The Magazine of Corporate Responsibility

Volkswagen’s Next Challenge: Keep Scandal from Happening Again (0)

September 29, 2015 • Category: Business Ethics, Featured Story, International, Leadership

Columnist Gael O’Brien says Volkswagen’s confession to rigging emissions standards on millions of diesel cars means the company’s board and new CEO, Matthias Müller (left), need to understand and correct what made it possible for illegal and unethical choices to be made when obstacles to business goals surfaced. What prevented anyone from speaking up or if anyone did, from being heard? And what are leaders willing to do to change that?

Full Story»

Business Ethics»

‘I Swear I Will Be Ethical’: Why an Oath is Just a Start (0)

Some 90,000 bankers in the Netherlands are now required to take an oath pledging integrity, an effort to help restore confidence in the financial industry. Other proposals are being considered in countries and industries where employees are being asked to publicly reaffirm their commitment to a code of conduct. Columnist Gael O’Brien says such oaths are fine but not enough; what’s needed is strong, consistent corporate leadership that shapes enduring ethical cultures.

Compliance & Governance»

Secret Tapes Hint at Turmoil in New York Fed Team Monitoring JPMorgan (0)

As the Federal Reserve Bank of New York moved to beef up its oversight of Wall Street two years ago, the team charged with supervising the nation’s largest bank, JPMorgan Chase, was in turmoil. Fed examiners embedded at JPMorgan complained about being blocked from doing their jobs. In frustration, some requested transfers.

Corporate Political Spending»

Corporate Speech and the First Amendment: History, Data and Implications (0)

A 2015 working paper from Harvard Law School, “Corporate Speech and the First Amendment: History, Data and Implications,” indicates that Citizens United, while certainly important, is only the latest in a series of cases that have expanded corporate use of the First Amendment. In his research, the author, John C. Coates IV, performed an analysis of nearly 13,000 Supreme Court decisions from 1946 to December 2014.


Why More Companies Are Speaking Out on Social Issues (1)

Boeing and IBM were among the large employers in South Carolina calling for the Confederate Flag to end its reign over the state capital last week. They are among a larger group of companies increasingly speaking out on issues such as anti-gay discrimination, immigration and race relations. Columnist Gael O’Brien offers thoughts on what’s driving the trend – social conscience or self-interest – and whether it matters.

EarthTalk - Consumer Info»

How Can Teachers Integrate Sustainabiity Topics Into Their Curricula? (0)

Teaching our kids about sustainability and green living is one of the most important things we can do to safeguard the future of humanity and the planet we inhabit. The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) reports that environmental education teaches children how to learn about and investigate their environment and to make intelligent, informed decisions about sustainability.


Why Thanksgiving Day Store Openings Are Bad Business (0)

Major U.S. retail chains like Target and K-Mart are being criticized by some consumer groups for opening on Thanksgiving Day. Columnist Gael O’Brien finds she agrees with the critics. In the rush for short-term profits, she says, companies are “losing capital” with their employees and damaging their reputations as responsible corporate citizens.


Plagiarism: Why Some Smart People Do Some Very Stupid Things (0)

When U.S. Senator John Walsh (pictured left) was accused of plagiarizing a masters thesis, he initially attributed the act partially to post traumatic stress disorder related to military service. He later recanted and quit the race for his seat in the Senate. The Army War College has since rescinded the masters degree. “The consequence of plagiarism,” writes columnist Gael O’Brien, “is like a time-released capsule imploding at a vulnerable moment in a career.”

Ethics Case Scenarios»

Reducing Waste in Retail Store Operations (0)

“I work for the Gap and know firsthand the amount of waste that’s produced at my store. Can you suggest ways retail stores can reduce waste? And how can I get a conversation started with the people upstairs about recycling and being less wasteful?”

Executive Compensation»

CEO Pay: ‘Time to Retire the Rock Star Messiah Myth’ (1)

Pay packages for CEOs of U.S.-based companies continue out of control, writes columnist Gael O’Brien, with boards often succumbing to “fear-based” compensation practices that undermine the potential for collaborative leadership and sustainability. She notes new research which disputes conventional wisdom that CEOs can easily move to the next company if not paid well. “Tackling excessive CEO compensation,” O’Brien writes, “is the first step in creating a new normal.”


NYU’s New Campus in Abu Dhabi: An Education in Human Rights Practice (0)

A recent New York Times investigation exposed ongoing labor and human rights abuses of foreign migrant workers who built New York University’s new campus in Abu Dhabi. The practices were contrary to a code of conduct NYU had pledged in 2009 would protect workers. The crisis hit several days before the first commencement at the campus last week in Abu Dhabi.


Intuit Mistake Angers Customers and Highlights Question: Why? (0)

Columnist Gael O’Brien examines an embarrassing customer misstep by financial software giant Intuit and suggests that corporate leaders should more closely question the “why” of major business decisions. “It is a powerful deterrent to mistakes,” she says, “and a key asset in keeping trust.”


Examining Success for Net Neutrality: A Lesson in Digital Power (0)

The failure of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger in April 2015 had many causes, but certainly the substantial amount of public attention to the issue of net neutrality over the past two years contributed to it. How exactly net neutrality rose from a somewhat obscure issue to one of mass attention stands as a compelling case study in new forms of digital communications — and the degree to which online actors may play a role in shaping public policy.


Sustainability Reporting Group Issues First Standards for SEC Filings (0)

A new initiative to develop standards for reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues by publicly-held U.S. companies has launched its first set of standards – for the health care sector – with ambitious plans to develop similar standards for more than 80 industries in 10 sectors over the next two years.


Investor Relations and the Value of Human Intelligence (0)

With the increasing activism of the public generally and institutional investors specifically it is more important than ever for the leaders of companies to take a proactive and honest effort to understand how public audiences view the operations and management of the organization.


VIDEO: Bill Gates on Philanthropy During a Recession (0)

In an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates discusses the challenges of philanthropy in an economic recession and how his tenure at Microsoft prepared him for his new job running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Trying to Break the Sweatshop Business Model (1)

One of the most persistent corporate responsibility issues for many global brands is how to manufacture products in less developed countries while paying fair wages and maintaining acceptable working conditions. The New York Times reports on an experiment by a U.S. clothing company that is paying factory workers in the Dominican Republic a “living wage” – three times the average pay of the country’s apparel workers.

Regulation & Legislation»

Housing Enforcement Group Sues M&T Bank for Discrimination (0)

One of the nation’s largest banks discriminates against black, Latino and Asian homebuyers by offering lesser qualified white borrowers higher loan amounts and using hidden racial criteria in one of its loan programs, according to a lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Manhattan. The suit also accuses the bank of steering homebuyers to certain neighborhoods based on their race or ethnicity.

Socially Responsible Investing»

Report: Managing Environmental and Social Risk Helps Create More ‘Valuable’ Enterprise (0)

Companies that invest in the management of environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks are far better prepared to deal with business “shocks” and can demonstrate to investors a “resilience” that potentially translates into higher stock market valuations, according to a new report by the consulting firm Deloitte.


How to Get Involved in Earth Day 2014 – That’s April 22! (0)

This coming April 22 will mark the 44th annual celebration of Earth Day, and the focus this year will be green cities. “As the world’s population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever,” reports Earth Day Network.


“Business in Society” Program Covers CSR Issues on TV (0)

A new television/video program, “Business In Society,” delivering news and analysis on how business is addressing global society’s macro problems — among them, the environment, energy conservation, and women’s empowerment — debuts Saturday, March 30th, 2013.