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Business Ethics in the News

A discussion on the week's top business ethics stories by Professor Kirk O. Hanson, Executive Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and Patrick Coutermarsh, Fellow in Applied Ethics and recent graduate of Santa Clara University.

The following postings have been filtered by category The Good News. clear filter
  •  THE GOOD NEWS: Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan

    Friday, Apr. 11, 2014
    Source: Wikipedia
    Source: Wikipedia

    Unilever announced this week that all its factories across Europe are now sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfills. Now on par with its North America factories, the effort in Europe is part of the larger “Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.” The Plan aims to substantially decrease waste by the year 2020, despite large increases in production.

    Already, Unilever has reduced total waste sent for disposal by 66% per ton of production since 2008. Management credits the cultivation of the “zero mindset” that included empowering employees to create projects to solve sustainability related problems. Not to mention, their efforts have saved Unilever factories over $23 million in disposal costs!

    Over 75% of Unilever's factories achieve zero non-hazardous waste to landfill

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically

     

    NEXT STORY: Clawback Policies and Executive Accountability

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: Keurig Green Mountain Invests In Clean Water Initiatives

    Thursday, Mar. 20, 2014
    Source: Wikipedia
    Source: Wikipedia

     Wednesday, Keurig Green Mountain announced an $11 million commitment to address local and global water challenges. The partnership is aimed at improving water access, conservation, and watershed restoration. Here are the four partners:

    Later this year, Keurig is also hosting the first ever Keurig Green Mountain Water Summit to convene water experts to address the global water crisis.

    Being 98% of a cup of coffee, quality water is a must for a solid cup of joe. Kudos to Green Mountain for thinking beyond their immediate interests and turning this fast fact into a meaningful campaign.

    Working With Others For Clean Water (Keurig Green Mountain)

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically (Markkula Center)

     

    NEXT STORY: Ackman vs. Herbalife - selling short and trashing the company

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: Chipotle Lists Climate Change as a Material Risk

    Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014
    Source: Wikipedia
    Source: Wikipedia

    In its 10-K annual report, Chipotle listed “increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns” as a material risk that could inhibit their ability to provide a number of their most popular ingredients. A Chipotle spokesperson shrugged off questions on the disclosure stating, “It’s routine financial disclosure, nothing more than that.” But climate change advocates see this as a significant advancement. They argue that Chipotle’s disclosure will set the precedent for shareholders of other companies to demand that their company either do the same or explain why climate change is not a material risk. We see this as a great step forward in corporations participating in meaningful dialogue on climate change, and we give all the credit to Chipotle for making the first move.

    Why Chipotle's Warning About Guacamole And Climate Change Are Not 'Routine' (Think Progress)

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically (Markkula Center)

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: IFAD and Unilever Align to Assist Smallholder Farmers

    Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014
    Source: Wikipedia
    Source: Wikipedia

    This week, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and multi-national consumer goods corporation Unilever, announced a partnership aimed at improving food security through empowering smallholder farmers around the world.

    The 5-year agreement brings together IFAD's expertise in working with smallholder farmers with Unilever's abilities in sustainable agriculture. The partnership is aimed at improving food security through five pathways:

    1. Raising agricultural productivity
    2. Linking farmers to markets
    3. Reducing risk and vulnerability
    4. Improving non-farm rural employment
    5. Making agriculture more sustainable

    The agreement is a prime example of corporate self-interest being aligned with the achievement of social goals, but Unilever deserves all the credit for proactively forming this partnership and finding this "win-win" situation.

    IFAD and Unilever sign first global public-private partnership agreement (Unilever)

    A Framework for Ethical Thinking (Markkula Center)

     

    NEXT STORY: Unlimited Vacation - best practice or cost-cutting measure?

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: Trucost Announces 2014 Natural Capital Leaders

    Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014
    Image Source: Pixabay
    Image Source: Pixabay

    Trucost and the GreenBiz Group recently published the Natural Capital Leaders Index of 2014. The index recognizes the leading company of each industry in two categories: Natural Capital Efficiency (best use of natural capital to generate revenue) and Natural Capital Decoupling (increasing revenue while decreasing natural capital impacts).

    "The Natural Leaders index is designed to recognize natural capital leadership -- and in addition, break new ground by identifying those companies that are truly 'moving the needle' by decoupling growth from natural capital impact."

    Among the companies recognized are: PG&E, Kimberly-Clark, Ford Motor Company, eBay, and a number of others. Recognition of the progress made by these companies goes a long way in making this behavior the norm. Check out the rankings with the links below.

    2014 Natural Capital Leaders (Trucost) 

    Natural Capital Leaders Index 2014 Methodology (Trucost)

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

     

    NEXT STORY: IS THE TWO-TIER SYSTEM ETHICALLY PROBLEMATIC?

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: CVS To Pull Tobacco Products from Its Shelves

    Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014
    Source: Wikipedia
    Source: Wikipedia

    CVS Caremark, the largest drugstore chain by both sales and pharmacy sales, announced Wednesday that they would no longer sell tobacco products at its stores by October of this year.

