Corporate social responsibility

We believe corporations are obliged to act consistent with the short and long term interests of consumers.
 
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  • Updated:17 Apr 2008
 

01 .Corporate social responsibilty

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The issue

Social Responsibility means different things to different people.

At CHOICE, we believe corporations have an obligation to act consistent with the short and long term interests of consumers.

This includes developing and distributing good quality products at fair prices, and it includes a focus on worthwhile product innovation.

But it also includes:

  • respecting consumers' rights
  • trading fairly
  • acting to protect the environment
  • working for a fairer and more sustainable society

What we want

First and foremost we want corporations to focus their approach to social responsibility on their core business. They should ensure all their trading practices are ethical, their consumer contracts are fair and their political activity is transparent.

They should ensure they tell the whole truth to their customers - and other stakeholders including staff, regulators and policy makers.

Sponsoring a worthwhile cause or investing in an area of social activity removed from their business will not absolve a corporation of unfair contract terms, unethical marketing or regulatory deception.

What we're doing

We have developed our own Social Responsibility Strategy. It focuses on our publishing and advocacy activities as well as committing us to reducing our environmental footprint and other programs.

We have launched a campaign on Green Claims.

We have significantly increased the number of consumer information we publish on sustainable consumption and other social responsibility items.

 
 

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02.Building community capacity

 

Public demand for sustainable operations is growing rapidly, with Triple Bottom Line reporting being just one significant response to this demand.

The motivation for increasing corporate social responsibility and reporting is varied. While leading edge companies are genuinely moving in this direction, for some it remains primarily a goodwill exercise or a way of gaining a relatively short-term market advantage or improved public perceptions of their operations. This may, in the longer term, disadvantage those who are really committed to making a difference environmentally and socially.

The NSW Premier’s forum in October 2001 identified that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is underpinned by three key components – doing business responsibly, taking leadership in the community interest, and Triple Bottom Line reporting and accountability.

At the global scale, community-based non-government organisations are having significant input to major sustainability processes. However, in Australia the community sector has to date had only limited involvement in the development of corporate sustainability.

As the Industry and Service System Change Working Group in the Premier’s Community Builders program identifies, a key issue is “to support and improve NGOs’ capacity to influence and manage change”. The Total Environment Centre (TEC) sought funding from the Premier’s Department to further its earlier work enhancing community sector ability to engage with and influence this corporate change process.

The report below presents the outcomes of a Community Builders’ project in which the Total Environment Centre (assisted by consultants Community Solutions) worked with the Australian Consumers’ Association, the NSW Labor Council and the NSW Council of Social Service, to build effective working relationships between community sector participants, interested corporate sector representatives and others. Together the project partners developed a “toolkit” designed to enhance the ability of community sector organisations and individuals, to better influence corporate sector progress towards real ecologically and socially sustainable development.

Links to ACA's partner websites: 

        Total Environment Centre 
        NSW Labor Council 
        NSW Council of Social Service

Read the full report in PDF — Building Community Capacity: Assessing Corporate Sustainability
Here's also a useful collation of various ways of assessing sustainability in PDF: Collated summary of Principles of Sustainability
You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these reports. This is free software.