"Greed and corruption have always lingered at the edges of Corporate America, from Civil War profiteers to inside-trading scandals of the '80s," observes Gary Strauss in USA Today. "Yet the new millennium has ushered in a wave of fraud, corporate malfeasance, investment scams, ethical lapses and conflicts of interest unprecedented in scope." Not coincidentally, more and more corporations are issuing feel-good reports about their achievements in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to the KPMG accounting firm, the number of U.S.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Paul Hawken writes that McDonald's recent 'Report on Corporate Social Responsibility' is "a low- water mark for the concept of sustainability and the promise of corporate social responsibility. ... This is ... a report about how a corporation that's been severely stung by bad publicity, poor service and declining earnings now wants to plead its case to its critics. ...
More and more corporations are catching the corporate social responsibility (CSR) wave, promoting themselves as good global corporate citizens. The PR industry has taken note observes PR Week. "Many [PR firms] have identified CSR as a major growth area for their business, and an opportunity to operate at the highest levels, counseling board members and even CEOs, rather than just focusing on more junior employees," PR Week writes. "All these agencies see CSR and PR not only as a natural fit for one another, but almost as one and the same.
In mid-April, Citigroup launched a $100 million global ad campaign titled "This is Citigroup." Using images of elderly people, and people from Hong Kong to Brazil, the ads portray a caring bank, committed to local communities. But the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which has waged a boycott against Citigroup for the past two years, says the bank completely ignores environmental and social concerns and is one of the biggest contributors to global warming.
On April 14, McDonalds issued a self-congratulatory Report on Corporate Social Responsibility, boasting that it is "working with experts" such as The Natural Step to address concerns about "globalization, nutrition, and the environment." But according to author and leading Natural Step advocate Paul Hawken, the report is "a low water mark for the concept of sustainability and the promise of corporate social responsibility.
Tobacco behemoth Philip Morris executives announced late last year that it was time for a full-scale corporate makeover centering on changing the company's name to Altria. "After spending the quarter billion dollars ceaselessly touting their philanthropic efforts, the tobacco giant still ranked second to last -- beating only exploding tire maker Bridgestone Firestone -- in a survey of corporate reputations, conducted by The Reputation Institute and Harris Interactive.
With the words "corporate responsibility" finding their way into the mouths of more and more business leaders, PR giant Ketchum has launched a new corporate responsibility unit, promoting what Ketchum's Raymond Kotcher calls a "21st century management philosophy that advances commercial and financial success by demonstrating respect for ethical values, people, communities, and the physical and social environment." Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman PR Worldwide, is also leapin
Peter Sandman's advice to corporations on "outrage management" was first detailed in PR Watch by Australian writer Bob Burton. Now Bob has contributed a chapter to a new book, Moving Mountains: Communities Confront Mining and Globalization, published by Contemporary Oxford Press/Mineral Policy Institute.
James S. Kunen works in corporate communications and muses on Enron's 'Visions and Values' statement. Kunen notes that "a statement of Vision and Values, setting forth lofty goals and bedrock beliefs, is an absolute must for the modern corporation. The "V&V," as it's called, pleases investors and customers ... and supports employee morale by reminding one and all that the company strives to do good, not just do well. ...
Burson-Marsteller's hiring of Lord Melchett is the focus of professor George Monbiot's weekly column in The Guardian: "Because regulation works, companies will do whatever they can to prevent it. They will threaten governments with disinvestment, and the loss of thousands of jobs. They will use media campaigns to recruit public opinion to their cause. But one of their simplest and most successful strategies is to buy their critics.