CSR Leaders and Laggards in the Media Industry

Research Study on the Sustainability of Movie Producers, Publishers, Broadcasters & Advertisers
Feb 24, 2011 5:15 PM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) London, ON - February 23, 2011 – During the current awards season when the music and movie industries are honouring their own, researchers investigating sustainability issues at the Richard Ivey School of Business caution that the media industry still has work to do.

In the ratings of good and green, firms in the media industry are split on the issue of climate change, which is paralyzing forward progress, and some firms have been slow to adopt guidelines pertaining to philanthropy, political contributions, editorials and advertising.   Michael Wood and Brent McKnight, PhD candidates investigating sustainability issues, along with Professor Tima Bansal, Director of Ivey’s Centre for Building Sustainable Value, wrote the newly released research brief entitled “Rolling out the Green Carpet: Sustainability in the Media Industry”. This brief analyzes the environmental, social and governance performance of movie, publishing, broadcasting, and advertising firms.   "The Media sector is polarizing the climate change issue with leaders on both sides of the debate,” says Wood. This polarization is evidenced by recent events. On the proactive side, James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar, has been a vocal opponent of the rate and scale of exploitation of the Alberta oil sands. Cameron has called the oil sands a “black eye” on Canada’s environmental record.   In contrast, Fox News has constantly raised doubts and challenged the validity of climate science, but without referencing other scientific sources. Wood notes that this polarization is causing conflict that is making meaningful progress with respect to climate change challenging.   Media firms should also be more concerned about maintaining independence between their philanthropic donations and their media operations. "Firms in the media sector have an opportunity to increase their use of corporate foundations in order to maintain stronger independence between their philanthropic giving and their professional activities" says McKnight.   The authors further suggest that more firms formalize policies on political contributions to avoid potential conflicts of interest; currently only 10% of firms have such policies.   These Ivey researchers claim that media firms can motivate powerful change. However, the majority of firms lacked important guidelines and policies that guide the creation and delivery of these messages. Wood notes that "Media firms should improve their oversight with respect to editorials, ethical advertising and conflict of interest policies and guidelines."   The data for the brief is provided by Jantzi-Sustainalytics. The full brief can be found at http://www.ivey.uwo.ca/centres/sustainability/docs/Rolling_Green_Carpet.pdf.   About the Richard Ivey School of Business The Richard Ivey School of Business (www.ivey.ca) at The University of Western Ontario is Canada's leading provider of relevant, innovative and comprehensive business education. Drawing on extensive research and business experience, Ivey faculty provide the best classroom experience, equipping graduates with the skills and capabilities they need to tackle the leadership challenges in today's complex business world. Ivey offers world-renowned undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as Executive Development at campuses in London (Ontario), Toronto and Hong Kong.   About Jantzi-Sustainalytics Data
The Jantzi-Sustainalytics dataset tracks firm performance according to environment, social and governance (ESG) themes for more than 2,100 companies from 32 countries. Included are data pertaining to supply chain practices, products and services, philanthropy, community involvement, environmental impacts, business ethics, and corporate governance. Jantzi-Sustainalytics is the North American regional arm of Sustainalytics. This global firm has headquarters in Amsterdam and local offices in Toronto and across Europe. The company provides environmental, social, and governance research and analysis; sustainability consulting; and responsible investment services.   About the Authors
Brent McKnight is a PhD Candidate at the Richard Ivey School of Business studying sustainability issues. He can be reached at bmcknight@ivey.uwo.ca. Michael Wood is a PhD Candidate at the Richard Ivey School of Business studying sustainability issues. He can be reached at mwood@ivey.uwo.ca. Professor Tima Bansal is the Director of the Centre for Building Sustainable Value. She can be reached at tbansal@ivey.uwo.ca.   For more information, please contact: A. Paul Mitchell, Communications Specialist, Media & Public Relations, Richard Ivey School of Business, pmitchell@ivey.uwo.ca, 519-850-2536   NBS12058