Trust Planning

Trust Planning

Estate Planning and Wealth Management

Corporate Social Responsibility:
Books, Videos, Documentaries and News Stories for Socially Responsible Investing

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), apart from its obvious meaning that corporations should be good citizens (corporate citizenship) and take responsibility for the effects of their actions, refers specifically to corporate self-regulation such that the business monitors its compliance with laws, ethics, and standards, taking proactive responsibility to create a positive impact on communities, the environment, consumers, and employees.

As you look at the following resources, ask yourself if corporate self-regulation is realistic in the absence of our efforts to make change happen.

What is Socially Responsible Investing?

Socially responsible investing (SRI) is an ethical investment strategy that considers the well-being of society. Socially responsible investing supports corporations that are good stewards of the environment, that protect human rights and diversity, that value the long-term well-being of society and that do not harm consumers. Socially responsible investing often screens out businesses that are involved in tobacco, alcohol, weapons/military, gambling, etc. But screening is not considered enough. An active role has to be taken in the areas of environment, social justice and corporate governance (ESG) through shareholder advocacy, community investing, regulation, and impact investing.

The following resources are meant to make clear how powerfully corporations affect our life, intimately influencing the daily quality of life of our family. These books and sites should make clear how far we have to go.

Women and Youth: Is Image Exploitation Socially Responsible?

Miss Representation (documentary)
Report of the APA task force on the Sexualization of girls (originally published in 2007, updated 2010). Online pdf:
This is Who I Am, by Rosanne Olson (first three subsections of “outside influences”: media, sexuality in the media, and effects of the media.)
Pretty Inc
The Invisible War (US military not protecting the women its commercials encouraged to enlist)

Youth Exploitation by the Food Industry...
A Flagrant Abdication of Corporate Responsibility

The Weight of the Nation, (free viewing) an HBO documentary in four parts.
NPR Fresh Air podcast: Pounding Away at America's Obesity Epidemic. Interview with Kelly Brownell, professor of psychology, epidemiology and public health at Yale University, and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
Soda companies use corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns to avoid their responsibility and harm consumer health (story in Time magazine)

Youth Exploitation by the Alcohol Industry: A Far Cry from Corporate Social Responsibility

Two best sources on youth and alcohol: 1. research-based: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, and 2. Wikipedia summary.

Liquor companies spend 2 billion dollars a year on advertising. (Think how many public health problems could be solved with that money.) Some countries (e.g. Sweden) have outright bans on alcohol advertising. The U.S. relies on "voluntary guidelines" created by the alcohol industry (don't advertise if the audience has greater than 30% under the drinking age). Some countries have banned liquor companies from sponsoring sports events; the U.S. has not. There is a real relationship between advertising alcoholic beverages and increases in youth drinking, this underage drinking causes life-long social problems and health problems and death. Research also shows that people who do delay drinking (and using other addictive substances) until after the teen years are much less likely to become life-long addicts; (ref and National Epidemiological Survey). The group at greatest risk of drunk driving is men in early 20s.

Adult Exploitation by the Alcohol Industry

Lifetime prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in the U.S. was found to be over 30% (2007, Archives of General Psychiatry), and it takes a decade for the person to effectively seek treatment. According to the National Institutes of Health, currently 18 million adults in the United States fit the DSM-IV clinical diagnosis of alcoholism/AUD (5.8% of population). Many more deaths result from alcohol use than just alcohol-induced cirrhosis or cancer (see U.S. map of alcohol inclusive deaths). Almost 11,000 people die from drunk drivers each year (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, CDC; numbers are going down), this is about 32% of all traffic fatalities. Over a quarter of a million people a year are injured by drunk drivers. There are about a million and half drunk driving arrests each year.

How low could rates of alcoholism and AUD go down if we eliminated alcohol advertising and glorification on TV and in movies? What would be an effective public health measure: Boycott actors who are hacks and unnecessarily glorify drinking? Make any show or movie with alcohol use rated NC17?

Is Tobacco Divestiture a Corporate Responsibility?

JPMorgan International Value Fund (JFEAX and JIESX) is 2% Japan Tobacco according to their website (on July 11, 2012). Should we divest from JPMorgan?
New York Times October 9, 2015 article "Big Tobacco's Staunch Friend in Washington: US Chamber of Commerce."

Farming, Sustainability and Socially Responsible Investing

Organizations for positive change: (this website makes it easy to send emails to elected representatives to promote healthier farming practices and stop abuses by multinational agribusinesses like Dow Chemical and Monsanto) and
Institute for Responsible Technology
Pesticide Action Network
The Pachamama Alliance
The overlap of Monsanto and the U.S. government enables Monsanto's abuses.
The World According to Monsanto (2008 documentary originally in French)
California Prop 37 (GMO labeling)
Companies fighting to defeat labeling of genetically modified foods
The Future of Food
Food Matters
Hemp Revolution
Food, Inc
Bitter Seeds. Interview with director Micha Peled and trailer. Bitter Seeds is a part of Peled's "Globalization Trilogy"--including Store Wars and China Blue--which starts with U.S. consumerism (Walmart) and then goes to the factories (workers in China) that manufacture the products, and ends with those who supply the raw materials (small farmers in India).
Botany of Desire (and Omnivore's Dilemma)
Genetic Roulette (Jeffrey Smith, 2007)
Olive Oil
Google cotton chemical usage.
Google newspaper stories on harm of ETF of options on commodities.

