Transnational Business Governance Interactions (TBGI) Project
Professor Stepan Wood
, Acting Director of IRIS—the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability at York University (www.irisyorku.ca
), is leading an international research project on the forms and dynamics of interaction among transnational business governance initiatives. The project investigates a development that has largely escaped academic attention but is increasingly a fact of life for transnational companies, standards-setting groups and governments. From accounting standards to sustainable forestry certification, more and more of the norms and standards that govern business emanate not from conventional state institutions, but from an array of private and multi-stakeholder institutions operating in a dynamic, transnational regulatory space.
As these initiatives multiply within and across issue areas and industry sectors, they interact with one another and with state-based regulation. Such transnational business governance interactions have substantial implications for business strategy and public policy. Yet little is known about the forms and dynamics of these interactions, how they constitute larger regulatory formations, or their implications for society, economy or environment. When do these initiatives cooperate? When do they compete? Do they race one another to the top or to the bottom? Do their institutions and content converge or diverge over time? Why do some initiatives achieve quasi-monopoly status in their fields while others languish in obscurity? Do their interactions reinforce or undermine ecological sustainability, prosperity, innovation, and human rights? And how can policy actors orchestrate these interactions to promote positive outcomes?
Four university partners and a leading association of social and environmental standards-setting bodies are partnering to create an international research network on transnational business governance interactions, conduct collaborative interdisciplinary research, create policy-relevant knowledge and mobilize knowledge in support of innovative and effective policy solutions.
The partner institutions are York University (www.yorku.ca
), Arizona State University (www.asu.edu
), the London School of Economics and Political Science (www.lse.ac.uk
), the Baldy Centre for Law and Social Policy of the State University of New York at Buffalo (www.law.buffalo.edu/baldycenter
), and the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance (www.isealalliance.org
). The project is hosted by IRIS and is funded by a three-year Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The project aims to make substantial strides in improving knowledge of the important yet largely ignored dynamics of interaction in transnational business governance, and in mobilizing this knowledge in support of innovative policy solutions that promote social, environmental and economic goals.
CBSR-CBERN Research Directions Webinar Series
The Research Directions Webinar Series features research from three PhD students - research that was presented at the CBERN PhD Winter Research Meeting in March, 2013. During the 50 minute webinars, the PhD student will present their research and will receive feedback from a panel of respondents from academia and industry. The webinars will conclude with a facilitated dialogue session amongst the webinar participants and the presenter.
There is a registration fee for non-CBSR members. However, a limited number of complimentary registrations are available for CBERN and EthicsCentreCA members. Please email Michael Windle at firstname.lastname@example.org for your complimentary registration code.
Globe and Mail: Ottawa Throws its Weight Behind Social Investing
The Conservative government is throwing its support behind social-impact bonds – an experiment that rewards private investors for putting cash toward social causes.
The government on Monday released a list of projects that could be financed in this way, such as programs to build housing for people with disabilities, reduce recidivism among young offenders or encourage more young aboriginals to learn a skilled trade. Ottawa said it will work with interested groups toward launching projects.
Read the full story here
Blog: Profile: Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business
Blog: Profile: Social Economy Centre
Blog: Profile: The North-South Institute
With its 40th anniversary quickly approaching, the North-South Institute
(NSI) will soon be reflecting on the past four decades of its contributions that have made it one of Canada’s most important policy research institutions in the field of international development. Founded in 1976, the NSI has been ranked twice in previous years as the world’s number one think-tank
with a budget of less than $5 million by the Global Go To Think Tank Index, underscoring the quality of the research produced by this institution. Located in Ottawa, the organization’s main sources of funding – the Canadian International Development Agency and the International Development Research Centre.
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: Réseau d’Éthique Organisationnelle du Québec
In the past decade, Quebec has become a focal point of business ethics research and networking, reflected by the appearance of sectoral research centres and consultancies springing up around the province, and the Réseau d’Éthique Organisationnelle du Québec
(RÉOQ, or Quebec Organizational Ethics Network) is illustrative of this trend. It should be noted that while the RÉOQ emerged fairly recently as an independent actor on the business ethics “scene” in Canada, this organization is actually the offspring of the Quebec branch of the Ethics Practitioners’ Association of Canada (EPAC/APEC) which was founded in 1996
Continue reading here
Blog: New Sources of Finance Boost Urban Revitalization
There is a lot to be said about emerging trends in responsible investing, and fortunately for the socially responsible investing community, Dr. Tessa Hebb
and her team at Carleton’s Community Centre for Innovation (3ci)
are doing much of the talking these days. Dr. Hebb
is a leading advocate of SRI and social finance projects, and is responsible for developing the most cutting-edge research on the innovations in and implications of the responsible investing sector. A forthcoming journal article in the academic period Regional Studies, co-authored by Dr. Hebb
and recent Oxford University graduate Dr. Rajiv Sharma
, discusses the role of new sources of financing that are driving major infrastructural overhauls and urban revitalization in the United States.
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: The European Academy of Business in Society
The European Academy of Business in Society – also known by its acronym EABIS – is a major hub of international business ethics research located in Brussels, Belgium. Originally launched in 2002 by a conglomeration of multinational companies including IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Shell, and Unilever, as well as a number of top-tier European business schools along with the assistance of INSEAD
, the central aim of the Academy
is to stimulate and promote “sustainable business practices through partnership, learning, and research.” The creation of EABIS was predicated on a shared concern among European corporate bosses and academics for upholding the principles of corporate social responsibility in business and society. The organization receives much of its funding
from the European Commission, and additional funding may be provided by national governments in the European Union, as well as private foundations.
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: Robin Cosgrove Prize for Ethics in Finance
The Robin Cozgrove Prize for Ethics in Finance is an independent non-profit organization which was established in 2006 to honour the memory of young investment banker Robin Cosgrove
, whose international travels and experiences led him to believe that “the finance sector should serve the common good as well as making profits.” In particular, Robin had worried that young fellow finance professionals were losing sight of important guiding principles of socially responsibility and ethical practice, and he therefore committed himself to promoting “better understanding of the critical importance of trust, ethics, and personal and corporate integrity” as his life mission. Since 2006, the prize has been awarded to the winners of an annual competition established in Robin’s memory, and it strives
to “stimulate innovative ideas for promoting ethics and integrity in the finance sector.”
Continue reading here
Governing Natural Resources for Africa's Development
The unprecedented surge in commodity prices, driven by an abundance of natural resources in Africa, has led to economic growth and investment but also exacerbated social and political tension on the African continent.
Africa’s leaders increasingly recognize that the manner in which the continent’s resources are overseen and exploited is fundamental to their ability to enhance both state and human security; to contribute to sustainable development; as well as to their achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. Given the importance of natural resources as an engine of economic growth, both the positive and negative effects of resource exploitation have significant impact on political stability and social cohesion.
On May 9 and 10, 2013, The North-South Institute (NSI) will hold a two-day international forum in on ‘Governing Natural Resources for Africa’s Development.’ The NSI Ottawa Forum will distill from the growing body of knowledge and experience associated with natural resource extraction, policies and practices that can best produce positive outcomes for all key stakeholders – local communities, extractive sector investors, civil society groups, international organizations, multilateral donor agencies and host governments.
2nd International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility & Sustainable Development
Sustainable development (SD) has captured our imagination as the rallying call to reconcile many big ideas: the tensions between respect for the natural environment, social justice, and economic development; the long view versus short-term imperatives; the competing priorities of north and south, east and west; the separate agendas of business, consumers, communities, civil society, and government.
