Branding, CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Cruise Industry underperforming in CSR – Leeds Met Research Study

A new research by Leeds Metropolitan University reveals that the cruise industry isn’t going far enough in their corporate social responsibility towards the environment, society and the destinations they visit.
The study, published in April, 2014 in the journal, Tourism Management, analyses the industry’s lack of corporate social disclosure and ranks companies through analysis of their corporate social responsibility reports and websites to provide the first cruise sector sustainability reporting index.
Sixty five per cent of the 80 cruise companies worldwide which were analysed do not mention corporate social responsibility on their websites, and only 12 brands publish corporate social reports – belonging to only four companies: Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, TUI and Disney Cruises.
Dr Xavier Font, the lead author of the study from Leeds Metropolitan University explains: “Most companies report soft data, such as statements from their CEOs, that are easy to copy and do not show real change”.
The report highlights that more must be done by the cruise industry in terms of the environmental impact of cruise ship’s discharges, as cruises usually operate in highly valued coastal water and marine ecosystems. It is noted that some anti-fouling coating used to mitigate the impact contain hazardous chemicals which can be harmful to marine organism. The harm from ballast water is well recognised since 1970 when the International Maritime Organization noted the negative impact of non-indigenous organisms transported in the ballast water. Since 2004 there is a Convention for the Control and Management on Ship’s Ballast Water and Sediments, but that has not entered into force due to the limited signing from states (only 33) until 2012.
Cruise ships that comply with legislation and are under international regulations may still discharge comminuted and disinfected sewage using systems approved by its flag administration at a distance of more than three nautical miles from shore. To be able to claim environmental responsibility, cruise companies should use an advanced system and use it consistently, not just depending on the jurisdiction.
The study also examined the socio-economic impact of the cruise industry and highlighted previous research which reported evidence of frequent violation rights for disadvantaged groups including charges for medical examinations, visas, transport and administration putting cruise industry workers into a level of debt that cannot be repaid and is comparable to forced labour.
It also noted that there is limited public data to sustain the claim that cruise industry contributes to the economy by creating jobs and contributing to the local economy of the destinations visited. In fact, low spend cruisers are considered unproductive given the costs incurred by their impact. Additionally earnings by the supply chain are limited, as the requirements for the cruise are complex, requiring larger number of forecasted supply. Economic factors, such as fuel consumption, are the only ones considered to select destinations, but not the impact on communities. This is especially acute in small destinations where the ratio to cruise passenger per resident is high.

Branding, CSR, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

CSR Initiative: Enterprise Bank Partners Okpekpe International Road Race 2014.

Nigeria – The Okpekpe International Road Race has come and gone, but we at Socio-capitalist could not let escape the CSR Initiative involved in the project.
Enterprise Bank Limited of Nigeria has extended its corporate social responsibility (CSR) vote for wellness and physical fitness of Nigerians to the 10-kilometre Okpekpe Road Race as the Official Banker.
The annual international event, which has been endorsed by the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, and the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) is on its second edition and took place on May 3, 2014 in Okpekpe in Etsako Council of Edo State.
The bank’s sponsorship of the 2014 version of the race stems from its desire to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst Nigerians through a programme of eating right and engaging in physical fitness, a position which complements the CSR initiative of the race organizers, Pamodzi Marketing Company Limited, to promote good health in the Okpekpe environs through its malaria eradication programme.
The Okpekpe Road Race 2014 featured participants from over 10 countries and had a total prize money of about $117, 000 or N20 million. The winner of the men’s race was Ethiopian, Teshome Asafan, who went home with $25,000 (or N4.13million) on offer, $10.000 of which, was made available by the State Governor.
The event was given adequate coverage by the media, with local TV stations delivering live coverage of the race.
Okpekpe is a town in Etsako East Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. It is located about 25 kilometres (16 miles) northeast of Auchi. It has a population of 3155 inhabitants. Its people belong to a large homogeneous group of people, called the Afemai. (Wikipedia)

CSR, Law, Public Relations, Sustainable Development

Greenwashing – the extent to which companies meet their CSR promises depends on national attitudes to competition and individualism, according to Oxford Academic.

A new research into firms’ symbolic and substantive CSR practices has shed light on differing expectations of the role of business in society.

