Freelancers object to Transcontinental’s Best Corporate Citizen ranking

What are the qualities of a good corporate citizen?

Is a good employer concerned with its impact on the environment? Does a good employer offer benefits and programs to its employees beyond those it is legally required to provide? Is a good corporate citizen concerned with the fair treatment of its contractors?

These are the kinds of questions freelance groups across the country are asking since learning that Corporate Knights magazine has included Transcontinental on their 2013 Best Corporate Citizens list.

Mariève Paradis, a freelance journalist and president of AJIQ (l’Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec) says she understands that Corporate Knights’ ranking system is primarily concerned with corporations’ environmental diligence. She believes, however, that other aspects of a company’s corporate citizenship should be taken into consideration when granting such awards.

“I would hope that they would look also at the economic and social impacts of the businesses before [adding] them on their list,” she told Story Board via email.

This week, Paradis wrote a letter to the editor of Corporate Knights, expressing concern about the magazine’s methods for evaluating corporate behaviour.

“You may not be aware that, this spring, several professional organizations denounced a Transcontinental subsidiary, TC Media, for attempting to impose an abusive new contract on their freelance contributors (journalists, illustrators and photographers),” reads the letter.

The letter also notes that TC Media recently cut newsroom jobs in its Montreal-area weekly papers by half, leading to reduced coverage of local news and politics.

“We believe this weakens local democracy by depriving citizens of the local news they need to make informed decisions. It seems to me that a good corporate citizen should help, not hinder, Canadians who try to get involved in their communities,” reads the letter.

Since the rankings for the 2013 awards were decided with the use of data from 2011, Paradis says she hopes that by the time corporate performance from 2013 is ranked, the magazine will find ways to incorporate new indicators that take into account “these kind of objectionable business practices.”

At any rate, the rigorousness of the judging for these types of top employer lists is highly questionable. Keith Maskell of the CMG says that such awards are frequently used by corporations in need of an image boost.

“In my experience they’re strictly a branding exercise for companies that need to polish up their somewhat-tarnished reputations,” he says.

“In some cases a company pays a significant fee to be ‘considered’ for the award — which is actually just a reward for filling out the awarding organization’s questionnaire – whether or not the answers are even adequate, let alone reflective of reality.”

We note that the CBC appeared on Canada’s Top 100 Employers list in 2005, the year the broadcaster’s management locked out 5,500 employees.


Posted on June 19, 2013 at 9:10 am by editor · · Tagged with: , , ,

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