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Lecture by Professor John Ruggie

Fondation Guilé organised a conference, featuring Professor John Ruggie and Dr.Klaus Leisinger, on the theme:

HUMAN RIGHTS “WITHOUT BORDERS”:

RISKS AND CHALLENGES FOR SWISS COMPANIES

John Ruggie
Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and former UN Secretary-General Special Representative on business and human rights.
Klaus Leisinger
Member of the Board of the Fondation Guilé, former Chairman of the Novartis Foundation, and President of the Global Value Alliance.

conférence Ruggie

 

More than 500 attendees at the conference with Professor John Ruggie

 

 

 

 

 

Press releases:

– Agefi ” Droits humains et industrie

– Agefi ” Au tour des entreprises de prendre le relais

– Swissinfo ” Swiss need to catch up in corporate accountability

 

Chiquita’s CSR under the scrutinity of Prof. Palazzo

GuiléAcademicAssessment: the challenge of CSR continuity in a highly competitive environment

Unil

 

Download the full GuiléAcademicAssessment ReportThe Corporate Social Responsibility Story of Chiquita

 

II.3. Female Workers Packing_PAN

Guido Palazzo, Professor of Business Ethics at the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Lausanne (HEC-UNIL), has just completed a major study on the corporate social responsibility policy (CSR) of the Chiquita company. For one year, and in cooperation with Dr. Dorothea Baur from the University of St.Gallen, he concentrated in particular on the performance of Chiquita’s sustainable development strategy by carrying out a research with external stakeholders, company workers and workers in the field, including in banana plantations in Latin America. Fondation Guilé, a Swiss organisation whose aim is to promote Social Responsibility especially among business leaders, accompanied this project. The Foundation has published a comprehensive report on the results of the study This unprecedented research has been made possible thanks to the “open book” policy proposed by Chiquita.

The study was conducted by independent researchers, who had unlimited access to internal and external sources which allowed for a meticulous and thorough study, with the aim of fully understanding the background and development of Chiquita’s CSR practices. The result is an unprecedented piece of work offering an insider’s view into the complexity of a multinational company’s CSR policy, within one of the tightest markets. The research was carried out via a tripartite governance model, in which the Fondation Guilé played the role of impartial facilitator and intermediary.

Key elements of the research:

  • In the early 1990s, Chiquita began an impressive assessment of its work so that it could evolve from a multinational that did not take into account the social and environmental impacts of its activities, into a “citizens” organisation with a comprehensive commitment to its stakeholders. Despite the resulting global CSR strategy and policy, Chiquita has hardly reaped any benefits. Neither retailers nor consumers or shareholders seem to have recognised the merits of this transformation towards becoming a highly engaged company acting as a good corporate citizen.
  • The fact that Chiquita has been in financial difficulty in recent years has clearly limited the scope of its possible CSR. The company has had to constantly address the problem of trying to continue to do good, while not doing well. Despite its financial problems, Chiquita has never abandoned its belief in the strategic value of its CSR policy.
  • Chiquita’s controversial past and the debate on its payments to paramilitary factions in Colombia continue to haunt the company and undermine the credibility of its CSR efforts.
  • Chiquita’s claim that it produces socially responsible bananas with respect for the environment without guaranteeing a minimum price, as supported by the Rainforest Alliance, has come under significant criticism from Fairtrade Organization activists, who believe that there can be no equity without guaranteed prices. Chiquita takes the market risk in most of their supplier contracts by guaranteeing the supplier a negotiated price independent of market realities. Chiquita strives to position itself as a credible producer of an equivalent alternative to Fairtrade via its CSR policy.
  • Despite the fact that Chiquita was, in many respects, a pioneer in terms of protecting the environment, it sometimes faces greenwashing criticisms.

The study shows that Chiquita has made significant efforts and spent a lot of time on protecting its social and environmental commitment by anchoring it to daily and routine processes within its teams and building its CSR policy into an integral part of its corporate culture. However the viability of this strategy will be shown by its sustainability in the long term and one cannot help but wonder whether the Cutrale group, the new owners of Chiquita, and one of the world leaders in the production of oranges, will continue the CSR commitment Chiquita began more than 20 years ago. It also remains to be seen whether Chiquita’s CSR efforts can become more credible and be converted into tangible returns to the company’s stakeholders.

