Corporate Social Responsibility and Alcohol

A new book, "Corporate Social Responsibility and Alcohol," explores the potential impact of beverage alcohol industry partnerships and how they could contribute to a reduction in the negative health impacts of harmful drinking patterns. The book, commissioned by The International Center For Alcohol Policies outlines a new agenda for global public/private partnerships with the alcohol industry.

recently approved World Health Assembly resolution calls for the “mobilization..of all concerned social and economic groups..including the private sector..in reducing harmful use of alcohol.” Specifically, member states requested the WHO Director General “to organize open consultations with representatives of industry.” The book, commissioned by The International Center for Alcohol Policy (ICAP), outlines a new agenda for these global consultations.

ICAP welcomes this opportunity to establish a joint agenda for partnerships involving all sectors of society. Its health and public policy expert contributors say the new book fulfills a public need as corporations in every business area today come under increased scrutiny by the general public, the press, health and other advocacy groups and governments to address societal issues presented by their products and product marketing.

The eighth book in the Series on Alcohol and Society examines corporate responsibilities, standards of accountability and the role of companies in addressing social aspects of alcohol. It reviews the strengths and weaknesses of current corporate social responsibility policies and discusses the imperatives for partnerships between the beverage alcohol industry and other stakeholders.

“No single sector can effectively tackle these issues alone,” said Marcus Grant, president of ICAP and co-editor of the book. “Many influences coalesce to shape the relationship between alcohol and its place in society, and hence no single prescription can be offered to society – any society – on how to address the harms associated with alcohol abuse.”

The book addresses five main themes:

Corporate values and collaboration: looks at how mutual respect among all relevant stakeholders can in turn lead to partnerships and to the ultimate goal of sound, effective alcohol policies that balance the interests of all concerned.

Defining Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): examines the growing expectation that corporations behave in a socially responsible manner and review the historical context of CSR.

Examining CSR in the context of product safety and risk: reviews CSR initiatives in several industries and looks at how product risk can or should be addressed through regulation, industry self-regulation and consumer responsibility.

Perspectives on CSR and partnership in the beverage alcohol industry: analyzes industry-wide interventions aimed at reducing the misuse of alcohol.

CSR and partnership in practice: reveals results from a five-year review of practical actions undertaken by the beverage alcohol industry.

According to Mr. Grant, developing an appropriate alcohol policy involves carefully weighing complex health, privacy, revenue and cultural issues, “and still there can be no one-size-fits-all model or reasonable alcohol policy for every country.”

“However, it is possible to move forward partnerships with stakeholders in the alcohol arena through dialogue and action. This requires that the parties respect one another’s positions, believe in one another’s good faith, and make a real effort to work through the issues in which industry can make a proactive contribution,” Grant added.

The book draws on presentations made during an international conference on Alcohol, Ethics and Society, held at the National College of Ireland in Dublin. Twenty experts contributed chapters, including legal experts, health officials, and representatives of the beverage alcohol industry, among them Peter H. Coors of Coors Brewing Company.

Published by Routledge, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Alcohol” was co-edited by Marcus Grant and Joyce O’Connor, president of the National College of Ireland and former chair of a World Health Organization expert committee on Alcohol and the Workplace.

Established in 1995 to promote global public/private partnerships in the area of alcohol policy, ICAP is a not-for-profit organization supported by nine major international beverage companies. ICAP’s mission is to help reduce the abuse of alcohol worldwide and to promote an understanding of the role of alcohol in society through dialogue and partnerships involving the beverage industry, the public health community and others interested in alcohol policy.

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