Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Warren Buffett cautions loss of corporate reputation

Warren Buffett recently warned employees at his company Berkshire Hathaway that corporate reputation can be quickly damaged, but take many years to regain. "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently."

In a speech to managers on 27th September 2006, he said, ""Somebody is doing something today at Berkshire that you and I would be unhappy about if we knew of it. That's inevitable: we now employ well over 200,000 people and the chances of that number getting through the day without any bad behaviour occurring is nil. But we can have a huge effect in minimising such activities by jumping on anything immediately when there is the slightest odour of impropriety. Your attitude on such matters, expressed by behaviour as well as words, will be the most important factor in how the culture of your business develops. And culture, more than rule books, determines how an organisation behaves."

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mobile phone manufacturers to aim improve environmental impact

PC World reports that a number of manufacturers have joined forces to try to make mobile phones more environmentally friendly. A number of other organisations including the World Wildlife Fund and the Department of the Environment are involved in the scheme. This scheme is announced shortly after European set regulations determining the types of materials that can be used in electronic devices. Other countries, notably the US have introduced similar regulations.

Friday, September 15, 2006

CSR is part of modern brand management

An interesting piece in Brand Republic asserts that marketers should consider CSR as part of modern brand management.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sainsbury's launch greener packaging

Tesco recently launched their environmental initiative to encourage shoppers to use fewer bags by offering green clubcard points. Now Sainsbury's have revealed their compostable packaging which will be introduced over coming months on own label products. It's going to be difficult for city dwellers without their own composting bin. Perhaps councils will step up re-cycling efforts to include this type of packaging?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Wal-mart in China

As Wal-mart opens its 62nd store in China, China CSR reports that the store is focussing on corporate responsibility. Meanwhile in its US homeland, this article reports that Wal-mart is launching ads to defend its reputation. Interestingly both articles major on the benefits of 'everyday low prices', employment Wal-mart provides and the amount of taxes the company pays.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Apple seeks CSR manager

Wired blogs note that Apple is seeking a manager for their Corporate Responsibility program.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

M&S campaign recognised by analysts

Marks and Spencer's "Look behind the label" is being credited as one of its most successful ever advertising campaigns. The Independent publishes this piece describing Citibank's assessment of the campaign.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ben and Jerry's Fairtrade ice-cream in UK

Unilever-owned Ben and Jerry's - the people who first brought us Chunky Monkey and Chubby Hubby - launch the UK's first Fairtrade ice-cream. Launched in 1978, sold to Unilever in 1999, the company has shown commitment to corporate responsibility. Their "Climate Change college" campaign was launched in 2005. The graduates of the programe (or 'ambassadors' as they are called) will help to lobby corporations and governments for greater action on climate change.

Dell and power of blogging

This Sunday Times article talks about the influence of blogging on corporate reputation. A commentator Mark Rogers of Market Sentinel points out that 75% of new car buyers search online before they buy - companies should beware if they don't like what they find. And I read here that 44% of internet users are content creators according to Pew. This is an important trend right now but I was thinking the other day that the ways consumers will share their impressions of companies with each other will change again once mobile computing and wireless services will mean people will be able to research and share experiences of products closer to the point of purchase.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Asda responds to Defra calls

Asda, along with representatives from other supermarkets, met the environment secretary David Miliband last week to discuss ways to reduce waste from supermarkets. Asda have responded with news of their initiatives published in freshinfo today.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The role of RED in fairer trading

This FT article about cotton production and the development of more Fairtrade clothing ranges, notably by M&S, sums the role of initiatives like RED and Fairtrade thus "Brands can add a lot of value, but part of their appeal is their exclusivity, and the higher price that enables a less efficient supply chain to exist will also limit demand for its output. At the very least, it should help connect those producers with consumers who want to know exactly what they are wearing or eating, and to whom the benefits will go. Perhaps Fairtrade and Product Red ought to be judged not on whether they fundamentally change the world trading system, which they won’t, but whether they can pull some marginalised producers into the one we have".