The second international symposium will explore emerging issues in corporate responsibility and sustainable development. Presentations and debates will highlight current thinking and how these issues are currently being addressed around the world. The event is being co-organized by CBERN partner, the Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
A "Call for Papers" has been issued - details available here
Blog: Profile: Carleton Centre for Community Innovation (3Ci)
Founded in 1997 as a node of “research, education and program management,” the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation – housed at the School of Public Policy and Administration
– is one of the country’s foremost establishments for innovation “in non-profit and philanthropic management, social finance, responsible investment, community-based economic development, and local governance.”
Today, the central mission of 3Ci is to develop and promote social finance projects for the benefit of domestic and international “geographic communities and communities of interest” in order to help these communities improve the quality of life for their citizens.
Continue reading here
New Academic Journal: Business Ethics Journal Review
The Business Ethics Journal Review is a new, peer-reviewed academic journal, aiming to combine the best of old-world scholarly publishing with the best of Web 2.0.
BEJR will publish short, peer-reviewed Commentaries on business ethics articles published in the standard, hard-copy academic journals. Every Commentary will be published on , in high-quality PDF format. And every Commentary will be followed by a Comments section, to allow the broadest possible participation in discussion.
APPE Annual Meeting: Lunch with an Author featuring Wesley Cragg
APPE is proud of their authors and of the contributions they make in advancing the field of practical and professional ethics. The Annual Meeting provides many opportunities for authors to showcase their work, get helpful and meaningful feedback, and to help others advance as colleagues and prospective authors.
The APPE is fortunate to have eleven books showcased on Lunch with an Author at the 2013 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. This year's "Lunch with an Author" features CBERN Principal Investigator Wesley Cragg
. Wesley will discuss his recently published edited collection "Business and Human Rights"
Wesley Cragg (Author, Editor), "Business and Human Rights"
The human rights issues have long played an important role in the strategies of, and the roles played by, corporations around the world. This book focuses on these issues from both theoretical and practical perspectives. The authors examine the nature of and the limits of human rights responsibilities of business. They explore whether the protection of human rights should play a role in the regulation of international trade by bodies like the World Trade Organization and examine the effectiveness of voluntary standards in the clothing textiles trade, mining, advertising and the pharmaceutical industry. Long thought to be the exclusive jurisdiction of governments, the relationship between business and human rights has emerged in the last two decades as one of the most pressing issues in the field of business ethics. Do corporations have human rights responsibilities? If so, what is that nature of those responsibilities and do they differ in any significant way from those of governments? Is it reasonable or realistic to expect corporations to respect human rights in environments where governments, particularly in the developing and underdeveloped world, need economic development and have a limited capacity and/or interest in enforcing human rights standards and laws? Integrating theory and practice, the authors include discussion of the debates leading to the creation of the ISO 26000 standard and the United Nations human rights framework for business entities. They also explore the implications of the current debate for international trade agreements and trade with China. Scholars and students in management, philosophy, political science, and sociology will find this volume a great resource, as will activists, managers and policy makers.
Contributors include: J. Bishop, T. Campbell, C. Coumans, W. Cragg, B. Hamm, A. Macleod, P. Potter, C. Sampford, A. Wellington, F. Wettstein, S. Wood
Blog: Event Snapshot: 16th Annual Conference of the JD/MBA Students' Association
The business ethics conference circuit is already kicking into high gear, as demonstrated by the 16th Annual Conference of the JD/MBA Students’ Association which was held at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Toronto on February 8th. The Conference was celebrated as the premiere meeting of JD/MBA candidates in Canada, and it was well-attended by top brass from law firms, financial enterprises, as well as academic experts from Osgoode Hall Law School
and the Schulich School of Business.
The theme of the 16th Annual Conference of the JD/MBA Students’ Association for this year was reflected in the sub-title of the Conference – “Industrious Elements: At the Intersection of Law, Business, and Mining.”
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: Corporate Knights
Established in 2002, Corporate Knights
is a Canadian-based “media, research, and financial products company focused on quantifying and animating clean capitalism drivers for decision-makers,” which has also extended its operation to the United States. The mission of the company
is grounded in the concept of ‘clean capitalism’ which calls upon corporations to adopt environmental, social, and corporate governance policies that encourage sustainability and positive growth for both investors and communities across the globe. Since its inception, Corporate Knights has risen to prominence as a leading media outlet on business ethics and corporate social responsibility practices, and is particularly noted for its popular quarterly, the Corporate Knights Magazine.
Aside from its activities in print media, Corporate Knights has also transitioned to producing market research and financial instruments for corporate clients. This area of the company’s operations are managed through a subsidiary branch, Corporate Knights Capital
, which provides the latest statistical data on over 2000 companies which is measured through fifteen key international equity benchmarks.
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: Social Investment Organization
Originally established in 1989, the Social Investment Organization
(SIO) has come to be known as one of the most respected voices on socially responsible investing (SRI) in the Canadian business community. As a non-profit network with more than 400 corporate members across the country, the SIO’s guiding mission
is to “promote the practice of sustainable and socially responsible investment in Canada.” The SIO’s work is predicated on a four-point mandate which calls for the organization to fill a leadership role “in furthering the use of social and environmental criteria within the investment community in Canada; to raise public awareness of socially responsible investing; to establish the case for environmental/social analysis with other investment organizations; [and] to provide a forum and information source on socially responsible investment” for both its members and Canadian civil society on the whole.
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: The Hennick Centre for Business and Law
The Hennick Centre for Business and Law
, founded in 2006 with a generous donation by corporate lawyer Jay Hennick and wife Barbara, is a unique Canadian research institution which strives “to promote and develop joint business and law scholarship and education.” Located within one of the country’s premiere law schools, the Hennick Centre is a joint initiative between Osgoode Hall
and the world-class Schulich School of Business
at York University where cutting-edge research is undertaken that tackles corporate and legal issues in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary manner. The Centre is a hub of intellectual exchange between legal and business professionals, and one of the central goals of this institution is to help double the number of JD/MBA graduates over the next decade.
As the main benefactor of the combined JD/MBA program at York University – the oldest of its kind, dating back to 1972 – the Hennick Centre promotes this joint curriculum through numerous event offerings, culminating in the annual JD/MBA Student Conference
. The Centre also plays host to numerous other conferences, seminars, and workshops each year, such as an annual program on the commercialization of intellectual property, joint events with FAIR Canada
on fiduciary standards, a half-day seminar on gender diversity with the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School, and a policy consultation report produced in tandem with Jantzi-Sustainalytics.
Continue reading here
Blog: Engaging Stakeholders – a Key to Developing Canadian CSR Policy
The road to establishing an inclusive structure for the development of corporate social responsibility (CSR) benchmarks in Canada has been fraught with concerns about the breadth of stakeholder involvement since the very earliest days of government interest in CSR practices and policies. The desire to produce a CSR framework with the input of all sectors of Canadian civil society has been a journey that is often beset by questions of a practical nature which often boil down to concerns about how equal representation can be assured for all stakeholders who are affected by corporate projects at home and abroad.
Dr. Susan Dieleman
, a tenure-track assistant professor in the Philosophy Department at Dalhousie University prepared a preliminary report on the issue of multi-stakeholder negotiations as a follow-up to the federal government-sponsored National Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility which were held between 2006 and 2007 in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. In her report, Dieleman does not attempt to answer the question of whether these Roundtables – which she refers to as the “stakeholder advisory council” – were successful in their own right; rather, she is “interested to know what questions need to be answered to determine whether the Roundtables were a good example of the use of stakeholder theory.”
Continue reading here
Teaching business ethics: "more than just words"
The latest business school to take up the challenge is Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, with a new program of education and research on “ethical leadership.” The program, to be offered through the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre at the Toronto-based management school, will have its official unveiling on Jan. 30.
The notion of business ethics as akin to mom and apple pie is not lost on Chris MacDonald, a philosopher who joined the school last fall and has been named the first director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education and Research Program. “Leadership is great and ethical leadership is even better,” he comments. “It is easy to get people to line up and nod their heads and say it is really important.”
