16-page CSR Best Practice Analysis Pack


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16-page CSR Best Practice Analysis Pack

  1. 1. BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE FOR CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITYAND SUSTAINABILITYTake a look at the corporateresponsibility analysis inside...This pack contains a taster of the kind of analysis we publish every monthin our print magazine and everyday on our website. At the back youll seethe many benefits of subscribing and how much it costs.SubscribetodayandreceivetheanalysisyouneedtohelpadvanceyourcareerEC – Subscription Sample Pack No Discount_Layout 1 16/01/2013 11:59 Page 1
  2. 2. There areinevitably concernsabout thebusiness-likecontractualarrangementsemerging betweennon-profit groupsand corporationsFor an entire week during March, images of theAmazon rainforest beamed into the living roomsof Sky subscribers across the UK. Model Lily Colewas called in to provide some glamour, but SouthAmerica’s magical biome did a good job of speakingfor itself.Behind the lustrous images, there was a simplebut serious message: trees need to be worth morestanding up than cut down. And so into an enviro-light version of Green Economics.The programme wasn’t the sudden brainwave ofsome young creative within Sky. Rather it emergedas the result of a long-running, strategic partnershipbetween the UK satellite television operator andconservation charity WWF.The alliance, which dates back to October 2009,has two stated goals. Neither is modest. First, Skywants to help preserve three million hectares ofrainforest, saving one billion trees in the process.Second, it is committed to raising £4m for WWF: halffrom its 10 million or so viewers and the public atlarge, and half in matched funding from thebroadcaster itself.Saving the Amazon is core to WWF’s objectives asa globally minded conversation NGO. And £4m is alarge chunk of cash, especially at a time when pursestrings are tightening and many charities arestruggling to keep afloat.But, there are inevitably concerns about thebusiness-like contractual arrangements emergingbetween sustainability non-profit groups andcorporations.Advocates of a more participatory approach insistthat the benefits outweigh the possible downsides.Their arguments typically boil down to two salientfactors; namely, the sheer size and influence of theprivate sector.Sustainability is a complex, multi-faceted issue,the theory runs. To design appropriate solutions, allplayers must be around the table. Failing to includebusiness is therefore an ideological blind spot and adebilitating oversight.Partnership mind-shiftJune 1992. That’s the date the penny dropped. Or sosays David Bent, deputy director of sustainablebusiness at UK sustainability charity Forum for theFuture. It was during that specific month that thou-sands of environmentalists and policymakersdescended on Rio de Janeiro for the Earth Summit.Businesses, it should be said, were notably absent atthe time.Bent describes the landmark conference assignalling the shift from a “we need to do something”mentality to a “let’s try to get things done” mindset.“As nice as it is to think of yourself as the white knightcharging forward, actually change on a global scaledoesn’t happen just through heroes,” says Bent.Hence the invitation to corporations to get on board.Forum for the Future has done more than most topromote the partnership model. It’s there in itslanguage. Phrases such as “help businesses”, “workwith others” and “share what we learn” litter itspublic statements.It even calls the 100 or so businesses with which ithas dealings – a list that includes the likes of oil majorShell, agribusiness Cargill and cement and aggregatesfirm Lafarge – as “partner organisations”. This is to beCharity partneringClose, but not too closeBy Oliver BalchIn pushing the sustainability cause, some non-profit groups are becoming more intimatelyinvolved with the private sectorBusiness strategy 11Ethical Corporation • April 2013VERNONWILEY/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEC April_Layout 1 28/03/2013 14:57 Page 11
  3. 3. Forum for the Future’s pioneer level partner programmeForum for the Future offers a variety of partnership “products” for companies that are looking to engage onsustainability issues. The highest level of engagement is the “pioneer” level. This is open to only a “limitednumber” of companies.Fee: £35,000CriteriaCompanies at this level must:• demonstrate clear sector leadership or provide evidence of sector leadership aspirations;• allocate a partnership manager and board-level partnership patron, with regular check-ins;• ensure work programmes move the organisation forward at pace and with stretching targets for change;• guarantee an annual board session takes place; and• engage at the level of business strategy and sustainable development strategy.BenefitsIn return, companies will:• receive an extended tailored advisory programme;• have partner support and senior-level engagement;• receive membership of Forum’s sustainable business models group;• be entitled to involvement in Forum’s system innovation lab;• be a placement host for Forum Masters scholars;• have an annual dinner with founder and director Jonathon Porritt;• have opportunities to communicate through Forum’s magazine, including being able to republishcontent and advertise; and• have standard membership level benefits, such as access to exclusive network events, subscriptionsto magazines and a bi-monthly newsletter.Pioneer partnersBupa; Delhaize Group; Kingfisher; Marks & Spencer; Telefónica UK; TUI Travel; UnileverSource: www.forumforthefuture.orgexpected from business-led sustainability groups,such as Business for Social Responsibility or the WorldBusiness Council for Sustainable Development, butsuch a seemingly pro-business stance remainsatypical for most independent non-profits.The line between “partners” and “clients” iscertainly a fine one. Forum’s advisory services canseem close to those of a commercial consultancy. Sotoo does its fee structure. Companies can buydifferent levels of engagement, from basic(“membership”), to moderate (“partnership”)through to advanced (“premier”). The price tagdiffers accordingly, from £5,000 to £35,000.The basic membership package includes access tonetworking events, “cutting-edge practical tools” anda direct line to Forum, among other benefits. Forpremier partners, the list is longer and significantlymore hands-on (see box).WWF is less publicly explicit about its commercialarrangements. It offers a similar suite of options forinvolvement, however. Companies can choosebetween licensing or sponsorship arrangementsthrough to what WWF terms “technical” or“transformational” partnerships.The latter is where the charity hopes real step-changes will occur. “WWF has moved fromphilanthropic relationships to deeper partnerships thatencourage businesses to improve their environmentalperformance and to play a role in taking us towards anature-friendly economy,” says Dax Lovegrove,WWF’s head of business and industry.Partnership-orientated sustainability NGOs arenot short of positive case studies. Forum’s expertisein future modelling, for instance, has deliveredtangible results for a range of companies that are12The line between"partners" and"clients" isa fine oneBusiness strategy Ethical Corporation • April 2013Not just a pioneer, a Forum pioneerTRACK5/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEC April_Layout 1 28/03/2013 14:57 Page 12
