This Week’s Notable News and Recommended Reading

The TakeAway: We survey developments in fair labor and proxy access, and review Joe Nye’s book on the nature of leadership.

After almost three months and more than 60 posts, we at The Murninghan Post realize there’s just too much happening on our beats of sustainability, prosperity, and justice to cover in individual posts, so we’re trying something a little different.  On Fridays, we’re surveying important news from the week – and also sharing books we’re reading.

MurnPost Notable News

Victory Against Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking: Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 (SB 657) into law.  “Approximately 3,000 companies impacted by the law will be required to disclose starting January 1, 2012 the policies they have in place to ensure that their supply chains are free of slavery and trafficking,” wrote Julie Tanner of Christian Brothers Investment Services in the comments section of our post last month on the topic.  “[This includes] the extent to which they use 3rd-party verification, conduct independent unannounced audits, and maintain internal accountability for employees and contractors that fail to meet company standards.”

Limited Progress in Fight Against Child and Forced Labor: The Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University’s Law School just released its fourth annual report on Oversight of Public and Private Initiatives to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor in the Cocoa Sector in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.  “The report underscores the lack of progress by voluntary programs adopted by the cocoa industry to address the problems of child and forced labor in West Africa,” said Tim Newman of International Labor Rights Forum.  “In response, national nonprofits Global Exchange, Green America, International Labor Rights Forum, and Oasis USA called on Hershey, the largest US chocolate company, to take action to end child and forced labor in its supply chain and to adopt Fair Trade Certified cocoa.”

Landmark “Sweatfree” Bill Proposed: Rep. Phil Hare (IL-17), Mike Michaud (ME-2) and others introduced H.R. 6262, the “Jobs Through Procurement Act” on Wednesday, before the election recess. “This marks the beginning of a new campaign to ensure that the federal government does not do business with sweatshops, but uses its purchasing power to create good jobs with decent wages,” said Bjorn Claeson, Director of SweatFree Communities, a campaign of International Labor Rights Forum.  “You can help build this campaign by asking your Congressperson to sponsor the bill – click here to send a letter.”

Proxy Access Court Challenge: On Thursday, the Business Roundtable and US Chamber of Commerce filed a petition in the DC District Court of Appeals to review the SEC’s recent ruling on proxy access.  A widely expected move, the petitioners claim the new proxy access rules, among other things, “violate [corporate] rights under the First and Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.”  Stay tuned, and be sure to read The Corporate Library’s take.

MurnPost Recommended Reading

The Powers to Lead, by Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (Oxford University Press, 2008)

One of my all-time favorite authors and teachers, Nye coined the term ‘soft power’, and although his work deals primarily with international relations, he has important insights for anyone concerned with power and accountability—and the behavior of large institutions.  See especially his chapter on “Contextual Intelligence”, where he refers to Harvard Business School’s Anthony Mayo and Nitin Nohria’s book, In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century. Building from that, Nye describes “contextual intelligence” as “an intuitive diagnostic skill that helps a leader align tactics with objectives to create smart strategies in various situations.  Others have called it judgment or wisdom…”   Given current economic turmoil, barrier-busting social media, and the critical need for ethics and effectiveness, Nye offers direction by blending history, business case studies, psychological research, and more.

We welcome your notable news and recommended reading, along with comments on our picks.  Have a great weekend!

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