Tag Archives: governance

Why do Companies Find it so Hard to Choose Between Profit and Principle?

Businesses with ties to the Xinjiang province in China find themselves at a junction.

Caught in debates concerning Uyghur people being the victim of modern slavery and genocide, they must deal with concerns expressed by Western governments and human rights groups, and an increasingly agitated Chinese Communist Party.

Some commentators have suggested that foreign companies that (in)directly profit from the systematic exploitation of Uyghurs in China must choose between profit and principle.

It seems like a straightforward question: do companies want to profit from the state-organised repression, exploitation and extermination of an ethnic minority, or do companies condemn the treatment of Uyghur people in China and deal with the backlash?

The conundrum underlying the question is as old as capitalism itself: what social costs are we willing to accept in order for companies to make a profit?

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New book reveals modern slavery is all around us

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It’s estimated that 40.3 million people are enslaved around the world.

For many Australians, the concept of modern-day slavery may seem implausible. But it’s estimated that 40.3 million people are enslaved around the world, more than ever before in human history.

The Global Slavery Index estimates 15,000 people were living in modern slavery in Australia in 2018.

Addressing Modern Slavery examines how consumers, business and government can help eradicate one of the big challenges of our time.

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How can a Bank Win a Sustainability Award While Funding a Coalmine?

Westpac was named the most sustainable company in the world in 2014, and the most sustainable bank in the world for the 10th time in 2017, an honour previously bestowed on ANZ six times in seven years.

Commonwealth Bank and NAB have likewise been recognised as the most sustainable business in Australia and a global industry leader in sustainability respectively.

Glossy sustainability reports with images of hands cradlings sprouting plants illustrate this carefully cultivated image of responsible corporate citizenship.

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Best and Worst Companies for Women on Boards Revealed

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Medibank Private, Mirvac Group, DUET Group, Spark Infrastructure and Woolworths are among the top ASX 100 companies for appointing women to boards, a new report says.

Some of the worst in the same index include TPG Telecom and Qube Holdings, with no female board members. Westfield had one woman on its board out of 12 spots and Oil Search has one out of nine, the Catalyst think tank report released on Tuesday shows.

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Companies Prefer Ticking Boxes to Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Research shows when there are three women on a board, as opposed to one, they are seen as individuals rather than the “female voice”. Image: Shutterstock
Research shows when there are three women on a board, as opposed to one, they are seen as individuals rather than the “female voice”. Image: Shutterstock

“Empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the 2016 World Economic Forum. Although the worldwide trend to promote equal opportunities has also impacted Australia, progress in the corporate world is slow and a change in pace is required. Improving disclosures is a good place to start.

In 2010, the ASX Corporate Governance Council made several amendments to its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. The most prominent change was that companies should publicly disclose the number of female directors, senior managers and total number of women in the workforce, as well as progress against diversity objectives established by the board.

New research by Catalyst Australia finds that ASX50 listed companies – Australia’s largest companies and industry leaders – tick all the gender reporting boxes. But while some progress is made concerning women on boards, facilitating the career advancement of women into executive positions remains a problem area.

Likewise, while ASX50 companies do refer to pay equity, our research finds their disclosures are limited and often do not include figures for management or the workforce.

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A Critical Analysis of Sustainable Finance

unep sustainable finance

This paper seeks to assess how the international banking community is building sustainability into corporate strategies; how effectively these strategies are being implemented; how sustainability is being embedded into key business processes and decisions; and how sustainability principles are reflected in reporting. It presents an assessment of the sustainability performance of banks using a range of frequently used indicators, while also scrutinizing the indicators by examining the extent to which they effectively measure the performance and commitments of banks. While many banks achieve high scores on these indicators, there is evidence that there are significant flaws which are not adequately addressed.

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Ethical Dilemmas in Modern Supply Chains

Modern supply chains are long, complex and global, making it harder for businesses to know who they’re really dealing with, and for consumers to feel confident they’re buying ethically. The negative consequences of that complexity can be as devastating as the deadly Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, which galvanised public opinion about the conditions under which our clothing is produced. Revelations about Australia’s food industry in a recent ABC Four Corners report show there are issues to be addressed at home too. So, the conversation has turned to the need to build responsible supply networks and the challenges in doing that. That’s the focus of the Sustainable Supply Network Initiative at UTS Business School and  this #think public lecture.

supply chain lecture UTS

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Mind the Governance Gap: Banks Gilding the Sustainability Lily

The GFC has shown that unsustainable banking activities can bring the economic system to the brink of collapse. A new report by Catalyst Australia examines to what degree banks can also cause or alternatively mitigate social and environmental harm, and what are the resulting responsibilities towards the community and the environment?

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The Sustainability Record of Australia’s Big Banks

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Australian companies will soon be publishing financial results, as well as information about sustainability efforts. Corporate social responsibility of the big four banks – Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac is a continuing topic of debate following recent scandals and reports of unsustainable activities. Yet according to ANZ chairman, David Gonski, Australians ought to “stop bashing the banks” for being large and profitable. This comment should put civil society on guard.

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