Engineered Wood Journal - Fall 2009 - (Page 32)

Best Behavior Corporate Social Responsibility and the Forest Products Industry by Eric Hansen, Xiaoou Han and Rajat Panwar T he role of business, and the way it is perceived by society, has undergone numerous changes throughout history. Over time, awareness of the impact of business and its interplay with societal and environmental concerns has emerged, along with parallel growth of socio-regulatory pressures. This evolution of business and societal concern has led business to gradually assume increased responsibility and consideration for both social and environmental issues, typically beyond what is required by legislation. This response is commonly referred to as corporate social responsibility or corporate responsibility (CR). The concept of sustainability has now permeated society, and because the forest sector is so closely tied to a highly recognized resource that is important to the average citizen, companies have been pushed to recognize that they are responsible for more than merely providing profit to shareholders. Several multilateral organizations have tied CR to sustainable development, taking the The environmental issues facing position that companies the forest industry have evolved should contribute to the significantly over time. For example, objective of securing in the last 40 years, the main issues sustainable development. in the forest industry have included Many advocate the pursuit the following: of global CR standards, yet • 1970s – Emissions to water and there is also recognition air that a context-specific • Mid 1980s – Recycling approach is likely to • Late 1980s – Chlorine bleaching be both more feasible • Early 1990s – Forestry and forest and further-reaching. management An example of context • Mid 1990s – Forest certification specificity is that U.S. • 21st century – Global climate companies generally change and the role of forests place more emphasis on environmental issues, while companies in countries such as Brazil place more emphasis on social issues. Societal expectations of business vary from one country or location to another. Globalization, advances in communication technologies and the emergence of ethical investment opportunities all contribute to increased attention on CR. Easy access to detailed information on corporate activities has increased transparency and heightened public awareness regarding the varied impacts, both positive and negative, of companies worldwide. In turn, this awareness has aided citizens and activists seeking corporate change and boosted global discussion about CR and its adoption by companies. To varying degrees, globalization is resisted by societies concerned with the social and environmental implications of global companies. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important for organizations to proactively respond to social and environmental issues in order to ameliorate societal concerns. Managing Responsibility As companies have sought to more effectively manage environmental and social aspects of their operations, they have adopted tools such as the ISO 14001 environmental management standard and have begun providing annual reports to stakeholders. What was once an annual environmental report has evolved to be, in most cases, a social responsibility or sustainability report. Of the 100 largest global paper and packaging firms identified by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2006, 61 reported on responsibility issues (PWC, 2007). Of those companies listed in 2007, there were 39 that provided separate reports focused on CR issues, and an additional 48 provided reporting via their annual report or website (PWC, 2008). On the horizon is the ISO 26000 standard, which will provide guidance on social responsibility activities. The standard, which is scheduled to be published in late 2010, is built around seven principles of social responsibility: accountability, transparency, ethical behavior, respect for stakeholder interests, respect for the rule of law, respect for international norms of behavior and respect for human rights. Although direct references to forestry are few, an excerpt from the text reads: “In relation to all its activities, products and services, an organization should incorporate the protection of natural habitat, wetlands, forest, wildlife corridors, protected areas and agricultural lands into the development of the built environment.” This standard may become an important tool for large forest industry corporations as they implement CR activities in the same way that the ISO Environmental Management Standard has been adopted by many companies. One way companies are attempting to be more responsible is through dictating specific activities and performance from their suppliers through purchasing policies. A common form of this is policies requiring or giving preference to certified wood products. Engineered Wood Journal • Fall 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineered Wood Journal - Fall 2009

Engineered Wood Journal - Fall 2009
Industry Watch
Dateline APA
EWTA News Notes
Building for Better Times
Clearing the Air
Resource Supply
Best Behavior
Upcoming Events
Reader Services
Advertiser Index/.COM
Final Frame

Engineered Wood Journal - Fall 2009