Eco-nomics

The World of Responsible Business

Time for Global Values, Part I

Global companies face a new set of issues that go well beyond their traditional business focus. Corporations must deal with global concerns about human rights, living wages and safe working conditions, child and forced labor, the environment and sustainable community development.

David Schilling, ICCRlobal Corporate Accountability Program. How does business today meet the demands of all the stakeholders? The term stakeholder includes: the company, employees, customers, shareholders, community, business partners/suppliers, global business and the environment..

In Part I, we look at four stakeholder positions: the company, the employees, global business, and business partner/supplies.

(In Part II-Summer 1997, the remaining four). The questions we ask about Companies: How does the company handle its corporate openness, citizenship, and accountability? Where does the company advertise (radio/TV/publications) and what events do they sponsor? Does the company have corporate code of ethics, principles, mission statement? How does the company react to shareholder resolutions?

What is the CEOotal compensation package? How are the board members compensated? Is the company a member of responsible business organizations? Is the company a CERES Principles (or other Principles) signatory?

Does the company manufacture alcohol, tobacco or weapons? About Employees: Does the company have responsible workplace policies and practices including non-discriminatory employment practices and positive labor relations? Does the company have women and minorities in senior management and on the board of directors? Does the company have comprehensive health care and benefits packages for employees, domestic partners and their families?

Does the company have on-site daycare, employer-supported childcare center, eldercare? Does the company have flexible scheduling, flex time, telecommuting, and job sharing available? Does the company offer continuing education and training programs for employees? Does the company have a socially and environmentally responsible investing 401(k) plan? About Global Business: When will we realize we are all global citizens? Do our responsiblities extend beyond our immediate community? Does the company have a Global code of conduct on working conditions and labor sourcing as well as human rights? Does the company have business activities in Burma, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria or China (countries with identified responsible business issues)? Does the company have effective policies and practices addressing child labor, wages, workers health and safety? (The globalization issue is compounded by the tendency to project regional values into other countires, and judge practices in that way). About Business Partners/Supplies: Does the company have code of conduct, standards and guidelines for all their suppliers, vendors and subcontractors (worldwide)? Does the company, its vendors or subcontractors use child labor, forced or prison labor? Does the company have supplier standards for products, materials and labor sourcing? Is the company purchasing socially and environmentally responsible products? Is the company using women-owned, minority and responsible vendors?

PRINCIPLES/STANDARDS/ INITIATIVES:

The following Principles and resources are guiding business people to increased awareness of their impact around the world. Part of this impact is the clear message it sends investors about corporate values. Weincluded several sets of Principles, each promoting sustainable local and global business. The CERES Principles are a ten-point code of conduct on companies environmental performance and accountability. A compnay that endorses the CERES Principles pledges to monitor and improve its behavior in the following areas: protecting the biosphere, sustainable use of natural resources, reduction and disposal of wastes, energy conservation, risk reduction, safe products and services, environmental restoration, informing the public, and management commitments. Companies must also report on their progress with these pledges. This information is included in the annual CERES Report, which is available to the public.

The CERES Principles have been endorsed by six Fortune 500 companies: Sun Oil, General Motors, Polaroid, Arizona Public Service, H.B. Fuller, and Bethlehem Steel along with more than 60 small to mid-sized companies. For more information and a copy of the Principles call (617) 451-0927.

[GREENMONEY ONLINE NOTE]: The complete text of the CERES Principles is available online at: http://www.greenmoney.com Principles for Global Corporate Responsibility: Benchmarks for Measuring Business Performance is a set of guidelines for global corporate conduct from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). The 28-page document was released in 1995 by ICCR and its counterparts in Canada and the U.K. to give business an ethical standard of measurement on which to base decisions about global corporate social responsibility. For a copy of the Principles call (212) 870-2928.

The Caux Round Table: Principles for Business is an international ethics statement for business. This unprecedented global intiative was created by business leaders in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. These principles use the Minnesota Center for Corporate Responsibility principles format. For a copy of the Principles call Business Ethics magazine at (612) 962-4703.

The Business Charter for Sustainable Development: Principles for Environmental Management is a set of sixteen principles to help businessses around the world improve environmental performance. The Principles were created by the International Chamber of Commerice (ICC), which recently revised the foreword and introduction.

For more information and copy of the Charter call the ICC in Paris at (011) +33 49 53 28 28 or the U.S. Council for International Business in New York at (212) 354-4858.