Read more at Theglobeandmail.com
New Ryerson program to help business students become "ethical leaders"
What does it mean to lead responsibly? To lead ethically?
A new Ryerson University initiative hopes to help students, faculty, and the wider business community tackle these tough questions directly.
Thanks to a gift from Canadian business leader Jim Pattison, Ryerson University recently established The Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education and Research Program. The program, hosted by Ryerson's Ted Rogers Leadership Centre, will begin its ethical leadership programming as early at this fall.
Read more at youngstreetmedia.ca
Blog: Profile: Earth Day Network
Chances are that if you live in a major urban centre in any one of approximately 170 countries worldwide, you’ve heard of “Earth Day” at the very least – if you haven’t actually participated in, or witnessed any events dedicated to this globally celebrated event. The history of Earth Day – observed on April 22nd each year – is traced back to the work of environmental activists around the world who joined forces to raise awareness about the precarious state of the planet, its environment, and our role in the big picture of sustainability, social responsibility, and environmental governance.
Launched in 1970, an estimated 1 billion people take part in this international experience
with participation in charity concerts, rallies, school presentations, tree-planting, and other educational activities related to this green holiday. One of the most decisive turning points for social responsibility
emerged out of Earth Day activism and “inspired the US Congress to pass clean air and water acts, and establish the Environmental Protection Agency to research and monitor environmental issues and enforce environmental laws.”
Continue reading here
Blog: 2013 Corporate Engagement Focus List: Who to Watch
With business quickly coming back into full swing following weeks of holiday paralysis and New Year celebrations, Canadian investors are rapidly adjusting their portfolios with the next 365 days in mind to reflect new trends in the first quarter, and ample guidance regarding investment options is available in the form of the 2013 Corporate Engagement Focus List
released by Toronto-based NEI Ethical Investments
. By virtue of its physical location, nestled in the centre of Canada’s corporate heartland, NEI’s corporate relationships and connections throughout the Canadian business scene give the company a unique perspective by which to observe, measure, and report on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) practices as well as ethical investment opportunities throughout Canada.
Published annually in the fourth quarter, NEI’s Corporate Engagement Focus List (CEFL) highlights important business ethics stories that will be making headlines in the new year through identifying both emerging corporate leaders, as well as those companies which are at risk of failure to fulfill responsibilities vis-à-vis sustainability and corporate social responsibility. NEI’s 2013 Focus List reveals that the company’s theme for ethical business in the New Year is to be centred around the philosophy of “making a difference through targeted action,” by adopting corporate engagement as the preferred vehicle for contributing to an economy which “works for people and the environment.”
Continue reading here
CBERN to Organize “Mining, Ethics and Sustainability Stream” at World Mining Congress 2013
The “Mining, Ethics and Sustainability" program stream is being organized and administered by CBERN, as part of the World Mining Congress
. The purpose of the “Mining, Ethics and Sustainability Stream” of the World Mining Congress is to assess the character and the boundaries of the emerging economic, social and environmental responsibilities of mining in the 21st century required to obtain a social license to operate.
The “Mining, Ethics and Sustainability" program stream will be the core conference event for CBERN’s 6th Annual Conference
, to be held in Montreal in August, 2013.
A call for papers and case studies will be issued by late spring 2012. The call for papers will seek contributions for the “Mining, Ethics and Sustainability" program stream that will explore the ethical responsibilities of mining and the capacity of mining to contribute to sustainable development.
2013 International Business Ethics Case Competition
Teams of 3-5 students participate in a variety of competitions (20-to-30 minute presentation followed by Q&A; 10-minute presentation; 90-second presentation), all of which are judged by practicing ethics and compliance professionals. Each team selects a topic from any area of business ethics and describes both the problem and a proposed solution. Approximately $12,000 in prize money will be awarded to overall winners, runners-up, and divisional winners.
Please contact Kirsten Nordblom
(Knordblom@lmu.edu or 310.338.2321) or Thomas White
(email@example.com or 310.338.4523) to reserve a spot in the event as soon as possible.
Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainabilty Announces New Director, Bob Page
Bob Page, University of Calgary, moved on November 1, 2012 from TransAlta Professor of Environmental Management and Sustainability to become the new Director of the Enbridge Centre for Corporate Sustainability at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary. The Centre will focus on the tools for corporate sustainability in the energy sector (oil, gas, electricity). Bob is currently completing a study of the 25 year work of the National Round Table on Environment and Economy, and public policy decision making in Ottawa on environment, economy and sustainability.
Blog: Building the Canadian Advantage – Ottawa’s Approach to Corporate Social Responsibility
As a major player in the global mining sector, with Canadian mining companies accounting for some “43 percent of global exploration expenditures” and with “over 75 percent of the world’s exploration and mining companies…headquartered in Canada”, the country undoubtedly holds a unique position in establishing corporate social responsibility
benchmarks on not only the national level, but also on the world stage by extension.
Due to Canada’s prominence and important leadership role in the resource extractive sector, in March 2009, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) released a report entitled “Building the Canadian Advantage: A Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector” (to be referred to as the “BCA Report” herein). It is in this report that the federal government outlined a four-tier policy approach to ensuring that Canadian companies become the most competitive players in the international market based on “their ability to manage social and environmental risks”.
Continue reading here
Blog: Organizational Profile: EthicsCentre CA
The Canadian Centre for Ethics and Corporate Policy (CCECP) – better known by its agnomen “EthicsCentre CA” since 2002 – is an organisation that has been a tireless promoter of “ethical orientation and culture in Canadian organisations” since its inception in 1988. The roots of this organisation are found in faith-based activities and can be traced back to the King Bay Chaplaincy
that was established by Rev. Graham Tucker in the 1980s. The Chaplaincy
was designed to be a spiritual centre in downtown Toronto specifically designed to give professionals at high-stress financial firms reprieve during major global financial turmoil during that decade. Building upon his experience as head of the Chaplaincy, Rev. Tucker and his colleagues decided in 1988 to establish a non-denominational organisation that would work to instill their visions of ethical business principles throughout Canadian civil society.
Today, EthicsCentre CA operates as a non-partisan body and registered Canadian charity, and it is a fully volunteer-staffed initiative. The penultimate mission of EthicsCentre CA is to “promote the positive role of ethical decision-making” by functioning as “a forum and catalyst for constructive discussion and debate” vis-à-vis Canadian business policies and practices, as well as those of other domestic actors. With its headquarters located in the heart of downtown Toronto – the financial capital of Canada – the EthicsCentre CA staff is within a stone’s throw of some of the most pivotal corporate offices in the country. The close proximity to Canada’s corporate heartland makes EthicsCentre CA uniquely positioned to work alongside major players in the world of Canadian business and finance
, such as partners like the BMO Financial Group, CIBC, Deloitte, Export Development Canada, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and Sun Life Financial (just to name a few).
Continue reading here
Blog: Profile: Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility
Ryerson University, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, is quickly becoming a major focal point of research and scholarship on corporate social responsibility, an increasingly hot-button topic in the world of business and finance. Since 1993, when the school was awarded full university status by the government of Ontario, Ryerson has evolved to include some of the most cutting-edge faculties in various disciplines
, including broadcasting, engineering, and finance. The Ted Rogers School of Management, housed at Ryerson University, is Canada’s biggest business school
and is formally “accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – a designation achieved by less than five percent of business schools worldwide.”
