Disclosure and Corporate Responsibilty in the Colgate-Palmolive Case

In an article written by Tom Stabile for Business Ethics (A Magazine of Corporate Responsibility) entitled “Controversial Chemical Poses Disclosure Challenge for Colgate-Palmolive”, I weighed in on the corporate responsibility aspect of the case.

“It’s a detached defense, sticking to discussion of its product and not engaging in the greater triclosan debate. What time will tell is whether Colgate is telling consumers enough to position itself best for when the FDA makes a final determination on triclosan, says Barbara Burton of The Burton Company in La Jolla, Calif., a corporate responsibility consultant. ‘You have to determine what to disclose,’ she adds, ‘When youʼre not disclosing what you should, you assume risk.'”

“Burton, the consultant, says the tide is turning toward greater disclosure, particularly with initiatives such as the United Nations Global Compact and the development of the International Organization for Standardizationʼs 26000 standard on social responsibility, which calls for broad transparency with stakeholders on matters related to product safety. ‘You donʼt want to take the chance of not disclosing information about potential safety concerns,’ she says. She adds that while wide disclosure in a case like Colgateʼs could have a negative short-term impact on market share, it also could generate long-term customer good will.”

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