Sunday, July 23, 2006

BP working with other companies to monitor suppliers

Suppliers' activities can contribute significantly to business risk which is why BP and competitors are joining forces in an interesting development reported by the Telegraph. Using their combined resources to share information, the companies will minimise potential risks.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Times reports that the organic foods store Wholefoods is launching in London on the site of the old Barker's store in Kensington. The site is vast and is in a very affluent area (just a few yards from Kensington Palace in fact) so looks set to capitalise on a growing market.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Friends Provident say women more interested in ethical investments

Ethical purchasing is growing four times faster than UK household income, according to the Co-operative Bank's annual Ethical Purchasing Index. This Telegraph article however, points to huge growth within ethical investing - from £613 in 1996 to £4 billion in June 2006.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sainsbury's approach to corporate responsibility

Fresh Info reports "Sainsbury’s policy on corporate responsibility comes down to five key points, according to the retailer’s latest report. The Corporate Responsibility report states the company is striving to be “the best for food and health”; “show respect for our environment”; “source with integrity”; make a “positive difference to our community”, and be “a great place to work”.The report also listed Sainsbury’s achievements for the last year, which include: donating £3.3million to charities through its food donation scheme; launching organic compostable packaging; becoming the biggest UK retailer of Fairtrade products; reducing road mileage by five per cent and raising its investment in community initiatives by 170 per cent to £18.6m".

Friday, July 07, 2006

Asda push for fairtrade kitemark on UK products

There is some doubt over ASDA's approach to Fairtrade Foundation for a 'Fairtrade kitemark' for food produced by UK farmers. While UK shoppers admit to some confusion about Fairtrade labelling, the addition of a Fairtrade kitemark for UK products might not help, since consumers associate the label with helping poorer farmers in developing countries.

Friday, June 30, 2006

BP could be shunned on ethical grounds says analyst feed

Investigations into BP's activities in the US propane market may cause their shares to be shunned by investors says one analyst in Dow Jones newswire article quoted in NewRatings.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tesco and M&S help boost Fairtrade sales

Today an article in The Guardian says that big retailers including Tesco and M&S have helped to boost sales of Fairtrade goods in the UK.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Will globally integrated enterprises benefit emerging economies?

Being seen to behave ethically is as important as making profits says Nick Mathiason in this article in The Observer. The report quotes Samuel Palmisano, chairman and chief executive of computer giant IBM, who says that "multinationals are dead. In their wake is a new creature - the 'globally integrated enterprise' (GIE) - which does not exploit nations or workers but seeks to 'open new possibilities for business growth and social progress". The article goes on to say that "Palmisano argues that the GIE represents the business model for the 21st century and that failure to embrace it will lead to financial and social meltdown".

Apple reviewing labour practices in China

Apple is investigating a UK newspaper report picked up in this BBC online article about labour practices in China.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The cost of fast fashion

This article in the People's Daily online describes the cost of consumer demands for lower prices and faster lead times for fashion. This is exacerbated by multi-national companies giving short lead times in order to minimise the cost of storage. This in turn means Chinese workers must work more and more overtime to complete orders, or face losing business. The article says the manufacturers face a dilemma; either go broke quickly, or go broke slowly.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Co-op turns down £9.9m worth business

Althought the Co-operative Bank turned down nearly £10m business last year on ethical grounds, the bank calculates over one third of its £96.5m pre-tax profit can be attributed to its ethical stance reports the Guardian.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nike and Apple join forces

This is interesting as BBC reports that Nike and Apple have joined forces to launch products for runners. An increasing number of companies are co-branding. Retailers work with banks to provide store cards and financial services, or new outlets for their products. But what impact will this have on either companies' reputation, especially if there is disparity in consumer perceptions?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tesco tank parked on Sainsbury's lawn says King

In a Guardian report on supermarkets and environmental issues, Sainsbury's group Chief Executive says "It is a huge and hot topic at the moment, but it is core to the way we do business."