  4. 4. Teaming up witha charity offerscorporations areputational boostlooking to modify their business models light ofclimate change and other sustainability challenges.The development of common tools and processesfor reducing shipping-related carbon emissionsunder the rubric of the Sustainable ShippingInitiative is illustrative of the sector-wide benefits thata partnership approach is bringing.WWF’s leadership of cross-sector “roundtables”for key agricultural commodities such as palm oil,soya and sugar also bolsters the case for combining“individual strengths [to] forge extraordinarychange”.Unsurprisingly, we hear less about the risks andfailures. In contrast to contracting a privateconsultancy, teaming up with a charity offerscorporations a reputational boost. In the case ofcause-related marketing and other more consumer-facing collaborations, it can result in a jump in salesas well. But what’s in it for the charity? There is a riskof being taken for a ride.Getting the rules straightUnder law, there is nothing stopping charitiestaking money from businesses in the form of dona-tions (presuming, of course, that the money islegally obtained and used). And many charities doso. Recent research by the World Bank-basedresearch group CGAP indicates that corporatesupport for UK charities amounts to about £1.6bn ayear. That equates to roughly 5% of the voluntarysector’s income.Receiving money for services rendered, ratherthan as straight donations, is a different matter.Charities operate under legal charters that accordthem fiscal advantages and other financial benefits.These are premised on the delivery of public goodsin exchange. If a charity is found to be providingpaid-for services without the commensurate publicgoods, then alarm bells will start to ring.Some charities have found it easier to spin offtheir advisory arms into explicit for-profit entities.The emblematic example is AccountAbility. Foundedat a similar time to Forum with a similar partnership-orientated mindset, it now operates an advisoryservices arm.As a for-profit entity, it has the stated objective ofhelping “clients increase revenue, manage risk, andenhance brand and reputation”. The New Academyfor Business, another partnership-based charity setup in the mid-1990s, had less success and folded.For those bent on pursuing the partnershipapproach under a charitable banner, theestablishment of clear rules of the game is critical.Designing some form of contract is “essential”,according to Darian Stibbe, executive director of thePartnering Initiative, a UK-based non-profit. Havinga formal agreement helps “ensure that there is 100%13Business strategyEthical Corporation • April 2013Blue-sky partnering with WWF – 45,000 better cotton farmersWWF and Ikea: responsible cotton productionThe WWF-Ikea partnership, which began 10 years ago, works to transform commodity markets, with aparticular focus on responsible cotton production and forest management.“It’s contributed directly to an increase in the forest areas that are now FSC-certified, particularly ineastern Europe”, WWF says. The partnership has helped around 45,000 cotton farmers in Pakistan andIndia to grow “better cotton”, significantly reducing their water and chemical use and increasing theirprofit margins as a result.Source: WWF-INT Annual Review 2012GMALANDRA/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEC April_Layout 1 28/03/2013 14:57 Page 13
  5. 5. WWF’s model for working with businessWhy should companies partner with WWF?According to WWF, only the smartest, most sustainable companies that value nature will continue tothrive in the future. WWF’s knowledge and insight can help companies make a positive contribution to theplanet. It says there are “exciting opportunities ahead”. To realise these, it’s necessary for businesses tounleash “the power of new thinking and innovation”. Given expertise and experience, WWF sees itselfas “the ideal business adviser or partner”.Why WWF partners with businessWWF’s vision is a planet where business makes a “restorative contribution” to our natural world,supports the Earth’s adaptation to a changing climate, and benefits human well-being. To achieve thatvision requires, WWF believes, engaging with the private sector, not hurling bricks from the sidelines.How does WWF work with business?WWF insists that it’s not enough to work with companies that are already doing everything right. That willonly lead to incremental change. What WWF aspires to is market transformation by radically altering the waycompanies do business. To achieve that, it forms what it describes as “challenging and constructive relation-ships” with businesses that are able to drive “real, lasting change”. That includes promoting green innovationand developing “progressive strategies” that tackle environmental risks and engage a wider audience.More information: www.wwf.org.ukCritiques of WWF’s “constructive engagement” modelIn June 2011, the German TV station ARD broadcast a documentary titled The Silence of the Pandas: Whatthe WWF isn’t saying. The film, which was later released in English on the internet, has an accompanyingbook – Black Book WWF: Shady deals under the sign of the panda.The work of German filmmaker, Wilfried Huisman, the film provides a powerful critique of WWF’salleged legitimisation of unsustainable business activities. Huisman focuses particularly on self-regulatoryschemes to establish green certificates for commodities such as timber, sugar, palm oil and soy. Inresponse, WWF said it didn’t “recognise” the image of it portrayed in the film, and said it was “saddened”by the filmmaker’s sloppy fact checking. The conservation charity also reaffirmed its decision to work withbusiness on the grounds that “it gets results”.Also in 2011, UK campaign group Global Witness released a report criticising WWF’s Global Forest andTrade Network (GFTN) – as featured in Ethical Corporation. Established over two decades previously, GFTNrepresents loggers, processors and retailers, which collectively represent one fifth of the world’s timbertrade. WWF offers its corporate members technical assistance in sustainable forest management.In the report Global Witness claimed to have identified “serious systemic problems”, including a lackof transparency, inadequate rules for membership, and instances of weak performance, monitoringand enforcement. Most seriously, Global Witness said that the procedures to assess whether the scheme isactually contributing to sustainable forestry are inadequate.In response, WWF conceded that some GFTN partners have “a way to go” on their journey to sustain-ability. Yet it argued that these are “precisely the companies that should be in GFTN”. It also confirmedthat those caught flouting the “rules and spirit” of GFTN would be removed from the network.clarity on what the partnership is going to achieveand what each of the parties is going to do to achievethose objectives”, he explains. Key issues to coverinclude the use of logos and intellectual property,publicity and communication and – all importantly –“what to do if something goes wrong”.Most partnership-based sustainability charitieshave taken such advice on board. Forum’s approachin this respect is exemplary. To become one of its“pioneer partners”, companies must meet fiveexplicit commitment criteria. These are agreed up-front and reviewed annually during the three-year14 Business strategy Ethical Corporation • April 2013A campaigning-partnership balance for WWFperiod such partnerships typically last.“We do not take anyone that walks through thedoor,” says Bent. In addition to its preference toworking with industry leaders, where it can Forumopts to team up with companies in its core areas ofconcern: namely, food, energy and finance.Ambitious partnersIn the same vein, WWF’s Lovegrove says a mainchallenge for his organisation is “to find ambitiouspartners who are prepared to break new ground”.He confirms that WWF has decided not to pursue anumber of partnerships “after extensive explo-rations” revealed a notable difference in ambitions.As to the issue of terminating partnerships, Stibbeargues that there are a number of strong grounds fordoing so.Some are obvious. If allegations of unsustainable orEC April_Layout 1 28/03/2013 14:57 Page 14
  6. 6. unethical activities by a company partner threaten thecharity’s brand, then that’s good reason to walk away.Irredeemable differences of ethos and culturerepresent another motive to split. Not meetingobjectives makes his list too. “You try to re-engineerit so that [the partnership] is achieving its objectives,”Stibbe says. “But if that doesn’t work, then of courseyou close it down.”Forum says this reflects its own policy. Forconfidentiality reasons, Bent will not name names,but he says that “a number” of partnerships havebeen cancelled over the years.That said, severing things is very much a lastresort, however. “We have terminated ourrelationships on the rare occasions when companiesdon’t comply, usually after a series of warnings anda final year to turn things around,” he says. Sopartners do get plenty of opportunities to improve.Likewise, WWF says it cancelled a deal withPowergen (before its acquisition by E.ON in 2002)because its policy of green tariffs failed to meet itsgoal of “transformative” change.If partnerships are as important as sustainabilityexperts maintain, then it behoves all those involvedin the sector to find workable models. The generalfeeling in the non-profit world is that charities arestill finding how they can best engage with business.A few pioneers are taking the lead, puttingpartnerships front-and-centre of their mission topromote sustainability. But before more follow, it’simportant to establish exactly where the lines lie andhow the non-profits can most effectively make thechange that is their organisational reason for being.And there must be rigorous scrutiny to ensure thatthe line between a partnership and a consultant-client relationship isn’t breached. I15To become aForum pioneerpartner companiesmust meetfive explicitcommitmentcriteriaBusiness strategyEthical Corporation • April 2013RICARDOESPLANABABER/DREAMSTIME.COMEC April_Layout 1 28/03/2013 14:57 Page 15
