New Report – Leading Companies’ CSR Policies Contradict Intended Purpose of Responsible Business Programs

NGO Says Firms are Practicing Corporate Social Irresponsibility (CSI) not Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

LONDON—World Growth, a pro-development NGO, says that leading companies are putting the world’s poor at risk with unwise corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs and endangering their capacity to service the fast growing emerging markets.

According to a report released by the group today in London, CSR policies are increasingly driven by social or environmental concerns in Western countries, which can be completely at odds with concerns in emerging markets. The report reviewed the CSR strategies of nine of the world’s leading retail and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms to assess whether their CSR policies supported economic growth and took a ‘do no harm’ approach to the world’s poor.

The report specifically found that the retail and FMCG firms are introducing purchasing policies that effectively turn their back on suppliers in developing countries.

“We are seeing companies such as Unilever, Carrefour and Nestle becoming hostage to the environmental concerns of campaign groups such as Greenpeace and WWF,” said World Growth Chairman Ambassador Alan Oxley. “Groups like Greenpeace and WWF are campaigning for large firms to drop developing-country suppliers of commodities such as beef, sugar, vegetable oil and paper if they don’t meet WWF standards on forest conservation or biodiversity.”

“These standards are not demanded by consumers or stipulated in the law of consumer or producer countries. These standards are costly to meet and will reduce the capacity of producers to generate revenue from exports and to support economic growth and reduce poverty.”
 
“By listening to the demands of campaign groups rather than the developing countries themselves, these companies are effectively turning their backs not only on the world’s poor, but also the world’s growth markets where the biggest demand in the future will lie for their products.”
 
“We assessed the CSR policies of nine companies to see if they were attuned to the interests of emerging market economies and in consideration of the world’s poor; none passed the test. Suppliers and shareholders should be questioning where the business priorities of these companies lie – in the meeting rooms of environmental activists or growth in markets such as Brazil, Indonesia and China.”

The World Growth report, Corporate Social Responsibility – How Global Business is Getting it Wrong in Emerging Markets, is the first step in a program to develop relevant CSR principles in developing economy markets. World Growth hopes to initiate a constructive dialogue with the firms assessed in the report.

Click here to read the report’s annexes.

To speak with World Growth’s experts or find out more about its work, please email media@worldgrowth.org or call +1-866-467-7200.

World Growth is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to expand the research, information, advocacy, and other resources to improve the economic conditions and living standards in developing and transitional countries. At World Growth, we embrace the age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and create jobs and opportunities. World Growth supports the production of palm oil and the use of forestry as a means to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. World Growth believes a robust cultivation of palm oil and forestry provides an effective means of environmental stewardship that can serve as the catalyst for increasing social and economic development.  For more information on World Growth, visit www.worldgrowth.org.

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