Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Protest whirlwind rattles Ethical Corporation conference


This morning I stood in the cold for an hour outside the Ethical Corporation conference on partnerships between corporations, non-governmental organisations and government organisations, to raise awareness of Nestlé malpractice. Seems to have worked. Ethical Corporation has described me as a 'one man protest whirlwind'.

Nestlé is to speak at the event so it seemed a good opportunity to remind participants that Nestlé is not an ethical corporation. See:

I distributed our 'Ten Facts' leaflet (click here for details), while dressed up as a tin of Nestlé formula. Yup. Tough job, but somebody has to do it, even at 8 am on a freezing day.

Within a matter of minutes, Ethical Corporation editor, Tony Webb, had posted a blog entry about me entitled: "One man protest show at London Partnerships Conference".

He linked to my blog and takes issue with my concern that promoting corporations as ethical is a "greenwash" strategy, used to undermine political will for independently monitored and enforced regulations in favour of voluntary codes.

Here is a link to Tony's blog, where he invites you to view Ethical Corporation websites to make up your own minds.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is great when corporate leaders decide voluntarily not to abuse human rights and the environment. But that should never be an alternative to proper regulation. Too often, voluntary initiatives have little impact and serve as a diversion from necessary measures.

The so-called Corporate Social Responsibility reports from Nestlé are worse than useless - the portrayal of their activities is dishonest and the intention is to divert attention from them.

'Partnerships' are more complex, largely because the the word covers a wide range of different relationships between corporations and others. For some of the issue relating to support for good causes see:

I didn't get to take a picture of the whirlwind in action outside the Hilton Hotel (which was not very photogenic in any case). So here is a re-enactment in the office:

Should you want a hi-resolution story - perhaps for Ethical Corporation magazine (?) - click here.

And should you ever doubt whether it is worth getting out of bed in the morning to do a bit of protesting about corporate malpractice, remember even one person can make an impact!

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