Google fined record €50m by French data protection watchdogND

Alex Hern, The Guardian, Monday 21st January 2019

The French data protection watchdog has fined Google a record €50m for failing to provide users with transparent and understandable information on its data use policies. It marks the first time a company has been fined under new terms laid out in the European general data protection regulation (GDPR). The maximum fine for large companies under the new law is four per cent of annual turnover, meaning that Google could theoretically face a maximum fine of €4bn. The French watchdog (CNIL), said Google was fined because it made it too difficult for users to find essential information, “such as the data-processing purposes, the data storage periods or the categories of personal data uses for the ads personalisation”, by splitting them across multiple documents, help pages and settings screens. Such a lack of clarity meant that users were effectively unable to exercise their right to opt out of data-processing for personalisation of ads. In a statement, Google said: “People expect high standards of transparency and control from us. We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR. We’re studying the decision to determine our next steps.” Dr Lukasz Olejnik, an independent privacy researcher and adviser, said the ruling was the world’s largest data protection fine. “This is a milestone in privacy enforcement, and the history of privacy. The whole European Union should welcome the fine. It loudly announced the advent of GDPR decade,” he said.

For the full story click here

Sustainability reporting: a best practiceND

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Fall Issue 2018

The reporting process and the resulting report has become essential for strategic decision-making, enabling stronger long-term planning, stakeholder relations, and data-driven insights. And as disclosure becomes more popular, reports become more sophisticated (and useful). According to the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s State of Corporate Citizenship 2017, executives appreciate the value of corporate citizenship reporting and are continuing to increase their investment in it. According to the report, more than 40 per cent of executives reported that their companies issued a report, and more than 65 per cent reported they plan to grow these investments. In addition to the business benefits, it is also fast becoming a legal requirement to report ESG metrics. In France, nonfinancial reporting requirements have been in place since 2015, and in Denmark, since 2009. Across the board, the clear trend is toward greater transparency in both financial and nonfinancial dimensions.

To read the full article from the BCCC’s magazine click here

Phillip Morris accused of hypocrisy over anti-smoking adND

BBC News, Monday October 22 2018

Phillip Morris, one of the world’s largest tobacco firms, has been accused of hypocrisy over its new ad campaign that urges smokers to quit. The firm, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, said the move was “an important next step” in its aim to “ultimately stop selling cigarettes. But Cancer Research accused the firm of “staggering hypocrisy”, pointing out that it still promotes smoking outside the United Kingdom. “The best way Philip Morris could help people to stop smoking is to stop making cigarettes,” George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager said. Philip Morris’s managing director Peter Nixon said its new advertising campaign was “about supporting smokers in finding alternatives”. Asked why the firm does not simply stop making cigarettes if it truly wants smokers to quit, Mr Nixon said it was because smokers would then switch to a rival product. “Cigarettes still generate 87% of our business. We want to get to [smoke-free] as soon as possible, and we want to be selling alternatives, but it does take time,” he said.

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Corporate sponsorship may be diverting research and distorts public policy, claims reportND

Christopher Knaus, The Guardian, Wednesday September 26 2018

A new study published by University of Sydney researchers in the American Journal of Public Health on Wednesday suggests that corporate support of academic studies could be diverting researchers away from important public health questions. The paper, which seeks to understand how corporate support of research shapes the agendas of researchers, cites examination of 36 articles from 1986 to 2017 – four papers on tobacco, three on the food industry, three on plant or animal biotechnology and others relating to the alcohol, chemical or mining industries. “They use the same strategies,” the lead author, Alice Fabbri, told Guardian Australia. “They (corporations) fund research that can be used to promote their products or distract from the harms of their products, or to drive the research away from policies that will tend to harm them.” The article comes at a time when rising community distrust of some corporations and in some industry sectors is fuelling calls for universities to reduce their connections with business, at the same time that many governments, universities, and industry groups are calling for more companies to partner with higher education on applied innovation and research.

For the full story click here

Google investigated over massive data collection that could be costing consumers 'millions'ND

Margi Murphy, The Telegraph, Tuesday May 15 2018

Google is being investigated over claims smartphone owners are paying for the company to harvest their location data, potentially costing consumers millions. The Australian Competition Commission is looking into concerns raised by software giant Oracle that Google is harvesting up to a gigabyte of information every month, which could mean millions for Australians alone. Location services on smartphones are powered by GPS, which is free to use as it does not require internet connectivity, but phones using Google’s Android operating system send location data back to Google’s servers, which incurs a data cost if the person is not connected to Wi-Fi. Since 2017, Google began accessing smartphone owner’s whereabouts even if they had switched location off by collecting addresses of nearby cell masts. The search giant said it would put a stop the practice at the end of last year.

For the full story see: www.telegraph.co.uk

Nordstrom Rack Apologizes to Black Men in St. Louis Falsely Accused of StealingND

Matthew Haag, The New York Times, Tuesday May 8 2018

The president of Nordstrom Rack flew to St. Louis to apologise on Tuesday to three black teenage friends who were falsely accused last week of trying to steal clothing at one of the company’s stores. The friends had stopped into a store last Thursday to look for last-minute deals before a high school prom on Friday night. After being followed closely by employees, they were reported to police. On leaving with the goods they had purchased, police were waiting for them. Episodes such as this can quickly turn disastrous for companies, who because of bad employees in one store risk blemishing an entire organisation’s reputation. In a statement, the company said that guidelines had not been followed and that it “does not tolerate discrimination of any kind”. The company is investigating the actions of its employees during the episode.

