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[GreenYes] Fwd: BizEthicsBuzz -- The Next Step for CSR: Economic Democracy
From the GRRN Zero Waste Business project perspective, it's clear that this is an opportune time to more aggressively link discussions of Corporate Responsibility with corporate performance on social and environmental issues (including Zero Waste).  The following is one of the networks that is trying to make that connection.  I encourage GreenYes members to join in this dialog, and help articulate what WE can do to help link corporate performance with social and environmental issues locally, nationally, and globally.

Gary Liss

Date: 28 Jul 2002 17:21:55 -0000
From: "Business Ethics" <>

In this issue:
Welcome to BizEthicsBuzz: The online news report from Business Ethics magazine. The articles in the online version do not appear in the print edition of Business Ethics. (We've highlighted the contents of the latest print edition of Business Ethics for you at the conclusion of our online version.)

BizEthics Factoid:
Origination fee charged home mortgage customer by First Alliance Mortgage Co.: $13,000.
That customer’s total loan: $68,000.
Amount CEO Brian Chisick will PERSONALLY pay in settlement for predatory lending:   $20 million.


* Arthur Andersen Appreciation Night at Portland Beavers Game
* Sierra Club Masterfully Spins the Ethics Crisis
* Free Guide Helps Investors Select Ethical Investments
* Next Step for CSR: Building Economic Democracy

* * * *

The Portland Beavers, Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, announced that July 18 would be Arthur Andersen Appreciation Night, with many special activities:

"Those attending the game will be able to purchase a special $5 ticket, but will be provided with a receipt for $10 for accounting purposes as a one-time ‘non-recurring charge.’...

"Fans will be encouraged to bring their own documents to be destroyed at one of several ‘shredding stations’ located throughout the ballpark. During the game, the team will tuck away a sizeable number of in-stadium money certificates around the stadium as part of the exciting ‘Massive Debt Hide-and-Go-Seek’ promotion."

Thanks to Peter Kinder and Jonathan Cohen for passing this on. Is it a spoof? See for yourself at

* * * * *

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* * * * *


We at Business Ethics have been wondering how progressive groups would take advantage of the crisis in corporate responsibility today, and were pleased to see one of the more powerful salvos come from the Sierra Club. On July 9, members of the Sierra Club and the New York Public Interest Research Group rallied at President Bush’s Wall Street speech, saying corporate responsibility must include holding corporations accountable for their environmental messes.

The groups pointed out that the Bush administration opposes making polluters pay for toxic cleanup, plans to cut funding for the Superfund program, and has unveiled a plan to weaken the Clean Air Act. It was a nice piece of progressive spin. "If President Bush is serious about corporate responsibility, then he needs to make polluting companies responsible for their toxic messes," said Norma Ramos of the Sierra Club. "Americans are looking for their leaders to restore faith and integrity in American business -- and that can’t happen if polluting corporations are being let off the hook."

The group’s press release is available at

* * * * *


A new guide aimed at helping individual investors align their investments with their values has just been published by SRI World Group of Brattleboro, Vt. The 20-page guide, entitled "Investing in Socially Responsible Mutual Funds," is part of a free socially responsible investing (SRI) Mutual Funds Kit that can be ordered from is a service of SRI World Group and is a comprehensive personal finance site devoted to socially responsible investing. "At a time of unprecedented cynicism about corporate ethics, this guide is a valuable resource for the individual investor whose faith in Wall Street has been shaken to the core," said Jay Falk, president of SRI World Group.

A word from our sponsor...

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* * * * *


Looking back over fifteen years of publishing Business Ethics magazine, editor Marjorie Kelly writes: "I’m struck by how little change of real substance has taken root." We have dozens of codes of conduct, hundreds of ethics officers at corporations, trillions in social investing assets, and virtually universal business school courses in ethics. Yet ethics in business is worse than ever, she writes in the magazine’s 15th anniversary issue, published this month.

The problem, Kelly writes, is that CSR has assumed managers have genuine freedom to be socially responsible. And they don’t. "We believed CSR was about separating the good guys from the bad guys, and that good guys could be spotted by their exemplary policies and programs and sustainability reports." But the Enron scandal tells a different story.