It is from within the Ted Rogers School of Management that some of the latest and most innovative ideas are emerging related to the study of corporate social responsibility. Indeed, the home page of the Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility makes clear that the aim of this institution is to become the leader in CSR research and scholarship
, an objective that the university has adopted, “recognizing that increasingly, CSR issues are drivers for change in the business community.” According to the institute, new attitudes of “consumers, communities, workers, investors, and supply chain partners” have elicited a change in not only the study of finance and business, but in the way that actors in the business world operate. Increased consumer demands for corporate transparency, ethical investing, and sustainable development are some of the emerging elements that inform and galvanize the work of faculty members and students at Ryerson’s Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Continue reading here
Blog: Book Launch: The Rise of Global Corporate Social Responsibility
The ascent of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and socially responsible investing (SRI) practices over the past twenty years has marked a profound change in policy and practice for corporate bosses, financial chiefs, and government bureaucrats alike. Whereas prior to the 1990s the concepts of CSR and SRI were still widely unknown outside of a small circle of ethics pioneers, in the past two decades we have seen the progressive emergence and adoption of these concepts by many in the corporate world. Moreover, the move towards codifying CSR and SRI practices as benchmarks of corporate conduct has been indubitably encouraged by an ‘awakening’ amongst concerned investors who, more than ever, are demanding increased attention to the way that companies deal with issues in the areas of environmental, social, and corporate governance.
In her recently published book The Rise of Global Social Responsibility: Mining and the Spread of Global Norms
, Professor Hevina Dashwood
of Brock University provides a thorough and well-documented analysis of the adoption of corporate social responsibility practices throughout the mining and mineral exploration sectors. With the author’s research of CSR practice and policy firmly steeped in theories drawn from her own discipline, international relations, and combined with institutional approaches from organizational theory and public policy, Dr. Dashwood aptly charts a course that clearly illustrates the role which global norms have played in the adoption of CSR practices by mining conglomerates.
Continue reading here
CBERN Atlantic Event: Ethics in Development Panel Discussion
A Panel discussion on November 28, 2012 explored the ethical considerations of the physical, economic, social and cultural development of Nova Scotia. The event, organized by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs (CCEPA) and CBERN Atlantic was webcast and can be viewed in its entirety below.
This presentation provided an opportunity to define some of the development challenges we face in Nova Scotia and through an ethical lens, discussed opportunities and roadblocks to growth through public participation in the conversation.
Dr. Edith Callaghan
- Professor, Environmental & Sustainability Studies, Acadia University (Moderator)
- President, Acadia University
- Director, School of Planning, Dalhousie University
- Executive Director, Nova Scotia Office of Immigration
- Senior corporate policy analyst, NS Dept. Policy and Priorities
A Must Have Book: The Rise of Global Corporate Social Responsibility: Mining and the Spread of Global Norms
Combining insights from international relations theory with institutional approaches from organization theory and public policy, "The Rise of Global Corporate Social Responsibility: Mining and the Spread of Global Norms" provides a complete explanation for the adoption of corporate social responsibility (CSR), showing how global norms influenced CSR adoption in the mining industry.
Global normative developments have had an important influence on major mining companies. However, there is significant variation between firms. The author finds that attributes internal to the firm, including the critical role of leadership, and the way in which management responds to the institutional context and operational challenges faced in different countries are important influences on CSR adoption and important factors explaining variation.
Blog: MaRs Social Finance Forum
The MaRs Centre for Impact Investing
hosted its annual Social Finance Forum, with a slew of financial executives, business professionals, and renowned academics lined up to make this institution the epicenter of social finance discussions between November 8-9. Following on the previous year’s theme of “investing in good deals
,” this year’s forum theme focused on “measuring up” on impact investment by “examining the opportunities and challenges surrounding impact measurement, while exploring what makes a good deal and how existing markets measure up.”
As I wrote about in my organizational profile of the MaRs Centre for Impact Investing (CII)
, the mission of this institution is “indelibly rooted in the desire to understand and alleviate what its founders view as the most pressing issues of the day – primarily global, untenable crises such as widespread poverty, famine, environmental degradation, rampant corruption, and social malaise on the whole.” In pursuing the avenue of social finance as the main tool to combat problems arising from a lack of clear consensus of Canadian and foreign companies on environmental, social, and corporate governance practices (ESG), the Centre for Impact Investing seeks to draw attention to ESG themes and encourage debate, discussion, and brain-storming by staging conferences such as these.
Blog: Understanding the Principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent
Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) has become a hot topic over the last few years where aboriginal communities are concerned. The cause of FPIC advocacy is grounded in the conception of the inherent rights of human communities to self-determination and their right to “freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development” as codified by the United Nations Charter
in Chapter 1, Article 1 of that universally accepted document.
At first glance, the term ‘Free, Prior, and Informed Consent’ may not necessarily invoke thoughts of human rights and international law, but that is exactly what the concept of FPIC deals with
. In a nutshell, FPIC is “the principle that a community has the right to give or withhold consent to proposed projects that may affect the lands they customarily own, occupy, or otherwise use. FPIC…is now a key principle in international law and jurisprudence related to indigenous peoples.”
Blog: Canadian Mining in Guatemala an Antithesis to Human Rights
On Wednesday, October 31st I was very fortunate to be a part of the audience who gathered at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School to hear Professor Shin Imai
talk about the controversies surrounding Canadian mining companies and their relationships with native communities in Latin America. As the co-director of the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources, and Governments, and as the director of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project at Osgoode Hall Law School, Professor Imai brings decades of experience in human rights, refugee law, and indigenous rights to the table.
From the outset of his lecture, Mr. Imai makes it crystal clear that one of the key factors to consider in resource extractive projects wrought by Canadian companies in developing regions is the existence of a stinging corporate social responsibility and accountability gap where these companies are concerned – “nobody knows what’s going on,” he states matter-of-factly. While Canadian mining companies are releasing reports which are meant to trumpet their CSR instruments and human rights policies, such as HudBay Minerals did in its 2011 CSR Report
, the fact is that the reality on the ground at these overseas mines is very different, argues the Professor.
Blog: 2012 Schulich International Case Competition
Sponsored by major Canadian mining conglomerates such as Goldcorp, Barrick, HudBay Minerals, and Kinross (amongst other firms), the 2012 Schulich International Case Competition (SICC) brought together an array of graduate students from around the world from November 30th to December 1st, who competed to present solutions to real issues and challenges that mining companies face around the world today.
First hosted in 2011, the SICC not only offered many excellent networking opportunities with fellow MBAs from around the globe, but it also presented an opportunity for participants to display their business prowess for the event’s judges, all of whom are important executives working in the finance sector.
University of Waterloo Ethics Symposium: "Accounting Ethics and Tone at the Top"
The Centre for Accounting Ethics at the University of Waterloo is pleased to announce its 1st biennial Symposium to be held in Toronto, Canada on the theme of Accounting Ethics and Tone at the Top.
The theme of the Symposium is an intentional challenge to the academic accounting ethics discipline. There is a growing literature exploring issues of tone at the top particularly as it impacts governance. An understanding of managerial values and intent goes to the heart of the services the accounting profession provides and this is reflected in at least two distinct streams in the literature. The challenge laid down by this Symposium is to consider tone at the top in its broadest sense; to identify those questions to date unexplored and to investigate the interactions between existing paradigms.
Submission deadline for papers is January 15, 2013.
Notice of acceptance for the Symposium will be sent by February 20, 2013.
Papers accepted for presentation subject to revision must be revised by March 15, 2013.
The Symposium will be taking place on April 18-20, 2013.
Blog: Combating Corruption in the Mining Sector
Transparency International (TI)
is perhaps the most recognized name in the fight against corruption anywhere in the world; the work that the organization does to curb all forms of illicit activities within the resource extractives sector constitutes an intensive program in and of itself. With more than 100 chapters in dozens of countries around the globe, Transparency International identifies and exposes corruption
ranging from small-time crooks dealing in petty bribes to government officials involved in major fraud.
