This week there’s been quite a lot of new stories concerning corporate responsibility and corporate social responsibility. The Reputation Institute put out its global ranking for companies with the best CSR reputation. The Lego group, Microsoft and Google made up the top three. This study is compiled from more than 170,000 ratings across the world’s 15 largest economies. The Danish toy and Media Company push Google from the top of the list after a three year spell. What was most surprising however, was not who was top but more whose positions have fallen from last year. Unsurprisingly one of the big casualties was Volkswagen, whilst their emissions scandal hasn’t impacted too much on their earnings, it has played a big toll, rather unsurprisingly on their reputation. This year Volkswagen only just made the top 100 in 100th place. There are also big falls for technology companies with both Samsung and Apple both taking knocks this year to their reputation. Apples came from the reports last year of poor working conditions and Samsung had issues with their Galaxy phone’s overheating ,and in some cases causing fire. Apple fell to 49 on the list and Samsung were 89th. These are big blows in how these companies are viewed as two of the biggest tech companies.
One of the big factors of Apple’s fall were the revelations on how its subsidiaries, and companies it employs, treat their staff.
Another story this week, this time about corporate responsibility , is that taxi company Uber has been stripped of its license in London. The firm’s application for a new license in London was rejected on the basis that they are ”not a fit and proper” private car hire operator. Uber have said that they plan to appeal. The decision by transport for London was backed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, employment rights campaigners, and the trade body for the capital black cab drivers.
Transport for London (TFL) said it rejected the company’s application to renew its license because its approach and conduct demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility, specifically in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks. They also said they were concerned by Uber’s use of Greyball software that can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to Its app and undertaking regulatory and law enforcement duties.
Uber being stripped of his license is obviously a bigger deal than Apple falling down a few rankings in a list, however important the list is, but in many ways they both stem from the same issues, both of these are responses to how the company treats staff, both those who work directly for them and those who work for company’s in their supply chain. The revelations of Apple staff committing suicide at work last year seems to be a large part of the reason why Apple fell down the CSR rankings, and Uber’s treatment of their staff in London seems to be one of the reasons why it was stripped of its license.
Whilst there is a difference between corporate social responsibility and corporate responsibility both of them are about companies taking charge of themselves. Long gone are the days when we have no expectations from a big company, whether that’s in greater transparency in the way they treat staff and run their business such as Uber, and indeed Apple.
When I started my own company SM Marketing the very first thing I did was set up a corporate social responsibility program and before we even had our first client we were working with local charity Phoenix club to raise money for a years running costs. It’s very important I think nowadays for companies to have a strong social responsibility program and I think what they choose to do can tell you a lot about the company. It’s all very well to help out people and charities but part of that corporate social responsibility also has to be looking after your own staff and making sure that they have good working conditions reasonable pay and holidays and generally just that they are taken care of.
How a company treat the staff or allows its subsidiaries or companies it employs to treat their staff is now a big deal and becoming ever more important. An ethical company will not just choose the cheapest company anymore they need to choose companies that have transparency and part of that transparency is how the staff are treated. You cannot be an ethical company if you treat your staff badly or allow companies you employ to do the same.
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