A failure to persuade: Why CSR is still a minority sport

April 1, 2016

Does a recent survey that shows the difficulty of persuading the centre-right of energy efficiency and renewable energy provide clues as to why the mainstream business voices have yet to see the light on corporate sustainability?

The Climate Outreach report referenced in this podcast can be downloaded here.

Was Nike right to ditch Sharapova – and is sport now too tainted for ethical companies?

March 18, 2016

The world of sport has been rocked by scandal after scandal recently, with corruption, doping and top athletes expressing abhorrent views. This is obviously a dilemma for sponsors, and we're seeing a trend of increasing activism by companies in defence of ethics in sport, and of their own reputations. But does it go wider than that? What role can sport play in companies' CSR programmes? And have recent events made that a more difficult proposition?


The Body Shop - Master of sustainability, or hyperbole?

February 26, 2016

The Body Shop is reputed across the world for being a company that lives its values and is more to be trusted on sustainability than most. It's now just launched a new commitment that it says will place it as "the world's most sustainable global business." But does the programme match the scale of the ambition?


Why Apple’s extraordinary fight with the FBI could redefine social responsibility in America

February 19, 2016

Apple has placed itself in direct confrontation with the FBI and the US Government, appealing directly to the hearts and minds of its customers in defence of its stand on privacy. Is it really a question of just getting access to this one phone, formerly the property of a now-deceased terrorist? Or is this part of a bigger game that has been brewing for some time?


Did we just get closer to solving the problem of palm oil?

February 12, 2016

Palm oil is big news at the moment. It's one of the world's most widely-used foodstuffs and in principle it could be quite sustainable, but its production at the moment comes at a terrible cost. Can the new 'RSPO Next' standard help? Or will it come down to the interesting science that points to a possible alternative?


Nestle and the chocolate child labour lawsuit

February 5, 2016
Valentine's day approaches, and what could be a better present for your beloved than something containing the magic ingredient - chocolate?

In a miracle of timing, companies Nestlé, Cargill and Archer-Daniels-Midland have just been told they have to face a lawsuit concerning the presence of child labor and, worse, child slavery in the cocoa supply chain. What's going on, how can it be fixed, and what can you do as a consumer who wants to be able to consume guilt-free chocolate goodness?


Why Lush wants to pay the tax that Google avoids

January 29, 2016

Google hit the headlines this week with the news that it has agreed a £130m payment to the British taxman, an amount that critics, and even some investors, have dismissed as derisory. It's just the latest chapter in an ongoing saga of revolt against the big corporations that organise their operations to pay as little tax as possible.

But some companies at least have taken the view that paying their fair share of tax is part of their overall social responsibility. Lush is one such company. What are the barriers to this sort of thinking entering the mainstream? And why do almost none of the companies in the front guard of socially responsible firms follow suit?
Includes a short excerpt from the video with Mark Constantine of Lush on YouTube. 

Trust and corporate social responsibility

January 22, 2016

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in businesses has begun to recover after the low point following the financial crisis. But how significant is a growing "trust gap" between opinion formers and the broader population? What can we learn about how companies that have had a scandal can rebuild trust?

And since 80% of people now believe that business should take a lead in solving societal problems, how much of a change in how businesses operate would have to take place for that to become reality?
You can find details about the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer here.
This episode also draws material from the excellent case study on Siemens by the Institute of Business Ethics (pdf).

DuPont and the claims against Teflon that finally stuck

January 15, 2016

DuPont used a chemical called C8, or PFOA, in the manufacture of its world famous Teflon products. But when the company allowed the chemical to be placed in a poorly maintained landfill site, it had a devastating impact on the health of people living nearby. This episode is the story of how the company was called to account by a few individuals following a trail of lies and cover-up.

Information for this episode has been drawn from the excellent three part series of articles by Sharon Lerner for The Intercept, the article on Rob Bilott by Nathaniel Rich at the New York Times, and the piece by Mariah Blake at the Huffington Post. All of these articles go into great detail of the blow-by-blow cover-up – much more detail that we can cover in a 12-minute podcast and if you can spare the time, it is a compelling read.

Fizzy drinks and obesity - Taxing times for food companies?

January 8, 2016

New research showing that putting a tax on fizzy drinks does successfully reduce their consumption has caught the attention of policy makers in different parts of the world. The growing determination to tackle the obesity crisis seems certain to take shape in a new assault on the business model of the likes of Coca Cola and PepsiCo.

Have they got the right target, and what sense should we make of all the conflicting research continually appearing on the subject? And what has been - and should be - the response of the companies who find themselves in the spotlight?