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Giving in to 'Greenmail' erodes corporate social responsibility: World Growth report

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Giving in to 'Greenmail' erodes corporate social responsibility: World Growth report

May 03, 2010 - 18:54
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WASHINGTON, DC, May 4, 2010 (Press Release) -Unveiling a new report today entitled "Greenmail: Undermining Corporate Social Responsibility in Emerging Markets," Alan Oxley -- Chairman of the pro-development NGO World Growth -- released the following statement:

"Western environmental activists such as Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network have launched ‘greenmail' campaigns against major companies in Europe and the US to boycott paper and agricultural products from Indonesia and China. Greenmail is a dubious but common practice in which large environmental groups threaten to publicly besmirch businesses in order to coerce them to shed successful practices which don't fit with activists' agenda.

"Over the past few years, luxury goods companies, major retail chains and major producers of grocery products have counted among the list of ‘greenmail' targets. Some of these companies -- believing that acquiescence is the only way to preserve their corporate social responsibility reputations -- have caved to theses dubious demands.

"Yet, yielding to ‘greenmail' actually undermines the interests of investors and shareholders, as well as those of millions of people in the developing world.

"Demonstrations against Greenpeace in Indonesia last month show that companies and workers in emerging markets -- new engines for growth in the global economy -- aren't going to take this sort of political maltreatment lying down.

"It's high time Western corporations remember that their key responsibility is to their shareholders. From a perspective of social responsibility, the key contribution multinationals can make in the developing world is the raising of living standards. The last people they should be listening to are groups of well-heeled activists who show little regard for the world's poor and aim to use them as tools in radical political campaigns."