In light of the importance of combating corruption in the resource extractive sector, on October 31st, Transparency International Canada hosted a seminar in Vancouver, British Columbia in conjunction with Davis LLP on efforts to stem the tide of corruption in the Canadian mining sector.
Blog: Gazing into a Responsible Investment Crystal Ball - Reflections on the PRI-CBERN Academic Conference 2012
Two powerful impressions will stay with me from the 2012 PRI-CBERN Academic Conference on responsible investment
. Firstly, the energy and commitment of the academics and practitioners
who came together to present, debate, agree and disagree make this a unique field. Secondly, the diversity of perspectives and interpretations of what ‘responsible investment’ actually is is alternately stimulating and frustrating. What is the balance of ‘value’ and ‘values’? Is the purpose of RI to change ‘the system’ fundamentally, or to ameliorate pragmatically from within? How do we measure impact and effectiveness?
This diversity is reflected within PRI
itself, with a wide range of perspectives among signatories. Yet despite this there is a ‘centre of gravity’ among signatories on what we’re trying to do. Essentially we’re exploring the territory where ‘value’ and ‘values’ overlap – the zone where the way companies address and respond to environmental, social and governance issues generates risk and opportunity that have financial implications. As climate change bites, populations age, supply chains globalise, competition for talent sharpens and resource scarcity makes itself felt there are more and more situations in which values and value look like opposite sides of the same coin.
Blog: Organizational Profile: MaRs Centre for Impact Investing
Originally launched in the winter of 2011, the Centre for Impact Investing (CII) – located in the heart of Toronto’s MaRs Discovery District – has become a burgeoning focal point for the production and dissemination of research on sustainability issues, environmental social and corporate governance (ESG), and socially responsible investing (SRI). As per their self-declared mission statement
, the goal of CII is to “increase awareness and effectiveness of social finance in catalyzing new capital, new talent, and initiatives aimed at tackling social and environmental problems in Canada.” By virtue of its location within Canada’s premier social innovation facility, CII works closely alongside the original MaRs Foundation – focused on Medical and Related Sciences – and it also maintains a close partnership with the Social Innovation Generation (SiG).
For updates on developments and initiatives taking place at MaRs CII and elsewhere in the social finance and impact investing community, visit SocialFinance.ca
, a program organized under MaRs that “brings together the voices of social finance practitioners and thought leaders across the country and internationally”. SocialFinance.ca offers a resourceful social media program that features blogs, tweets, and an online platform with many resources on social finance and impact investing.
Blog: Canada Global Reporting Initiative Conference 2012
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is an expansive and elaborate project which operates as a non-profit organization, with its main objective being the promotion of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) standards. The GRI’s claim to fame is its “comprehensive sustainability reporting framework,” through which it encourages and promotes adherence to ESG standards
; the framework has been adopted by countless companies worldwide.
Of the many events in October 2012, there was one event that was a precedent-setter: the Global Reporting Initiative hosted its first ever Canadian conference at the Toronto Stock Exchange and York University’s Schulich School of Business from October 16-17, with the collaboration of York University as well as Sustainalytics, a global ethical business research firm.
For more details and information about this event, you are invited to visit: www.globalreporting.org/information/events/canada-conference/Pages/default.aspx.
Blog: Enbridge and the Northern Gateway Pipeline: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
For decades, Enbridge Incorporated has been seen as one of Canada’s foremost corporate leaders in environmental, social, and corporate governance; even during the course of this past year, the company received accolades
as one of the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations, was ranked as the number two most sustainable business in Canada, and for the third year in a row was voted as one of Canada’s most environmentally conscious business giants. How quickly positive vibes seem to dissipate in a heart-beat in the world of big business, especially where resource extraction is concerned.
Over the past few months, Enbridge’s reputation as a progressive-minded leader and standard-bearer of the CSR movement has been challenged by contentious political and social debate that has erupted over its unwavering support of its own Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal. Unfortunately for Enbridge and its stakeholders, rancorous political debate and often-negative mainstream news coverage of the company’s response to concerns around the proposed pipeline have quickly blighted the company’s previously spotless record of corporate social responsibility, as a recent Jantzi Social Index publication
Blog: Setting the Bar: The Standards Council of Canada
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) celebrated World Standards Day on October 12th
. The aim of this annual bash was to recognize the importance of standards systems – highly crucial in areas of environmental, social, and corporate governance – and also to thank the countless number of folks who contribute in the development and implementation of standards systems worldwide.
The SCC is a highly compartmentalized and technically specialized organization, with various organs of strategic and operational support to assist in the adoption and implementation of standards across Canada. Among these important bodies, the Advisory Panel on Standards is designed to assist with the planning and policy efforts vis-à-vis standards issues while acting as a check-and-balance that ensures the neutrality of the SCC’s adoption and implementation of standards. Next, the CNC/IEC (the Canadian National Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission) acts as a bridge across which policy advice and developments in standards are channeled to the SCC with regards to happenings at the IEC. Finally, the Consumer and Public Interest Panel (CPIP) offers consultation to the SCC on matters relating to standards systems and policies where consumers and the public interest are concerned.
Blog: Carbon Disclosure Project's Canada 200 Report Launch
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is a UK-based “independent not-for-profit organization working to drive greenhouse gas emissions reduction and sustainable water use by businesses and cities”. On October 16th, 2012, a group of handpicked individuals joined top Canadian business executives for the launch of CDP’s Canada 200 Report
, which was compiled by the Canadian management consulting agency Accenture. Included in the report was reports measuring carbon disclosure and carbon performance indices, figures which showcased the companies that are “leading the way” in “addressing climate change and realizing opportunities that contribute to increased company valuation.”
TI-Canada and Davis LLP Present: "Combating Corruption in the Mining Sector: Law Enforcement, Risk and Compliance"
TI-Canada and Davis LLP are pleased to present a half-day seminar, "Combating Corruption in the Mining Sector: Law Enforcement, Risk and Compliance," in Vancouver, Wednesday, 31 October, 8:30 - 12:00.
Please join TI-Canada for an informative session on combating corruption in the Mining Sector. Hear industry experts discuss anti-corruption laws, their enforcement, and how to mitigate risk through changes in corporate culture.
Those involved with the mining sector - business, government and NGOs, are invited to register early to attend this no-cost event, as seating is limited.
Capacity-Building Workshop: Bringing Resource Revenue Transparency to Canada's Extractive Sector
This workshop will take place on November 5, 2012. The workshop will examine recent international and domestic developments that aim to improve resource revenue transparency. In particular, the workshop will discuss the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between PWYP-Canada and the Mining Association of Canada, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada and the Revenue Watch Institute. In addition to examining international and global efforts to improve transparency, the workshop will examine the gaps between existing Canadian disclosure regulation and emerging international standards. Moreover, the workshop aims to highlight how payments disclosure, alongside other company-based disclosure, can be used by civil society organizations in their advocacy and research.
Blog: Ethics and Governance - Book Launch and Luncheon
On October 3rd, the Albany Club at 91 King Street West hosted a luncheon to mark the occasion of a book release
– but this was no regular book and the authors are no regular Joes. This event saw renowned Professor of Business Ethics Leonard (Len) Brooks of the University of Toronto and his colleague David Selley – a retired partner at Ernst and Young – talk about their “insights into the new topics and updates” on issues of corporate social responsibility, topics which are newly explored by these two veterans of finance in the fourth edition of their seminal work entitled Ethics and Governance: Raising the Bar.
Professor Brooks and Mr. Selley shared a wealth of knowledge
with participants at the luncheon which focused on the new reality of what they see as a “development of a corporate culture of integrity”. The speakers also weighed in on how the global financial meltdown in 2008 and other big business busts have led to the “need for increased attention to anti-bribery programs, better ethics risk management, increasing calls for CSR and other forms of corporate accountability, and an understanding of what ethical leadership is, and how it should be developed and demonstrated.”