    "We came to the decision that cigarettes and providing health care just don't go together in the same setting" - Larry J. Merlo, cheif executive of CVS.

    The company anticpiates a loss of $2 billion in sales from removing tobacco products, but hopes to make up some of that with smoking cessation programs, beginning with a campaign to help half a million Americans stop smoking. While $2 billion is a fraction of the company's $123 billion revenue (in 2012), this is a proactive measure on their part in demonstrating their commitment to health care services.

    There's also an ethical angle here as well: is this an example of CVS going above and beyond, or should we expect this from all stores with pharmacies?

    CVS Vows to Quit Selling Tobacco Products (NY Times)

    Ending Tobacco Sales in Pharmacies (Journal of American Medicine)

    A Framework for Ethical Thinking (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

     

    NEXT STORY: OLYMPIC SPONSORS HIT WITH MASS PROTESTS

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: JPMorgan Invests $1 Million in Higher Ed for Veterans

    Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

    JPMorgan Chase announced this past week that it will invest $1 million to fund higher education programs for U.S. military veterans, in partnership with Florida State College, University of South Florida, the University of Texas, and San Diego State University. The funds will be used to build programs for student veterans, aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates.

    The investment continues JPMorgan’s work with veterans, including the creation of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, dedicated to the social, economic, education, and policy issues veterans and their families face. In addition, JPMorgan has hired over 6,300 veterans itself, and leads a campaign to encourage other companies to do the same.

    We are impressed by JPMorgan’s efforts to assist veterans, and hope that more corporations follow its lead. What's your take on its new programs?

    JPMorgan Chase Announces $1 Million Investment in Higher Education Programs for U.S. Military Veterans (MarketWatch)

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

     

    NEXT STORY: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE IN A SHARING ECONOMY?

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: Wells Fargo Initiates Proactive Ethics Review

    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013

    Wells Fargo & Co. announced that it will be conducting a 2-year internal ethics review, set to start January 1st. The review will be conducted by the newly formed Ethics Program Office, along with deputy counsel, Christine Meuers. The review will examine business conduct guidelines for Well Fargo's 80+ business lines, in regards to issues such as conflict of interest, gift giving, and insider trading. 

    "[The review] is a self-initiated effort that builds on our strong track record of ethics and integrity to assess our current approach and make recommendations for continuous improvement." Mary Eshet, Wells Fargo spokeswoman

    We're delighted to see Wells Fargo taking proactive steps to create a strong ethical culture, along with preventing unlawful behavior. Check out the news story and Wells Fargo's Code of Ethics below!

    Well Fargo Plans Ethics Review Amid Bank Scrutiny (Bloomberg)

    Wells Fargo Team Member Code of Ethics and Business Conduct (Wells Fargo)

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

     

    NEXT STORY: THE PITFALLS OF PERFORMANCE-BASED PAY

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: GM Promotes First Female CEO

    Friday, Dec. 13, 2013

    General Motors made the news this week with its announcement that Mary T. Barra would be its next CEO, making her the first woman to lead a major auto company. After 33 years at GM, Ms. Barra has worn a number of hats at the company; including, engineer, plant manager, head of corporate human resources, and director of global product development.

    Current CEO Daniel F. Akerson, retiring due to his wife’s health condition, had this to say to investors: “Mary was picked for her talent, not her gender.” The auto industry has long ben male-dominated, making Ms. Barra’s promotion a major milestone for both GM, and the industry at-large. “This is truly the next chapter in G.M.’s recovery and turnaround history … And I’m proud to be a part of it.” Ms. Barra, at a town-hall style meeting at GM.

    Also, Bloomberg Businessweek published an interesting study comparing gender diversity in leadership positions versus the size of the company, inspired partly by the GM announcement (link below).

    New G.M. Chief Is Company Woman, Born to It (NY Times)

    For Women in the Boardroom, Bigger Companies Do Better (Businessweek)

    A Framework for Thinking Ethically (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

     

    NEXT STORY: HEDGE FUNDS SET TO OFFER BONUSES TO PREFERRED BOARD CANDIDATES

  •  THE GOOD NEWS: Primark Steps Forward

    Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013

    With a death toll of 1,129, the Rana Plaza factory collapse earlier this year stands as one of the most devastating industrial accidents in history. There were many ethical failings that led to the collapse, but one company is setting the example on how to move forward. Primark, a global clothing retailer based in Ireland, announced three major initiatives today continuing their support of the victims of the collapse, in addition to their efforts to improve worker conditions.

    1. Primark has set a timetable for beginning long-term compensation to the victims and/or their dependents; the first company to do so.
    2. Primark has committed to a third short-term financial payment to the victims and/or their dependents.
    3. Primark is calling upon other brands involved to make a contribution by paying short-term aid to the 3,600 workers.

    Primark spokesperson: "The Company calls on other brands sourcing from Rana Plaza to now contribute a fair share of this tranche of aid.”

    Statement from Primark Stores on Rana Plaza

    ETHICAL TRADING: Our Work in Bangladesh

     

    NEXT STORY: WHEN WASTING RESOURCES IS BETTER FOR THE BOTTOM LINE

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