Who cares about CSR when you can make a killing?

When Glencoe floated, its 480 partners made a killing. Many ended up as either multi-millionaires or billionaires. But it wasn’t just the money makers who were making a killing… so the BBC claimed.

Referred to as the ‘biggest company you’ve never heard of’’, Glencore is a commodity giant, worth £27bn. It trades huge quantities of wheat, coal and much of the world’s copper.

In this week’s BBC Panorama special, John Sweeney interviewed CEO Ivan Glasenberg, who became a billionaire five times over when the company was listed on the London stock exchange last year.

Glasenberg said that Glencore took corporate responsibility seriously, saying: “We care about the environment. We care about the local communities.” He added, “We definitely do not profit from child labor in any part of the world.”

Despite claiming to be community and socially conscious, Sweeney exposed the truth of what was happening; from links to child labour in Africa (children as young as 10 working in the Tilwezembe mine) and land grabbing massacres in Columbia (10 people were murdered at El Prado), to acid pollution of a river in the Congo.

Glencoe’s history is hardly ethical – the company, now based in Switzerland, was founded in 1974 by Marc Rich, once one of the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives (for illegal oil dealing with Iran and tax evasion). He was later pardoned by Bill Clinton (why?).

As a PR exercise it was an utter disaster for Glasenberg as he ducked Sweeney’s questions and the shocking facts the BBC laid before him.

The company you’ve probably ‘never heard of’ now is one you probably wish you could forget. It was a classic case of ‘brand suicide’.

I recommend you watch this episode of Panorama. “Billionaires Behaving Badly?” – it’s always shocking just how the lust for money by large corporations can result in unethical behavior. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01gk8zc/Panorama_Billionaires_Behaving_Badly/


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