Top Stories

June 23, 2017

Supply Chain

Major publishers move to defend Greenpeace in dispute with logging firm

The world’s biggest book publishers have been dragged into a dispute between a US logging company, Resolute Forest Products, and environmental campaigners Greenpeace. Greenpeace alleges that Resolute “is responsible for the destruction of vast areas of Canada’s magnificent boreal forest, damaging critical woodland caribou habitat and logging without the consent of impacted First Nations.” Resolute strongly disputes the claims and has launched a $226 million claim under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (Rico). Passed in 1970 to counter organised crime, the use of the act has been criticised as an setting a “dangerous” precedent for whistleblowers and NGOs. Publishers, including Penguin Random House and HarperCollins, became involved after a petition was signed by more than 100 authors, calling for publishers to use their clout to pressure the company into dropping the lawsuit. (Guardian)


Employers fish for working-class graduates in the wrong pool

UK employers keen to hire staff from unprivileged backgrounds are still fishing for graduates in an elite pool – recruiting from universities with the lowest state school intake. The Social Mobility Foundation’s new Social Mobility Employer Index highlights the companies trying to recruit and promote talented people from working-class backgrounds. Internal data from the 100 companies that submitted entries reveals they are making a big effort via apprenticeships and work placements. But it also shows that they are recruiting 61 percent of graduates from the so-called Russell Group of top universities – which are among those with the lowest intake of state school pupils. Accounting firm Grant Thornton was ranked top in the index. It has dropped academic thresholds as a barrier to access as well as the requirement for relevant work experience and extracurricular activities, both of which are easier to achieve if you have time, money and contacts. It gives one-to-one coaching to applicants before interviews to “level the playing field”. Other highly-ranked companies include professional services firms KPMG, Deloitte and PwC, construction company Skanska and supermarket WM Morrison. (Financial Times*)

Responsible Investment

Lack of benchmarks hampers ESG adoption

Institutional investors have benefited from environmental, social and governance (ESG) based investments, but the exposure is low because of the absence of standardised benchmarks, according to State Street Global Advisors and Longitude Research’s Performing for the Future report. The report states that while the overall satisfaction with the performance of ESG investments appears to be strong, many investors have expressed concern about the lack of available data and tools with which to measure that performance. For many investors, this means that they often have to use a variety of methods to assess corporate ESG performance. The study notes that while the lack of standardisation is part of the evolution process for what is a relatively new investment framework, it is clear that the inconsistent measures lead to a degree of frustration and constitute a barrier to the further adoption of ESG. (The Edge Markets)


Norway issues $1bn threat to Brazil over rising Amazon destruction

Norway has issued a blunt threat to Brazil that if rising deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is not reversed, its billion-dollar financial assistance will fall to zero. The oil-rich Scandinavian nation has provided $1.1 billion to Brazil’s Amazon fund since 2008, tied to reductions in the rate of deforestation in the world’s greatest rainforest. Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, has written a forthright letter to Brazil’s environment minister, José Sarney Filho, warning of a “worrying upward trend” in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon since 2015. Annual deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon jumped by 29% to 8,000 sq km between 2015 and 2016. Norwegian officials say that under the rules Brazil itself set for the Amazon fund, a rise to 8,500 sq km would mean no payments from Norway. (Guardian)


Online betting companies face tough new UK fines

Online betting companies may face heavy fines or lose their gambling licenses, after the UK’s competition watchdog launched “enforcement action” against firms that draw in new players with attractive offers while making it difficult to gain payouts. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had stepped up its investigation into the country’s online gambling sector, worth an estimated £4.5 billion. Among its concerns are that customers are not getting the “deal they are expecting” when offered promotions to sign up to online betting accounts. The CMA has been in touch with a number of as-yet unnamed companies to demanded changes to specific practices. If the watchdog feels that adequate measures have not been taken, it may take companies to court. (Financial Times*)

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Image Source:  Books by Abhi Sharma at Flickr. CC 2.0