The assumption that corporations say one thing and do another when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is not far from the truth, but just how much they follow through on their promises depends on cultural interpretations of the principles of liberal economics and the perceived role and strength of the government, says Thomas Roulet, Research Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

In a paper for the Journal of Business Ethics, Thomas Roulet and his co-author, Samuel Touboul, IPAG Business School, explored the ambiguities surrounding firms’ commitments to social and environmental initiatives. They discovered that in countries where people believed strongly in the virtues of competition, firms were more likely to practise “greenwashing” – that is, to make a lot of noise about their CSR, but to do very little. In countries where liberalism was interpreted as predominantly about individual responsibility, firms were more likely to focus on concrete actions.
Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers calculated average country-level beliefs when it came to two central tenets of economic liberalism: a belief in the virtues of competition and a belief in the importance of individual responsibility. They found that developed market economies such as Switzerland, the United States, New Zealand and Canada tended to have higher cultural beliefs in favour of individual responsibility. While those countries also score highly in terms of cultural beliefs in favour of competition, it appears that countries with higher scores on this variable are fast developing countries such as India, China, and Morocco.

Mapping these country-level beliefs against the CSR actions of firms in those countries confirmed that firms are more likely to greenwash when populations’ beliefs in the virtue of competition are predominant, and when their beliefs in individual responsibility are less prominent. Therefore, in a country like Morocco, where beliefs in the virtue of individual responsibility are low, but in the virtue of competition are high, firms are more likely to greenwash. Conversely, in a country like France, where the population believes in the virtue of individual responsibility but prefers an absence of competition, firms are less likely to greenwash as they tend to implement socially and environmentally responsible actions without specifically signalling those actions.

The question is where do countries like Nigeria fall into?

CSR, Law, Sustainable Development, Uncategorized

CSR News: India sets up New Law on Social Responsibility

India has seized the initiative to promulgate a law, making corporate social responsibility mandatory for corporate organisations. This is a major step by the country, in light of the prevailing situation operative in other countries of the world, whereby companies are left to exercise CSR at their discretion. Though CSR is gaining popularity all over the world, countries have not seen the need to codify CSR into law.
Now, companies in India have to match the efforts of the State and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in initiating activities for the economic growth of the underprivileged and similarly marginalized groups as well as social causes such as animal welfare and environment.
From April 1, 2014, it has become legally binding for companies in India to be “socially responsible.”
Section 135 of the new Companies Act 2013, reads that the CSR Rules makes it mandatory for companies, meeting certain criteria, to set aside two per cent of their net profits for undertaking and promoting socially beneficial activities and projects in India. To implement this, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) recently issued the CSR Rules, 2014, to implement this legislative mandate, which came into effect on April 1, 2014.
Every company with a net worth of at least Rs 500 crore, or a minimum turnover of Rs 1,000 crore, or a minimum net profit of Rs 5 crore (approx. $1 million), has to constitute a CSR committee dedicated to undertake initiatives such as promoting women’s empowerment, improving maternal health, education, gender equality or ensuring environmental sustainability.
This is a great step in the right direction and a catalyst for development. Developing Countries should look in this direction.

Branding, CSR, Entertainment, Public Relations

CSR Initiative: Sterling Bank Sponsors Private Screening of ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’

Sterling Bank Plc of Nigeria is set to make its mark in the entertainment industry, as it sponsors two private screenings of the film, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, the $8 million dollar movie collaboration between Hollywood and Nollywood.
The film is an adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s novel which depicts the relationships between the four prime characters and how they were affected by the Nigerian Civil War, and the triumph of love, over war.
The screenings, which held in Lagos, was exclusively for the customers of the Bank and was aimed at rewarding loyalty and sustained business relationship.
This, according to the Group Head, Strategy & Communications, Mr. Shina Atilola, was in line with the major Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative of the Bank, which focuses on education, entertainment and the environment.
The film, which was directed by Biyi Bandele, featured stars like the British-Nigerian actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hollywood actresses Thandie Newton and Anika Noni Rose and veteran Nigerian entertainer Onyeka Onwenu. The lead cast is supported by several Nigerian actors including Genevieve Nnaji, O.C Ukeje, Zack Orji, Tina Mba and Gloria Young. It also stars John Boyega and Joseph Mawle.
The Bank’s spokesperson explained that the partnership between the Bank and the entertainment industry was one of great importance to the brand, as it further deepens its involvement in entertainment by the hosting and screening of a critically acclaimed global movie ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’, is just another step in that direction.
This is a good initiative in supporting the Arts.