  7. 7. This is anenvironment ripefor activism andcampaign groupsseeking outinnovative waysto serve membersIn mid-February, 50 environmental activists werearrested for tying themselves to the gates of theWhite House. Among the protestors were Nasaclimate scientist James Hansen, actress DarylHannah, and Michael Brune, chief executive of theSierra Club, the venerable environmental group.They were protesting against the proposed $7bnKeystone XL pipeline, which, if authorised byBarack Obama, will transport oil derived from theCanadian tar sands 1,179 miles from Alberta torefineries in Texas.Public confidence in political systems is at an alltime low. The economic crisis has knocked faith incapitalism, and many – from both the developedand developing world – increasingly questionwhether their governance institutions are capable ofdelivering the social and environmental justicedemanded by their citizens. It is an environmentripe for activism and for campaign groups seekingout new and innovative ways to serve the needs oftheir members.The Keystone XL project has not lacked opposi-tion. Since it was approved in 2005, it has been thetarget of high-profile environmental campaigns andcivil protests. Most recently, in 2011, severalthousand protestors formed a human chain aroundthe White House in an effort to persuade the USpresident to block the proposals.But what marked this protest out from otherswas the involvement of the Sierra Club. The organ-isation’s participation broke a 120-year prohibitionagainst engaging in acts of civil disobedience. It was,in other words, the first time the Sierra Club hadbroken the law in pursuit of its campaign objectives.Founded in 1892 by the famous conservationistJohn Muir, the Sierra Club is one of the oldest andwell-recognised environmental groups in the US.With 2.1 million members across all 50 US states it isalso the largest and most diverse.Allison Chin is president of the club and has beena member since 1982. She participated in the protest.While she believes that the club’s approach andtactics have remained steady over the years, she alsoargues that in exceptional circumstances civildisobedience is acceptable.“We have a long tradition of protest in America.Using this tactic has been pivotal in history. Giventhe right set of circumstances and moment, it can bean effective tool if used strategically. That’s why theboard made this decision.”Policy suspensionParticipating in the protest required the club’s boardof directors to temporarily suspend the club’s policyprohibiting engagement in illegal activities.Although a “one-off limited exception”, many willbe assessing the long-term implications for theclub’s broader campaign strategy.The Sierra Club example highlights one of themodern hallmarks of social and environmentalcampaigning. Pretty much anything goes, providedit meets the interests of the membership and thecampaign objectives.Greenpeace is one campaign group well recog-nised for getting its hands dirty. Over the last 25years it has pioneered a unique style of corporateand political campaigning. Its campaigns are bettercoordinated and more international than at anyCampaigning trendsActivism for the Facebook generationBy Rob BailesIt seems as if the public is as engaged with issues as ever before, and the campaigning groupscontinue to develop who they target and how they do soBriefing: activist NGOs 15Ethical Corporation • March 2013MRPLISKIN/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEC March 38_Layout 1 04/03/2013 16:13 Page 15
  8. 8. come up with a product that resonates with theaudience. We don’t take money from corporationsor government, only members of the public, and ifwe’re not getting the results they want then we’renot doing our job,” says Stewart.Stewart is also responsible for coordinating inter-national media for the Stop Shell, Save the Arcticcampaign. One of Greenpeace’s largest and well-resourced campaigns, it has targeted Shell UK petrolpumps as well as an oil-drilling ship in New Zealand.At the Rio Earth Summit in June 2012, the organ-isation launched a celebrity-backed petition callingon the United Nations to establish a global sanc-tuary in the Arctic. By January this year, the petitionhad registered 2.5 million signatures.Systems thinkingThe Greenpeace Arctic campaign underlines one ofthe most noticeable developments in social andenvironmental campaigning over the last 10-15years: the increasing scale and sophistication of thecampaigns. While the tactical mix hasn’t changedmuch – press releases, protests and rallies, legisla-tive lobbying, consumer and corporate pressure –that mix is now deployed more strategically,thoughtfully and internationally than ever before.Global Witness’s Gavin Hayman says the startingpoint for any new Global Witness campaign is arigorous power analysis of the institutions andactors at play. “We tend to prefer systemic solu-tions,” he says. “It’s great to get individualbehavioural modification by companies, but wealways ask what is the systemic solution so thisdoesn’t happen again.”Global Witness was formally constituted in 1995.Its work on blood diamonds in the late 1990s thrustthe organisation into the limelight and through acombination of detailed on-the-ground investiga-tion and high-level networking and influencing, theorganisation has earned itself both a feared andrespected place on the NGO map.16 Briefing: activist NGOs Ethical Corporation • March 2013Global WitnessMission statement“Global Witness investigates and campaigns to prevent natural resource related conflictand corruption, and associated environmental and human rights abuses. From under-cover investigations, to high-level lobby meetings, it aims to engage on every level whereit might make a difference and bring about change.”Size and organisational structureMore than 60 staff are divided between offices in London and Washington DC. Thecompany has a board of directors that meets quarterly. Day-to-day management isprovided by the three founding directors, the director of campaigns and the directorof finance and resources. Global Witness also has an advisory board. Its activities inthe US are undertaken through Global Witness Publishing Inc, a company registeredin Washington DC.Sources of fundingGrants from private trusts, foundations, charities and governments.Leadership and key personnelCharmian Gooch, co-founder and directorPatrick Alley, co-founder and directorSimon Taylor, co-founder and directorBrief historyEstablished in 1993 by three friends working from home, Global Witness’s first campaignaimed to stop the trade in illegal timber from Cambodia to Thailand that was funding theKhmer Rouge. Within six months it achieved an astounding victory: the overland borderwas closed. Global Witness has helped the issue of natural resources rise to its currentprominent position on the international agenda.Campaign sectorsCorruption, conflict, environmental governance and maximising accountability andtransparency.Campaigning highlights2005: The precedent-setting arrest of timber baron Gus Kouwenhoven in theNetherlands.2003: Its campaign against blood diamonds led to the creation of theKimberley Process certification scheme and to Global Witness’s jointnomination for the Nobel peace prize. Three years later it contributedto research and campaigning around the 2006 Hollywood blockbusterfilm Blood Diamond. In 2011, though, Global Witness left the KimberlyProcess.1996: Its investigations resulted in the IMF withdrawing from Cambodia overcorruption in the logging industry.time in the organisation’s history, a trend reflectedamong the other big global campaign groups.Ben Stewart is head of media at Greenpeace UK.He has been an integral part of the organisation’sUK campaigns for many years, devising mediastrategy and working closely with the mobilisationunit. He says those working at Greenpeace enjoy ahigh degree of flexibility when determining theirapproach to specific campaigns.“To the extent that we are responsible to oursupporters, we have a huge amount of freedom toSierra Clubs Michael Brune and campaigner Bill McKribbenprotest at the White HouseNGO profileCHRISTINEIRVINEEC March 38_Layout 1 04/03/2013 16:13 Page 16
