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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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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