Blog: 5th Annual PRI-CBERN Academic Network Conference
The week of October 1st was an exciting one for CBERN, the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), York University, Schulich School of Business, and for those involved or interested in the concepts of business ethics, sustainability, and responsible investing. This year’s event was made possible by the gracious sponsorships endowed upon CBERN by the Schulich School of Business, York University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Corporate Knights, Forum Pour L’Investissement Responsable, Carleton Centre for Community Innovation, Sustainalytics, and Bâtirente.
The theme of this year’s PRI Academic Network Conference was focused on the evolution of responsible investment, and how to navigate the complexities of this rather new, but rapidly expanding financial sector. Keynote speakers discussed the value of shareholder engagement, the role of business ethics in finance, and creating incentives in the long-term which align the interests of asset owners and managers.
Blog: Canada, Mining, and Transparency - What You Need to Know
The campaign against corruption in the extractive resources market was back on the table again this past September, after a long and stifling summer which saw extended political debates in Ottawa over the role and responsibilities of Canadian mining companies in the developing world, where these firms are heavily engaged in resource extraction projects. Powerful Canadian mining associations have taken the reins on the creation of anti-corruption rules that insiders say will reflect and enforce controls meant to stem the flow of cash from mining conglomerates to corrupt overseas officials and governments.
With the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), Publish What You Pay Canada, and the Revenue Watch Institute all on board to tackle the problem of widespread corruption in the extractives sector, Canada has earned the praise of international corruption watchdogs for recognizing and combatting a critical and long-time issue which has poisoned relations between Western corporations and local communities in developing countries.
"Corporate Governance Beyond Borders" With Philip Armstrong and Peter Dey
Event Date: October 3, 2012
Time: 12:30-2:30 PM
Location: ADR room 1014, Ignat Kaneff Building
Come to learn more about corporate governance, the challenges facing emerging markets, and the work of the Global Corporate Governance Forum (a multi-donor trust fund co-founded by the World Bank Group and the OECD).
Blog: SRI Website Review
Employing the tagline of “where sustainable companies meet responsible investors,” SRI Connect is a website for which the target audience can be broadly categorized as “SRI professionals” encompassing the three main categories that the page seeks to help network together, namely the employees of ethical business firms, responsible investors, and financial advisors working in the sphere of socially responsible investing.
SRI Connect is chock full of resources
to help facilitate connections and the dissemination of focused knowledge within the responsible investing community. The project breaks down into many moving parts which, taken together, provide an excellent database for both networking and keeping abreast of industry developments.
Blog: Crowdfunding a Big Hit with Entrepreneurs and a Huge Headache for Regulators
The first image that comes to mind when someone mentions the word “crowdfunding” is of flash mobs dancing in public squares, with their minders taking donations only a few steps away. Other unwitting readers may imagine that crowdfunding is the practice of mobilizing masses of people in the streets through financial contributors to movements such as #Occupy. The actual truth of the matter is that while crowdfunding is indeed related to mobilizing masses – usually through Internet campaigns – this practice is actually a successful financial tool that is quickly gaining traction by offering interest from the success of big projects to “small investors”.
Crowdfunding is a relatively simple idea, and it operates upon the premise that people donate directly to social causes without the use of an intermediary agent
such as a charity. In the world of corporate business, the practice works in the exact same way, except instead of crowdfunders donating to a charitable cause, they make investments in various enterprises and they expect returns. While crowdfunding equity investments is said to be the “most contentious” form of this practice – partly because of its formerly illegal status in the United States (that has since been discarded by the new JOBS Act) – this tool is undeniably successful in uniting entrepreneurs with huge numbers of potential investors – and capital.
Blog: Social Impact Bonds - Investing Wisely
Bonds are an intriguing topic not only because of their role in regulating the economy and in assisting government projects, but also because they can be pooled as liquid capital in any project, no matter what its aims, scope, or duration. This is where socially responsible investors and business leaders have stepped in, introducing a new kind of bond that will allow other conscientious investors to purchase bonds which are particularly tailored to assisting with objectives aimed at social justice, ethical business practices, and sustainable development.
Fittingly known as “Social Impact Bonds” (SIBs), the acquisition of one of these financial instruments enters the investors into a “contract with a public sector commissioner in which it pays for improved social outcomes”. SIBs are typically used to pump money into socially responsible projects that connect government, private corporations, NGOs, and other interested parties, with a desired aim
being to secure a “high probability of success” in the project.
Blog: The Gender Lens as an Emerging Theme in Social Responsibility
Achieving success in the world of business and finance can be an arduous experience for women. The corporate world has traditionally been dominated by men, with the very bedrock of economic theory rooted in the philosophies and musings of male scholars spanning Adam Smith, George Mason, John Locke, and more recently Friedrich Hayek, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Krugman, amongst others. Nevertheless, women have started to take top positions in the world of business, as evidenced by the fact that there are now 20 female CEOs at the helm of Fortune 500 companies in America
according to a report released in July.
Despite the fact that this number only represents a miniscule 4% of all CEOs on the US-based Forbes list, it is still a sign that woman’s place in the corporate world is slowly becoming entrenched. Furthermore, at the same time as we are witnessing an increase in corporate female management, the idea of gender-focused investing (aka “gender-lens investing) is also emerging as a new theme in social responsibility, and a possible connection to the ascent of women in management would be frankly unsurprising.
Blog: Protecting Marine Ecosystems as a Vital Mandate for Responsible Investors
Given the incredible importance of H20 vis-à-vis human society on the whole, it is with great joy that I learned earlier this week about the World Wildlife Fund’s introduction of a new investment model
‘to recover marine ecosystems’. As many readers will know, the WWF is a household name on the global stage where environmental and ecological conservation is concerned, and their foray into the world of SRI definitely adds a both welcome and fresh perspective to sustainable development initiatives. Along with the unveiling of their investment model – dubbed the Financial Institution for the Recovery of Marine Ecosystems (FIRME) – the WWF Fund also released a detailed report about the proposed project, entitled Raising the Sunken Billions: Financing the Transition to Sustainable Fisheries.
According to the WWF report, unsustainable fishing is bad business. According to a figure from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UNFAO) cited in this analysis
, “the difference between what is made and what could be made if fisheries were better managed is conservatively estimated to be $50 billion per year (US).” Canadians are no strangers to ‘bad business’ and economic malaise where marine ecology is concerned, with Newfoundlanders recently having marked the anniversary of a self-imposed 20-year ban on cod fishing
which persists till this day.
Blog: An Ethics Database for the 21st Century – Globethics.NET
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to interview Nicolae Irina
, CBERN’s E-Librarian and contributor to Globethics.net to get some insight about the Globethics.net
library – an expansive, state-of-the-art, and totally free resource on all-things-ethical. As a PhD student in York University’s Philosophy Department, Nicolae’s work is focused on the relation between corporate social responsibility and human rights, the ongoing discussion of the UN Draft Norms and the subsequent debate over the Reports of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
Blog: Debunking ‘Shareholder Primacy Theory’
The great neoliberal economist Milton Friedman once made the famous assertion
that “there is one and only social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.” Regrettably, this statement has been adopted as an almost infallible cornerstone of business management by educators and companies alike since the 1970s, and it has undoubtedly played a notable part in the collapse of national economies in western nations plagued by rampant corruption, nepotism, and barely fathomable scales of fraud. Fortunately, corporate bosses – and perhaps more importantly investors – are waking up to the reality that shareholder primacy theory is neither a positive catalyst for economic prosperity, nor a socially responsible approach to finance on the whole.
