Greed On the Rise, And So Is Ethical Puffery

"Greed and corruption have always lingered at the edges of Corporate America, from Civil War profiteers to inside-trading scandals of the '80s," observes Gary Strauss in USA Today. "Yet the new millennium has ushered in a wave of fraud, corporate malfeasance, investment scams, ethical lapses and conflicts of interest unprecedented in scope." Not coincidentally, more and more corporations are issuing feel-good reports about their achievements in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). According to the KPMG accounting firm, the number of U.S. companies issuing reports on environmental and social issues has risen 14 percent in the past three years. "As the demand grows for corporate accountability and responsible behavior, many U.S. companies realize they must share their values - as well as their value - with their stakeholders," explains KPMG's Michael Radcliffe. According to Echo Research, an international reputation research firm, there is "an increased effort to manage CSR effectively and a greater and more positive profile in the media as a result." There is even a PR wire service,, devoted exclusively to issuing news releases about corporate social responsibility.