How do Gunns feel about alienating consumers and retaining workers, I wonder? Their primary export product is Tasmanian oak veneer, enhancing many Australian homes no doubt. The company also runs a Tamar Valley vineyard (!) as well as other timber-related activities. It seems there is a boycott already running against their Tamar Ridge wines.
Under a website heading Environment and Conservation they proudly claim:
“Gunns forest practices are now certified under the Australian Forestry Standard. Gunns is the first company to achieve this certification.”
ProBono Australia has reported on ‘Stronger Demands for Companies to Support Social Issues’ drawing on the 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Survey which shows more than two-thirds of Americans say they consider a company’s business practices when deciding what to buy.
Isn’t the same trend occurring here? Wouldn’t Gunns be wise to apply the same care they exercise in their forest management to the social, health, environmental and business issues they have created with their Tamar Valley Pulp Mill proposal?
Cone’s research shows a substantial increase in the number of American workers who want their employers to support a social cause or issue and indicates an evolution in consumer thinking about the ways businesses interact with society.
Once good business was about providing fair value, decent service, and high quality. Today’s informed consumers are now asking, ‘Is this a good company?’ and ‘What does it stand for?’ Companies now have a ‘strategic imperative’ to also consider their operating practices and how they affect their social commitments. The survey found that:
“In many areas…Americans are more likely than ever before to reward companies for their support of social issues. Eighty-seven percent are likely to switch from one brand to another (price and quality being about equal) if the other brand is associated with a good cause, an increase of more than 31 percent (from 66%) since 1993.
As well American employees’ expectations of companies have also increased, and quite dramatically—72 percent wish their employers would do more to support a cause or social issue. This has climbed 38 percent (vs. 52%) since Cone’s last survey in 2004.
Employees familiar with their companies’ cause programs indicate:
– They are proud of their companies’ values-88%
– They feel a strong sense of loyalty to their companies-89%
– It is important for their companies to provide them with opportunities to become involved in causes-93%
The survey says that advertising and the Internet are the two main ways Americans prefer companies to communicate their social and environmental issues and practices (45% and 41% respectively).
Americans are also using technology proactively to learn about and support social and environmental issues and causes. More than one in five (22%) have used the Internet or other technologies to engage in grassroots activism. Others are searching for information on issues (37%) or are forwarding important messages to family and friends (38%).
Many companies are choosing which issues to support based on where they can deliver the most meaningful business and social results to their stakeholders. Nine in 10 Americans say companies should support causes that are consistent with their responsible business practices. Eighty-seven percent say they want a company to support issues based on where its business can have the most social and/or environmental impacts.”
The 2007 Cone Cause Evolution Survey presents the findings of an online survey conducted March 29, 2007 by Opinion Research Corporation among a sample of 1,066 adults comprising 499 men and 567 women 18 years of age and older.
Results concerning the causes Americans find important were gathered in a separate online survey on May 7, 2007 by Opinion Research Corporation among a sample of 1,097 adults comprising 525 men and 572 women 18 years of age and older.