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DTI Consultation on ethical business: Leading charities en masse refuse to participate

The organisations, which include Amnesty International UK, Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid and Oxfam, as well as two CSR consultancies (full list below), are refusing to take part in the consultation because they believe it betrays a poor analysis of the reasons why the behaviour of companies is falling so far short of the expectations of society, as well as of their own stakeholders.

The letter further criticises the government’s whole strategy on CSR as lacking direction and coherence, and concludes by suggesting the government begin again by holding a high level seminar for all stakeholders very soon, and in the longer-term by setting up an independent, expert working group to look at the whole subject.

The letter says:

“We have been disappointed by the Government’s progress in this area and regard the draft consultation document as yet another missed opportunity. The document reflects an inadequate conception of what is required to achieve the kind of outcomes that we believe to be necessary.

“We note that the Government defines its single objective for CSR internationally as “continuous improvement in all the economic, social and environmental impacts of business”. While this may be a useful process indicator, it is not a fitting objective.

“The existing document is weak on analysis. There is an assumption that existing CSR initiatives are successful in their outcomes. There is also no recognition that the social, environmental and developmental impacts of companies are linked to corporate governance.”

The letter expresses concern about the direction of government policy. It calls for a new start and a qualitatively different approach which recognises that “markets have failed to reflect the social and environmental impacts of companies”, and that therefore there will have to be significant public policy interventions at international and domestic levels.

The letter is signed by the Directors of Action Aid UK, Amnesty International UK, CAFOD, Centre for Corporate Accountability, Christian Aid, CORE Coalition, Environmental Justice Foundation, Friends of the Earth (England/Wales/Northern Ireland, and Scotland), Global Witness, Green Alliance, Greenpeace UK, IFAW, International Alert, International Institute for Environment and Development, justassurance, National Federation of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s Institutes, New Economics Foundation, Oxfam, People & Planet, Save the Children's rights, SustainAbility Ltd, Tourism Concern, Traidcraft, World Development Movement, WWF, and Caroline Lucas MEP.

For a copy of the letter please contact the Amnesty International Press Office.

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