For the full story see: www.nytimes.com

Four myths about business ethicsND

Chris MacDonald, CSR-NEWS, 6 December 2010

Four major myths about business ethics have been identified and debunked. The first is that the term ‘business ethics’ is an oxymoron. This is incorrect, as commerce is quite literally impossible without ethics. Every single commercial transaction requires some level of trust, which requires a shared commitment to ethical behaviour. The second myth addressed is the idea that ethics is ‘just a matter of opinion’. In fact, on many ethical issues there are actually better and worse answers which need to be talked through. The third myth is that there’s no such thing as ‘business’ ethics, as ethics should be consistent everywhere. In fact, business has unique characteristics, such as the fact that large companies have the potential to do significant harm to stakeholders and the environment. The final myth addressed is the perception that business ethics is just a matter of regulation. The reality is that there are behaviours that are legal but unethical, and also those that are illegal but ethically okay. For more information see www.csr-news.net

Why be an ethical company? They’re stronger and last longerND

Vivek Wadhwa, BusinessWeek, 17 August 2009

Companies should adopt a sense of higher purpose that can be filtered down into strategy and risk management. Survivors of the recent Wall Street collapse are typically ‘straight shooter’ companies with a strong focus on responsibility, value for high-net worth individuals, and transparent cultures. Post-crisis, businesses should resist the temptation of reverting to short term goals, and learn from the financial crisis by developing a moral compass that incorporates all voices within the organisation. For more information see www.businessweek.com.

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 www.businessfinancemag.com

The impact of technology on the ethics of business (special report)ND

Ethical Corporation, June 2007

Ethical Corporation has released a report on how technology is changing corporate responsibility — including its impact on reporting, supply chain monitoring, consumer interaction and employee engagement. The report also covers how companies are using blogs, online games and e-learning to achieve their CSR objectives. For more information, see www.ethicalcorp.com

McDonald’s offers ethics with those fries ND

Kerry Capell, BusinessWeek, 9 January 2007

McDonald’s 1,200 outlets in the UK now only sell coffee from growers certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Late in the year, the ethically sourced coffee will be available in more than 6,200 outlets in Europe. This is the latest initiative to overhaul the company’s image, increase customer trust, and position the company as a leader in the sustainability movement. In response to consumer backlash, McDonald’s Europe has also added organic products to its menus and insists that all of its European suppliers use only non-GM products and ingredients. For more information, see www.businessweek.com.

The myth of CSR: that profit never conflicts with principlesND

Deborah Doane, Business Ethics, Vol 19, No 4, March 2006

Deborah Doane’s paper on 'The Myth of CSR' challenges that the market can make good on short-term financial returns and positive social outcomes at the same time and that the ethical consumer will foster change. For more information, see www.business-ethics.com

The new ethics enforcersND

Joseph Weber, BusinessWeek, 13 February 2006

With corporate behaviour under intense scrutiny, we are seeing a ‘new species of executive’ — compliance and ethics officers who have much more power than the typical executive in this position. US company Computer Associates is one such company that hired a new chief compliance officer in order to avoid legal proceedings over an alleged accounting scandal. Compliance officers are more likely to come from a high-profile background with a good reputation (such as former judges and lawyers), are given complete access to the company and report to the CEO. Other US companies that have employed high-profile ‘ethics enforcers’ include AIG, Bristol-Myers Squibb, KPMG and Morgan Stanley. For more information, see www.businessweek.com

Business ethics are missing in actionND

Mirko Bagaric, The Daily Telegraph, 1 February 2006

The recent AWB scandal in Australia has prompted an ethics check. While many appear to be shocked about the scandal, Bagaric says this is surprising given the nature of business and the lack of morals and ethics education. Bagaric calls for the government to do more to enforce ethics education for the corporate sector. For more information see www.dailytelegraph.com.au

A view from the Top: Business ethics and leadershipRP

KPMG Australia report on Board perceptions of business ethics and leadership, based on interviews and research with members of company boards. This 15 page report is compact and takes a high-level snapshot of what the highest levels of organisations think about business ethics, corporate responsibility and the challenges for Boards in this area of 'soft' organisational values.
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2005 Oration - Taking Care of BusinessO

Dr Charles Fombrun

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Back to the drawing board: designing corporate boards for a complex worldL

Carter, Colin B., Lorsch, Jay W. (Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Mass., 2004)
With corporate boards under pressure around the world the authors outline an approach to board design that is applicable across countries, industries and businesses - yet can and must be customized to suit each board’s unique situation. Key headings include: Board Design - Time for Action - Struggling Boards - Best Practice Contradictions - Different Roles for Different Boards - Structures That Work - Building and Sustaining the Right Team - Building Knowledge and Using It Wisely - Behind Closed Doors - Getting Down to Work.

Business and society: corporate strategy, public policy, ethics (10th Ed).L

Post, J.E., Frederick, W.C., Lawrence, A.T. & Weber, J. (McGraw Hill, Inc., New York, 2002.)
An exploration of the relationship between business and society. The tenth edition of this title explores how stakeholders - managers, consumers, employees, and community members - try to understand, influence and shape business behaviour and social change. Headings include:- The Corporation in Society - Business and the Social Environment - Business and the Ethical Environment - Business and Government in a Global Society - The Corporation and the Natural Environment - Business and the Technological Change - Responding to Stakeholders - Social Issues - Case Studies in Corporate Social Policy

The link between stakeholders and business ethicsN

(Vol. 10 No, 1 2000)

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Anglo-American capitalism and the ethics of businessL

Barry, Norman (New Zealand Business Roundtable, Wellington, N.Z., 1999)
A book which analyses and appraises Anglo-American capitalism, and its dependence on generic morality which is sometimes expected to go beyond its narrow confines to take into account the needs of ‘society’ and the rights of shareholders. Key headings include:- The Rise of Business Ethics - The Corporation - Ethics and the Stock Market - Takeovers - Business Ethics and the Environment.

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