Accountability in the Global Business Environment
Corporations, Globalisation and the Law series
Chapter 2: Corporations Behaving Well: Voluntary Strategies
The idea that corporations should act in accordance with standards of good citizenship and social responsibility is not a new one. As Peter Henley points out, even in states where corporate governance remains shareholder focussed, ‘The question “what is the social responsibility of companies?” has been asked since the time of Salomon v Salomon & Co Ltd’.1 The association of familiar company names such as Bhopal,2 James Hardie3 and British Petroleum4 with large-scale breaches of environmental and work-safety standards has brought to public attention the need for corporations to behave responsibly beyond the financial bottom line. In addition, the proliferation of numerous NGO Internet websites calling attention to corporate misconduct has generated greater awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues.5 NGOs and investment managers have also begun to publish ‘corporate responsibility indices’ and ‘ethical investment rankings’ to inform shareholders and potential shareholders with concerns about the ethical standards of behaviour demonstrated by companies they invest in.6 Many global corporations have themselves become concerned to persuade both themselves and others that they are serious about behaving responsibly both at home and abroad. An example of TNCs demonstrating good international citizenship was seen when numerous TNCs committed to making substantial donations to support relief work for areas affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in Southeast Asia.7 Assistance, both financial and in-kind, was also provided by Australia’s largest corporations following the October 2005 bomb attacks on nightclubs in the Indonesian province of Bali.8 Corporations from around the world announced record donations following...
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