  9. 9. Oxfam InternationalMission statement“Oxfam’s vision is a just world without poverty, in which people can influence decisionsthat affect their lives, enjoy their rights, and assume their responsibilities as full citizens,valued and treated equally.”Size and organisational structureAn international confederation of 17 independent organisations working together in 94countries, Oxfam International has a council of trustees responsible for the charity’sgovernance, assets and activities and its constitution. Worldwide in 2012 it had 10,230staff; 47,097 volunteers; income of €918m (€639m spent on programme implementation,management, campaigning and emergencies; €144m on trading; €77m on fundraisingand marketing; €40m on management and admin).Sources of fundingInstitutional donors such as the UN, the EU and governments, public donations andfundraising appeals, corporations, and via trading income from its shop network.Leadership and key personnelWinnie Byanyima, executive director (from April)Nitin Desai, chair of trustees (from April)Brief historyIn 1942 the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief was set up to provide relief to civiliansaffected by the second world war. In 1948 it opened its first charity shop at 17 BroadStreet, Oxford (still in use today). In 1954 it began work in Africa. In 1995 the Oxfam Inter-national confederation was formed.Campaign sectorsWomen’s rights; food for all, sustainable agriculture, climate change; health, educationand aid; arms control and people’s rights during times of conflict and disaster.Campaigning highlights2011: Launched the international Grow campaign, aiming to help create aworld where everyone always has enough to eat.2000s: Make Trade Fair campaign, to change the rigged rules and doublestandards of world trade. Oxfam was a key partner in the Drop theDebt, Make Poverty History and Ban Landmines campaigns, and inthe fair trade movement.1970s: Biggest ever aid package into Bangladesh; campaigning againstapartheid in South Africa; first humanitarian access into Cambodiafollowing the fall of the Khmer Rouge.Unlike other campaign NGOs, Global Witnessdoes not have a membership base. For Hayman, thisabsence of a membership mandate provides aunique degree of flexibility and creativity whenchoosing the right approach to a particularcampaign.“We ask, what’s the problem we’re trying tosolve and what’s the best way to do that?” Haymansays. “It doesn’t need to be A, B or C. We cangenuinely be creative and we don’t have to speak toa specific audience or constituency.”This freedom may also explain why GlobalWitness is more than willing to criticise other NGOsor to drop out of coalitions entirely, if it feels theyare part of the problem.In 2011, it accused WWF of failing to regulate itsflagship Global Forest and Trade Network in theGlobal Witness report Pandering to Loggers. Thereport led to a public war of words between the twoorganisations.Later that year, Global Witness announced itwould be leaving the Kimberley Process – the multi-stakeholder initiative designed to prevent conflictdiamonds from entering the market. The processhad “failed to address the clear links betweendiamonds, violence and tyranny”, said GlobalWitness.Legal and financial approachesSystemic thinking is not unique to Global Witness,of course. In recent years, activist NGOs from acrossthe spectrum have increasingly looked to targetfinancial power centres.Friends of the Earth targeted UK pensionproviders to pressure oil companies BP and Shell todivest their interests in Canadian tar sands.Through work with FairPensions, an investorengagement and activism charity, shareholder reso-lutions were brought forward at both BP and Shell’sAGMs in 2010.A similar approach has been adopted againstSime Darby, the Malaysian-based palm oil producer.Friends of the Earth accused the company of illegalland grabs and human rights violations in itsLiberian palm oil operations. A targeted campaignagainst the company’s European financial backershas begun, with letters disseminated to investors asrecently as January 2013.Systems thinking also requires legal approaches;indeed one of the common threads uniting mostcampaigning NGOs is a scepticism of the voluntaryapproaches adopted by most large multinationalcompanies and pushed by more corporate-friendlyNGOs. Voluntary agreements and initiatives mayhave a role to play, but it is only regulation – and theenforcement of it – that can deliver a level playingfield, campaigners say.Paul de Clerck is head of the economic justiceprogramme at Friends of the Earth Europe. He sayshis organisation is increasingly using legal17Briefing: activist NGOsEthical Corporation • March 2013approaches simply because voluntary commitmentsdo not work in the end. Much of his time is, he says,spent opposing corporate lobbying for deregulationin Brussels.“Here in the EU there is a completely unbalancedlobby situation. Most of the advisory groups to theEuropean commission are dominated by advisersfrom the corporate sector. They are using theeconomic crisis to push a deregulatory agenda.”Ineke Zeldenrust, international co-ordinator ofthe Clean Clothes Campaign, similarly stresses theneed for binding, legal agreements in the garmentmanufacturing sector. “It is quite clear that volun-tary commitments aren’t enough,” she says. “YouNGO profileEC March 38_Layout 1 04/03/2013 16:13 Page 17
  10. 10. company’s customer base across Europe and NorthAmerica while engaging APP locally, through itsIndonesian office.In a breakthrough announcement in February2013, APP pledged to end the clearing of naturalforests across its entire supply chain with immediateeffect, bringing forward commitments made in its2020 Sustainability Roadmap by two years. Theannouncement was hailed by Greenpeace as“highly significant”.These examples highlight the increasinglyimportant role developing country offices and theirmemberships play in determining the campaignagenda of western NGOs; a point supported byFriends of the Earth’s de Clerck.“FoE used to be much more active in Europe andthe US, while over the last 15 years the network hasexpanded in developing countries. They havegained in strength and importance and we are nowless dominated by US or European positions andways of working,” says de Clerck.Campaign by TwitterAdvances in communications have, of course,played a fundamental role in the way western NGOcampaign groups mobilise their supporters andmembers. So too have they shaped the way theNGOs operate and function.The Clean Clothes Campaign is one organisationthat has benefited greatly from advances in commu-nications. Founded in 1989, the campaign operatesas an alliance of organisations, bringing togetherand mobilising the networks of a variety of differentsocial and labour rights groups.Ineke Zeldenrust works at the group’s interna-tional secretariat in the Netherlands. She says thestrength of the alliance lies in its ability to mobiliseits member networks in pursuit of its campaigns,rather than replicating those campaign capacities in-house. Communications media have played aninstrumental role in enabling this approach.