How Big Banks Avoid Corporate Responsibility

Berne Declaration web page on banks, sustainability and social responsibility
Matt Taibbi's "The Scam Wall Street Learned from the Mafia." (see other articles published by Rolling Stone, under "Investment Banks", listed below)
Bill Moyers: How Big Banks Victimize Our Democracy (June 22, 2012)
Bill Moyers interviews the former Citigroup Chairman John Reed: How Big Banks Are Rewriting the Rules of Our Economy
The Big Short (by Michael Lewis, 2010)
Too Big to Fail (by Andrew Ross Sorkin, 2009)
Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans (by Pizzo, Fricker and Muolo, 1989)
Inside Job (Academy-award winning documentary; book by Charles Ferguson, 2012)
Predator Nation (book by Charles Ferguson, 2012)
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (John Perkins, 2005)
Too big to fail: According to the Washington Post, before the economy collapsed, the five biggest banks had just over $6 trillion in assets; they now control $8.5 trillion. A study published by the Cleveland Fed determined that the social costs of too big to fail (TBTF) exceeds the benefits.
Helping Build Responsible Banks:
Occupy Wall Street studies banking regulation (Volker Rule) and is organizing a community bank, the "Occupy Bank" (Washington Post story).
Occupy Bank NPR story.
Alliance for Financial Inclusion
Reading list:
books and video recommended by Occupy's Alternative Banking group

Do Investment Banks Shirk Their Corporate Social Responsibility?

Rolling Stone magazine's Matt Taibbi's now classic stories on Goldman Sachs:
"They [Goldman Sachs] helped the Greek government rig its books so that they looked acceptable to the European Union so they’d be admitted to the euro [zone]" Michael Lewis from NPR interview
(see Matt Taibbi's most recent article and Bill Moyers interview, listed under Big Banks, above) (on book Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World)
JPMorgan's employees say they were forced to sell in-house mutual funds to clients even though Morgan's mutual funds performed more poorly on average than than other funds
JPMorgan Speculating with Depositor's Funds, over $300 Billion

Schools and Education

Waiting for Superman
Google news stories and NPR on for profit companies and exploitation of students unprepared (often not mentally healthy enough) to graduate.
Predatory loan practices and encouraging teenager to take out huge loans for college, turning them into indentured servants.
For-profit colleges slammed in new government study. $32 billion per year of tax payer's money spent, but half of students drop out within four months and never get their degree. Much more money spent on advertising than education (only 17% of total money spent goes to education).

Economics in General

Opportunity, wealth distribution, and wealth inequality: how we think things are, how we think things should be and how they really are. A study by the Harvard Business School.
The Speculation Economy, (Lawrence E. Mitchell, 2008)
The Money Masters

Can the Government Help?

Nope, not according to Harvard Business School faculty. And not according to Carne Ross (see Bill Moyers Carne Ross interview). Interestingly, the HBS faculty's strongest recommendation is for increasing efforts in corporate social responsibility.

Pharmaceutical Industry: Shadows and Mirrors in Corporate Responsibility

The beginning of the book Why We Get Fat (Gary Taubes, 2010) where Taubes gives a diatribe on modern corporate medicine and the research it sponsors (and suppresses).

Can Mining be Included in Socially Responsible Portfolios?

Vale (Brazilian mining company, second largest mining company in the world) voted world's worst company of 2012 by Public Eye due to alleged human rights and environmental abuses.
See other "runners up" mining nominees in Public Eye competition.
MiningWatch Canada
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (by Jared Diamond, 2005; Diamond won the Pulitzer for his previous book, Guns, Germs and Steel) articles on fracking
Rolling Stone expose on Chesapeake Energy and the natural gas fracking industry
Gasland (2010 documentary, nominated for Academy award)
Zambia: Good Copper, Bad Copper (film available on Berne Declaration website). This documentary covers issues of mining company responsibility (environmental damage and avoiding paying taxes to the host country) and dishonest international trade in mining-related commodities.
Mining's Toxic Legacy: Sierra Nevada (California) Report

Military, Weapons Industry, US Government Involvement in Torture, and Unnecessary Wars (a must-see site)
Bill Moyers interview of producer of Reckoning With Torture
Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death. Book by Jim Frederick. NYT review. Amazon reviews.
Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, by retired Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton (Iraq war not needed)
History of CIA activity for last few decades (by Sky News, an English version of CNN)
War documentaries:
Taxi to the Dark Side (Oscar: 2007 award for Best Documentary Feature Film)
Invisible War (rape of US soldiers by US soldiers. According to the documentary, in 2010, the DOD estimates 19,000 military violent sex crimes)
Lord of War (movie; plot is composite based on real stories, conflict zones and people; some aspects fictionalized, such as role of Interpol).
Fog of War (2003 Oscar)
Hell and Back Again (2011 Oscar nominee)
Restrepo (2010 Oscar nominee)
War Photographer (Peabody award and Oscar nomination)
War Feels Like War (2004; British)
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (PBS)
Armadillo (2010 follows Danish soldiers)
Occupation: Dreamland
Iraq in Fragments
The Hurt Locker
No End in Sight
My Country, My Country
Control Room

Black Market Economy and Drug Wars

I am the Market [Cocaine smuggling book by Italian journalist] 20% of US economy and 65% of Mexico's economy is illegal-drug related. This much of an economy has to be thought about.
There are many news articles about how US illegal drug dependence is sustaining violence in Mexico and Central and South America. And now, recent reports reveal, the violence and drugs are moving into Africa, as a staging ground for European distribution.

Prison-Industrial Complex: Where is the Justice in Social Justice?

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander–industrial_complex
Perpetual Prisoner Machine: How America Profits From Crime
by Joel Dyer (2000)
Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons by Alan Elsner (2006)
Life After Murder (Nancy Mullane) and This American Life story on parole: article by reporter Susan Greene
links to several articles:

Gaming Industry and Gambling Addicts

This American Life story on brain functioning of compulsive gamblers and examination of whether the gaming industry walks its talk on helping problem gamblers.

More on how governments, the investment community and big banks approach Ethics, Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)