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Corporate Responsibility for a Better Tomorrow Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Brian Smith, Canada Jan 5, 2004
Human Rights , Corporate Social Responsibility   Opinions
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Corporate Responsibility for a Better Tomorrow What drives us? Is it the need for more? Is it the love of another? Is it as simple as need to differ? Motivation becomes increasingly important as we move forward in this new millennium. This motivation is the same that drives and destroys the business world. We have seen the collapse and ruin of many multinational corporations (MNC’s) that have staggering implications (Enron, Parmalat). We have seen accusations fly of price fixing and gouging (Halliburton). The tales from these debacles shows signs of unmitigated greed and unscrupulousness. Yet there are those tales of corporations that treat their employees and the world with care and compassion (General Mills, Intel). How do we encourage motivation for companies that act responsibly and discourage those that create these economic disasters?

The fallout from the Enron disaster has been a rude wake up call to those who claim that corporations should be left to do as they please. However this laissez-faire attitude is illogical in the first place. Why is there the need to govern ourselves and not a need to govern corporations? Enron shows us that we need to understand the corporation completely. Adam Smith’s invisible hand has gone the way of the dinosaur; the system cannot govern itself.

So how do we fix this? We can start by choosing good businesses that follow good business practices. There is a list of the ‘top 100 Corporate Citizens’ at http://www.business-ethics.com/100best.htm. They rank the corporations on 5 issues: environment, community relations, employee relations, diversity and customer relations. Each category is explained thoroughly and you can judge for yourself the companies that you would like to support.

However, many of us cannot live without running into a situation that forces us to unwillingly support those MNC’s that do not have a good reputation. The next step is to change the law. If a corporation is termed an individual under the law, then we need to change the law to amend this. Many people have suggested a corporate charter of rights. One such example exists at www.keidanren.or.jp/english/policy/pol052.html. Here is his charter:
Keidanren Charter for Good Corporate Behavior

Corporations, in addition to being economic entities engaged in the pursuit of profit through fair competition, must be useful to society as a whole. For this reason, corporations will adhere to the following ten principles; respect the letter and spirit of all laws, whether domestic or foreign, and of international rules, and behave in a socially responsible manner.
1. Corporations will develop and provide socially useful goods and services, giving full consideration to safety.
2. Corporations will engage in fair, transparent, and free competition. They will also maintain healthy and sound relations with politics and government.
3. Corporations will communicate not only with shareholders but also with society as a whole, actively and fairly disclosing corporate information.
4. Corporations recognize that coping with environmental problems is essential to corporate existence and activities and will take a voluntary and resolute approach in dealing with the tasks.
5. Corporations, as good corporate citizens, will actively undertake philanthropic activities.
6. Corporations will strive to make it possible for employees to lead relaxed and enriched lives, guaranteeing a safe and comfortable work environment and respecting employees' dignity and individuality.
7. Corporations will stand firm against antisocial forces and organizations that threaten the order and security of civil society.
8. In overseas operations, corporations will respect the cultures and customs of the hosting society and will manage themselves in a manner that contributes to local development.
9. Corporations' top executives, recognizing that it is up to them to make the spirit of the Charter a reality, will take the initiatives and set an example in seeing that all relevant parties are fully aware of the Charter and in bringing corporate systems into line with it, and will endeavor to cultivate corporate ethics.
10. When the Charter is violated, corporations' top executives will resolve the problem, endeavoring to clarify its causes and prevent its recurrence. They will promptly disclose all relevant information to the public, and will mete out stern punishment upon identifying authority and responsibility, not excluding themselves.

Change must be initiated by the younger generation. That is us. Choose who you buy from, but don’t be satisfied with just that. Corporations are not necessarily evil, just as humans are not necessarily evil. Think of corporations as tools that can be used purposefully or for deceit. I like to think of a hammer in the same respect. A hammer in and of itself is not evil but it can be used for evil things (picture any cartoon you want here), just as it is not good but can be used for useful purposes (picture any nail here). Corporations must be thought of in the same respect.

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Brian Smith

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Great Job
Robert Devenyi | Jan 9th, 2004

Iwu Ifeanyi | Jan 22nd, 2004
Good write-up.

Nicole Depoorter | Mar 1st, 2004
I thought your article was great. Very informative and interesting.

I love it
Amalia Miralrio | Mar 7th, 2004
It's rare for people to connect real life to society and come back to earth again so I was very pleased to read your words that made sense, even though mine don't(sorry!).

this is for all African presidents and ministers
deti edward | May 3rd, 2004
what a marvelous job done by an intellectual like Brian, at this juncture i wish to use this medium to make it known to all members of this group who in one way or the other have links with the above named personalities from Africa to get this piece of wisdom to them for PROPER CONSIDERATION. THANKS very much and may the NMC's take a cue from this significant write-up. please members from African and Ghana in particular nomatter you political affiliation should endeavour to make sense out of this . thanks , long live justice long live TAKINGITGLOBAL.

deti edward | May 3rd, 2004
Brian keep it up.

Serge | Sep 29th, 2004
The moe developed a city becomes the less pollutions exists within that city because more businesses are becomming consumer based wich to the consumer, a clean environment is in important.

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