“When we started out it was really aboutbringing people together to exchange information.Now the partners can find each other relativelyeasily and often they don’t need physical face-to-face meetings. Our value is as a clearinghouse,”Zeldenrust says.The Clean Clothes Campaign has been particu-larly effective in exploiting digital media through itsnetworks. In 2012, a campaign targeted the Adidasoriginals Facebook page, accusing the company offailing to pay its Indonesian workers severance pay.The wider campaign against Adidas secured50,000 signatures by mobilising the networks ofother groups such as Labour Behind the Label andUnited Students against Sweatshops.For supply chains expert Sean Ansett, formerdirector of global partnerships at Gap, the contribu-tion of social and other digital media cannot beoverstated. It has, he says, reduced the costs of18 Briefing: activist NGOs Ethical Corporation • March 2013Clean Clothes CampaignMission statement“Clean Clothes Campaign is dedicated to improving working conditions and supporting theempowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries.”Size and organisational structureCCC is an alliance of organisations in 15 European countries. Its international secretariat isbased in Amsterdam. CCC members include trade unions and NGOs covering a broadspectrum of perspectives and interests, such as women’s rights, consumer advocacy andpoverty reduction.It relies on a partner network of more than 200 organisations and unions in garment-producing countries to identify local problems and objectives, and to help it developcampaign strategies to support workers in achieving their goals. It cooperates extensivelywith similar labour rights campaigns in the US, Canada and Australia.Sources of fundingPrincipally grants and subsidies from governments and the European Union, plus somesmall private donations.Leadership and key personnelThe Amsterdam-based international secretariat has a flat organisational structure and aconsensus-based decision model. The chairman of the board of trustees is Evert de Boer.Brief historyFounded in 1989 during solidarity action for workers in the Philippines, CCC grew into aninternational partner network, bringing together more than 200 unions, women’s groupsand research organisations worldwide. Since 1989, CCC has educated and mobilisedconsumers, lobbied companies and governments, and offered direct solidarity supportto workers as they fight for their rights and demand better working conditions.Campaign sectorsWorkers’ rights and empowerment.Campaigning highlights2013: CCC started a Europe-wide campaign – No More Excuses – to demandcompanies pay sweatshop workers in Cambodia enough to lift themout of poverty.2011: After an intensive campaign launched by CCC and recently hosted byChange.org, the Italian textile brand Versace announced it wouldjoin other denim manufacturers around the globe in calling for a banon the practice of sandblasting on jeans, as it runs unacceptablehealth risks.need to translate that into law and binding agree-ments with local unions and suppliers.”While organisations have been smartening uptheir campaigns, they have also been working on ascale hitherto not possible. For the large interna-tional groups such as Friends of the Earth andGreenpeace this involves applying a mix of pressurelocally and internationally.Friends of the Earth’s offensives against Asian agri-business Wilmar in Uganda and Sime Darby in Liberiahave coupled local campaigning and intelligence gath-ering with political and investor pressure in Europe.In its campaign against the Indonesia-based pulpand paper company APP, Greenpeace targeted theNGO profileEC March 38_Layout 1 04/03/2013 16:13 Page 18
  11. 11. campaigns and enabled campaign groups tomobilise thousands of supporters at the touch of abutton while personalising campaigns to a degreenot possible before.Ansett points to the influence of campaign aggre-gators such as change.com. “They have a deep andrich network of users that they can mobilise veryquickly. They are low cost, deliver a high grossresponse, and their data is frequently used by jour-nalists,” he says.The information divideMany western labour rights NGOs now operate asinformation hubs as well as campaign groups intheir own right. They bridge information gapsbetween local labour groups in developing coun-tries and multinational brands and their consumersin the west.Ansett says the role of these groups is more facil-itative, helping to create first points of contactsbetween the western brands and local labourgroups. They often provide translation services aswell as financial and other support to local labourrights groups in countries such as China, Vietnamand Cambodia.Founded in 2000, China Labor Watch is anexample of this type of labour rights group. Withoffices in Shenzhen and New York, the organisationboth investigates labour rights abuses in Chinesefactories supplying western multinational brandsand provides a range of softer support to factoryworkers and local NGOs. Support includes seedfunding for the establishment of local labour NGOs,legal training to workers and a 24-hour workerhotline.China Labor Watch was one of the first labourright groups to investigate Apple’s contract elec-tronics supplier Foxconn. Coupled with thepressure of other labour groups, its work led toApple joining the Fair Labor Association and anindependent FLA investigation of Apple’s Chinasupply chain in 2012.NGO campaigning is evolving. So too are theNGOs. They are smarter, better coordinated andmore global in both their approach and representa-tion than ever before. Evaluating their collectiveimpact is of course difficult. But when politics andeconomics fail there is increasing appetite for newideas and ways of working. I19Briefing: activist NGOsEthical Corporation • March 2013Christian AidMission statement“Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of dignity, freedom and hope, ofpower over their own lives. Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty – and webelieve that vision can become a reality.”Size and organisational structureBased in the UK, in 2011/12, Christian Aid worked in 48 countries with 578 partner organi-sations and 901 staff, spending £80.9m on direct charitable activity, £12.6m on fundraisingand £1.3m on governance.The board of trustees consists of a chair, a nominee from each of the national commit-tees for Wales and Scotland, the chair of Christian Aid Ireland, a nominee of ChurchesTogether in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), and up to 20 other trustees.Sources of fundingMore than half its income comes from appeals and donations. In the 1980s, governmentfunding became available to Christian Aid for the first time, and in 2011/12 institutionalfunding accounted for 38% of Christian Aid’s income.Leadership and key personnelLoretta Minghella OBE, directorDr Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury), chair from May 2013Brief historyAfter the second world war, British and Irish church leaders formed Christian Reconstruc-tion to help European refugees. During the 1950s it began working globally and in 1957introduced Christian Aid Week.In 1964, due to the success of Christian Aid Week, the organisation changed its nameto Christian Aid.Campaign sectorsChristian Aid works across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America on five themes:equality for all; power to change institutions; fair shares in a constrained world; rights toessential services; and, tackling violence, building peace.In the UK, key campaign themes are tax justice and climate change.Campaigning highlights2012: Significant progress in the promotion of international financial trans-parency, and increased awareness of tax as a fundamentaldevelopment issue.2010: Campaigned for the UK government to use its influence at the EU, andensure rich countries took responsibility for their global emissions. TheEU emissions cuts target was increased to 30%.1990s: The Banking on the Poor campaign contributed to world leaderspromising to deliver $100bn in debt cancellation.Coordination essential for effective emergency reliefNGO profile1001NIGHTS/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEC March 38_Layout 1 04/03/2013 16:13 Page 19
  12. 12. Literally hundreds of competingecolabels can be found onproducts from food to detergents toenergy tariffs. Once focused prima-rily on environmental concerns,labelling has expanded over theyears to include social, ethical andsafety issues as well.The Ecolabel Index now listsmore than 435 labels in 197 countriesin 25 industry sectors. A competingorganisation, Global EcolabellingNetwork (GEN) has hundreds ofgovernment and advocacy groupmembers worldwide.Consumers appreciate the labelsand the benefits are both psycho-logical and tangible, but each one isunique and the standards used areoften contradictory or subjective.Some ecolabels are regionallyspecific, while others are global;and some have stricter criteria thanothers. Compounding the problemis a lack of good quality standard-ised and comparable informationworldwide.Consider the organics industry,which has been at the centre of theecolabel movement. According toOrganic Monitor, an industryresearch group, at least 84 countriesnow have national organic stan-dards. Yet they often differ,sometimes radically.It’s reminiscent of the early daysof ethical investing, when differentorganisations, many based on reli-gious values of 1980s ideologies,panned and praised identical stocksbased on idiosyncratic values.Environmental or greenlabelling began in the 1970s withgreen stickers on consumer goods.By the late 1980s the Canadiangovernment