Identify the three most important CSR issues that the company faces and explain why each is relevant for the firm. In order to identify these issues, you should read not only corporate reports and the company’s website, but also media reports and any research papers that offer commentary on both the company’s activities and its significant social and environmental impacts.
Critically evaluate the nature and degree of the company’s responsibilities in relation to each issue. To do so, arguments should explicitly draw upon the theories outlined in class – e.g. the various ethical theories, institutional and stakeholder theories. For each issue, you may draw upon a variety of theories – i.e. present a number of analyses of the nature and degree of a firm’s responsibilities, each of which draws upon a different theory – or draw upon a single theoretical approach – i.e. present an analysis of the nature and degree of a firm’s responsibilities that draws upon institutional theory or stakeholder theory or a particular ethical theory (e.g. utilitarianism or Rawlsian theory of justice). You need not draw upon the same theory or theories for your considerations of all three issues. Indeed, you may (or may not) take the view that different theories are most suitable for the analysis of responsibilities in regards of different issues.
i) Honest disclosure of source and quality of food
The recent horsemeat hiccup has created a lot of angst towards Tesco and the quality of their food. Accusations of profit-seeking greed and thoughtless supplier sourcing are rife with the scandal gracing the headlines of most major UK newspapers and TV programmes. You could say the problem has gone viral with a spoof YouTube video generating 390,000 views (Blade376 2013) within a matter of weeks. The creation of a consumer helpline and dedicated website as well as the apologetic adverts on TV and “sorry poems” in newspapers, highlights the impact of the horsemeat scandal throughout the UK. Although perfectly edible, the issue is so poignant because consumers were led to believe they were consuming 100% Beef. The UK is a nation of horse lovers hence why this issue is of particular relevance to Tesco at the moment. Upsetting consumers is what Tesco wants to avoid at all costs and with sales of meat products falling dramatically in response, knocking £300m off their market value (Martin 2013), one can understand why this would be the case. Boycotts are in full swing and, by losing their core customer base; this could threaten Tesco’s very future existence.
ii) Unfair prices for suppliers
Tesco are known for their ability to offer consumers low prices but this comes at a cost to suppliers. Disheartening evidence shows the inexcusable pressure Tesco places on local farmers forcing them to supply making little or no profit. Many dairy farmers and pressure groups have drawn attention to the fact farmers’ livelihoods have drastically worsened over the past few years substantiated by the decline from 26,000 dairy farmers in the UK in 2004 to fewer than 15,000 today (CRTIN 2013). 2011 research shows that supermarkets made around £16m a week from pork sales versus pig farmer industry losing roughly £3m per week for the same pork and during Tesco’s 2011 AGM protestors gathered outside to show their outrage at underpaid suppliers, despite Tesco enjoying inflated pork prices at the till (Press Association 2011). Small producers are fearful to draw attention to this bully-like behaviour from being petrified of retaliation and loss of all sales. With farmers living in a "climate of fear", (Webster 2010) communities, governments and the press are placing more pressure on Tesco to source locally and pay fairer prices or else there will be repercussions such as the Independent newspaper encouraging readers to shop elsewhere (Evans 2008).
iii) Land banks stifling...