How business needs to be "a good neighbour"

Tesco's Terry Leahy is quoted in The Telegraph as saying, "The battle to win customers will increasingly be fought not just on value, choice and convenience but on being good neighbours, being active in communities, seizing the environmental challenges and on behaving responsibly." Todd Stitzer, chief executive of Cadbury Schweppes, also was quoted as saying companies needed to "loudly and proudly communicate our values... what we stand for, what we are doing and why we are doing it".

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

GE reports increase in "green" profits

The Financial Times reports that General Electric sharply increased its revenues from environmental goods and services last year, and more than doubled its future order book from these businesses.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The UN Global Compact launched Principles for Responsible Investment at the New York Stock Exchange at the end of April. At the launch Kofi Annan said "There is a disconnect between corporate responsibility, as a broadly stated management imperative, and the actual behaviour of financial markets, which all too often are guided primarily by short-term considerations at the expense of longer-term objectives".

Nike's "Considered" response

I feel like maybe I'm the last to know, but I'd never heard of Nike's "Considered" range of footwear.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blogs and corporate reputations

Julian Smith from Jupiter Research on BBC website confirms that 'blogging and other forms of 'consumer media' are increasingly important in shaping perceptions of companies. His report illustrates how individuals can influence corporate reputation. This report talks about Dell, but there are other examples of influential 'blogs; ipod and the Neistat Brothers, Microsoft and Scobleizer (who has now co-written Naked Conversations) being examples. Although to date 'blogs have been written by people who are very interested in technology, I expect that new forms of reputation systems (like the ratings we give each other on Ebay) will only increase the impact of consumer opinion in future. Howard Rheingold talks of this in his book Smart Mobs.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Report says government should make "greener" choices easier

The Guardian reports the findings of a joint exercise between the Sustainable Development Commission and the National Consumer Council that recommends the government should make it easier for consumers to make "greener" choices.

Monday, May 01, 2006

84% execs say threats to reputation rising

Reputational risk expert Peter Horn quotes a global survey of senior risk managers by the Economist Intelligence Unit says that 84% of senior executives think threats to reputation are rising. One of the major factors being increased scrutiny from regulators, another the expansion of global media networks.

Response to Macleans article

Macleans reported on our work in this article. Although I see the point they've tried to make (and I understand why), I did think that they'd misunderstood the purpose of the Ethical Index, so I wrote this letter to explain:

My company, the Fraser Consultancy, publishes the Ethical Reputation Index featured in your article "French fries and sneakers pure evil", April 28th. I’d like to explain that our report is not designed to criticize, or condone, any particular company’s policy. We are a research and strategy company and, as such, we measure only what consumers think about companies and how consumers perceive corporate ethics. This may, or may not, reflect the companies’ behavior, and therein lies our interest. In fact your article illustrates this point very well. If companies such as Nike “widely acknowledged…as one of the best companies in North America for ensuring that standards are met at its Asian suppliers” weren’t rated highly by consumers in our study, then perhaps Nike’s corporate values could be communicated better? We are neither anti-business nor anti-corporate. Our intention is to help companies convey their corporate responsibility commitment, practices and values as well as they possibly can.

Lloyds TSB executive calls for greater responsibility

The BBC reports that the Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland calls for businesses to take greater responsibility and that this makes good business sense.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This Sunday The Observer published a report about working conditions in Cambodia, in factories supplying retailers including Next and Arcadia.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

McProspects launches

The Independent's Martin Hickman announced the new film of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. I read the book one Sunday in 2003, I think. I can't imagine how it will translate into film. However, McDonald's replied this week with the launch of a McProspect campaign to convince people that they offer decent jobs and other benefits. Newsnight featured our research Wed 19th in their report on the new initiative. I'm looking forward to see what difference it makes to people's impressions of McDonalds.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

PWC on Corporate responsibility

In a report with a title and a half, "Corporate Responsibility: Strategy, Management and Value", this chimes, "companies must formulate a clear strategy for behaving responsibly and integrate that strategy within their core business operations... Second, they must adhere to the values and standards they have articulated for themselves. Long-term sustainable performance does not come from proclaiming a code of conduct but from putting it into daily action".

