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 company ND

Liza Ramrayka, The Guardian, 5 November 2007

Grayson, director of the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at Cranfield School of Management, has authored a recent ‘dialogue paper’ mapping developments in responsible business and Business in the Community’s role over the last 25 years. According to Grayson, companies will be forced to balance global and local thinking to address issues such an ageing population in the UK and climate change. For more information, see

Doing good, do it rightND

Mark Vernon and Craig Mackenzie, Management Today, 29 October 2007

Twenty tips covering management, organisation, communications, reporting and strategy to help companies implement effective CSR policies are presented in this article. Among these are keeping CSR relevant to the company’s products and activities, involving the board, and being aware that CSR is more than just charity or a marketing tool. Tips include the establishment of special board committees of non-executives by companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Shell, ‘to keep the executives on the ball’. For more information, see

Asia study: CEOs trustworthy, bloggers lack credibilityND, 27 October 2007

Harris Interactive conducts an annual Asia Pacific Stakeholder Study on the most trusted institutions and the most credible spokespeople. While government is still the most trusted institution in Asia Pacific, non-governmental organisations have lost footing since the previous study. CEOs have the highest credibility rating (51 per cent) while bloggers have only 12 per cent. For more information, see

How values embraced by a company may enhance that company’s valueND

Herb Greenberg, The Wall Street Journal, 27 October 2007

In their study entitled ‘Is Doing Good Good for You?’ Baruch Lev and Christine Petrovits of the New York University Stern School of Business and Suresh Radhakrishnan conclude that companies in ‘consumer sectors’ that make charitable contributions also see a notable increase in revenue. For more information, see

Environmental, human rights recognition can improve investmentsND

Peter Hannam, The Age, 22 October 2007

In a recent study, HSBC has found investments that take environmental and human rights issues into account can yield above-average returns. Results were released at a meeting of the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative. For more information, see

Companies increased giving by 4.8% in 2006ND

Nicole Lewis, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 18 October 2007

According to the Giving in Number 2007 report, the median corporate donation in the US — including funding and in-kind — was $33 million. Health and social services (31 per cent of donations), education (25 per cent) and community and economic development (14 per cent) organisations received the bulk of donations. For more information, see

Boards turn greenND

Business Review Weekly, 11 October 2007

BRW reports on a recent poll of Australian company directors that found 94% agree that climate change strategy needs to be part of Boards’ agendas. The poll also found that 89% expect more pressure to be place on Boards to disclose climate change policies, and 51% expect the risk of class action against directors on climate change issues to increase. For more information, see

Lessons from the Mattel crisisND

Richard Levick, Corporate Responsibility, 10 October 2007

The recent recall by Mattel of potentially harmful toys sparked a consumer backlash with many now seeking recourse in the US courts. However, faith can be restored with more open and honest dialogue with audiences, including consumers, parents, retailers, and regulatory bodies. For more information, see

CSR: Just do itND

Catherine Fox, Financial Review Boss, October 2007

Nike’s initiatives to improve its corporate image through CSR programs can be a lesson to other companies looking to improve their reputations. Nike’s strategy has gone from being reactive to proactive by integrating CSR into the company strategy and culture. They have constructed a CSR team, which reports to the CSR committee of the board of directors, and the head of the CSR team reports directly to the CEO. For more information, see

Corporate strategies need to be redefinedND

Prue Moodie, The Australian Financial Review, 26 September 2007

Corporations may look at their own reporting criteria to make headway in environmental reporting. Terence Jeyaretnam, managing director of Net Balance Foundation, in conjunction with the UK Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, produced a study that argues that companies with good reports addressed less than 75 per cent of their assessment criteria. Sustainability reports tend to be better if the company has been producing such reports for a longer period of time and cater the reports to a wider audience, beyond shareholders. For more information, see

