

Corporate responsibility is not quite deadND


Michael Skapinker, Financial Times, 11 February 2008

Corporate social responsibility might seem outdated as a term, but not as a premise. However you wish to call it, companies still need political stability, and social welfare to thrive, and it is to their best interest to gain society’s approval. What happens in society defines threats and opportunities, two terms that have always been relevant to a company’s strategic outlooks. For more information, see www.ft.com

A new mindset for corporate sustainabilityND


David Grayson, Zhouying Jin, Mark Lemon, Miguel Angel Rodriguez, Sarah Slaughter, Simon Tay, BT and Cisco, January 2008

The paper advocates that corporate sustainability has to take into account corporations’ obligations not just to investors, but also to the community and the environment. The authors call this approach ‘Shareholder and Social Added Value with Environment restoration’ (S2AVE). They argue that corporate sustainability strategies would lead to innovation for the entire business. The report includes case studies and tools to refer to. To download the paper, see www.biggerthinking.com/en/sustainability/innovation.aspx

Suppliers pushed on their green credentialsND


Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 20 January 2008

Multinationals such as Dell, L’Oréal, Pepsico, Hewlett-Packard and Reckitt-Benckiser have announced they will ask their suppliers to measure and disclose their carbon footprint. This will allow them to compare suppliers amongst peers and work to eliminate practices that waste energy. For more in formation, see http://www.ft.com

A stitch in time: How companies manage risks to their reputationND


The Economist, 19 January 2008

Why do business leaders embrace CSR? Many of them have had to face the consequences of public embarrassment and lawsuits. Companies have to also consider their suppliers approach to CSR. Many industries have started to collaborate on supply chain inspections. The most striking recent trend in CSR is that companies are agreeing on codes of conduct, in consultation with governments, UN agencies and NGOs. For more information, see www.economist.com

The next question: Does CSR work?ND


The Economist, 19 January 2008

The article claims that CSR is now integrated in companies’ strategy. Nevertheless, executives too often struggle to take CSR decisions. There is a “shared value” for both business and society. A positive connection exists between sustainability and financial performance but CSR indexes remain insufficient to precisely measure this connection. For more information, see http://www.economist.com/

Business scandals teach lesson few in Japan learnND


Jochen Legewie, The Japan Times, 14 January 2008

Scandals and crises have been frequent during 2007. The author discusses the crises of the Japanese food industry due to many scandals about mislabelling products, or selling food after its expiry date. Scandals also touched governments. Companies tend to make the same mistakes despite the long scandals history year after year. For more information, see http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Making talent a strategic priorityND


Matthew Guthridge, Asmus B. Komm and Emily Lawson, The McKinsey Quarterly, January 2008

The article argues for companies to see talent management as a business priority requiring the attention of top-level management and substantial resources. Successful talent management calls for senior executive time in developing employee value propositions to attract, motivate and retain talent at all levels, and additional capabilities for HR to develop effective solutions. For more information, see www.mckinseyquarterly.com.

The organisational challenges of global trendsND


Colin Price, David Turnbull, The McKinsey Quarterly, January 2008

A McKinsey Quarterly study reports that increasing competition for talent, increased technological connectivity as well as shifting centres of economic activity pose critical challenges to companies. However, most respondents are not confident about the right organisational response to manage such emerging global trends. For more information, see www.mckinseyquarterly.com

The responsibility paradoxND


Gerald F. Davis, Marina V. N. Whitman and Mayer N. Zald, Stanford Social Innovation Review, January 2008

The authors recommend firms to update CSR practices to resolve the paradox of lessened corporate understanding about stakeholder needs but increased stakeholder demands for corporate accountability. They propose the notion of ‘global corporate responsibility’ to reflect responsibilities beyond national boundaries that include the actions of suppliers, distributors, alliance partners and sovereign nations. For more information, see www.ssireview.org

Preserving corporate reputationND


Nic Paton, Management Issues, 12 December 2007

A study by The Conference Board argues that boards need to discuss and understand the nature of reputation risk within the context of wider risk, its response to reputation risks and create a culture of risk awareness. Accordingly, boards can implement robust programs and initiatives to protect reputation and manage any material event that may affect stakeholder relations. For more information, see www.management-issues.com

Sustainability report seeks the factsND


Deborah Brewster, Financial Times, 9 December 2007

The Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability project focuses on embedding sustainability considerations into corporate thinking, measuring and reporting sustainability efforts. Investors and other stakeholders face the challenge of comparing sustainability performance because different companies use different measurements. Extractive industries tend to be more advanced in their measurement and reporting due to a long history of public pressure on their environmental impacts. For more information, see www.ft.com

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