Friday, April 07, 2006

Body Shop fights image battle

Following news posted last week, Body Shop have announced they are looking for a UK PR agency to handle the issues surrounding the L'Oreal buy out.

McKinsey sums it up

I'll admit, sometimes I don't quite get all the shapes and flow diagrams in their articles, but for me this McKinsey report ,"When social issues become strategic" sums the business arguments for corporate responsiblity particularly well. This bit especially good summary of why corporate communications should respond, "businesses have never been insulated from social or political expectations. What's different today is the intensifying pressure and the growing complexity of the forces, the speed with which they change, and the ability of activists to mobilize public opinion.Yet even as the social contract evolves, the typical corporate response appears to have become increasingly flat footed".

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wal-mart takes steps to change image

Wal-mart plans changes to the development of its stores in an effort, its reported, not to drive out smaller business.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Britvic reports falling sales of fizzy drinks

Heard this on the radio too this morning. The Guardian reports that Britvic sales of fizzy drinks have fallen in response to consumer demand for healthier drinks. This appears to be a trend that has been reported before, and was noted as far back as 2003/2004, but today's news is in line with what I've found that soft drinks manufacturers ethics are rated poorly and the main reason is because, "their products are detrimental to children". Jamie Oliver's school dinners has been an important factor in fuelling the debate about children's diet and health. How should manufacturers respond?

Good reputation helps staff retention

This article in The Advertiser from Adelaide caught my eye about employees being more likely to stay with a company if that company has a good reputation and staff feeling better if the company they work for is highly regarded and treats them fairly and responsibly.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Launch day and lots of phone calls

Launched the study today and have had a lot of interest so far, phone calls from companies featured on the study, only one of them saying you're not going to publish any of this stuff, are you? Should I be putting my lawyer on speed dial do you think? The aim is not to cause controversy - the opposite in fact - this information is going to help companies communicate better with their consumers.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Positive comments from respondents

I've been working non-stop on release of the results of the study and Monday's the day. This cheered me up when I read the comments from respondents to the study. One person said, 'You are so right to be conducting this research. It has definitely made me more conscious of the issues involved and I shall be keeping myself more informed on the subject". Sounds like they got something out of it which is good - although the researcher in me says we can't interview them next time because we've influenced them now! But good that the majority of responses were positive, especially given that this is a representative sample of the UK. It is a relief as I feared some "why are you asking me this stuff?" responses from people who only shop on price.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Body Shop and L'Oreal

I didn't miss the big news last week, but I was in Switzerland in a car-free village with little access to news and papers - but lots and lots of snow. So Body Shop has sold to L'Oreal. Ethical Consumer reports that it's ethical score has plummeted. Next Monday 3rd April, I publish the Ethical Reputations Index. I have already seen the scores for Body Shop and they've been seen as one of the most ethical companies in both the 2006 study and the 2005 pilot. The company needs to keep a careful eye on their ratings. From the press and comments I've heard, this deal will have a big impact. The Economist reports that L'Oreal paid a 34% premium for Body Shop so all the more reason to keep tabs on consumer perceptions as they are part of the value of the asset L'Oreal bought.

Sainsbury's Fairtrade sales up 70%

Saw an article in The Guardian that said Sainsbury's fair trade sales were up 70% in last year. It says that represents £1m sales a week. That's interesting because my research shows that 70% of females are expecting to buy more fair trade and ethical products in the coming year. Promising figures and glad my research is in line with sales figures too!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Even better than the real thing

Coca-Cola joins UN global compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative.