Social Responsibility Initiative by the Foundation for Ethics and Meaning (FEM) covers the overall responsibility of companies and economic institutions as they reflect and shape the values of our society. They also call for corporations to issue an annual Ethical Impact Report.

For a copy of the Initiative call (212) 665-1597 or visit their web site at: http://www.panix.com/~fem.

MORE PRINCIPLES: The MacBride Principles on fair employment in Northern Ireland. The Maquiladora Standards of Conduct on fair employment, health and safety, environmental practice and community impact of U.S. companies operating in Mexico. South African Council of Churchesde of Conduct calling for investment which will help build a just, post-apartheid economy. The Equality Principles on Sexual Orientation were developed by the Wall Street Project, a coalition of investors, elected officials and community groups to end discrimination in the workplace. The Winnipeg Trade Principles incorporates the environment and sustainable development into trade and related agreements. The Statement of Principle from The Stakeholders Alliance on corporate accountability to all stakeholders.

ORGANIZATIONS: The twenty-first century will be anything but A companyalues - what it stands for, what its people believe in - are critical to its competitive success. Indeed, values drive the business.Robert Haas, Chairman & CEO. Mission Statement: Home Depot doesnry to sell a product but to build a relationship with customers, and that will give the company a clear advantage.David Presson, Edward D. Jones Analyst. Corporate Mission: Environmental Greenprintich identifies 88 ways consumers can make their home more environmentally friendly. Awards: Team Depot won the Presidentervice Award for exemplary Volunteer Achievement in communities throughout the United States; Certificate of Environmental Achievement from National Awards Council for Environmental Sustainability; Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics from Business Ethics magazine for superior community involvement from all levels of the company. For more on Home Depotesponsible business and community activities order a copy of Painting Our World Orange, Corporate Social Responsibility Report 1995 by calling (770) 433-8211 or visit their web site at: http://www.homedepot.com.

PROFITS: We are all becoming more individual and, at the same time, more a part of a larger whole, whether as an executive of a multinational corporation, a manager, a worker, an entrepreneur, or a citizen.Jennifer James, Thinking in the Future Tense. Here are organizations and resources specifically designed to support women in business: Catalyst, a womenesearch organization recently released a report titled Women in Corporate Leadership: Progress and Prospects - 1996. It is the first large-scale national research study of women in corporate management, presenting the corporate world according to the women whomade it to the top.

The report is based on Catalysturvey of 1251 executive women and CEOf the Fortune 1000. The report describes what leads to womenuccess and what holds them back. For information, to order their Perspectives newsletter, or the research report call (212) 777-8900. National Foundation of Women Business Owners (NFWBO) recently released a report titled 1996 Facts on Women-Owned Businesses. The study found 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. with a total of 18.5 million employees. Those women-owned firms now employ one out of every four workers in the U.S.. Annual sales generated by those businesses is approximately $2.3 trillion.

Another report available is Women-Owned Businesses: Breaking the Boundaries, The Progress and Achievement of Women-owned Enterprises - 1995. Their annual NFWBO/Gillian Rudd Leadership Institute Conference for women CEOs is scheduled for November 1-4, 1996 in Chantilly, VA. For more information on membership or to order the reports call (301) 495-4975. Glass Ceiling Commission (GCC) released their final report earlier this year titled A Solid Investment: Making Full Use of the Nationuman Capital. The report offers a series of wide-ranging recommendations to business, government and society in general. An overview of the status of women and minorities in the national workforce. It also encourages companies to release their diversity data. A Glass Ceiling report note: 57% workforce is women or minorities, but only 3 to 5% of Fortune 1000 senior managers are.

The complete text of the report and other information by GCC is available on the web at: http://www.ilr.cornell.edu. The Body Shop is now conducting the Women Want to Know Event, a campaign to inspire the political passions of American women and motivate them to register and vote. Event postcards and voter registration information is available at all U.S. Body Shop locations and at the YWCA. The postcard allows women to vote on the six issues most important to them and their families in the upcoming election. For more information on the campaign call (919) 554-4900 or (800) 426-3922. Franklin Researchnsight released a report in 1995 titled YouCome a Long Way, Maybe: A Study of Women and Corporate Responsibility.

