By Stephen Shepherd, Marketing –
While living as a foreign exchange student in Brazil, I attended a class called Corporate Social Responsibility. I knew virtually nothing about the topic and was curious to know if Brazilian corporations actually had a moral conscience.
I doubted it, especially after living there and witnessing the rampant corruption of politicians. In my ignorance, I figured that corporations were just as corruptible as politicians and that it was a hopeless situation.
Corporate Social Responsibility ― More Than Just Profit Mongering
I learned that corporate social responsibility is much more than reducing corruption and increasing transparency. It’s about making a positive difference not only for profit, but also for the people and the planet. Corporations have the responsibility to enhance the societies in which they establish themselves, but as business gets bigger and bigger, it becomes easier to hide dishonest and unfair business practices.
Corruption ― The Secret Disease of American Corporations
Before my exchange experience, I had identified corruption with primarily foreign firms and governments, but research and reality showed me that American corporations are far from immune to fraud.
According to a recent Reuters article, two Mexican companies are suing Yahoo! Inc and Baker & McKenzie law firm for attempting to “corrupt the appeals process and overturn the judgment” of a $2.7 billion lawsuit from 2012. Witnesses involved in the scandal claim that the American firms worked in secret to coerce the judge into reducing the value of the damages.
The Making of a Mess
How do corporations get themselves in situations like this, especially when they claim to promote transparency and progressive social enrichment? If Yahoo! Inc and Baker & McKenzie are guilty of “interfering with the Mexican judicial process,” they will have grossly neglected their responsibility to improve their host community. In fact, they will have ethically polluted it.
Unfortunately, the actions of only a few key people, trusted by their firms, created this financial and moral mess. We must work to guarantee the integrity of our employees so that they properly represent our mission and ethics. In your company, how can you be sure you can trust that those in power will make the responsible decision?