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:

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

‘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

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