Friday, October 16, 2009

Shell, Nestle and Motorola's dirty secret

Greenpeace has a new report out this week about big companies, including Nestle, Samsung, Motorola, Shell and Kraft Foods, that are failing to comply with China's environmental disclosure regulations. What's great about the report (called "Silent Giants") is that it only asks if companies (both foreign and Chinese) are complying with Chinese regulations - it's not demanding they adhere to a higher international standard. In particular, Greenpeace investigated companies' compliance with a 2008 regulation that said companies blacklisted by local governments in China for spewing pollutants into the environment must disclose precisely what they are spewing. What Greenpeace found was "[n]one of the 25 factories belonging to the 18 companies that were required to disclose environmental information for exceeding discharge standards disclosed information within the stipulated time limit." Interestingly, all of the eight multinationals cited in the report regularly disclose information about emissions at their plants OUTSIDE China. What do you think?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Notes from my career crypt

I'm always fascinated to hear about the short cuts people take to do their jobs better. I don't mean cutting corners on health and safety or anything pernicious - not today. I mean the ways that people do their jobs better ... like the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who said that he never helped anyone above him in the dotcom hierarchy; he always helped people junior to him. Anyway, partly because I've had to deal with a public relations executive recently (I say "had to" because I basically swore off dealing with PR after I left the FT because so many were unhelpful, poorly informed, or just liars), I have been thinking about the ways people screw up their relationships with journalists, sometimes to the detriment of their employers or clients. I've also been cleaning out my contacts file. Looking through the notes I kept, most people merited a "nice" or no note at all. But a good number got freaked out by just meeting a foreign journalist - not even doing an interview. I share some of these notes here, if not for your amusement, then for insight into how journalists (or maybe it's just I) think:

"A little scary" (human rights activist)
"Sucks. Never around. Never returns phone calls." (can't recall who this was)
"Beautiful eyelashes. Great English. Kind of cute." (senior police officer)
"Allegedly does not have an email account" (Steve Wynn, gambling mogul)
"Condescending. Ex-Goldman. Yuck." (banker)
"[Has a] pet pig." (news assistant)
"Didn't eat anything or say anything." (financial PR)
"'If it rusts, pollutes, or you can eat it, it's mine.'" (Morgan Stanley banker)
"Anal about quotes, but in a good way." (consultant)

The photo is of me in a classic pose from my days as a reporter: juggling too many notebooks and material on the street in Tokyo.