Top Stories

April 20, 2016


Behind the Brands: Unilever tops Oxfam’s ‘Big 10’ supply chain rankings

Global consumer goods firm Unilever has overtaken Nestlé to claim the top spot in Oxfam‘s Behind the Brands campaign, which measures and ranks the social sustainability of the ‘Big 10’ global food and drinks companies. The campaign analyses and compares the various sustainability commitments of the Big 10 addressing seven specific policy issues identified by Oxfam’s public campaigning – land, women, farmers, workers, climate, transparency and water. Unilever leads the scorecard on climate, with the highest score of 9/10. Nestlé ranked second and was praised for updating its action plans to support women in cocoas supply chains. Coca-Cola finished third, leading the way on respecting land rights and in supporting women but was left trailing the top companies due to poor performance on support for farmers. Kellogg’s has made the biggest strides across all areas – up 30 percent on its rating three years ago. “The ‘Big 10’ must now substantially change their business models in order to deliver on their promises and ensure that workers and small-scale producers get a living wage throughout their supply chains. This could make a huge impact in helping fight poverty,” said Erin Sahan, Oxfam’s acting Head of Private sector. (edie; Independent)


Twitter’s appointment of new chief in China incenses rights activists

China’s Communist party-controlled media has criticised “narrow-minded” and “prejudiced” online activists who are questioning Twitter’s decision to appoint as its first regional chief a former member of the People’s Liberation Army who once had ties to the country’s security services. Kathy Chen, a former Microsoft manager, was named as the social network’s managing director for mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Chen’s appointment has incensed Chinese dissidents and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong who use Twitter, a service that has been blocked in mainland China since 2009. Chen, whose main task will be boosting Twitter’s advertising business in China, has not responded to the criticism. However, Twitter’s spokesperson said it was “thrilled” Chen had joined the company and said her “strategic hire shows our increasing commitment to this important region”. China’s government-controlled media also came to Chen’s defence. “Western countries should rid themselves of prejudice and accept China’s rise as a major internet power,” said Qin An, a cyber-security expert from the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy. (Guardian)


Supply Chain

M&S tells seafood suppliers to sign up to Responsible Fishing Scheme

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has announced it will require all fishing boats supplying the company to be certified by the Responsible Fishing Scheme by 2021, in a bid to address mounting concerns about over-fishing, welfare, and human rights violations in the global fishing industry supply chain. The multinational company said it has become the first retailer to make a worldwide commitment to the RFS initiative, which is operated by the Seafish industry body and requires fishing vessels to comply with a series of best practice standards covering staff welfare, environmental protection, and care for their catch. Under the commitment all fishing boats supplying M&S will have to either be independently certified by RFS by 2021 or have a time-bound plan for securing certification. “The commitment from M&S is another huge boost for RFS and it further marks the intent of the UK seafood industry to be recognised worldwide for its work on reducing social and welfare issues,” said Tom Pickerell, technical director at Seafish. (Business Green)


Corporate Reputation

Mitsubishi Motors admits manipulating fuel tests

Mitsubishi Motors has admitted manipulating test data to overstate the fuel efficiency of 625,000 cars. The Japanese carmaker said the inaccurate tests covered four of its mini-cars, two of which it manufactured for Nissan. The number of Nissan cars affected was 468,000, while 157,000 were sold under the Mitsubishi brand. When Nissan tested the cars supplied by Mitsubishi Motors, it found differences between its figures and Mitsubishi’s results. Nissan asked Mitsubishi Motors to investigate, which led the company to discover “improper conduct” and tests that did not meet Japanese law. “We found that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data … MMC [Mitsubishi Motors Corporation] conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates and that the testing method was also different from the one required by Japanese law. We express deep apologies to all of our customers and stakeholders for this issue.” said Mitsubishi Motors in a statement. Shares in Mitsubishi Motors dropped 15 percent in Tokyo, their biggest fall in almost 12 years. (Guardian)



GRI debuts new sustainability reporting standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has released the first set of “exposure drafts” ahead of the planned launch of its new Sustainability Reporting Standards, urging sustainability executives and other stakeholders to provide feedback on the revamp of its guidelines. Interested parties now have 90 days to offer feedback to the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB) on the initial set of six GRI Standards. The GRI’s sustainability reporting guidelines provide the basis for thousands of companies around the world reporting on sustainability, offering a comparable approach to disclosing information on a raft of environmental impacts. However, this year GRI is planning to move from its GRI G4 Guidelines to new GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards. “(…) the GRI G4 Guidelines are evolving into a new set of modular, interrelated GRI Standards to enable reporting organisations to make a greater contribution to sustainable development and meet emerging stakeholder needs by enhancing the quality, comparability and accessibility of sustainability information.” said Eric Hespenheide, chair of the GSSB. (Business Green)


Image source: Crab boat from the North Frisian Islands working in the North Sea  by Joachim Müllerchen / CC BY-SA 2.0 DE