Corporate Responsibility in the Global Environment

Trowbridge, Philip
(AMD, Austin, Tx)

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Corporate responsibility is a broad topic with potentially major implications that has risen from the corporate ethics debate. Fueled by several high profile cases such as Enron, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and allegations of child labor at manufacturing facilities making Nike products, there is an increasing expectation for greater transparency and disclosure of corporate activities. Consequently, corporations are becoming increasingly active in monitoring new and existing corporate responsibility initiatives. Several certification bodies and governments are responding to calls from investor groups, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders for greater corporate responsibility. For example, Social Accountability International has an auditable standard (SA8000) corporate-wide social policies and procedures and ISO is developing a corporate responsibility standard modeled on ISO14001. Finally, the European Union published a green paper on corporate social responsibility and soliciting public input on a regulatory framework for corporate social responsibility policy. Corporate responsibility encompasses the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social responsibility. Using traditionally accepted accounting principles, corporations provide their financial accountability to stakeholders. The wave of acceptance of ISO14001 has seemingly created better organized environmental management systems. However, social accountability programs and practices are different. The broad spectrum of social issues combined with measuring the effectiveness of these programs could represent a significant challenge for multinational corporations. This paper explores current corporate responsibility initiatives; how they integrate into the corporate sustainability framework; and the potential implication for corporations

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