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Better governance, better performance?

The Newsnight programme on Shell, coming after its latest high profits, raises the question: Will the re-design of Shell’s corporate governance following shareholder pressure make a difference to its impact on other stakeholders and the environment. There is little sign so far.

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Thoroughly modern man

Homo floresiensis – a new species of humankind from Indonesia. If any were found alive today, would they be granted ‘human rights’? How far can the concept of ‘rights’ be extended? Does nature have rights? Do we only offend humans when we destroy the world? Some work is being done on this – see Thomas Berry and Cormac Cullinan for example.

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Elephants and BATs

I heard yesterday how BAT thought about their social repsonsibility. An extremely slick presentation. It is not surprising that CSR has got a bad name. The marvel was how large an elephant it was possible to have in the room without naming it! It appeared that they do not know, or do not wish to share, how many deaths their products cause. And if a significant group of your stakeholders will not talk to you, what is the significance of what the rest say?

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CORE Conference

At the CORE (COrporate REsponsibility) Conference today there were many good ideas. A central part of the CORE campaign is a call for mandatory corporate responsibility reporting. There were many reasons given why a voluntary approach won’t work. But for me the most compelling idea was the need to recognise a “right to information”. This would complement a duty on companies to provide it. After all, if companies should respect our rights – and that duty is only enforceable with knowledge of what they are doing – then there must also be a right to that information.

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Charities Aid Foundation Conference

Attended the CAF Conference on Corporates and Communties yesterday. Corporate Community Investment is becoming quite a business in many senses. So much so that the old fashioned moral righteousness is being edged out – which could be a shame! It’s clearly a good idea for companies to see what sort of a business case there is for investing in ways that provide a win-win. But Mark Kramer, for example, declared that he found the idea of companies having a duty to invest in communites ‘difficult’.

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Teaching business sustainability

I seem to be increasingly asked to teach or develop courses on aspects of sustainability these days. So I looked at Chris Galea’s book.

Why is so much sustainabiltiy training so intellectual? It seems to me that emotional resisitance to change – or commitment to the current order is the central problem. Only Molly Brown and Joanna Macy’s chapter in the book seem to come near to the problem.

How can a proper ‘ecopsychology’ be integrated into the business world?

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Corporate Virtue is its Own Reward

The Co-Op has admitted it made mistakes in the way it has been managing its corner shops – and this, rather than increased competition, led to poor sales. Instead of knocking the Co-Op, the conclusion in this Guardian article is that it is likely to recover commercially from its problems sooner as the result of its honesty, compared with Sainsbury’s which is not being so honest.

Why do most companies persist with the more usual, PR-based, approach to corporate disclosure, which is to insist that everything is just about perfect just about all the time…?

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What is the responsibility of a company in a time of war?

Do companies have a special responsibility in a time of war? Or should they simply keep their heads down, hoping to make a bit of money – or just get out?