Monday, July 26, 2010

Corporate generosity trumps legal shenanigans

In the early 1960s the drug Thalidomide, taken by pregnant mothers, caused birth defects in thousands of children around the world.

Thalidomide had been marketed by Distillers, a company which, in 1974, offered and distributed a modest compensation package to the victims. It was a ‘full and final’ payment, meaning that the company had discharged its legal obligations.

Distillers was subsequently bought by Diageo, a multinational drinks company, which has this week agreed to set up a $50 million fund to assist the remaining 45 Australian and New Zealand Thalidomiders who had out-lived the original compensation.

This is a significant example of CSR in action, of corporate understanding and generosity; Diageo has no legal obligation to provide further assistance, however it has accepted a moral obligation for the damage caused in the 60’s. Where many companies would have employed lawyers and delaying tactics, Diageo listened to the appeal lead by the father of a Thalidomider, and responded with compassion.

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