The report was written by Shelley Alpern with Genevieve Buckley and edited by C.B. Loeb. The report includes a large resource section on womenrganizations. To order a copy call (617) 423-6655. Womennvironment & Development Organization (WEDO) works on global issues affecting women and the planet. Publications available include their News & Views newsletter and booklets on Understanding the Impact of the Global Economy on Women and the Environment. For more information on member ship call (212) 973-0325 or visit their website at: http://www.wedo.org

MORE RESOURCES FOR WOMEN: National Association of Female Executives - (800) 927-6233 Women in Business 1997 Conference - (800) 222-2933 Working Women Business Network web site: http://www.womweb.com U.S. Department of Labor Womenureau web site: http://www.dol.gov/dol/wb UN Division for the Advancement of Women web site: http://www.undp.org/fwcw/daw.htm The Presidentnteragency Council on Women web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/EOP//Women/IACW/html/IACWhome.html WASHINGTON, DC &

CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY: Ron Brown Corporate Citizenship Award.Several members of the responsible business community were invited including Bob Dunn of BSR, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Fran Sussner Rogers of Work/Family Directions, Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Yogurt, Gun Denhart of Hanna Andersson, and Howard Schultz of Starbucks Coffee. Time magazine covered the meeting with an article titled For many CEOs of socially responsible companies, doing business in a good way is simply good business. If yourunning a company in a respectable way--respectful of your employees, customers, community and environment--then that will come back and create an economic benefit for you in the long haul. There link between company profitability and responsible corporate practices.David Berge, Vermont National Bank. The Department of Labor held a public hearing on International Child Labor in June and a Fashion Industry Forum in July. The fashion forum was attended by over 500 industry representatives. The forum had heightened media attention with the presence of Kathy Lee Gifford, discussing her recent problems with child labor/sweatshop manufacturing of her clothing line at Wal-Mart. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibilityavid Schilling attended both events and spoke at the public hearing. He also spoke with Labor Secretary Robert Reich about how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is preventing shareholder resolutions on international labor standards and global codes of conduct from going forth. Companies like Levi Strauss, Reebok, and the Gap all have global supplier/sourcing standards, especially on the use of child labor. Labor Secretary Robert Reich has made a commitment to doing away with sweatshops, awarding responsible retailers and working with the SEC. For more information call ICCR in New York at (212) 870-2295.

CLOSING: In closing, as you process what is offered make sure and have some fun. You could start by reading the new Dilbert cartoon book on management called The Dilbert Principle (Harper Business, 1996). Dilbert and his creator Scott Adams have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Inc. and most recently on the cover of Business Ethics (July/August 1996). Also checkout and bookmark, The Dilbert Zone web site at: http://www.united media.com/comics/dilbert the world can be redeisgned in such a way that it can work literally 10 times more efficiently with a consequent reduction in materials, energy and pollution, and that it can be done at negative cost with positive impacts on employment.More company practices, shareholder resolutions, stakeholder questions, responsible 401(k) plans and pension management. Other new books: The Bioneers by Kenny Ausubel, The Corporate Report Card by the Council on Economic Priorities and a new magazine on Good Business.

CHANGEPOINTS: 1) The American Medical Association (AMA) recent call for divestment from 14 major tobaco companies and almost 1500 mutual funds with tobacco holdings was, to say the least, impressive. Perhaps soon they should do the same to Alcohol manufacturers? Health professionals know the mammoth price paid by society for alcohol related driving accidents and diseases.

2) Burma and its Government/Military Dictatorship is target of international boycotts and possible sanctions because of human rights violations. U.S. companies still doing business in Burma include Pepsi, Texaco and Unocal. Pepsi is facing an international student-led consumer boycott and lost a $1 million contract at Harvard due to its business activities in Burma. Other actions include: City & State government purchasing restrictions and a series of shareholder resolutions from religious and socially-conscious investors.

3) America00 Best Corporate Citizens were recently named by Business Ethics magazine in their May/June 1996 issue. Their top ten: Campbell Soup, Adolph Coors, Microsoft, H.B. Fuller, Medtronic, Norwest, Consolidated Freightways, York International, Wholesome and Hearty Foods, and Frontier Corporation. 4) Other changes of note: Protests at the Nike store in Portland, Oregon Harassment lawsuit at Mitsubishi Motors The mediancreased covereage of corporate responsibility issues.

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

Back to Top

Back to Eco-nomics Directory

Home