Wal-mart says organic 'good for their image'

News that Wal-mart is launching organic ranges is accompanied by a company spokesman's comment that these products are "good for Wal-mart's image". This is something companies really need to understand better. Just how much difference will moves like this makes to corporations standing in the eyes of consumers?

Cafe Direct pays first dividend to shareholders

Channel 4 news reports that Cafe Direct has performed well and plans to pay first dividend to shareholders. Although sales of tea and coffee are falling, there has been an increase in Fairtrade and out of home consumption. It looks set to rise if the results of the fairtrade study we published last week is anything to go by as 68% of people said that they expect to buy more Fairtrade and ethical products in the next 12 months.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Consumers sceptical about Fairtrade coffee

Saw this article in The Times by Anna Shepherd questioning the motives of coffee chains offering ethically traded coffee. Last week I published research that shows that consumers want more Fairtrade and ethically produced products. Women are leading the way, 70% of those polled expected to buy more Fairtrade and ethical products in the coming 12 months. But half of the shoppers polled were confused over Fairtrade, ethical and organic labels. There are several different schemes and accreditations it isn't so surprising that consumers are confused by different options.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Fairtrade fortnight launches with a host of initiatives

Fairtrade fortnight launches today. Yesterday's Independent on Sunday had an article summarising the companies, including Virgin Trains and Sainsbury's who are introducing new fairtrade products.

Arcadia group comes under fire from Ethical groups

This weekend the Observer carried a report featuring criticism of Philip Green's Arcadia group from ethical trading associations. Recently, Arcadia's Top Shop announced that it was launching some ethically produced products into the store for the first time. Top Shop should keep a close eye on consumer response to the company's initiative.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Consumers want more from Fairtrade

The Observer report says there are now more than 1,000 Fairtrade products. Research we've just published today shows consumers want even more from Fairtrade. Nearly half the people we polled were confused by the difference between Fairtrade, Ethical and organic goods, but 58% of people say they want more information, so they can make more informed choices.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Product RED begins to make an impression

The Sunday Times reports Scarlett and Bono's involvement with Product RED, and the project has has begun to gain attention. Just over one quarter of the people we polled had heard of RED. Of those who had heard of it, RED was making a good impression. 60% of them said their opinion of Emporio Armani, Gap and Converse (owned by Nike) had improved as a result of their involvement in the initiative. If you'd like to know more, drop me a line at Fraser Consultancy

Monday, February 27, 2006

An ethical cuppa PG Tips?

When I was growing up, this company used to use chimps to advertise their products. Now Jason Nisse reports in The Independent that PG Tips are launching an Ethical Tea Partnership which, along with other tea brands Tetley and Twinings, will set an ethical code for tea growers.

Ethical fashion from M&S, Topshop and Oasis

Brand Republic reports that M&S, Topshop and Oasis are all launching ethical clothing and notes that this is likely to impact on other sectors.

Ethical living put to the test

The Independent writer, Kate Finnigan, tries to live ethically for a week and finds it needs dedication and stamina. I can imagine. I live in the same neighbourhood and we aren't exactly falling over organic and fairtrade outlets.

Scarlett launches Red

The Sunday Times gets excited over the imminent launch of RED by Bono and business partner.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

BP commands respect

Another article in today's FT reports that BP's commitment to the environment has won it's chief executive Lord Browne respect from other CEOs.

The FT launches ethical banking awards

The Financial Times today reports they are launching annual Sustainable Banking Awards. This move will further increase focus on sustainability and social responsibility in business.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Coco Pops kids products are criticised

Meanwhile Coco Pops is criticised for producing ads that are misleading, claiming Coco Pops straws will help kids drink more milk.

