CVS needs to educate its employees, Target deserve
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CVS needs to educate its employees, Target deserve

Paul Holmes

Why are some pharmacies—this article at Slate singles out CVS in Texas—refusing to sell Plan B contraception to men? The answer, according to the author, is more likely ignorance than malice; in which case, now that the ACLU and the media have identified the problem and drawn attention to it, there is no excuse for CVS and other large chains not to make sure that their staff are better educated about the law of the land. Congratulations, meanwhile, to Target for this enlightened ad, and even more kudos for not making an overt effort to get credit for its inclusivity. An interesting white paper from an interesting-sounding outfit called DeSantis Briendel suggests four guiding principles for “balancing authenticity and reputation in corporate social responsibility.” Three of those principles are pretty much common sense and conventional practice, but one of them is interesting, the suggestion that “when a company’s charitable activities are not closely connected with its business, create a separate brand for these initiatives…and treat it as an extension of the corporate brand.” (Verizon’s Thinkfinity education initiative is the example they cite.) One minor quibble: the paper falls into the American trap of equating CSR and corporate philanthropy. Still, it’s worth a look. My first question when reading this LA Times piece about California children rejecting the new healthier school meals they are being served was: “I wonder what makes the kids in the classroom so different from the kids who were consulted in the process of putting together these new menus?” The second question was: “The LA Unified School District couldn’t possibly have put together a new menu without consulting the people who were going to be eating them, could it?” When you read the headline, “Big-Shot Rabbi Might Have Been Robbed of Millions by Sleazy PR Guy,” do you really need to click through to see who the story is going to be about? There was a time when Ronn Torossian seemed like a maverick who had discovered a successful formula for challenging the PR establishment (see entry for January 2005). It's getting harder and harder to see things that way. Money quote from this most recent allegation: “It started early on, when Biton still worked for Pinto and he would allegedly leak bad press about the rabbi so Pinto would keep Torossian on retainer for public relations.” For more Torossian contoversy, see this comprehensive Gawker takedown. Companies—particularly companies making explicit fair trade claims in their marketing materials—need to do a much better job of monitoring their supply chain. And not only when they are contacted by reporters seeking comment. On a not entirely unrelated matter, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to be leading an agrarian existence in a developing country to suffer from appalling work conditions.
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