CBERN Partner TI-Canada to Host Event: the Oil and Gas Industry Sept. 26, Calgary, AB
Date: September 26, 2012
Location: Imperial Oil Limited, 237 Fourth Avenue, S.W. Calgary
Transparency International Canada Inc. and Imperial Oil Limited presents:
"Anti-Corruption Issues Facing the Oil and Gas Industry"
Canadian resource based companies face particular anti-corruption issues and exposure. Engage in discussion with experts on the topics of benefits and access agreements, due diligence and legacy agreements, and risk assessments.
Pre-registration is required, as well as photo ID for entrance.
Anti-Corruption Research News: Issue 10
This issue contains an in depth look at some of the most interesting findings from the largest ever Europe-wide research project to assess the National Integrity Systems in 25 countries. As usual, it also contains updates on interesting new research, curriculum highlights, research projects, jobs and funding opportunities. The call for submissions for the 2012 Anti-Corruption Research Paper contest is now open. This year’s contest aims to solicit innovative ideas on curbing corruption around the themes of the upcoming International Anti-Corruption Conference taking place in Brazil on 7-10 November 2012.
The Principles for Responsible Investment: Addressing Investment Risks in the 21st Century
Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business, the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), and the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) are hosting an event on October 16, 2012 in Vancouver, BC, that will feature keynote speaker Dr. Wolfgang Engshuber, Chair of PRI. The event will feature panel presentations and discussion with the audience and will address the role of responsible investment in comprehensive risk management and building healthy, sustainable capital markets. The event will bring together a wide range of professionals, from investment fund decision makers to academics.
The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Initiative, is a partnership between the United Nations and global investors with the goal of promoting and main streaming responsible investment practice. The PRI Initiative has become the leading network for investors to learn and collaborate to fulfill their commitments to responsible ownership and long-term, sustainable returns.
Blog: Scandinavia – A model for Sustainable Competitiveness
During the course of the 20th century, Scandinavia – taken together as a geographic, cultural, historic, and linguistic region compromising the closely related northwestern European nations of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway – has become the world leader in the implementation of forward-thinking environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) policies.
Building upon the famous ‘Nordic Model’ as their approach to socio-political and economic governance, these three nations have come to represent significant achievements in equality, liberty, and transparency. They consistently top international rankings which measure standards of living, political freedoms, and transparency in governance, amongst other qualitative indicators that measure the overall quality of life in the world’s nations. Understanding the reasons behind Scandinavia’s sustainable development and social welfare system requires extensive historical, political, and sociological research which time and space do not permit in this article. However, according to a working report from the Hertie School of Governance
, the main advantages which have led to regional prosperity are rooted in “the extensive prevalence of the state in welfare arrangement, the principle of universal social rights…[and] the historical inheritance of the Nordic countries [with] fairly small class, income, and gender differences.”
Blog: Enbridge vs. the First Nations
Another day gone by, and another energy sector project is in limbo because of disputes between the corporate sector, the federal government, and Canadian First Nations. The particular conflict in question concerns the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline
(NGP) which has been developed (on paper, at least) by Enbridge and which would span some 1, 173 kilometers in length, extending from its place of origin outside of Edmonton and terminating near the town of Kitimat in northwestern British Columbia. Unless of course, some 100 First Nations bands have anything to say about the matter.
Now, as with all oil pipeline projects, the NGP has its fair share of adversaries within communities that would be affected by the construction route that Enbridge engineers have chosen to lay their conduit for the black gold emanating from Alberta’s equally controversial Athabasca oil sands. The plans for this development have been complicated by more than just outcry from environmental activists and their ilk. Dozens of First Nations bands with territory straddling the proposed NGP route have outright rejected any construction on their lands, setting the stage for another very public battle between Canadian First Nations peoples, the federal government, and the Canadian corporate sector.
Blog: Resource nationalism in Latin America
The progressive nationalization of natural resources in some peripheral nations of the developing world has nary been more pronounced in recent years than with legislation passed by the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These three nations are governed by leaders who have been heavily influenced by political ideologies which call for national governments to take control over their natural resources, as part of an effort to become self-sustaining economies free of foreign influence.
The decision by leaders in Latin America to progressively nationalize their natural resources – which also act as the main conduits for foreign investment – have naturally left Western investors and corporations in a bind. While political hostility in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador has historically been directed towards US policies and corporations in the region, Canada has recently found itself at the certain of a brewing battle emerging from the Bolivian brand of resource nationalism.
Blog: Organizational Profile: The Finance and Sustainability Initiative
The Finance and Sustainability Initiative is a promising venture composed of investment professionals and business executives who understand that in order to achieve sustainability, we must educate our youth on the pitfalls of outdated, unsustainable, and careless consumption and business tactics. Networks like the FSI offer forums for business leaders to develop models that will help equip future generations with the necessary tools to secure sustainability in environmental, social, and corporate governance. As the FSI has shown, education is the primer in that equation.
Blog: Battle for the North – Quebec’s future at stake with Plan Nord
With the spectre of provincial elections looming large on the horizon in Québec
and with September 4th promising to introduce a possible reconfiguration of the political pieces at the National Assembly of Québec (the provincial legislature), there are any number of topics on the political agenda that may sway voters towards one party or another. The Plan Nord
is one of these crucial electoral issues that may just see Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal Party fall from grace.
– which is a major litigation firm dealing closely with mining projects – reports that the Plan Nord, launched by Premier Charest in May 2011, “provides for the development of territory of Québec located north of the 49th parallel over the next 25 years.” According to this report, the project is an ambitious and wide-ranging foray into developing Québec’s rich natural resources potential in its expansive northern regions
, and is set to cover 72% of the province’s territory (roughly 1.2 million km²). Following the philosophy of responsible investing 101 which has taken a firm foothold in Québec’s economic capital, Montréal, in recent years, Plan Nord calls for “a development project that is integrated socially, economically, and environmentally that will be implemented over a long period of time.”
Blog: Conflict minerals and responsible investing
Conflict stones have, for worse, been a part of the legitimate trade in precious metals and minerals for many decades. With the issue of conflict stones like “blood diamonds” popularized by various Hollywood film-makers over the years (Edward Zwick’s rendition
comes to mind), Western audiences have become familiar with the controversies surrounding precious minerals, and perhaps are more concerned about the origins of their diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, gold, silver, and other high-end valuables than at any previous time. Despite the fact that the plight of communities producing conflict stones is a rather public matter, repeated attempts by international organizations to control or ban the sale of minerals originating from war zones have been largely unsuccessful in the past decade.
Blog: Rio+20 leading to greener pastures?
Set almost twenty years to the day that the famous 1992 Earth Summit was held in the same Brazilian metropolis, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 brought together captains of industry, corporate titans, national leaders, and policy experts from around the world with the aim of establishing a concrete plan to encourage sustainability amongst nations.
Now as with any international conference that aspires to find a common denominator between the world’s diverse nations on a hot-button topic such as sustainable development and corporate responsibility, many attendees agreed to disagree on what the drawing board should look like for a sustainable future. According to one of my colleagues who studies political science at Queen’s and recently wrote a recap on Rio+20, one of the major obstacles to achieving the stated objectives of the summit is the inherent gap that exists between core and peripheral nations on how to achieve sustainability evenly across the board.
Blog: Sustainability – a Burning Platform
Life in the corporate world is oftentimes a high-octane, fast-paced, no-nonsense kind of exercise which could best be compared to sky-diving in terms of the risks involved, except with arguably less chance that you’ll be equipped with a parachute to cushion your fall if and when an investment starts going South and winds up the way of the Dodo.
Admittedly, I am exaggerating a tiny bit, but perhaps we can all acknowledge that in the current financial climate there is never complete certainty about what constitutes a truly secure investment. Insane amounts of untenable and precarious risk-taking are at the root of the global financial crisis and have certainly motivated changes in corporate behaviour so let’s talk about risk-taking then, and why some corporations have begun to redesign their corporate strategies in an era of unyielding economic turmoil.
