Corporate responsibility or core competence?

Although the concept that corporations are responsible not only to their shareholders but also for the social and environmental impacts of their activities has now entered the mainstream, pressure is still required to ensure that companies honour their public commitments. This article describes the work of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility in harnessing the power of individual shareholders and ethical investors in order to hold companies to account, with particular reference to the activities of Shell in Nigeria and the Republic of Ireland. It is argued that companies do not exist to carry out community development, and so should be judged not on these grounds, but rather on the impact of how they conduct their core business.