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Ethical Leaders Who Made a Difference in 07

24 January 2008 at 3:27 pm
Staff Reporter
Two Australians have made it into a global list of ethical leaders who made a difference in 2007.

Staff Reporter | 24 January 2008 at 3:27 pm


Ethical Leaders Who Made a Difference in 07
24 January 2008 at 3:27 pm

Two Australians have made it into a global list of ethical leaders who made a difference in 2007.

Ethical Corporation in the UK selected 15 individuals from business, politics and civil society who have done most to push forward the case for responsible business in 2007.

And the two Australians who have made it onto this exclusive global list are, at number seven Noel Purcell the General Manager of stakeholder communications at Westpac Bank and at number 14 Penny Wong an Australian Labor Party senator and new climate change minister.

Ethical Corporation says over the past ten years Noel Purcell has worked behind the scenes to implement a huge turnaround in the bank’s corporate social responsibility. He was the first in the bank to make significant ethics-related internal changes by working directly with the chief executive. He has been the person with ultimate responsibility after the chief executive for implementation.

EC says Westpac is today a responsibility leader, not just in Australia but globally.

According to Ethical Corporation Penny Wong is the most progressive politician on corporate social responsibility worldwide. Wong was appointed in 2004 as shadow minister for employment and workforce participation, and shadow minister for corporate governance and responsibility for the Labor opposition in 2004. Since December 2006, she has been shadow minister for public administration and accountability as well as remaining shadow minister for corporate governance and responsibility and shadow minister for workforce participation.

Largely as a result of her efforts, EC says the two houses of the Australian Parliament conducted a joint public enquiry into corporate social responsibility. The resulting report, "Corporate Responsibility: Managing Risk and Creating Value", was released last year and remains one of the best of its kind. Following the victory of the Labor party in November’s elections, Wong has been appointed minister for climate change and water.

Ethical Corporation is an independent publisher and conference organiser, launched in 2001 to encourage debate and discussion on responsible business. Ethical Corporation also publishes the new online magazine, launched in February 2007.

Here’s the rest of the list:

1) Stuart Rose
Chief executive, iconic UK retailer Marks & Spencer.
For launching Plan A, Marks & Spencer’s groundbreaking five-year, 100-point commitment to sustainability. Rose, like many others, was converted to the climate cause after reading Al Gore’s book on the topic. Plan A is the company’s attempt to become the greenest retailer in the UK by 2012, and is undoubtedly the most comprehensive environmental and ethical business plan – much copied since – by a UK company.

2) Lee Scott
Chief executive, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.
Scott’s shock at the impact of hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in 2005, converted him to the environmental cause. Since then, his company has won plaudits for its green efforts: selling compact fluorescent light bulbs, sourcing from sustainable fisheries and using hybrid diesel trucks. In 2007 Wal-Mart continued its environmental plans, and has begun considering impacts in its supply chain. Wal-Mart is not a Nike on labour standards, but the company’s size means any progressive environmental impacts the firm have global reach.

3) Patrick Cescau
Chief executive, Unilever, the consumer goods giant.
Cescau made the move in 2007 to switching all Unilever’s tea to Rainforest Alliance certified. The company has continued this year with its cutting edge social and economic impact assessments in emerging markets. After a groundbreaking study with Oxfam on the company’s economic impact in Indonesia in 2004, Cescau committed the company to publish another in-depth look at how the firm affects South Africa, to be published in 2008. Cescau deserves his place, like Rose, for bringing an evidence-based management approach to business sustainability, or social innovation, as he calls it.

4) Anne Lauvergeon
Chairman of Areva, the French nuclear group.
Lauvergeon, one of the most powerful women in the world according to Forbes, has spoken out on a wide variety of issues related to ethical business and the environment. From calling for changes in business approaches to diversity to publicly supporting the UN Global Compact, Lauvergeon has established herself as a progressive leader who, according to Time magazine, virtually created her company herself and believes nuclear energy can play a serious role in tackling climate change.

