Top Stories

September 15, 2016


Research: Consumers value ethics in the businesses they deal with 

70% of consumers say their purchasing decisions are influenced by a company’s ethical behaviour, according to latest research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT). The Accounting for Good study looks at how accountants can educate and hold businesses to account with regards to the importance of ethical practices. Ethical factors influencing which businesses consumers would engage with included tax avoidance (43%); maximum  transparency with regards to company accounts (36%); a strict ethical code about their supply chain (39%) and being careful with sensitive client data (43%). “Having a strong ethical code and not engaging in aggressive tax avoidance can result in increased profits for businesses… Accountants have a key role in showing businesses how they will benefit from this,” said Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of AAT. (AAT)

Technology & Innovation

Steel emissions could power low-carbon flight, claims Virgin Atlantic

Commercial airliners could soon be criss-crossing the skies powered by jet fuel made from waste gases from steel mills, thanks to a scientific breakthrough by low-carbon fuel specialists LanzaTech and airline Virgin Atlantic. The new fuel is made using waste industrial gases from steel mills, via a fermentation process. The breakthrough is the result of a five-year partnership between LanzaTech and Virgin Atlantic to make a commercially viable low-carbon jet fuel. The fuel will now be tested on commercial engines, in partnership with Boeing, in order for it to be approved for a first use in commercial aircraft. “We can now truly imagine a world where a steel mill can not only produce the steel for the components of the plane but also recycle its gases to produce the fuel that powers the aircraft,” said Dr Jennifer Holmgren, chief executive of LanaTech. (Business Green)


Leaked documents reveal “influence of corporate cash” on US politics

Sealed court documents have been leaked to the Guardian, which the newspaper says expose the “pervasive influence of corporate cash in the democratic process, and the extraordinary lengths to which politicians, lobbyists and even judges go to solicit money”. In a case that is the subject of a petition currently in front of the US supreme court, five Wisconsin prosecutors carried out a deep investigation into what they suspected were criminal campaign-finance violations by the campaign committee of Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor and former Republican presidential candidate. Highly unusually, the Wisconsin supreme court ordered that all the evidence assembled by the prosecutors be destroyed, though a set survived that has now been obtained by the news organisation. (Guardian)

Research & Policy

New poll reveals best countries to be a social entrepreneur

The United States has come top of the first experts’ poll on the best nations for entrepreneurs using businesses to tackle social problems. However, the poll also found the work of social entrepreneurs remains a mystery to most people. The Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of almost 900 social enterprise experts in the world’s 45 biggest economies found a lack of public understanding, access to investment and selling to governments were the biggest challenges facing the sector. Canada, Britain, Singapore and Israel complete the top five. Turkey came bottom of the ranking, and countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Ireland also ranked poorly, due to a lack of government support for social entrepreneurs. Access to investment was seen by respondents to be easier in Canada, Singapore, the United States and Belgium, as well as the Philippines and India. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)


NGOs raise concerns about UK’s new approach to foreign aid

Concerns that British aid funding will be diverted away from supporting the world’s poorest people towards facilitating trade have been raised by NGOs. In an article, the new international development secretary Priti Patel announced that she would “challenge and change the global aid system” and that “the way to end poverty is wealth creation, not aid dependency”. But NGOs have pointed out in response that the priority for aid in the UK has always been the alleviation of poverty. “The first priority of UK aid must be to end poverty and leave no one behind, not to oil the wheels of British business,” said Loretta Minghella, chief executive of Christian Aid. “Increased trade supported by the aid budget ought to benefit the poorest most, not those who already prosper.” (Guardian)


Image source: Shopping mall by DarkoStojanovic / Public domain