By Peter V O'Brien
Friday 4th April 2003
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Potential candidates for board and management positions may soon be questioned on attitudes to an "A to Z" of corporate pressures, "A" referring to animism and "Z" to the zodiac.
The zodiacal reference includes taking account of astrological, clairvoyant and psychic opinions of current and future events. Such people are listed in the Yellow Pages as "New Age Professionals" which could be described as an up-market euphemism for mumbo-jumbo.
The dualism of animists is a worldwide phenomenon, whereby people consider inanimate objects and geographical features are either scared or abodes of gods and mythological creatures/spirits.
Many are animists when it suits their agendas and monotheists when it is deemed appropriate to attend the latter's worship places. Those matters plus other social, environmental and economic questions have affected corporate governance.
They were crystallised in the 2002 annual review from Holcim New Zealand, formerly Milburn New Zealand, the long-established cement, concrete and aggregate producer.
Holcim's review was its second "triple bottom line report" after "starting the journey of reporting the company's activities in a social, environmental and economic context in 2001."
A triple bottom line report is, depending on one's view, either a responsible, holistic account of a company's impact on the community in which it operates or a cynical PR spin doctor attempt to be politically correct in the face of anti-business forces, activists against anything, greenies and sundry nutters, the last including the animists and new age professionals.
Any company involved in quarrying, cement and concrete production is inevitably liable to potential criticism, particularly when it is owned overseas.
A quarry is an ugly sight during its life. Landscape impacts are appalling, but quarries are essential ­ otherwise we go back to living in dwellings made of sun-dried mud, skins and wood. The use of mud, skins and wood inflames other activists.
Triple bottom line reports raise other issues.
Companies are regulated in the social, environmental, economic and health and safety areas all the responsibility of central and local government. Companies have no need to justify their actions if they complied with the rules.
Rule compliance also applies to the muddled debate about government-controlled investment funds requirement to make ethical investment decisions. Any non-illegal investment is a valid position, as an absolute until a legal investment is made illegal. It is objective.
"Ethical" investments are subjective. One person's ethics are another's subjective opinion.
A combination of minority lobbies' pressure on companies and their activities, triple bottom line reporting in response to the politically correct and the evils of consuming anything except from water bottles (at a profit to some corporate) suggests we are in danger of the mentally ill acquiring control of the hospital, a deliberate politically correct version of an old cliché.
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