The study by Professor Palazzo and Dr. Baur is particularly aimed at practitioners, teachers and their students, and university researchers. Its goal: to improve the general understanding of Chiquita’s corporate responsibility strategy in order to draw lessons for other companies.

 

Contacts:

  • Guido Palazzo, Professor of Business Ethics at the Faculty of Business and Economics
    of the University of Lausanne (HEC-UNIL): guido.palazzo@unil.ch, +41 (0)79 543 04 27
  • Deborah Coia, Head of Communications at HEC-UNIL : deborah.coia@unil.ch, +41 (0)79 888 27 29, +41 (0)79 888 27 29

Useful links:

 

Lausanne, June 5th, 2015

 

Press releases:

– l’Agefi- 4 Juin 2015-  ” Chiquita sous la loupe de Guido Palazzo, défis de la responsabilité sociale”

– WORK Magazine – Juin 2015 – Finance durable , ” Promouvoir la responsabilité sociale”

– Tribune de Genève – 27 Juillet 2015 – ” Le plan social de Chiquita sous la loupe d’experts”

 

YVES CLAUDE AUBERT, Member of the Board & Member of the Council

Oliver Johner, Member of the Council

CHARLES BURRUS, A HUMANIST EMPLOYER

From the article by Serge Jubin, newspaper Le Temps, Jura May 10th 2011

TOBACCO INDUSTRIALIST DIES AT AGE 81

For a denizen of the Jura region, knowing Charles Burrus was a point of pride, which shows just how great his influence was. The industrialist died on Monday, at the age of 81. The man whom his fellow Boncourt citizens affectionately referred to as “Mister Charles” was a member of the sixth generation Burrus dynasty, which began in Alsace in 1814. The family built a major cigarette factory in Boncourt. The son of Leon Burrus, Charles took the helm of the family company, the largest private employer in the Jura, in 1979. Initially he worked with his cousin Xavier, the son of Gerard, and then on his own from 1985. In 1996, he sold the company to the Dutch group Rothmans, and in 1999 it was taken over by BAT.

A PHILANTHROPIST

Charles Burrus was the quintessential benevolent boss, as his forebears had been. This didn’t prevent him from selling a competitive business. The Burrus family was the first in Switzerland to offer their workers family benefits in 1916.

“Mister Charles” was quite popular. His philanthropy was appreciated. He was a major contributor to the development of the Saint-Charles Catholic secondary school in Porrentruy. He supported several athletic clubs, in particular the Boncourt football club. He sponsored the equestrian facilities at Chevenez. Charles Burrus frequented the upper levels of the Catholic hierarchy, with special ties to the Vatican. At one point, he offered the Guilé family home in Boncourt to a foundation that sensitizes opinion leaders to human and Christian values.

More than anyone else in his family, Charles Burrus remained rooted in Boncourt, although this did not stop his industrial influence from spreading throughout Switzerland. The Jura region was always grateful to him for this, particularly because he had decided to be a large contributor to the last of the cantons to be established.

1814

Bernadette et Charles Burrus

The history of Fondation Guilé goes back to the year 1814, when Martin Burrus started a tobacco business that would remain in the family for almost 200 years.

In 1931, his successor Léon and his wife Marguerite Burrus built a country manor to give a home to the spirit, values, and legacy of the family. They named the manor GUILÉ, a combination of their first names. The Domaine de Guilé became the place where the Burrus family hosted their large social network of relatives, friends, industrialists, politicians, philanthropists, military officials, and academics.

The tobacco magnate F.J. Burrus became a pioneer of corporate responsibility in Switzerland. For example, his company was the first in Switzerland to provide family allowances and corporate pension schemes.

