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Dirty Money

If money will be spent productively, does it matter where it comes from?

You are part of a senior executive committee at a major animal conservation park. The park has recently spent a significant amount of money refurbishing and updating its orang-utan enclosure and bringing in new animals as part of a regional breeding program with other institutions in Asia. It is anticipated that this new exhibit will be very popular, particularly with children and families.

The park is currently in the process of considering expressions of interest from various businesses interested in sponsoring the new exhibit in return for benefits such as naming rights and exclusive promotional opportunities. 

A high profile food company (whose products are particularly targeted at school age children) puts forward an offer that is significantly more generous than the others.

This particular company has recently been the subject of a public campaign by community and environmental groups. The allegations are that some of the company’s raw materials are grown using environmentally unsustainable farming practices in developing countries, and that their commercial agreements with local growers are unfair and exploitative.

As a result of the campaign, the company has started to make some initial changes to its sourcing policies, and indicated that it intends to make more comprehensive longer term changes, but that it will need more time to plan and implement these.

What do you do? Do you urge your committee to accept this company’s sponsorship offer?

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