Progress or Blue-Washing?

The United Nations' Global Compact, a controversial "voluntary corporate citizenship initiative," now includes 1,700 companies and several dozen non-governmental organizations and labor groups. "Some companies are using it for public relations," admitted consultant Scott Greathead, but it fosters "dialogue between companies and their civil society critics" and "lends the stature of the Secretary General to the concept of corporate responsibility." Consultant John Elkington contends, "More attention should be paid to the extent to which corporate lobbying by Global Compact members align - or don't align - with their stated commitment." Also, the lack of enforcement "raises real concerns about the longer-term risk to the UN's reputation," he warns.