had launched itsEcoLogo consumer productlabelling system and the NordicSwan system had been rolled out.In 1992, in the wake of the UN EarthSummit, the European Union initi-ated the pan-European Ecolabel,which sports a flower as its symbol.The US Environmental Protec-tion Agency subsequently debutedits own Safer Chemical IngredientsList. Green labels on the likes of carsand major appliances are nowmandated in many countries. Manytrade groups and advocacy organi-sations have launched labels as well.A blunt instrumentAt their best, labels force moretransparency on corporations. Butthey are not problem-free and areoften a blunt way to evaluate ethicalcorporations and products.Consider the plight of SeventhGeneration, a much-praisedVermont-based maker of environ-mentally friendly household andpersonal care products, many basedon organic ingredients.During the 2000s, the companyembarked on a mission to developa new generation eco-friendlylaundry liquid. In 2011, it launchedits breakthrough detergent, with arenewable-ingredient content upfrom 77% to 97%. It also reducedshipping and storage requirementsby cutting doses in half, andpackaged the detergent in aplastic bag surrounded by a shell ofpost-consumer newspaper and card-board. Seventh Generation’s 2XLiquid Laundry Detergent was born.Proud of its innovation, in 2012Seventh Generation added theactive ingredient to its otherlaundry detergents. The US Depart-ment of Agriculture even slappedone of its first BioPreferred labels onthe innovation.Then eco-ideology reared itshead. Within weeks of the introduc-tion, the Environmental WorkingGroup (EWG), a Washington DC-based organisation, weighed inwith a less friendly eco evaluation.EWG issues an annual onlineshoppers’ guide, grading more than2,000 household cleaners. SeventhGeneration’s new detergentreceived a D on the A-to-F scale.Why? It uses boric acid. Thechemical, like many compounds, ispoisonous if taken internally inlarge quantities and has been linkedto endocrine disruption in rats feddoses tens of thousands of timeshigher than found in this product.The boric acid in Seventh Genera-tion’s detergent is at levels that noreasonable scientist or regulatorybody anywhere in the worldbelieves is harmful.This wrenching story – a gold-plated “good guy” corporationseeing its cutting edge productlabelled positively by one label buthammered by another – is a night-mare scenario not only for companiestrying to go the extra eco mile, butalso for consumers struggling to findreliable information in an increas-ingly confusing marketplace.With all their potential benefits,ecolabels should not be considered apanacea.Companies quickly learn how to“game the system”, and finding away past the bluster is the challengeconsumers face. That’s why weneed a guide of the guides. IJon Entine, founding director of thesustainability consultancy ESG MediaMetrics,is senior fellow at the Center for Health & RiskCommunication at George Mason University.EcolabelsThe wild west of labellingJon Entine kicks off a series of columns on ecolabels, focusingon how today’s wide array has developedColumnist: Jon Entine 35But what does it mean?At theirbest, labelsforce moretransparencyon corporationsCOLUMNIST:JON ENTINEARCADY_31/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEthical Corporation • March 2013EC March 38_Layout 1 04/03/2013 16:14 Page 35
  13. 13. The socialresponsibilityof firms is relatedto the cultural andMuslim traditionsof givingLocal culture and values play a central role inshaping the definition and practice of corporateresponsibility – and the banking sector in the UnitedArab Emirates is no exception.In every country and every culture “corporateresponsibility” means something, but not alwaysthe same thing. In the UAE, corporate social respon-sibility strongly draws on cultural traditions ofphilanthropy, business ethics and communityembeddedness, all of which are deeply rooted in theteachings of Islam. These teachings emphasisegenerosity and community involvement, andstretch beyond the private realm to encompassbusiness activities.The UAE is a country where collectivism runshigh. In such societies, community welfare andfamily ties are primordial. Very often the socialresponsibility of firms is related to the cultural andMuslim traditions of giving. In this environment,corporate responsibility is viewed as a religious orcultural duty. It is not perceived as a concept tied tobusiness strategy, as it is increasingly in western,developed economies.Culture and IslamOver the past few decades, the UAE has establisheditself as a leading international business hub. Themajority of foreign multinationals settling in theregion will either choose Dubai or the capital AbuDhabi for their regional headquarters. A western-based management approach is prevalent across theUAE, which has embraced foreign managementtechniques in the quest to achieve global status.This westernisation of business and manage-ment practices, however widespread, exists inparallel to the fundamental teachings of Islam. TheUAE operates on sharia law, the moral code of Islam,with an estimated 80% of the population belongingto the Muslim faith.1This consolidation of westernbusiness practices with deeply rooted cultural andreligious traditions make up the UAE’s businesslandscape.The religion of Islam rests on five central pillarsof practice. The pillars guide people in theireveryday lives – including their business acumen –by helping them develop a righteous existence. Assuch, in the UAE, culture and religion are verymuch intertwined.Fatih Mehmet Gul, chief executive of csrmid-dleeast.org, the first website dedicated to corporateresponsibility news and opportunities in the region,agrees that the moral teachings of Islam extend wellbeyond the individual’s private life to encompassbusiness activities.Gul says: “In personal life or business life, Islamalways instructs Muslims to behave responsibly.Customer relationships, employee rights, environ-mental concerns and responsibility to thecommunity have all been well defined by Islamicrules.” He adds that there is almost “a full matchbetween Islamic rules and corporate responsibilityprinciples”.Three out of the five pillars of Islam – praying,fasting and the practice of zakat (charitable giving) –focus on strengthening the sense of community,improving collective welfare, and encouragegenerosity and solidarity.As the teachings of Islam influence everyday life,Essay: United Arab EmiratesHow culture can shape sustainable businessBy Nadine HawaA study of banks in the UAE reflects how the Islamic culture of philanthropy has influencedcorporate responsibility practices in the EmiratesStrategy and management 39Ethical Corporation • May 2013SAMROBINSONECM May 2013_Layout 1 29/04/2013 10:33 Page 39
  14. 14. including business practices, they de facto impactcorporate responsibility practices.Habiba Al Marashi, chief executive of Arabia CSRNetwork and board member of the UN GlobalCompact, says: “The five pillars of Islam teachpeople at all levels of society to interact and toprovide mutual support. The pillars provide a focuson obligations and duties as well as rights and rela-tionships of each other, by removing socialhierarchies and barriers, and encourage the devel-opment of individuals and the community –spirituality, morally and socially.”She adds: “Part of business solutions should alsoinclude strategies for inspiring and uplifting peoplespiritually, nurturing positive thinking and motiva-tions and stronger inter-personal and socialrelationships. This very same principle has beencaptured in modern corporate responsibility as theempowerment of people and the community.”As such, Islam provides much of the foundationfor corporate responsibility in the UAE.Islamic valuesOf the many teachings of Islam, the most influentialand most embedded in business practices are bestevidenced by zakat. Zakat is the requirement of theindividual to provide financial support to thecommunity, particularly the needy, for the purposeof ensuring a better society.2This influence has oftenresulted in corporate responsibility being under-stood by local businesses as the corporate equivalentof zakat, leaving corporate responsibility very muchtied to religious duty.It has led to corporate responsibility activitiestaking the form of corporate philanthropy, rooted inthe Islamic tradition of giving. As a result, andperhaps not surprising, a comprehensive study oncorporate responsibility in the UAE conducted in2010 by the Center for Responsible Business (CRB)found that a third of companies implement (a formof) corporate responsibility in the UAE in order tocomply with Islamic values and the practice ofzakat.3Cultural and religious traditions are hencethe key factors that drive corporations to engage incorporate responsibility.As a religion, Islam has very specific rulesconcerning business and economic life. This influ-ence expands well beyond the duty of zakat, orcompulsory charity. Business practices in Muslimcountries tend to follow sharia law, which governsnearly every aspect of Muslim life. It imposes certainrestrictions on investments in asset types that areconsidered sinful.This points to a specific overlap between westerncorporate responsibility and the area of Islamicfinance in particular. A restriction on investments insectors or products deemed sinful under sharia lawis similar to ESG (environmental, social and gover-nance) screening. This is probably one of the mostevident overlaps between the two concepts.Comparable to negative screens made popular inthe US by Christian groups (also known as faith-based investing), which prohibits investments inalcohol or arms manufacturing, in Islam similarscreens are applied to all things considered sinful,including alcohol, gambling and pornography.Interest and usury are also banned under sharialaw out of concern for the moral, social andeconomic well-being of society. Sharia law deemssuch profit unjustly generated, as it is based on theabsence of work and the absence of shared riskbetween lender and borrower. Under these criteria,it could be argued that corporate responsibility hasexisted in the UAE for as long as religion andbusiness have existed.Some local banks do acknowledge a strongoverlap between Islamic teachings and corporateresponsibility. One bank says the peaceful, ethicaland responsible way of living which the Muslimfaith encourages strongly influences the way itunderstands and practises corporate responsibility.Another says the moral teachings of Islam areembedded throughout the organisation and all itsbusiness operations.Habiba Al Marashi explains: “From an Islamic40 Strategy and management Ethical Corporation • May 2013The five pillarsof Islam1. Declaration of faith: Thebelief that must be declared“that there is no god butAllah and Mohammad is theProphet of Allah”.2. Prayers: The rituals ofprayer are to be performedfive times a day facingMakkah in Saudi Arabia. Byperforming such frequentprayers, one maintains God-consciousness and discipline.These prayers can beperformed individually orcommunally. However,communal prayers arerequired for those who areable to attend. Communalprayers promote equalityand a strong sense ofcommunity.3. Zakat: Muslims arerequired to pay a fixedproportion of their posses-sions for the welfare of thewhole community, and thepoor in particular.4. Fasting: During themonth of Ramadan, alladult able Muslims mustabstain from all food, drinkand sexual activity fromdawn to dusk. Fastingpromotes God-conscious-ness, spiritual growth,self-purification, patience,self-restraint, generosity,sympathy for the poor, andcommunal solidarity.5. Pilgrimage to Makkah:At least once a lifetime, alladult able Muslims shouldmake a pilgrimage toMakkah, where Muslimsfrom around the worldconverge annually toperform the Hajj.8Islams influence is starkECM May 2013_Layout 1 29/04/2013 10:33 Page 40
  15. 15. perspective, corporate responsibility is a moral obli-gation and promotes coexistence of business andsociety, as they are both dependent on each other.The Quran clearly spells out the importance ofbeing more socially responsible and actively strivingto balance the rights of all stakeholders based onfairness, justice and dignity, and distribution ofwealth.“The Quran prescribes the process of shura[consultation] for problem solving at all levels, in theaffairs of the family, business, community, societyand state. Shura is the spirit of stakeholder engage-ment in the modern corporate responsibilityconcept.”Rather than a link or overlap, some UAE banksbelieve corporate responsibility and Islamic valuesto be complementary. This view is also held by AlMarashi, who says: “The issue is not about overlap-ping, but it is more about reinforcing each other.Sharia is the guiding principle.”As a solution to avoid this confusion or thepotential overlap between the two concepts, onebank believes it is best to be “careful not to focus onthe relationship between corporate responsibilityand sharia law, as it could easily confuse”.The CRB report found that out ofseven sectors surveyed, including oiland gas, real estate and hospitality,the financial sector held the highestpercentage of corporate responsi-bility awareness at 68%.4In contrastto this positive indicator, however, isthe fact that only 10% of these firmsbelieved corporate responsibility tobe central to business strategy.5Upon interviewing a number oflocal banks, it emerged that corporateresponsibility is often defined as acharitable contribution rather than aresponsibility tied to businessstrategy. One bank defined corporateresponsibility as a contribution to thewell-being of the community, beingenvironmental, social and financial.Another said corporate responsibilitywas the way in which an organisationpositively contributes to the commu-nity in which it functions.But these contribution-based defi-nitions do not diminish the sense ofresponsibility. One bank says respon-sibility has been embedded in itscorporate culture since inception,while another indicates that it hasalways been mindful of its responsi-bility to give back to the community.While a sense of responsibility isomnipresent, the philanthropicnature of this responsibility clearlyripples through the examples ofcorporate responsibility provided by each of thebanks.One bank labelled the sponsorship of eventsorganised by the UAE Red Crescent, such asproviding meals for the needy, as corporate respon-sibility. Examples of corporate responsibility fromother banks included organising blood drives andthe sponsorship of health awareness campaigns.Lack of strategic focusWhile corporate responsibility is gaining traction inthe Gulf as a whole, many “corporate responsi-bility” activities still focus on donations and charity,lacking a strategic business element. The overlap ofcorporate responsibility with corporate philan-thropy is holding back the strategic focus ofcorporate responsibility at UAE banks.The 2010 study by the Dubai Chamber in factrevealed that only 17% of companies in the UAEfind corporate responsibility to be central tobusiness strategy.6The numerous community-focused initiatives provided by the banks illustratethis figure, not because they target community well-being, but because they lack strategic focus.This can be explained by the fact that, in some41As a religion,Islam has veryspecific rulesconcerningbusiness andeconomic lifeStrategy and managementEthical Corporation • May 2013The UAEbanking sectorThe United Arab Emirates isa relatively young countryestablished in 1971, andcomprising seven Emirates.It is part of the Gulf Cooper-ation Council (GCC), a regionfamous for its oil and gasreserves.Over the past four decadesthe UAE has transformeditself from a desert commu-nity to a moderninternational business hub.In its efforts to diversifyaway from oil, the countryhas delved into financialservices.This sector has becomeone of the main contributorsto economic activity. The UAEis emerging as a top playerin financial services globally,and as the leading bankingsector across the Middle Eastregion. As of 2011, the UAEmarket had 23 domesticbanks and branches of 28foreign banks.9ISTOCKPHOTOECM May 2013_Layout 1 29/04/2013 10:33 Page 41
