Weekend CSR Wrap Up

A handful of CSR related headlines dealing with many of the topics we've been discussing on the JustMeans blogs and updates - happy Friday everyone!

A New Measure of Success: Investors' Circle Launches the IC 20
-The importance of tracking the growth of a business is understood as fundamental to finance. Inc. Magazine has been profiling the top 500 fastest growing companies every year since 1982. Increasingly, however, businesses and entrepreneurship organizations are recognizing the importance of measuring a company's social and environmental impact in addition to their financial success. Rockefeller Foundation, B Corporation, HIP Investor Inc, and Social Venture Technology Group are leading the effort to determine how to assess business impact. At the same time, a growing number of S&P 500 companies are self-reporting their companies' impact on their business websites and to company shareholders. Today, Investors' Circle is reconnecting with companies that approached the organization years ago with, for example--a two-person team, $50K in capital from the founders, a sound model, and a laudable mission--to find out where they are now. Are the "winners" the companies that were expected to take off all along? Are the pioneers of social impact also companies with the greatest revenue growth?-

This has some interesting implications in the social entrepreneurship arena - would love JustMeans members to get involved.

Greenwash: The Responsible Business Awards defy parody

-The prize-giving seems to be financially sustainable, at least, with past winners saying thank you for the free publicity by forking out to pay for the marquees and sponsor the awards. But the chutzpah that lies behind it defies belief.  Take the Bank of America Climate Change Award. That would be the Bank of America that was the world's biggest underwriter of debt – and so probably a tad responsible for the mess the planet is in – until it had to be bailed out by the US taxpayer to the tune of $20bn (£12.4bn) in January.-

With the state of the economy I'm not sure anyone really deserves a pat on the back right now...


US lawyer faces investigation after battling corporations on workers’ behalf

Dole Food Company, the world's largest producer of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables and the main target of the suit, is celebrating what it hopes is a knockout blow. "It's a very important ruling," said Ted Boutrous, one of Dole's lead lawyers. "We think the fraud that has been exposed should bring these other cases to a rapid ending. It's already having a domino effect."

This could be devastating for workers' rights cases if corporations use it as a means for dismissing claims or learn that allegations of fraud, whether true or untrue, can get these cases thrown out.

The Alien Tort Statute – Corporate Social Responsibility Takes On A New Meaning
-Recently, Corporate Social Responsibility took on a new and enhanced meaning when Royal Dutch Shell settled with the plaintiffs for over $15 million in an Alien Tort Statute (ATS) lawsuit filed in New York federal court. Businesses with operations, suppliers or other dealings with the developing world are prime targets for ATS lawsuits, and had better sit up and take notice of this increasingly popular theory of recovery. This is the second significant public settlement to end this type of litigation, which, as defendants find, is controversial and very expensive.-

More on the Saro-Wiwa/Shell settlement and a brief history of the Alien Tort Statute used in the case.

Corpedia Announces Top Five Compliance and Ethics Steps Critical to Surviving Tough Economic Times
-"Research proves that being ethical is more than just about saving face and preserving your reputation; this has become a 'bet the business' issue and good for a business' bottom line," said Tim Erblich, Executive Vice President of Corpedia Corporation. "With the government increasingly cracking down on violations and impropriety, companies will see that the gamble of skimping on ethical best practices such as accountability, transparency and conflict identification is not one that should be taken."-

Nothing new to the JustMeans community – great to see more data to support ethical practices are as good for business as they are for the rest of the world.

Walmart Announces Sustainable Product Index

-"We do not see this as a trend that will fade. Higher customer expectations are a permanent part of the future," Duke continued. "At Walmart, we're working to make sustainability sustainable, so that it's a priority in good times and in the tough times. An important part of that is developing the tools to help enable sustainable consumption."-

Walmart seeks to set the bar in terms of sustainability.


Recession sorts out commitment from goodwash

-If a company's responsible business focus is on "giving back" then it appears those initiatives have been the first to suffer as cash flows tighten. Those were hardly indicative of a truly responsible approach to business in the first place.  More disturbing are tales of banks completely stripping out their CSR teams. Either those teams had the wrong kind of skills needed for rebuilding trust in the sector (i.e. they were focused on the goodwash version of CSR rather than on instilling an ethical culture and appropriate corporate governance mechanisms) or financial firms have not realised the extent of the problems their sector faces.-

Yet as companies appear to tighten their belts, individuals with the means to give are apparently increasing their donations.  Read on...

Still giving generously: How the downturn is affecting philanthropy
-THE global recession has failed to dampen philanthropic spirit, with many rich people increasing their charitable giving, according to a new report from Barclays Wealth. Among the 500 British and American individuals with at least $1m of investable assets, only education was considered a more important expense than charitable commitments. Some 28% of Americans say they are giving less money compared with 18 months ago, though 26% are giving more. A similar pattern is seen among those givers from both countries who inherited their fortune. But entrepreneurs are more likely to give their cash away—31% say they have increased their giving and only 17% have reduced it.-

The Ethics of Credit Cards
-Anyone empathizing with Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic might wonder if credit cards could ever be ‘ethical’. But ‘ethical’ proves to be an attractive communications tool, so what is said to be the world’s first ethical credit card, the ‘think’ card hit the UK markets for the conscientious shopper. That is not to say that shopaholics like Ms. Bloomwood would not suffer under the hands of a debt collector upon failure of timely payment, but the card offers ethical consumers a lower interest rate for purchases of designated ‘ethical’ items.-

Anyone have a 'think' card yet?