Focus on CSR

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scams

Companies with the poorest reputations, such as Nestlé, tend to produce the highest number of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports - all of them claiming a positive impact on society.1 CSR reporting helps companies build trust and promotes the notion that self-monitored, voluntary codes are preferable to regulation.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) whose chair is also Nestlé’s chair, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, is a major player in the promotion of CSR and businesses. WEF’s Global Redesign Initiative proposes that some issues are taken off the agenda of the UN system and are addressed instead by ‘plurilateral, often multi-stakeholder, coalitions of the willing and the able.’ WEF envisages a world managed by a coalition of multinational corporations, nation states (including through the UN System) and select civil society organisations. 

The Guidelines of the Framework Convention on Tobacco recognise that CSR is a form of marketing. Of course food is different, but perhaps its time that the risks of food industry CSR are recognised.

1 Corporate Critic database list Nestle with 647 reports, Unilever 362, Danone 127, Pepsi 179 and Coca Cola 219.  Ethical Consumer Research Association gives Nestlé an Ethiscore rating of 1 on a scale from 0 (worst) to 15 (best).

2 See Holding Corporations Accountable in Global Obligations for the Right to Food and Governments should govern - corporations should follow the rules in UN Standing Committee on Nutrition journal. 


Can CSR be fixed?

Richard Howitt MEP, the European Parliament Rapporteur on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is steering a Non-Financial Reporting (NFR) Directive through Parliament to improve corporate reporting of ‘information relating to environment, society, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and diversity.’  This will require companies to report against recognised international standards – or explain why they have chosen not to do so. Whether this will improve the situation or give CSR an air of respectability it does not deserve remains to be seen.


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