Mars launches healthy chocolate

Mars announces launch of Cocoavia in the US, a chocolate bar that claims to help keep people's hearts healthy.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Ethical investments

From last year, but liked this article from The Guardian, "Wealthy Britons go green". Suggests the wealthy have the means to make more ethical choices.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The "Supersize Me for Asda"

A business update with Rebecca Marston. on Radio 4 Today programme talks to the producer of "The high cost of low price". Billed as "the Supersize Me for Asda", the store responds by saying that it is engaging with it's detractors and addressing their concerns directly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oasis launches ethical range

High street fashion chain Oasis announces that it will launch Future Organics range.

Consumers confused about ethical coffee

Reuters reports that consumers are confused by growing number of choices in the coffee market. Nestlé's Nescafé Partners' Blend and Kraft's Kenco Sustainable Development have recently entered the market. Although their websites provide information about the schemes, it seems consumers aren't yet clear on what buying these products means for the producers.

Observer awards

The Observer teams with Ecover to launch Ethical Awards 2006. Companies are nominated by readers for awards including "Ethical retailer of the year".

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Unilever India Shakti scheme

Hindustan Lever Limited in India have created a scheme that they claim benefits both sales and the community. Called Shakti (it means 'empowerment') it is a programme for women in rural India. The women can increase their income by helping to sell Unilever products to rural communities.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

DTI funded report says customers mislead

The Sunday Times reports customers alienated by well-known companies. Consumers say they are mistreated and misled by advertising and promotions. Everyone has their own example, but it's the disparity between what's promised and what's delivered that causes the most aggravation and disappointment. Tell that to my 'favourite airline'.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Be treatwise

Cadbury and Mars support £10m communication programme to give lifestyle advice (minimum amount exercise per day and recommended daily fat intake) on their chocolate bars. This is intended to 'help people enjoy our products as part of their diet'. As a response to criticism for heavy promotion of chocolate snacks in the light of growing obesity, especially amongst children, the message is presumably intended to encourage people to consume these products in moderation.

Whether the public will take any notice is another thing. Many alcohol brands already carry a 'enjoy our product sensibly' message, yet we are led to believe that binge drinking is still rife. However, health warnings on cigarette packets have been shown to have a dicouraging effect on smoking, especially the bigger, more colourful and intelligible the message (although this was not an initiative by the tobacco companies).

I am not about to put chocolate in the same league as booze and fags, but there is a seemingly common dilemma across them all. An immediate cynical response could be, 'People won't take any notice of these labels anyway and companies wouldn't really want them to because it would affect sales.' In the short term, perhaps. But if people become ill or die as a direct result of the products they (over)consume, not only do they lose these customers, but companies are branded 'irresponsible' and lose far greater business still. And this is to presume only self-interest on behalf of companies and not genuine concern for the wellbeing of their customers in itself. Perhaps the only objective test of this is to see what comapnies will do should the message not have the expressed intention of encouraging moderate consumption.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's Capitalism or the Planet

Via Guardian Unlimited .

Richard Newman argues that our current economic system and a habitable planet are mutually incompatible. Capitalism, he argues, is predicated on ever-increasing markets and profits which are unsustainable in terms of the natural resources needed to produce them. Capitalism also tends toward the concentration of power, something that he contends needs to be broken up if we are to survive as a species - he uses the example of small, community energy collectives versus the major suppliers as an example of this.

It is true that the current economic system is unsustainable, but whether this is extendable to Capitalism as a whole is questionable. Although Newman dismisses 'green capitalism' as weak, there is an argument for a reward-based economic system that returns profit for those that provide society with want it wants. As society becomes more environmentally aware, consumers will no longer demand products & services at any cost (i.e. cost to the environment and human welfare). Companies must compete according to a re-written contract, where all true costs are factored into the equation.