Directors take issues on board in enlightened self-interestND

Ann-Maree Moodie, The Australian Financial Review, 26 September 2007

Companies such as Westpac and BHP have integrated their sustainability approach with company policy by creating sustainability committees in their board structures. The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Finance Services has investigated such sustainability approaches and determined three ways of interpreting directors’ duties. The ‘self interest interpretation,’ which allows companies to take shareholder views into account and views investments in sustainability as part of a company’s long term sustainability strategy, seems to most suit sustainability approaches. For more information, see

Corporate emissions reporting can be just a bit of greenwashND

Prue Moodie, The Australian Financial Review, 19 September 2007

Many Australian companies are engaging in greenhouse emissions reporting. However, reporting standards differ from company to company. The Australian Greenhouse Office provides national emissions standard guidelines for businesses interested in reporting their greenhouse gas emissions. For more information, see

Decisive management the key to greener futureND

Alexandra Cain, The Australian Financial Review, 19 September 2007

The New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change is encouraging businesses that want to go green to start with their senior management. The Department suggests companies place someone in charge who is committed to assist the company in reaching its goals, as it sees that taking action to green the workplace also translates into financial rewards. For example, using more efficient technology can save money on energy bills. For more information, see

Greening the supply chainND

Kate Burgess, Business Review Weekly, 13-19 September 2007

The information technology industry has been pushing for a more environmentally-friendly supply chain and is keen to emphasise this move as a cost saving strategy. However, it has faced difficulty convincing clients to spend more for greener hardware. This article includes success stories from EDS and Macquarie Telecom. For more information, see

The business of givingND

Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Business Review Weekly, 13 September 2007

Non-profit organisations require much of the skill set of private companies. Non-profits have managed to blend these characteristics with their own unique working environments and cultures, fuelled by the ‘desire to make a difference’. This article includes a brief profile on Mary Anne Stephens, the chief operating officer of Children’s Cancer Institute Australia and former chief financial officer of Lumley General Insurance. For more information, see

Values addedND

Leo D’Angelo Fisher, Business Review Weekly, 13-19 September 2007

Most companies engage in some method of community involvement. However, it is increasingly becoming a case of long-term investment in an extension of the corporate culture. The chief executive of UBS Investment Bank of Australia stated his and his colleagues’ reasoning as wanting to ‘operate in societies not economies.’ This article cites key statistics from a 2004 survey by Cavill & Co and Seek Group, which found that 48 per cent of its respondents would look for companies that are actively involved in the community. It also borrows statistics from the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs’ 2007 study, Corporate Community Investment in Australia. For more information, see

Tracking the gap between societal expectations of companies and perceived CSR performanceND

Femke de Man, Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, September 2007

Following up on its 2005 CSR survey, GlobeScan conducted a similar report in 2007 on citizens’ expectations of companies’ CSR activities. The second survey found that, while people in developed and developing nations have high expectations of companies, those in developing nations are more likely to hold companies responsible. Overall expectations have plateaued at a very high level. For more information, see

CSR and stakeholders in Hong Kong and SingaporeND

Richard Welford, CSR Asia Weekly, 22 August 2007

Recent research into stakeholder expectations of business, indicated that the top priorities are environment, followed by health and safety and corporate governance. For more information, including the results and indicators of the Hong Kong and Singapore surveys, see

The weakest linksND

David James, Business Review Weekly, 16-22 August 2007

The global expansion of business and supply chain operations have emphasised concerns that many companies are exposing key areas of vulnerability. As the intersections of developed and emerging market economies continue to increase, infrastructure and development struggle to keep up. Issues highlighted in this article are that long-term cost of lengthening supply chains that may outweigh initial savings; transport infrastructure of developing countries may not have the capacity to keep up with demand; low cost structures limit the incentive to improve management; and tight supervision is paramount. For more information, see

Do good — or elseND

Wall Street Journal, 9 August 2007

Indonesia is expected to pass a bill that will make it mandatory for companies to spend money on corporate social responsibility programs. In doing so they will allow for regulators to take over defining and enforcing what CSR means — already a contested and vaguely defined term. Having been met with criticism from both the business sector and a few top cabinet ministers, the mandate known as Article 74 is the first instance worldwide whereby law will provision CSR. For more information, see

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