 

1996

After the family company was sold in 1996, Charles (1929-2011) and Bernadette Burrus felt a need to give back to society. They created Fondation Guilé to continue their family heritage and provide entrepreneurs with the necessary strategies and tools to become ethically responsible players in today’s international markets.

The couple inspired the foundation’s work towards peace and justice in order to give hope to future generations. Charles Burrus passed away on 9 May 2011. His spirit will live on in the activities of Fondation Guilé.

Léon Burrus

Leon was an industrial and urban planning visionary. As early as 1938 he began originating and creating cutting-edge production facilities.

In his capacity as mayor of Boncourt and president of the community of mayors of Ajoie for many years, he helped successfully manage numerous urban planning and development projects, including the hospital in Porrentruy. In addition, Leon guided the fate of the Collège Saint-Charles Catholic secondary school in Porrentruy, which he renovated. He built the classroom building, the gymnasium, and the pool, and offered scholarships to underprivileged students. Lastly, Leon supported local and regional sports clubs.

A staunch philanthropist, Leon Burrus was tireless in his pursuit of the social commitments begun by his predecessors within the company. In keeping with this tradition, in 1960 the Burrus Group revised the terms of pension funds for all its workers: laborers, employees, and upper management. Burrus partners added a “reserve foundation” to these funds at their own expense to even out the returns from the three funds. At the time, these pension funds were at the forefront of pension plans in Switzerland.

F.J. Burrus never built worker housing, but the company drafted a rule to offer construction loans at preferred rates compared to current rates on the real estate market. These loans would allow young workers who wanted to establish themselves to build their own home. The initiative was a huge success. For over 40 years, many heads of family made use of these loans to achieve every man’s dream: owning his own home. Two rental properties intended mainly for staff were also built in Boncourt.

BLUEPRINT FOR CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY LEADERSHIP

Fondation Guilé collaborated with the UN Global Compact in designing the “Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership”.

Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership

The project was initiated at a private event which took place during the World Economic Forum
(WEF) Annual Meeting on 29 January 2010. The event was hosted by Fondation Guilé in cooperation with the Swiss Government (represented by SDC), KPMG and Novo Nordisk.

The proposal for a “Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership in the Context of the
UN Global Compact” was presented by Thomas Streiff, Head of the Guilé Engagement Team. Important inputs for the design and development of the Blueprint were collected through discussions with high-level representatives from the private and public sector as well as the UN.

These findings informed Fondation Guilé’s work on the Blueprint and defined leadership within the Global Compact in three distinct dimensions:

  • integrating the 10 principles into strategies and operations
  • taking action in support of broader UN goals and issues
  • engaging with the UN Global Compact.

In the following, the rationale, structure and in particular the key components of the identified leadership dimensions were discussed and further developed together with the core team of the Global Compact Office. The Blueprint was launched at the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit 2010 in New York. Endorsement of the Blueprint has become since then one of the membership criteria for the new UN Global Compact platform: Global Compact LEAD .

UN PRI SUSTAINABLE STOCK EXCHANGES INITIATIVE

Fondation Guilé is also a signatory and promoter of the UN PRI and is involved in the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative (SSE). This initiative aims to explore how exchanges can work together with investors, regulators, and companies to enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on ESG issues and encourage responsible long-term approaches to investment.

SSE Global Dialogue
(October 2014, United Nations Office, Geneva, Switzerland)

The initiative was co-convened by the Principles for Responsible Investment, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and the UN Global Compact.

In support of the wider Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative, a group of PRI signatories sent letters to the top 30 stock exchanges, beginning in 2011, asking that they address inadequate sustainability reporting by companies. Fondation Guilé was one of the four service provider signatories of this letter.

Specifically, signatories were asked to support a call to global stock market listing authorities to consider possible actions that exchanges can take, including, but not limited to, the following suggestions:

  • encourage better internal corporate governance
  • consult with companies on how they should be integrating sustainability into long-term strategic decision-making
  • provide guidance for companies on material sustainability issues, global initiatives, and other opportunities that encourage ESG disclosure
  • consider mandating that listed companies have a nonbinding shareholder vote on the sustainability report or sustainability strategy.