Corporate Social Responsibility and Alcohol: The Need and Potential for Partnership

Article excerpt

Corporate Social Responsibility and Alcohol: The Need and Potential for Partnership. By Grant, M., & O'Connor, J. (Eds.). (2005). New York: Routledge. [Hardback; ISBN# 0-415-94948-3]

These days the corporate companies are continually being held accountable for being active and contributing meaningfully to the communities in which they exist, besides achieving their financial worth and goals. This is known as corporate social responsibility (CSR). The issues involving CSR and alcohol are complex and are the focus of this book. The International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP), which is a not-for-profit international organization funded by 10 international alcohol beverage companies, has commissioned this book. Most of the contributions in the book are from presenters at the "Alcohol, Ethics, and Society" international conference held in Dublin in October 2002.

The first chapter in the book is an introduction by the editors that presents the background of the book and how it has been conceptualized. The second chapter defines CSR, its history and issues. The three major components of CSR have been identified as (1) the basic values, ethics, policies and practices of the company's business; (2) the voluntary contributions made by a company to community development; and (3) management of social and environmental issues by the company and its business partners involving the acquisition of raw products, staff welfare, product sale, use or disposal. The third chapter deals with the issue of product safety where a company's products have the potential to do harm. The chapter discusses the chemical industry, tobacco industry, breast-milk substitutes, automobile industry, and pharmacological industry. The fourth chapter focuses on different partnership perspectives for CSR in beverage alcohol industry Partnerships with government, intergovernmental organizations, private sector, non-governmental organizations, and the research community are discussed.

The fifth chapter talks about the role of partnerships in alcohol policy development. The chapter discusses the results of the survey done in 2002 covering 48 countries in which perspectives on various issues relating to alcohol policy were discussed (Babor & Xuan, 2004). It was interesting to note that the opinion regarding the role of the alcohol industry was equally divided with half of the nations viewing the alcohol industry as a viable partner and half did not. The chapter also discusses the issue of conflict of interest, which is of paramount importance with regard to the role of the alcohol industry. However, this section could have been expanded and some parallels regarding conflict of interest and tobacco industry also included (Bero, 2005).

The sixth chapter is titled, "Drinking education: Negatives or optimizing potential." This chapter discusses the pleasures of alcohol and how public health groups place the harms of alcohol foremost. It also discusses the trends of drinking in youth and educational programs for youth. The role of theory in designing such educational programs (Sharma, 2005) could have been stressed more in this chapter. The seventh chapter focuses on findings on issues pertaining to marketing and promotion of alcohol to youth. The findings of the World Health Organization's meeting held in May 2002 in Valencia, Spain on this topic are presented. The eighth chapter presents a perspective from New Zealand on governmental regulation, CSR, and rights and responsibilities of the individual.

The ninth chapter is about CSR and its role on alcohol policies. A case study of Coors Brewing Company has been presented in this chapter. The tenth chapter presents practice issues with regard to CSR within the beverage alcohol industry. A number of alcohol beverage companies have made efforts to promote responsible drinking and have formed what are known as social aspects organizations (SAO). …