Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


best practice urged for Katrina rebuild

December 2005

Companies helping to rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have been urged to commit themselves to guidelines on how they should do so in a socially responsible manner.

The Katrina guidelines, produced by Calvert, the largest group of socially responsible mutual funds in the US, cover community investment, workplace standards and construction.

They have been drawn up as a result of concerns that emergency regulations to speed the rebuilding might reduce protection for the environment and workplace rights in the area. The US Environment Protection Agency, for example, has temporarily waived fuel refining and emissions standards.

'Whatever the administration and Congress do, we believe that well-governed and responsible corporations will remain dedicated to fair business practices,' said Calvert.

The guidelines suggest companies should respect previous environmental regulations, pay the prevailing local wage, bid fairly for reconstruction contracts and avoid predatory lending. They also urge businesses to commit to the latest standards in green building design. Among the principles recommended are steps to minimize waste and pollution and support energy-efficient public transportation.

The guidelines also encourage companies to work with non-profit groups in community development programmes and to create jobs for local people.

As part of its own contribution, Calvert has increased its investments in Gulf Coast credit unions and community financial institutions.

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