5) Chris Harrop
Marketing Director of Marshalls, the UK stone company.
For the energetic campaigning he has done to reduce child labour in the quarrying of Indian sandstone. Harrop has taken an admirably robust approach to eliminating this risk from Marshalls’ supply chain.

6) Richard Ellis
Head of corporate social responsibility at Alliance-Boots, the UK-based wholesale and retail pharmacies group.

Over the past few years Ellis has turned Boots from a sleeping ethics giant into one of the leading companies. Working quietly and modestly with a small team, among other achievements Ellis has recently managed to persuade buyout group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and its partner and new Boots chief executive, Stefano Pessina, that sustainability and ethics are essential to the future of the company. No mean feat.

8) Mike Clasper
Former chief executive of BAA, the UK airports operator.
Clasper made progressive moves towards issues facing his business whilst at BAA. In 2007 he chaired the work that created the UK’s Marketplace Responsibility Principles, which are now starting to influence companies on taking core issues to the heart of their approach to corporate responsibility. He has also led private meetings to leaders of the mainstream investment houses to make the case for why consideration of these issues should be higher within their approach to valuation.

Civil society and media

9) Chris Avery
Founder of
For making the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre the key internet human rights information source for companies, NGOs and others. Avery has relaunched and, with a small staff and tiny budget, continues to both highlight alleged instances of human rights infringements while also giving space to companies to respond and state their side of the story. A true pioneer.
10) Fiona Harvey
Environment correspondent, the Financial Times.
Harvey has probably done more than any other journalist to further environmental issues in global business in 2007. Casting a critical eye over both business and government, Harvey has made the Financial Times the leading global business newspaper for the environment, as well as for its traditional areas of coverage.

11) Lala Rimando
Business editor, Newsbreak Magazine in Manila, Philippines
Having gained as masters in corporate social responsibility and years of investigative journalism experience in the most dangerous country in the world outside Iraq, Rimando trains Filipino journalists on corporate social responsibility. She also investigates companies and their chief executives. Her magazine publishes groundbreaking stories on both sides of the corporate ethics debate.

12) Christine Loh
Founder and chief executive of Civic Exchange, an independent, non-profit public policy think-tank in Hong Kong founded in 2000.
A prolific writer and commentator on pollution, climate change and corporate social responsibility in Hong Kong and southern China, Loh is former chairman of Hong Kong Friends of the Earth and former liberal and pro-democracy Hong Kong legislator. The prime mover of Hong Kong’s environmental community through both Civic Exchange, an international adviser to the G8+5 Climate Change Dialogue, and a director of the Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia, Loh continues to be the most influential voice in the region. She is listened to by ordinary people and major multinationals alike and is a thorn in the side of both the Hong Kong government and Beijing over the refusal to tackle environmental issues affecting the region.


13) Neelie Kroes
European Union competition commissioner
Arguably the most powerful woman in European business, Dutch-born Kroes has made a point in 2007 of stamping out cartels. First, she busted lift and escalator makers including Otis and ThyssenKrupp for price fixing, fining them a total of €992 million. Then she slapped Heineken and three other brewers for cartel activity with a combined fine of €273 million. A third victory came over Microsoft in autumn, when a European court upheld the commission’s 2004 decision to fine the firm €497 million for market abuse. Kroes has also been instrumental in pushing for liberal market reforms to Europe’s energy sector.

15) Bill Clinton
Former US president.
The Clinton Global Initiative has really taken hold in 2007, and Clinton has played a key role in pushing companies and governments to think of innovative solutions for tackling climate change and other key areas, such as HIV/Aids. While the CGI’s exact impact remains to be seen, Clinton deserves credit this year for operating totally outside normal institutions and frameworks. His work may be displacing the World Economic Forum’s non-financial initiatives.

And finally EC says…
Clearly an honorary mention should to Al Gore for his climate change campaigning, but readers will be familiar enough with his work for this brief note to suffice.

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