Blog: Research Series on Human Rights: Critical Examination of Ruggie’s Protect, Respect, and Remedy Framework in Business Ethics Quarterly
The BEQ special issue on human rights is an outcome of a CBERN-hosted Business and Human Rights Symposium, held over the final weekend of February 2010. 23 Canadian and international participants gathered together for a 4-day roundtable discussion that was generated from the topics of 18 participant papers drafted specifically for the event. Through this initiative we aim to continue the conversation about these ideas in a wider forum.
Blog: Education and Business as the Basis for Sustainability: UN Principles for Responsible Management Education at Rio+20
Thanks to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (UN PRME)
, a number of business schools all over the world are making headway in integrating sustainability issues in their teaching, research and operations. The potential impact of this activity was outlined in a closing forum of the Rio+20
talks last week by Norman Arruda, CEO of ISAE/FJV in Brazil.
Blog: More Flashlights; Better Vision: A snapshot view of the CBERN PhD Winter Research Meeting 2012
Clearly I was being privileged to get a sneak peek into this behind the scenes world that CBERN, these PhD students, and the advisors are all a part of. Right now there is a ton of CSR and ethic based projects, papers, and ideas floating about. However no one seems to really have a grasp on what this means for the world at large. These are the people who are grabbing some of these ideas and showing how they are useful or what the true natures behind these concepts are. These are the champions of ethics who are working to make the place a little better and a little clearer on how to make the best of this interconnected, uncertain and complex place we all call home.
TI-Canada Presentation: "India: will it ever shake its legacy of corruption"
As part of Transparency International Canada's Fifteenth Annual General Meeting, Dr. Douglas Goold, Director, National Conversation on Asia & Senior Editor, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, made a presentation on "India: Will it ever shake its legacy of corruption?", before an engaged audience of fifty-three, in the offices of Bennett Jones LLP, in Toronto.
Dr. Douglas Goold outlines why contemporary India is important to us, then adresses the issues of corruption plaguing India.
Blog: World Bank Ombudsman imparts extractive sector dispute resolution tips to Canadian colleagues
Blog: ISEAL: introducing credible standards for the 21st Century
Sustainable business practices are all the rage these days it seems, and the ISEAL (the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling) Alliance is no exception to this rule. A few days ago, we here at CBERN received a communiqué from this respected organization, asking us to join a “year-long steering committee” set up by their executive, which will be responsible for brainstorming and producing a new framework of credibility principles that ISEAL hopes will become the accepted international parameters for sustainable business practices.
This year’s annual ISEAL conference was just held in Bonn, Germany and took place over a course of two days between May 29 and May 30. Much of the focus during this year’s conference was directed at conference attendees throwing their collective weight and imagination into developing a new set of what ISEAL calls its “Codes of Good Practice” (CGP), described by the Alliance as “global references for developing credible standards.”
Blog: Event Snapshot: The SIO Conference on Socially Responsible Investment
The conference was an important and informative one, providing a stage for major Canadian and international voices in sustainability to deliver their combined vision and individual appraisals of ethical business to the current and next generation of corporate leaders. One of the most crucial results of the conference for business ethics researchers was to identify the place of ‘impact investment’ in today’s corporate environment, and set the bar for social and environmental responsibility in the corporate sector. The SIO conference was a boon for this objective, as was the Rio + 20 UN Summit, on an international scale.
Blog: Corporate Knights release 11th annual report on “50 Best Corporate Citizens”
Corporate Knights once again hosted its annual gala event to honour Canada’s “50 Best Corporate Citizens
,” held last Thursday night at Corus Quay which sits on the Toronto waterfront. The company is a respected and prominent leader in the production of media, financial analysis, and market research centred on the adoption of “clean capitalism” and ethical investing by Canadian businesses.
Blog: Dimensions of Ethical Leadership and its Challenges: Greater Consciousness and Greater Power
I had an opportunity to be a panelist at a wonderful leadership and ethics conference
in Calgary in early May, organized by the Canadian Business Ethics Research Network
. It was an inspiring congregation of differing perspectives
with leaders from industry, non-profit, academia and environmental concerns – all sharing their experience, perspective and research.
The conference was a great opportunity for me to just listen from a place of openness and empathy, and share my research and experience on ethical leadership and the obstacles facing the ethical leader in the 21st century.
The question posed to me, and my fellow panelists asked “whether there is a dimension of ethical leadership and its challenges that needs to be identified or emphasized”.
I shared that I believed “greater consciousness” needed to be emphasized in leaders, and I offered three steps, which if cultivated, can offer any leader access to greater power. I share those perspectives in the article below.
Blog: Sustainability Management: Survey of Large Firms in Belgium
Nowadays, many large companies are publicly reporting sustainability information regarding their operations and supply chain. This often includes economic, social and environmental information. In their sustainability reporting, many companies claim that they are actively managing their economic, social and environmental performance, collectively called “sustainability performance.”
But how exactly are the companies measuring and managing their sustainability performance? What tools are they using? These are some of the questions HEC Assistant Professor Nathalie Crutzen
aims to find out in her ongoing research, which she presented on May 23rd as part of the Responsible Business Speaker Series at the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business
, Schulich School of Business, York University.
Blog: BC approves “Community Contribution Company” to benefit social causes
For Canadians, the inception of the C3 model in BC and its potential introduction across Canada opens the door to a whole new stratum of socially-responsible and community-conscious enterprises, presenting a significant leap in the evolution of capitalism as Alex Wood describes it. With these Community Contribution Companies, conscientious investors will be able to join purpose-savvy entrepreneurs in supporting initiatives that promote ethical, moral, and social sustainability and which are sure to be commercially successful while at the same time promoting the development and modernization of Canadian communities.
Rights and Riches: NSI Examines Indigenous Perspectives on Natural Resource Governance
Resource scarcity is a growing issue that affects everyone. As companies explore and develop projects in ever more remote areas, they are increasingly encountering Indigenous Peoples and territories. Weak governance regimes in host and home countries coupled with lack of implementation of the internationally recognized right of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) over projects that affect their land, can lead to conflict.
The North-South Institute's (NSI) Indigenous Perspectives
program, led by Viviane Weitzner, addresses these very issues. Built on more than a decade of applied programming and participatory research conducted in collaboration with Indigenous and Afro-descendant groups of the Americas, the program offers practical guidance for policymakers, mining companies and local peoples to uphold Indigenous rights in decision-making and avoid conflict. More Information
New book: Governance Ecosystems: CSR in the Latin American Mining Sector
The authors explore the complex dynamics of mining and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Latin America, including a reflection on the African continent, presenting arguments and case studies based on new research on a set of urgent and emerging questions surrounding mining, development and sustainability.
As debates rage about the responsibilities of business and government in global extractives industries, there remains a significant lack of empirical research and theoretical analysis focused on the dynamics of resource extraction, governance and corporate social responsibility. This collection takes a broad, ‘governance ecosystem’ view to exploring the complex and cross-cutting relationships between key actors involved in and affected by mining governance in Latin America. Case studies include the Kimberley process over conflict diamonds, the PERCAN Initiative in Peru, the Carajás iron ore complex in the Brazilian Amazon, Apex and Empresa Huanuni in Bolivia, and the gold producers Newmont and Goldcorp.
JULIA SAGEBIEN is an Associate Professor in the School of Business Administration at Dalhousie University, Canada, and Professor in the Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Puerto Rico. She is also Senior Fellow at Forum Empresa.
NICOLE MARIE Lindsay is Associate Faculty Member in the Faculty of Management and the School of Communication and Culture at Royal Roads University, Canada.