Enron issued a triple bottom line report, gave speeches at ethics conferences, and in 2000 won six environmental awards. The lesson, Kelly writes, "is that all the things CSR has been measuring and fighting for and applauding may be colossally beside the point. Because they fail to tell us what’s really going on inside companies," which is a single thing: unremitting pressure to get the numbers.

Getting the numbers means piling up profits which lead to share price increases which represent dollars in the pockets of real human beings, primarily two groups of human beings: executives and wealthy investors. Chief executives, deservedly, get much of the blame. But from 1997 to 2000, the wealth of the Forbes 400 went up by $1.44 billion each. The people profiting from the overwhelming drive to get the numbers are the financial elite – the ones who wield power over corporations.

Kelly calls on the CSR movement to begin addressing this issue of power. "If CSR has been riveted on things colossally beside the point, it’s because we haven’t focused enough on system design – particularly on how the system lends power to the financial elite. We haven’t fully addressed this issue of power. We haven’t adequately studied how it’s currently used, or fully imagined how to craft new structures of power – structures where power is wielded not by the few but by the many. Structures that can turn stakeholder management from rhetoric into reality.

"If we wish to stop being beside the point – if we wish to accomplish something in the next 15 years that we failed to accomplish in the last 15 – we would do well to focus on democratizing structures of power. Than means imagining, and then creating, economic democracy." She calls on the leaders of CSR to take advantage of this unique historical moment to begin working for change at the system design level – "to take corporate social responsibility to the next level: the level of economic democracy."

In language echoing her new book, The Divine Right of Capital (Berrett-Koehler), Kelly concluded the article by writing:

"We can become a new founding generation, completing the design in the economic realm that our forefathers began in the political realm. Instead of chasing one form of corporate wrongdoing at a time, we can put in place enduring structures of justice, effective structures of checks and balances. For it is only in this way that we can truly safeguard the common good – not only for today, but for generation after generation to come."

For a free copy of the 15th anniversary issue containing Kelly’s article, send your snail mail address to Business Ethics is laying plans to convert itself into a nonprofit to be called the Economic Democracy Project and is seeking allies. Contact Marjorie Kelly at

Available now in the Summer 2002 issue of Business Ethics:

BizEthics Buzz is a free service of Business Ethics magazine, and carries items not appearing in the printed publication. Free samples of the print publication are available by e-mailing

The Next Step for CSR: Economic Democracy
. The excerpt above is taken from the complete article which is the cover story for the Summer 2002 issue of Business Ethics. Plus: 15th Anniversary Time Capsules & The Best Books of 15 Years: One book for each year Business Ethics has been publishing.

Double Yield

The 18 Top SRI Mutual Funds. Our annual summer selection of the best socially responsible funds that are beating their peers over the long term.


What Has CSR Really Accomplished? Much of the movement has been a public relations smokescreen.

Company Watch

Worth Noting:  A new mutual fund for employee-owned firms... great new resources... NGOs being heard at the WTO... tons more great fun stuff.

Trend Watch

Watch for battles over bottling public water to heat up. Plus other news: corporate fellowships in the rainforest... First tobacco, next climate change?

Reforming Corporate Governance After Enron

While most proposals tinker at the margins, these two get to the heart of the matter.

Warning Signs

Nike's Corporate Responsibility Statements: Truth or Hype? When is corporate speech not protected by the First Amendment? When the California Supreme Court says false advertising laws apply.

Eye on Europe

Sustainability Reporting Now Mandatory in France, plus other news.

What Would You Do?

Is a Promise as Solid as a Contract? The executives who made promises to Joe had unexpectedly left the company.

Book Snacks

Soul in the Computer... Money... Digital Corporate Citizenship.

If you enjoy BizEthicsBuzz and want more of the same great coverage, just e-mail your postal address to us at and request a free sample copy of Business Ethics magazine. We’ll  include a special introductory offer for new subscribers.

A Word from Our Sponsor...
Tellabs provides network equipment and professional services that help the world's leading communications carriers succeed in delivering today's services and enabling tomorrow's. The world communicates through Tellabs -- most telephone calls and Internet sessions in several countries, including the United States, flow through the company's equipment. Our employee-owners develop and deploy metro optical networking solutions and business connectivity services in partnership with Tellabs customers in more than 100 countries.

Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485
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