Ethics And Sustainability


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Public relations professionals need to be actively engaged in the sustainability discussion at companies and clients. But this also means they need to understand the fundamentals of ethics policies and how ethics is woven into sustainability policies

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Ethics And Sustainability

  1. 1. Sustainable Practices + Ethics = Public Relations opportunities The Wolcott Company
  2. 2. Why? <ul><li>More companies, organizations issuing Sustainability Reports </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics taking top billing in reports, in media coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Risks growing – “walk” the “talk” </li></ul><ul><li>≈ </li></ul><ul><li>As they occur, ethical dilemmas are a natural discussion between </li></ul><ul><li>PR managers and executives </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  3. 3. Ethics? CSR? Sustainability? <ul><li>An evolutionary process </li></ul><ul><li>Stewardship </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Reputation Management </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Social Responsibility </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Governance </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>? </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  4. 4. Corporate Social Responsibility <ul><li>1870s: Cadbury chocolate company created company village, medical dept., pension funds </li></ul><ul><li>1919: Eastman Kodak gave employees a stake in company </li></ul><ul><li>1940s: Johnson and Johnson said it’s stakeholders were “customers, employees and communities it operated in” (ahead of stockholders) </li></ul><ul><li>1990s: Tata Steel (India’s oldest): “…did we fulfill our moral and social responsibilities?” </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  5. 5. <ul><li>“ I think many people assume, wrongly, that a company exists simply to make money. While this is an important result of a company’s existence, we have to go deeper and find the real reasons for our being…….” </li></ul><ul><li>“ At a company….. a group of people come together… to make a contribution to society.” </li></ul><ul><li>Dave Packard, co-founder </li></ul><ul><li>of Hewlett-Packard, 1939 </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  6. 6. CSR $ <ul><li>2007: Nearly 80 % of executives said that corporate responsibility programs enhance profitability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>( 2007 Grant Thornton survey of U.S. Business Leaders ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Average of $2.5 million more in annual revenue for Fortune 500 companies with reputation for being socially responsible </li></ul><ul><li>(Pepperdine University business school) </li></ul><ul><li>62% of leads, 34% of clients for Manpower’s CS office a result of CSR </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  7. 7. Corporate Social Responsibility <ul><li>Environmental issues </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics and corporate governance </li></ul><ul><li>Employee and product safety </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  8. 8. Sustainable Development <ul><li>Meets present needs without </li></ul><ul><li>compromising ability of future generations to meet their own needs </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  9. 9. Sustainability Pillars <ul><li>Environment </li></ul><ul><li>(Health) </li></ul><ul><li>Economic </li></ul><ul><li>Social </li></ul><ul><li>(Human Rights, Ethics) </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  10. 10. Sustainability must include Ethics <ul><li>PR pros must lead the way </li></ul><ul><li>As professionals, we pledge </li></ul><ul><li>As professionals, we perform </li></ul><ul><li>As professionals, we counsel </li></ul><ul><li>Our counsel on ethical dilemmas can help companies survive </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  11. 11. Why PR at the Ethics Table <ul><li>Opportunity Knocking </li></ul><ul><li>Critics say PR inherently lacks ethics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ A threat to truthful journalism” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Center for </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ ..modern PR practices give vested interests..opportunity to deceive..” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>The Wolcott Company
  12. 12. Why PR at the Ethics Table <ul><li>We’re becoming less afraid to lead discussion, profess our values </li></ul><ul><li>CEOs turning to PR frequently for advise and counsel on issues </li></ul><ul><li>Ethical dilemmas often involve publics </li></ul><ul><li>More than 65% of PR managers providing some level of ethical advising at top level </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bowen & Heath 2006 (IABC) </li></ul></ul></ul>The Wolcott Company
  13. 13. Why PR at the Ethics Table <ul><li>Our Code of Ethical Conduct </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Truth, fairness, honesty, conflicts of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accountable * </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disclosure of information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fair competition among PR professionals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preserve intellectual property rights </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Signed copies with clients? </li></ul><ul><li>Next step in this process with PRSA </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  14. 14. Threat to “PR’s Place at Table” ? <ul><li>More than 75% advising based on experience (Institute for Public Relations) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. “No academic training” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leaves young professional at disadvantage </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sustainable initiatives must be a “complete package” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Public acceptance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media scrutiny </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bulletproof implementation </li></ul></ul>The Wolcott Company
  15. 15. Role of Ethics officer: <ul><li>Develop corporate ethics policies: </li></ul><ul><li>For Employees </li></ul><ul><li>For Board of Directors </li></ul><ul><li>For Contractors and Vendors </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  16. 16. Role of Public Relations Pro: <ul><li>Ensure management understands why ethics programs will be scrutinized by public & translates into sustainability </li></ul><ul><li>Develop messages, value proposition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Pre-message” (How should it look) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Road test the declarations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fully understand ethics policies & officer </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure integration of ethics, CSR into sustainability report </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  17. 17. Role of Public Relations Pro: <ul><li>Employees must believe it, engage it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internal communications programs are critical to success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PR can ensure full integration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stay “globally aware” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read sustainability reports to gauge your efforts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The “bar” will just go up </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  18. 18. Ethics in Sustainable policies <ul><li>Companies and organizations are driving the sustainability discussion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social consciousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stronger political will </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some early initiatives failed – no “ethics check” or internal buy-in (Ford, Target) </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability, ethics and CRS programs not linked everywhere </li></ul><ul><li>China syndrome </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  19. 19. Emerging trends <ul><li>2005-08 </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  20. 20. <ul><li>“… we believe in conducting business in a socially responsible manner based on the highest ethical principles of trust, teamwork, honesty and respect for the rights and dignity of others. We are determined to build our business with partners who ensure their employees are treated ethically, in accordance with all applicable contractual obligations, regulations and laws.” </li></ul><ul><li>Corporate Express (January 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>(acquired by Staples in July 2008) </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  21. 21. <ul><li>At Staples, we strive to work with suppliers who treat their workers with dignity and respect, adhere to applicable laws and regulations, and make their products in an environmentally sustainable manner. </li></ul><ul><li>Staples Supplier Code of Conduct (2004-2006) </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  22. 22. <ul><li>Staples “Soul Report” </li></ul><ul><li>“… will take additional steps to more accurately measure ethics program performance….” </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  23. 23. <ul><li>2008 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Staples Soul reflects our commitment to corporate responsibility. It’s what moves us to embrace diversity, sustain the environment, give back to our communities and practice sound ethics.” </li></ul><ul><li>Staples latest “Soul” (CSR) report </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics at top of the content </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  24. 24. <ul><li>Social Accountability Factory Audits </li></ul><ul><li>2004: 241 </li></ul><ul><li>2007: 379 </li></ul><ul><li>Staples latest “Soul” (CSR) report </li></ul><ul><li>Employee training - big </li></ul>The Wolcott Company
  25. 25. Additional Resources <ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> (Greece) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>The Wolcott Company