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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reputation on the lineND

Gerry McCusker, Business Review Weekly, 6 December 2007

Companies are increasingly utilising new media tools such as blogs, podcasting and social media websites, and need to manage their online reputation. With media using blogs as a research source, NGOs launching worldwide online campaigns, and other key influencers using online sources, it has become critical for companies to manage their online reputation. For more information, see

Responsibility paysND

Matthew Kirdahy, Forbes, 13 November 2007

Companies such as Starbucks see budgeting for programs and resources to grow the business also budgeting for CSR in effect. This trend towards a strategic business and investment approach to CSR reflects the search for business opportunity. The majority of CSR spend in US companies appears to be on research and development, and the least spend on philanthropy and marketing. For more information, see

Care to the commentND

Murray Armstrong, The Guardian, 5 November 2007

Consumers’ perceptions about the need for companies to tackle environmental concerns have evolved considerably since 2001. Ipsos Mori’s 2007 survey shows that 45 per cent of respondents think CSR should now be the ‘highest priority for business’. Eight out of ten respondents affirm that a company’s environmental reputation would affect their purchasing decisions. For more information, see

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