That is neither an excuse for business to just wait around to react to consumer demand, nor allowing the government to be let off from playing its regulatory part, but it is to say that the system can be adapted and is adapting. Newman's contention may be that it is not adapting fast enough.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Conservative party calls for corporate responsibility

Conservatives call for the private sector to act in a more socially responsible way. In a BBC Radio 4 interview, David Cameron says, "I think many businesses want to do more in terms of social problems and the environment," the party leader claimed. He pointed to Nike and BSkyB's sport initiatives as a "huge growth area".

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Vodafone increases "Corporate Responsibility" score

Along with BP and Shell, Vodafone ranked in the top 3 global companies for putting responsible practices at the heart of their business. But how do consumers perceive these companies? Visit our site in March to find out.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Tesco launch new labels

New Tesco food labelling to promote nutritional awareness and inform product choice. Will we see this initiative extended to ethical sourcing?

Imposing Values

Ethical Corp are hosting an upcoming event entitled "2006 Focus: Ethical leadership in practice. How to get everyone in your organisation to implement your ethical values." Which of course begs the questions:

  • Can you actually impose values on others (even your staff)?

  • Should the process not involve a period of consultation in which you discover the shared values of your staff (/others) before jointly developing organisational values as a whole?

  • How to balance the above with strong leadership?
Consulting staff is likely to have the positive benefit of having employees actually buy in to value sets and associated initiatves, rather than presenting a 'corporate guideline' to follow of which staff can become resentful (and often mocking). One of the conference topics is 'Your employees: your greatest CSR advocates'. In order to advocate something you have to believe in it, and being told to believe something is something you just can't do.

Throughout this process it may be that you discover that your (i.e. The Board's) and certain members of your staff's values are at odds, but the question is then, should you be working together at all?

In addition to all this, asking stakeholders for their opinion might actually throw up one or two good ideas you haven't come up with yet!

Links for 30/1/06

Guardian Special Report - Ethical Business

Research encourages M&S switch to fairtrade cloth

Via Guardian Unlimited

"Nearly a third of those surveyed (You Gov) said they had decided against buying an item of clothing because of concerns over where it came from or how it was made. According to the survey, 59% had avoided buying some foods for the same reason. On food, 72% said they were concerned about depletion of fish stocks, an issue addressed by M&S through its sustainable sourcing policy."

Friday, January 27, 2006

More from McKinsey

From a McKinsey article, in relation to anticipating social movements that (invariably) impact on business:

“..It also means that they (executives) need to develop broad metrics or summaries that usefully describe the relevant (social) issues, much the same way that most companies analyse consumer trends.”

McKinsey survey supports responsible business

McKinsey publish Global Survey of Business Executives in 116 countries. Executives around the world overwhelmingly embrace the idea that the social role of a modern corporation goes far beyond meeting its obligations to shareholders, according to the latest McKinsey Global Survey of Business Executives. Yet executives say that their companies aren't adept at anticipating or managing social obligations.

Red @ Davos

Bono launches 'Red' product range to help fight AIDS.

It's the comments on this blog that I find the most interesting. Clearly this is a decisive issue confused by prejudice, fashion (cool to knock the Corps), cynicism ('no-one can do anything without being called a sell-out these days') distrust ('the money will just go back to the pharma co.s anyway') and lack of information.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Soft drink manufactures to stop targeting kids,,1695052,00.html

Communications and the feedback loop

Ever wondered if you are actually getting your message across to people?? A few thoughts on the role of the feedback loop in communications and how we need to alter our approach to successfully communicate our intended message

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

World Economic Forum in Davos

For the first time, The Advertising Community is addressing the delegates of the World Economic Forum in Davos on the theme of Communication and Responsibility. Can responsible advertising change behaviour to benefit business and consumers? No doubt about that. But other forms of communication can be just as influential. Our study of corporate reputation and communications shows how how powerful word-of-mouth communication can be. It can be fuelled by advertising, but also by consumers' personal experience of companies and their business activities. Increasingly, consumers have the power to respond. As well as promoting responsibility through advertising, corporations must make sure their corporate ethics are consistent through all their business practices and communications.