Public Relations, Sustainable Development

How to be a Good Corporate Citizen – The CFPB Perspective.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector (Wikipedia). The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act) promulgated by the Congress established the CFPB. They work to give consumers the information they need to understand the terms of their agreements with financial companies. They work to make regulations and guidance as clear and streamlined as possible so providers of consumer financial products and services can follow the rules on their own.

The main functions of the CFPB is to protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer financial laws. Among other things, they:
•Write rules, supervise companies, and enforce federal consumer financial protection laws
•Restrict unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices
•Take consumer complaints
•Promote financial education
•Research consumer behaviour
•Monitor financial markets for new risks to consumers
•Enforce laws that outlaw discrimination and other unfair treatment in consumer finance (CFPB website)

On June 25, 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued Bulletin 2013-06 identifying “responsible business conduct” that may impact the exercise of its “enforcement discretion.” The Bulletin specifies the following four broad categories of conduct that the CFPB “may favourably consider” i.e that may make the CFPB to look favourably upon Organisations:
• Self-policing: The entity’s investment in a “robust compliance system” that “facilitate[s] early detection of potential violations,” including how the conduct was detected, procedures in place to prevent, identify or limit the identified wrongful conduct, whether executives and others high up in the chain of command knew of or participated in that conduct, and whether there were any deficiencies in compliance procedures more generally.
• Self-reporting: The entity’s “prompt and complete” reporting to the CFPB and other regulators as well as to impacted consumers of all violations or even potential violations.
• Remediation: The entity’s efforts to provide “full redress” for impacted consumers, implement procedures to prevent recurrence, and change future conduct. The CFPB will consider how long it took the entity to stop the offending conduct and begin remediation after the conduct was identified, whether there were any consequences for responsible individuals, whether the remediation addressed all monetary and non-monetary harm to impacted consumers, and whether there were any improvements to policies and procedures.
• Cooperation: The entity’s interactions with the CFPB once the CFPB becomes aware of a potential violation must go “above and beyond what the law requires” to receive credit. The CFPB will consider whether the entity undertook a thorough review of the misconduct, promptly made the results of that review available to the CFPB, created a “complete and thorough written report detailing the findings of its review,” and voluntarily disclosed of material information not requested by the CFPB. (
The world as we know it today is a global village and International Business rules of best practice are as the term states ‘International’, rules established for good conduct in any business environment, can be termed to be universal, which only need to be domiciled in any other country, by the Government of that country, to make it law. International Corporate Organisations (Multi-nationals) can learn from this four categorised actions of good conduct in other not to run foul of the enforcement agencies, especially in terms of corporate responsibility issues.

CSR, Sustainable Development

How CSR can aid developing countries to meet their MDG Targets. (Nigeria as a case study)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 189 United Nations member states, at the time, and at least 23 international organizations committed to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The goals are as follows:
1.To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2.To achieve universal primary education
3.To promote gender equality and empowering women
4.To reduce child mortality rates
5.To improve maternal health
6.To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7.To ensure environmental sustainability
8.To develop a global partnership for development
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is expiring next year.
Right now the international development community is taking stock of the progress recorded so far by member countries and is pondering over what happens after 2015.
Locally, how have corporate organisations in Nigeria helped the governments (federal, states and local) to meet the MDGs targets? Companies in the country should tailor their corporate social responsibility initiatives to suit MDGs targets.
Intervention in the various MDG goals listed above by the numerous companies operating in Nigeria would go a long way in the realisation of the MDG objectives. At the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) highlighted the positive role sustainable food systems can play in the fight against hunger. While the UN World Food Programme stated that, every day 840 million people go hungry.
Similarly, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/4 shows why education is important and paramount for development in a rapidly changing world.
These are just a few areas that companies could concentrate on in aiding the country to meet its MDG targets.
With only a year to go, maybe a law should be enacted like in India, to compel companies to spend a fraction of their profit on CSR Initiatives, which must include the ready-made MDGs 8-point agenda. The Public-Private Partnership operative in Nigeria is an operative tool/ mechanism which could be enhanced to achieving these goals.