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Ethical Impact Report (Ref: p1101)

This text is taken directly from "Spirit Matters" by Michael Lerner (ISBN 1-57174-195-X)

"The Ethical Impact Reports will be compiled by three different sources: (a) the corporation itself, (b) the employees of the corporation (under conditions of strict confidentiality), and (c) community organizations that can make a reasonable case that they represent people whose lives have been affected by the corporation (for example, people whose health has been affected by a corporation's products or people whose lives have been affected by the messages conveyed through the corporation's media advertising presence).

The Ethical Impact Report would ask the respondents to rate how much the corporation :

  1. encourages and rewards workers for using their intelligence and creativity in their work,
  2. rewards cooperative behavior,
  3. rewards workers who trust each other,
  4. encourages supervisors to demonstrate respect for employees,
  5. protects and/or enhances the natural environment, both in the United States and around the world,
  6. produces in ways that are environmentally sustainable,
  7. contributes to the environmental health of our planet,
  8. produces socially valuable products,
  9. promotes the value of truth-telling and personal integrity in its day-to-day operations and in its presentation of itself and its products to the public,
  10. encourages employees to take the societal, ecological, and moral consequences of corporate decisions into account,
  11. rewards employees whose decisions reflect significant concern for the common good even when that may conflict with corporate profits,
  12. provides mechanisms of accountability for corporate executives and members of the board of directors,
  13. reduces unnecessary stress on the job,
  14. provides workers a decent living and adequate opportunities to organize themselves,
  15. provides stable employment,
  16. shows loyalty to its employees,
  17. avoids discrimination in hiring and promotions,
  18. aggressively combats discrimination in the workplace,
  19. provides adequate attention to the family needs of its workers,
  20. makes information about its operations freely available to the public and to relevant community organizations,
  21. creates time for workers to have a short period each day (minimum twenty minutes) for emotional and spiritual renewal,
  22. rewards an openhearted attitude toward the world and toward others,
  23. encourages humility, gratitude, and a sense of awe and wonder at the glory of the universe, and
  24. advertises its products or services in ways that are sensitive to the emotional and spiritual well-being of the society.

"This is only a tentative list. One thing I want to ask you, the reader, is this: What else ought to be part of an Ethical Impact Report for corporations?

Please bring this discussion to your fellow workers, friends, and others you know. Discuss the SRA and the Ethical Impact Report with them. Discussions about what should be part of the Ethical Impact Report may become an important part of the process by which people in our society begin to grapple with the idea of a "new bottom line" and to see that it could actually be adopted.

To implement this process, and to avoid the craetion of a new governmental bureaucracy whose employees might soon be influenced by corporate seductions, I propose that each evaluation be carried out not by some government agency but by a Social Responsibility Grand Jury (the SRGJ), composed of twenty-five citizens whose task would be to read the Ethical Impact Reports and receive oral testimony from the corporation, employees, and relevant community organizations - and then assess what they had learned.

There would be thousands of such SRGJs convening hearings every year all around the country (and eventually around the world), charged with deciding whether to renew a corporation's charter or not.

Inevitably, there would be differences of perspective. Just as we put the fate for life and death in the hand of juries who are drawn from sectors of the population that have different values and different perspectives, so the fate of each corporation would be decided in a similar process.

If an SRGJ decided, after assessing the history of a corporation's social responsibility as measured by its Ethical Impact Report, that the corporation should not be granted a charter renewal, it would then move to stage two: what to do with corporate resources. The SRGJ would listen both to corporate management, which could present a plan for how it was going to significantly alter its behavior in order to become more socially responsible, and hear testimony from other for-profit or nonprofit groups that could propose how they might run the same corporation with more socially responsible policies.

The SRGJ would then decide to either award the corporate charter to another group, and with it the assets of the corporation in question, or to put the corporation on probation for three years.

If it gave the corporation a three-year probation, the SRGJ would reconvene three years later to determine if the changes had, in fact, taken place, in which case it coud restore the charter for the next seventeen years (thus making up the full twenty) or it could determine that the corporation had failed to adequately implement significant changes and award the corporate charter to some other management group.

Grand jurors would be selected at random from the population, but the jury would be balanced in order to guarantee racial, religious, spiritual, gender, and economic diversity. Jurors would be paid (by a corporation's charter renewal fee, not by taxes on the citizenry, a salary equal to that which the corporation paid its middle-level management). Juries would have subpoena power and could impose contempt citations and prison sentences on corporate leaders for up to two years if they found that the corporate leaders were withholding vital information or otherwise attempting to disrupt of distort the evaluation process (for example, by trying to restrain the testimony of workers or community groups that had negative things to say). The SRGJ would be assisted in obtaining information on corporate behavior by a corps of Social Responsibility Agents, which would operate much like today's public defenders' office, except with funding written into the amendment and not subject to electoral shifts."

See the book for more discussion of the pros and cons of this concept.

Social Responsibility Initiative. (Ref: p1102)

"One reason the SRA is important is that it shows people that challenging the bottom line can really happen. The SRA provides a powerful way to get the discussion of corporate social responsibility into the center of American politics.

But I've also devised a far less visionary first step that might begin to create the framework for the SRA. This first step I call the Social Responsibility Initiative (SRI).

The SRI says the following: When this jurisdiction (city, county, state, or federal government) offers a contract of more than one million dollars for public bidding to fulfill some public purpose (whether that be to build a new school, to provide military hardware or scientific research, to build a highway, to reconstruct an airport, or whatever), competing contractors will be judged both on the basis of their ability to fill the contract and on their history of social responsibility, as measured by an Ethical Impact Report.

Among the four corporations that offer the lowest bids and can adequately fulfill the contract, the one that can demonstrate the best history of social responsibility will receive the contract."

Again, see the book for more discussion of the pros and cons of this concept.

Amendment to the US Constitution (Ref: p1103)

The Social Responsibility Amendment (SRA) says :

"Every corporation doing business in the United States (whether incorporated here or elsewhere) with an annual budget exceeding twenty-five million dollars (in 2000 dollars) must receive a new corporate charter every twenty years. It will only qualify for a new corporate charter if it can prove a history of social responsibility as measured by an Ethical Impact Report. No branch of government shall make any treaties or enter into international agreements that limit the right of the United States to insist on corporate social responsibility and ecologically sustainable behavior. Any such treaties or agreements already concluded are hereby declared null and void."

This text is taken directly from "Spirit Matters" by Michael Lerner (ISBN 1-57174-195-X)

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