Corporate Social Responsibility
Wal-Mart Stores "is enjoying its best publicity in years as even its harshest critics laud the retailer's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts," reports Emily Kaiser. And the company is planning a "secret spin strategy to counter a union-backed, anti-Wal-Mart media blitz" that accuses the company of paying poverty-level wages and driving competitors out of business.
The Lancet, a leading medical journal, has requested that its parent company, Reed Elsevier, divest itself of business interests that "threaten human health." The magazine's editor made the request after learning that Spearhead Exhibitions, a Reed Elsevier subsidiary, organised the Defence Systems and Equipment international (DSEi) arms fair, which opens this week in London.
Kenneth Clarke, a British Conservative Party leadership aspirant, is resisting calls to resign as non-executive deputy chairman of British American Tobacco (BAT) and chair of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee. Clarke's supporters have suggested he would resign the roles only if elected leader.
On December 3, 1984 a toxic gas release from a Union Carbide pesticide factory in Bhopal, India killed at least 7,000 people. Two decades later, 15,000 additional people have died and 100,000 have health problems stemming from the leak of poison gases. Activists worldwide have called on Dow Chemical, which now owns Union Carbide, to take responsibility for the industrial disaster and make reparations.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth will hold "a mock awards ceremony aimed at exposing the green spin and corporate social responsibility failings of UK companies." CSR is big business; a recent APCO Worldwide survey of more than 400 people in 10 countries found that "corporate social responsibility
"The launching of the 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid this fall marks an auto industry first: the coupling of a hybrid electric engine, containing the most energy-efficient fuel system available, with an SUV, the least efficient class of passenger vehicle," writes Geoffrey Johnson. The Escape Hybrid won't do much to improve the environment, and Ford isn't expected to make money on it either. Johnson concludes that Ford, which has the worst fleetwide fuel economy of any major U.S.