An international colleague and long term Australia-watcher recently wrote to me to ask if we should be happy or sad about the demise of Gunns, Australia’s largest listed forestry company. I said it’s more complicated than that.
Gunns first came on to my radar as a PhD student researching corporate social responsibility in Australian companies more than a decade ago. I interviewed many managers involved in developing CSR at their companies. Usually it was me asking the questions, but on one occasion, my interviewee asked me -‘do you follow Gunns?’. It was the litmus test of whether I was in her eyes, a true CSR-nik and not just an ivory tower academic type. Gunns is the darling of the stock market, she informed me, but it logs old growth forests and poisons native wild life and local water courses in its management of its plantation forests.