Concerns about social, economic and environmental sustainability of the planet – and the impact of companies on these issues – will require companies to be more worldly and smarter in aligning their behaviour and conduct with the societies in which they operate. This is illustrated by public reactions to the bonuses awarded by bailed out banks, but also by the cynicism and suspicion that continues to greet companies like Shell in Nigeria, where their CSR activities are commonly seen in Nigeria itself as branding exercises to boost profits. Despite Shell’s excellent reputation in the West for CSR, in Nigeria its name and reputation was still poor. The question is whether they could do something about this or was this simply a hangover from the past much as the 1974 campaign on ‘Nestle Kills Babies’ seems difficult to move away from.
Water, will probably be the biggest sustainability issue for companies to address urgently and Nestle, for one, has emphasized water shortages as have Coca Cola for obvious reasons. As MHCi have stated many times, the issue of worldwide poverty is a catastrophe that has been with us for generations while the other concerns, albeit crucial, are fairly recent phenomenon. The systematic nature of problems was not being picked up with Governments behind the curve as Corporates, themselves, increasingly become involved in global issues.