  16. 16. cases, banks believe corporate responsibility to besynonymous with philanthropy. In others, theyconsider there to be a strong cultural link betweenthe two. This link is thought to be based on the coreIslamic responsibility of zakat. Ignoring such dutieswould be morally wrong, one bank explained.In the west, the philanthropic aspect of corporateresponsibility can be traced back to 19th centuryindustrial revolutions. During that time, poorworking environments called for business owners toprovide healthier working conditions, reflecting asense of paternalistic philanthropy.7Over the years, corporate responsibility in thewest has taken a calculated turn towards morestrategic integration. In the UAE where corporateresponsibility is still a maturing concept, seeds ofchange are starting to sprout.A bank that in 2007 considered encouragingblood donations among staff to be corporate respon-sibility, redefines it in its 2011 corporateresponsibility report as “smart community involve-ment”. One example is the implementation ofe-waste and recycling policies, which are environ-mentally smart and make business sense. In 2012,another bank turned to renewable energy with thelaunch of two solar powered ATM machines.Corporate responsibility as practised by banks in theUAE seems to be heading towards more strategicintegration, albeit at a slow pace. This move can beattributed to the natural evolution of corporateresponsibility, irrespective of national borders.The futureCorporate responsibility awareness levels in theUAE, while still lagging compared with the level ofstrategic integration found, for example, in the USand Europe, are on the rise.There clearly is a greater amount of informationavailable in the shape of company website content,annual corporate responsibility reports and theincreasing number of corporate responsibilityconferences across the country. In spite of theabsence so far of macro strategic direction, corporateresponsibility at UAE banks seems to be headingtowards a more integrated approach. They aremoving away from corporate responsibility asphilanthropy to corporate responsibility as valuecreation.The Abu Dhabi government itself realises thatcorporate responsibility is about more than justcharity. The department of planning and economybelieves that social commitment programmes arenot just about donations, but fully integrated plansthat are needed to bolster sustainable development.Today UAE banks have the opportunity to incor-porate the best of both worlds into their approach tocorporate responsibility: to assimilate best practiceby integrating corporate responsibility into businessstrategy while tailoring their corporate responsi-bility focus to issues and initiatives which resonatewith their local culture and religion. This wouldallow their corporate responsibility to become morestrategic while maintaining their societal fabric ofhigh collectivism. I1 U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,and Labor. “United Arab Emirates: International ReligiousFreedom Report 2007”. Available at: www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/irf/2007/90223.htm2 Katsioloudes, M. et al. (2007). “Corporate Social Responsibility:An Exploratory study in the United Arab Emirates.” SAM AdvancedManagement Journal. Vol: 72, Iss:4. P.11.3 Rettab, B. et al. (2010). “Corporate Social Responsibility in theUnited Arab Emirates.” Dubai Chamber, Center for ResponsibleBusiness. Dubai, UAE. P.11.4 Rettab, B. et al. (2010). “Corporate Social Responsibility in theUnited Arab Emirates.” Dubai Chamber, Center for ResponsibleBusiness. P.66.5 Ibid.6 Rettab, B. et al. (2010). “Corporate Social Responsibility in theUnited Arab Emirates.” Dubai Chamber, Center for ResponsibleBusiness. P.19.7 Blowfield, M. and Murray, A. (2008). Corporate Responsibility:A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. P.44.8 Adapted from Barise, A. (2005). “Social Work with Muslims:Insights from the Teachings of Islam.” Critical Social Work. Vol:6,Iss:2.9 Moukahal, W. (2011). The Banking Industry in the UAE. Report byDeloitte. Available at: www.deloitte.com/assets/DcomLebanon/Local%20Assets/Documents/ME%20PoV/ME%20PoV%20issue%205/POV%205%20Clearly%20very%20unclear.pdf42UAE banks havethe opportunityto incorporatethe best of bothworlds into theirapproach tocorporateresponsibilityStrategy and management Ethical Corporation • May 2013Desert to downtown business hubHEMERAECM May 2013_Layout 1 29/04/2013 10:33 Page 42
  17. 17. Columnist: Toby Webb50CommunicationsHow to shout aboutsustainability effectivelyWhile there are lots of ways to communicate badly, what are thegood things companies can do to stand out? Toby Webb has somesuggestionsVolume on its own doesn’t workIf you havesomethingauthenticto say, youshould say itJHORROCKS/ISTOCKPHOTO.COMEthical Corporation • February 2013COLUMNIST:COLUMNIST:COLUMNIST:TOBY WEBBhow you get there.11. They don’t forget to linksustainability with both socialissues and governance, global andlocal. For many companies in the US,sustainability is all about green. Tellthat to a Canadian mining companyor European retailer. Social issues,and how you engage with them, arethe number one issue in the rest ofthe world, so no credible companycan pretend they don’t exist.12. They host public debateswhich are streamed online and donot always have themselves at thecentre. There are not many examplesof companies doing this well.Unilever is probably the best known.13. They seek crowd-sourcedsolutions and encourage and fundinnovation. Marks & Spencer is agood example of how to do this, as isCoca-Cola Enterprises and PepsiCo.But B2B companies can do this too.Interface and Desso are well-knownexamples.14. They are clear about sustain-ability as a business opportunity.They recognise that stakeholderengagement is about listening andencouraging intra-preneurs, asmuch as it is about responding toexternal trends and pressures.15. They are clear about theircorporate power and influence andhave a public debate about howthat power and influence are used,and report on progress, positiveand negative. IToby Webb is founder of Ethical Corporation andStakeholder Intelligence. He blogs daily attobywebb.blogspot.co.uk.There are a number of communi-cations techniques that corporateleaders in sustainability and corpo-rate responsibility communicationuse, to various degrees. Here are 15.1. They have clear websites navi-gating readers to clear targets.Websites change and, if not planned,can sprawl needlessly. Many compa-nies neglect old pages, whichcontinue to turn up on Googleyears later. These can offer a verymisleading impression of where thecompany is headed. In the world ofTwitter and Facebook, everythingcan unfortunately mean something.2. They demonstrate both anunderstanding of the global chal-lenges, and their role in the world.Getting this right does not simplyinvolve quoting WWF on thenumber of planets we will soonneed. Showing understanding isabout demonstrating much deeperknowledge and acknowledging the“megaforces” driving sustainabilityconcerns, and showing how thecompany is starting to try to tacklethem, and contribute to widersolutions.3. They use their reporting asthe basis for communicationscampaigns, not as the campaignitself. Short, targeted messaging tokey, focused stakeholder groups, ontop of a main website and regularreporting. The report is just alibrary. Authentic stories from thereport are what will improve yourreputation with employees,customers and wider stakeholders.4. They are not afraid of honestdebate about challenges, progress,missed targets, problems and solu-tions, online and face-to-face. Theyvalue being challenged and seek touse the opportunity to innovateand improve, rather than becomingdefensive.5. They use social media tocommunicate on sustainability,either via a corporate account or byspecific accounts. Many companiesare nervous about doing this. Socialmedia is risky. But if you have some-thing authentic to say, you shouldsay it. That doesn’t mean you haveto issue a press release and crowabout running your business well.Tone is everything, as is personality.6. They publish regular perform-ance data and updates. Publishingannual data seems quite behind thetimes now. What’s wrong withquarterly?7. They offer news feeds onprogress. This is a very simple thingto do. It’s simple to drip-feed progressreports via short news items on yoursite. It looks good to stakeholders.8. They showcase critical stake-holder voices and suggestions forimprovement. This is vitally impor-tant, yet few companies do it thiswell. Patagonia is the best-knownexample. Wal-Mart tries too. PerhapsWaitrose would have spotted thelooming disaster of its Shell retailpartnership if it had taken this ideaon board via the web.9. They partner with credibleacademic institutions and NGOs.Science matters. Whether it’stechnical research to improveperformance, lower impact anddrive efficiency, environmentaldata, or social science research,outside parties with good reputa-tions can really help with bothstrategy and a reputation forauthentic communications.10. They talk about how sustain-ability fits with business strategy –and how that will improve. This ishard to get right. What is strategyanyway? Most companies seem toconfuse it with tactics. Put simply,strategy is the destination; tactics isECM Feb_Layout 1 30/01/2013 17:21 Page 50
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