Charity calls for legislation on CSR: Christian Aid has accused major companies of hypocrisy.

AuthorBerens, Camilla
PositionCorporate Social Responsibility - Shell Australia Ltd., British-American Tobacco Company Ltd. and Coca-Cola Co. (Atlanta, Georgia

Big business has failed to show that it can put its own house in order when it comes to corporate social responsibility, according to Christian Aid. Too many firms are using their ethical guidelines as little more than a public relations exercise, the development agency's latest report claims.

In some eases, businesses have cited these guidelines to persuade national governments that legally binding regulations are unnecessary while they continue to break their own rules behind the scenes, according to the report, it concludes that negligent companies will clean up their act only if they are bound by a worldwide legal framework for corporate accountability.

"We are ultimately looking at international agreements backed up by national law in developing countries," said Andrew Pendleton, Christian Aid's senior policy officer. "It's time we made companies walk their talk."

Christian Aid's report criticises three companies in particular for failing to live up to their own ethical policies: Shell, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Coca-Cola. After all the controversy surrounding its oil extraction operations in Nigeria in the mid-1990s, Shell claims that it has turned over a new leaf. But the report states that the firm has failed to "use its considerable influence" to bring about social and environmental improvements in the Niger delta region.

Shell maintained that it had made "changes...

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