WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (January 18-24, 2010)

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Schools, social clubs and naked swimming at the home of Cadbury.” By John Buckingham. Times of London. January 20, 2010. Laid out in an exhibition centre in Bournville is a history of the world according to Cadbury, from the Aztec Empire to the Cadbury’s Empire and the momentous day in 1878 when George Cadbury purchased 14 acres of countryside southwest of Birmingham to establish a factory and model village. The exhibition was closed yesterday afternoon on what many regard as the darkest day in that history, when a British company, founded on the noblest principles of Victorian enterprise, fell victim to a sprawling global conglomerate best known for making processed cheese. There is more at stake than just a chocolate factory. Beside it Mr Cadbury built a recreation ground and parks that established Bournville as “the factory in a garden”. There were gardening classes, group activities for children and social clubs. Mr Sammons spent his work breaks in the company cinema; Mr Buckingham recalls the separate men’s and women’s swimming baths. “We would swim with no trunks on,” he said. “You could tell there were some women peering in over the top.” Vestiges of this world, where workers clocked off on sunny days for fear the chocolates would melt, disappeared some time ago and the workforce has reduced from 12,000 to just under 3,000. But the company still sponsors local sports teams, maintains links with associations of former employees and funds a social club where ex-workers met yesterday.

Outer Office, Inner Life; From Chick-fil-A’s godly restaurants to Xerox’s ‘vision quest’ outings.” By Rob Moll. Wall Street Journal. January 19, 2010. As Lake Lambert III explains in “Spirituality, Inc.,” religious faith is on display in American business as perhaps never before, from Tyson Foods’ “workplace chaplains [who] roam the corporate halls and processing floors” to the never-open-on-Sunday Chick-fil-A’s policy of dedicating each new restaurant to God’s glory. The rise of companies with an explicitly religious underpinning has been accompanied by an increase of general spiritual awareness in the workplace, Mr. Lambert says. “Corporations like Ford and Xerox sponsor spiritual retreats to spark creativity.” Even companies with no overt religious or spiritual interests may be the site of spiritual expression, whether that means a Bible study in a conference room or a weekly meeting hosted by the Spiritual Unfoldment Society at the World Bank. Workplace spirituality, then, can take many forms, but its overall theme, Mr. Lambert says, is an attempt to transform business “from an egotistic survival of the fittest built around greed to a new vision of commerce grounded in compassion and enlightened self-interest that is, at its heart, a spiritual phenomenon.”

The Biz Beat; Microsoft and state team up on free vouchers for tech training.” No by-line. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. January 22, 2010. Microsoft and the state are teaming up to provide free online training to workers who want to improve their tech skills to land better jobs. A total of 30,000 vouchers will be issued to Georgians interested in learning how to use Microsoft Windows or one of its other office programs. The vouchers also are good for certification exams that will help prove to a prospective employer that the person is proficient at specific computer skills. Advanced training vouchers are available for professionals interested in Web development or database management.
“This partnership will provide thousands of Georgians with the education and skills required to succeed in the new economy,” Gov. Sonny Perdue said Friday at a Capitol news conference attended by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Consumer complaints have companies rethinking how to dispose of unsold inventory.” By Ylan Q. Mui. Washington Post. January 23, 2010. What happens to the stuff consumers leave behind? The recession has prompted an unprecedented pullback in spending while consumers clamor for companies to become more environmentally conscious. Even though shoppers are buying less, they don’t want the remainder to go to waste. Since the recession began, marquee names such as Linens ‘n Things, Steve & Barry’s and Circuit City have gone out of business with warehouses full of inventory. Even healthy retailers are typically saddled with excess inventory after a holiday season that even the most aggressive clearance sales can’t eliminate. The highest-quality merchandise can be resold to discount retailers or even eBay powersellers. But some chains and manufacturers are concerned that their brand could be hurt if their products show up in a bargain bin. Other merchandise is too damaged or outdated to be resold in America. Experts said such merchandise is often exported, primarily to South America or Africa. Sometimes, it gets tossed in the trash. The demise of the Waldenbooks chain this month would probably have been just another blip on the bleak retail landscape — until some employees confronted a mountain of unwanted books. “As a librarian & book freak, this hurts my heart!” posted one member of the Facebook group Donate, Not Dumpster! “Give them to kids, homeless shelters, shelters for abused women and families, foster homes, hospitals, health clinics — the possibilities are endless!”

Winter Fancy Food Show donates goodies to needy.” By Victoria Colliver. San Francisco Chronicle. January 24, 2010. Wild herring and smoked mackerel fillet. Arrabiata pasta sauce and apricot-maple marinade. Prosciutto, filet mignon and something called chou-frisé in a can. Although those aren’t the staples found at most food handouts, they were among the gourmet products handed out to the needy Saturday in Hayward. The high-end edibles were the leftovers of the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, which ended Tuesday. Vendors at the show donated thousands of pounds of unused food, which volunteers scooped up as the Moscone Center show was being dismantled. The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the show’s organizer, worked with a global hunger relief organization, Feed the Hungry, which in turn partnered with Bay Area anti-hunger programs that distribute food to local families. The bulk of donations went to Bay Area Dream Center, a 5-year-old, multi-denominational Christian church in Hayward, which estimated it had enough roasted vegetable bruschetta spread, vegan humus, dijonaise, organic chocolate and other food to feed 5,000 families.

Leave a Reply